The United States and the United Nations are dragging their heels on categorizing Libya as a failed state, largely because of their roles in its downfall. Meanwhile, the media isolates ongoing violence from the historical framework of NATO intervention.
In this Thursday, Jan. 9, 2015 photo, a Libyan honor guard stands at attention during the arrival of U.N. Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon in Tripoli.
RABAT, Malta — The Arab Spring, which has given rise to perpetually mutating violence across the Middle East and North Africa, was hailed by mainstream media as an exercise in freedom and revolution.
As Western democracy was juxtaposed against longstanding regimes, a significant trend that featured strongly in the aftermath of the NATO invasion of Libya was based upon dissociation. The ensuing violence following the country’s destruction was discussed in isolation from — rather than as a continuation of — what NATO started through its regime-change agenda.
As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gains a stronghold in Libya, political rhetoric — most notably among countries which participated in the 2011 NATO war that ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi — seems geared toward intervention. Rumors of ISIS in Libya have been spreading since last summer; however, the bombing of the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli in January and the recent mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, have provided evidence of the organization’s infiltration of the country.
Yet since 2011, mainstream media has persistently distanced itself from the false sequence it created following the initial protests against Gadhafi, the NATO invasion of Libya, and the chaotic aftermath. The tactic is to isolate recent atrocities from the historical framework – a strategy that fits with imperialist dictates on Libya.
Dr. Salah Hamroni, a Malta-based medical doctor who also holds a degree in political science, gave an overview of the narrative which has contributed to a lack of understanding with regard to the ongoing political turmoil in Libya.
Hamroni, who is originally from Libya, explained to MintPress News in an email:
“The riots against Gadhafi, which resulted in attacks upon police stations and army camps, were also instrumental in the killing of many Libyan soldiers upon allegations that they were mercenaries. Granted, there were legitimate demands for protests on behalf of Libyans, as the Gadhafi regime committed many mistakes during its long years. But the coup was planned – the reason was to overthrow Gadhafi and turn a stronghold state into a failed one.”
From the start, foreign intervention in Libya was characterized by mainstream media ridicule of Gadhafi’s speeches, in which he claimed that al-Qaida would eventually flourish amid the ensuing chaos. Hamroni insists that the media had planned this propaganda meticulously.
“The media propaganda played a major role to justify all the unethical interventions and atrocities committed by NATO and the rebels in 2011,” Hamroni explained. “Furthermore, the unilateral coverage of news was aimed at justifying the ensuing demise of Gadhafi. It is also important to note that French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy was instrumental in garnering support for the tragedy that is unfolding in Libya.”
Meanwhile, Gadhafi’s opinion on the no-fly zone imposed upon Libya was partially validated. Gadhafi, as quoted by Egypt’s Ahram Online, stated in March 2011 that the no-fly zone would allow “Libyans to see through the real intentions (of the international community) – to seize our oil – and then they would take up arms (to defend the country).”
On March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council authorized Resolution 1973, which swiftly came to represent a regime change in Libya. Of the former colonial powers participating in the invasion, France was the first in the coalition to participate in the bombing of Libya.
As internal divisions and fear gripped the nation, Libyans failed to defend their country from this foreign intervention, thus setting the stage for the predicted aftermath to unfold.
A failed state?
Gadhafi’s death at the hands of Libyan rebels on Oct. 20, 2011, occurred just two days after former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, “We hope [Gadhafi] can be captured or killed soon.”
Since Gadhafi’s death, the U.S. and the U.N. have attempted to disassociate the ensuing chaos from NATO intervention in Libya. Yet the plundering and waste of natural resources, the rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk which are both built upon the vestiges of imperialism, as well as the spread of ISIS in Libya, have all contributed to reshaping Libya into a failed state.
However, the U.S. and the U.N. have both been reluctant to declare Libya a failed state because of their role in shaping it. On Nov. 19, further validating Gadhafi’s claims, the U.N. Security Council’s al-Qaida Sanctions Committee added two militant groups affiliated with al-Qaida – Ansar Al Sharia Derna and Ansar Al Sharia Benghazi – to its sanctions list. Indeed, the same countries advocating for foreign intervention in Libya proposed adding the groups to the U.N. blacklist.
