U.K. Parliament report details how NATO’s 2011 war in Libya was based on lies


U.K. Parliament report details how NATO’s 2011 war in Libya was based on lies

By chance, I came across this article, which was published on Salon.com over a year ago! A German friend and journalist sent it to me and if even this report has escaped me, then I suppose that apart from the Salon readers something hardly anyone has heard of it.

British investigation: Gaddafi was not going to massacre civilians; Western bombing made Islamist extremism worse

A new report by the British Parliament shows that the 2011 NATO war in Libya was based on an array of lies.
“Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options,” an investigation by the House of Commons’ bipartisan Foreign Affairs Committee, strongly condemns the U.K.’s role in the war, which toppled the government of Libya’s leader Muammar Qaddafi and plunged the North African country into chaos.

“We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya,” the report states. “UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”

The Foreign Affairs Committee concludes that the British government “failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element.”
The Libya inquiry, which was launched in July 2015, is based on more than a year of research and interviews with politicians, academics, journalists and more. The report, which was released on Sept. 14, reveals the following:

  • Qaddafi was not planning to massacre civilians. This myth was exaggerated by rebels and Western governments, which based their intervention on little intelligence.
  • The threat of Islamist extremists, which had a large influence in the uprising, was ignored — and the NATO bombing made this threat even worse, giving ISIS a base in North Africa.
  • France, which initiated the military intervention, was motivated by economic and political interests, not humanitarian ones.
  • The uprising — which was violent, not peaceful — would likely not have been successful were it not for foreign military intervention and aid. Foreign media outlets, particularly Qatar’s Al Jazeera and Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya, also spread unsubstantiated rumors about Qaddafi and the Libyan government.
  • The NATO bombing plunged Libya into a humanitarian disaster, killing thousands of people and displacing hundreds of thousands more, transforming Libya from the African country with the highest standard of living into a war-torn failed state.

Myth that Qaddafi would massacre civilians and the lack of intel

“Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence,” the Foreign Affairs Committee states clearly.
“While Muammar Gaddafi certainly threatened violence against those who took up arms against his rule, this did not necessarily translate into a threat to everyone in Benghazi,” the report continues. “In short, the scale of the threat to civilians was presented with unjustified certainty.”

The summary of the report also notes that the war “was not informed by accurate intelligence.” It adds, “US intelligence officials reportedly described the intervention as ‘an intelligence-light decision.'”
This flies in the face of what political figures claimed in the lead-up to the NATO bombing. After violent protests erupted in Libya in February, and Benghazi — Libya’s second-largest city — was taken over by rebels, exiled opposition figures like Soliman Bouchuiguir, president of the Europe-based Libyan League for Human Rights, claimed that, if Qaddafi retook the city, “There will be a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda.”
The British Parliament’s report, however, notes that the Libyan government had retaken towns from rebels in early February 2011, before NATO launched its air strike campaign, and Qaddafi’s forces had not attacked civilians.
On March 17, 2011, the report points outtwo days before NATO began bombing — Qaddafi told rebels in Benghazi, “Throw away your weapons, exactly like your brothers in Ajdabiya and other places did. They laid down their arms and they are safe. We never pursued them at all.”

The Foreign Affairs Committee adds that, when Libyan government forces retook the town of Ajdabiya in February, they did not attack civilians. Qaddafi “also attempted to appease protesters in Benghazi with an offer of development aid before finally deploying troops,” the report adds.
In another example, the report indicates that, after fighting in February and March in the city Misrata — Libya’s third-largest city, which had also been seized by rebels — just around 1 percent of people killed by the Libyan government were women or children.

“The disparity between male and female casualties suggested that Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians,” the committee says.

Senior British officials admitted in the Parliament investigation they did not consider Qaddafi’s actual actions, and instead called for military intervention in Libya based on his rhetoric.
In February, Qaddafi gave a heated speech threatening the rebels who had taken over cities. He said “they are a tiny few” and “a terrorist few,” and called them “rats” who “are turning Libya into the emirates of Zawahiri and bin Laden,” referencing the leaders of al-Qaeda.
At the end of his speech, Qaddafi promised “to cleanse Libya, inch by inch, house by house, home by home, alley by alley,” of these rebels. Many Western media outlets, however, implied or reported outright that his remark was meant as a threat to all protesters. An Israeli journalist popularized this line by turning it into a song called “Zenga, Zenga” (Arabic for “alleyway”). The YouTube video featuring the remixed speech was circulated throughout the world.

The Foreign Affairs Committee notes in its report that, at that moment, British officials had a “lack of reliable intelligence.” William Hague, who served as the British secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs during the war in Libya, claimed to the committee that Qaddafi had promised “to go house to house, room to room, exacting their revenge on the people of Benghazi,” misquoting Qaddafi’s speech. He added, “A lot of people were going to die.”

Given the lack of reliable intelligence, both Lord Hague and Dr Fox highlighted the impact of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric on their decision-making,” the report notes, also referencing then-Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox.