Meanwhile, the U.N. has been active in its attempts to delay declaring Libya a failed state by organizing futile talks between representatives of various factions vying for power. Talks held in Geneva last month were boycotted by the Tripoli-based government, resulting in a selection of factions agreeing to hold further talks within an arena that is not accepted by those commanding power in Tripoli. Despite the obvious divisions, the U.N. Support Mission in Libya maintains its superficial, positivist vocabulary: “UNSMIL calls on all stakeholders to join the talks in an open and constructive spirit.” Such rhetoric contradicts the obvious ravaging that commenced with NATO bombing a country that prospered without the influence of entities such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Reigniting talk of a second intervention
Libyan representative at the Arab League Ashour Abu-Rashed attends an emergency representatives meeting to discuss the conflict in Libya, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.
Going back to the NATO war on Libya, Hamroni points out that the presence of extremists among rebel ranks was known to the U.S., but this fact was downplayed by the U.S. government and the media.
“Mainstream media was seeking to mislead the people during the first two years after the so-called revolution, in order to maintain the positive spin on the Arab Spring. Also, to export the American dream of democracy to Arab countries,” Hamroni said. “Reports that linked the new leaders of Libya to al-Qaida and other extremists were silenced, as well as the serious financial corruption committed by the new Libyan governments.”
He further explained that American and European forces intended to “allow extremism to flourish in Libya,” as it would give them viable cause “to interfere again, control Libya and its resources.”
ISIS’ recent beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya sparked more furor in the West. Egypt swiftly retaliated with airstrikes on Libya, while Europe is reigniting talk of a second intervention in Libya — a cycle which has been evident in Iraq and the West’s obsession with liberation. Italy, one of the countries in the NATO coalition targeting Libya, has warned of the possibility of ISIS forging alliances with other militias in Libya. Reports have also indicated Italy’s intention to embark upon intervention in Libya, according to Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.
According to ISIS plans analyzed by Quilliam, a British anti-terrorism think tank, ISIS plans to infiltrate southern Europe through Libya and play a role in human trafficking in the Mediterranean by increasing the number of immigrants risking their lives to reach the continent. The issue of immigration is a hot button issue in Europe — especially during election seasons. While the threat of immigration may be somewhat valid, it is also important to remember that Quilliam, through its president, Noman Benotman, consistently downplayed the threat of al-Qaida and terror organizations during the course of the Arab Spring and especially within the context of Libya, thus serving to promote the interventionist agenda.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is reportedly exploring links between ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and ISIS in Libya, in light of the recent atrocities committed in Libya.
ISIS, extremism “should have been clear to the US from the beginning”
Egyptians light candles during a vigil for Christians who were killed in Libya, at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.
Quoted in Russia Today in relation to the beheadings committed by ISIS, Vijay Prashad, an American professor and author, asserted that the current scenario in Libya is “precisely the consequence of the kind of war NATO waged in Libya, destroying the infrastructure, collapsing the state, and allowing a bunch of militia groups to be treated as heroes.”
In such an environment, Prashad continued, “what breeds most effectively is this group that calls itself the Islamic State.”
Hamroni, meanwhile, takes an international approach to the challenges posed by ISIS. He told MintPress: “The presence of ISIS and other extremists in Libya should have been clear to the U.S. from the beginning. The first victim of the terror unleashed by militias was the murder of the American ambassador in Benghazi in 2012.”
Noting that American forces have a wealth of information on extremist activity in Libya, including their locations and logistics, due to a history of good intelligence cooperation, he continued, “The militias fighting in Libya have taken over the political process after the so-called revolution, and they have the means through which to control the natural resources, as well as having the necessary military arsenal to fulfil the international plan for [ISIS] in Libya. Can you tell me that the Americans and the British are not informed?”