George Joffé, a scholar at King’s College London University and an expert on the Middle East and North Africa, told the Foreign Affairs Committee for its investigation that, while Qaddafi sometimes used intimidating rhetoric that “was quite blood-curdling,” past examples showed that the longtime Libyan leader was “very careful” to avoid civilian casualties.
In one instance, Joffé noted, “rather than trying to remove threats to the regime in the east, in Cyrenaica, Gaddafi spent six months trying to pacify the tribes that were located there.”
Qaddafi “would have been very careful in the actual response,” Joffé said in the report. “The fear of the massacre of civilians was vastly overstated.”
Alison Pargeter, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and specialist on Libya who was also interviewed for the investigation, agreed with Joffé. She told the committee that there was no “real evidence at that time that Gaddafi was preparing to launch a massacre against his own civilians.”

“Émigrés opposed to Muammar Gaddafi exploited unrest in Libya by overstating the threat to civilians and encouraging Western powers to intervene,” the report notes, summarizing Joffé’s analysis.

Pargeter added that Libyans who opposed the government exaggerated Qaddafi’s use of “mercenaries” — a term they often used as a synonym for Libyans of Sub-Saharan descent. Pargeter said that Libyans had told her, “The Africans are coming. They’re going to massacre us. Gaddafi’s sending Africans into the streets. They’re killing our families.”

“I think that that was very much amplified,” Pargeter said. This amplified myth led to extreme violence. Black Libyans were violently oppressed by Libyan rebels. The Associated Press reported in September 2011, “Rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa.” It noted, “Virtually all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers.”

(The crimes rebels committed against black Libyans would go on to become even worse. In 2012, there were reports that black Libyans were put in cages by rebels, and forced to eat flags. As Salon has previously reported, Human Rights Watch also warned in 2013 of “serious and ongoing human rights violations against inhabitants of the town of Tawergha, who are widely viewed as having supported Muammar Gaddafi.” Tawergha’s inhabitants were mostly descendants of black slaves and were very poor. Human Rights Watch reported that Libyan rebels carried out “forced displacement of roughly 40,000 people, arbitrary detentions, torture, and killings are widespread, systematic, and sufficiently organized to be crimes against humanity.”)

In July 2011, State Department spokesman Mark Toner acknowledged that Qaddafi is “someone who’s given to overblown rhetoric,” but, in February, Western governments weaponized this speech.
The Foreign Affairs Committee notes in its report that, despite its lack of intelligence, “the UK Government focused exclusively on military intervention” as a solution in Libya, ignoring available forms of political engagement and diplomacy.
This is consistent with reporting by The Washington Times, which found that Qaddafi’s son Saif had hoped to negotiate a ceasefire with the U.S. government. Saif Qaddafi quietly opened up communications with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intervened and asked the Pentagon to stop talking to the Libyan government. “Secretary Clinton does not want to negotiate at all,” a U.S. intelligence official told Saif.
In March, Secretary Clinton had called Muammar Qaddafi a “creature” “who has no conscience and will threaten anyone in his way.” Clinton, who played a leading role in pushing for the NATO bombing of Libya, claimed Qaddafi would do “terrible things” if he was not stopped.
From March to October 2011, NATO carried out a bombing campaign against Libyan government forces. It claimed to be pursuing a humanitarian mission to protect civilians. In October, Qaddafi was brutally killed — sodomized with a bayonet by rebels. (Upon hearing the news of his death, Secretary Clinton announced, live on TV, “We came, we saw, he died!”)
The Foreign Affairs Committee report points out, nonetheless, that, while the NATO intervention was sold as a humanitarian mission, its ostensible goal was accomplished in just one day.

On March 20, 2011, Qaddafi’s forces retreated approximately 40 miles outside of Benghazi, after French planes attacked. “If the primary object of the coalition intervention was the urgent need to protect civilians in Benghazi, then this objective was achieved in less than 24 hours,” the report says. Yet the military intervention carried on for several more months.
The report explains “the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change.” This view has been challenged, however, by Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Zenko used NATO’s own materials to show that “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”
In its investigation, the Foreign Affairs Committee cites a June 2011 Amnesty International report, which noted that “much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge.”
Amnesty International also said it was unable to find evidence for the accusation that the Libyan government had given Viagra to its troops and encouraged them to rape women in rebel-held areas. Then-Secretary of State Clinton, among others, had contributed to this unproven myth.

Islamist extremism and the spread of Libyan weapons

Today, Libya is home to the largest base of the genocidal extremist group ISIS outside of Iraq and Syria. Other Islamist groups seized large swaths of territory after the Libyan government was destroyed.

“It is now clear that militant Islamist militias played a critical role in the rebellion from February 2011 onwards,” the Foreign Affairs Committee states clearly.
“Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate,” the report adds. It cites former British Chief of the Defence Staff David Richards, who “confirmed that intelligence on the composition of the rebel militias was not ‘as good as one would wish.'”

The inquiry asked Richards if he knew if members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were participating in the rebellion in March 2011. He said that “was a grey area.” Richards recalled that “respectable Libyans were assuring the Foreign Office” that Islamist extremists would not benefit from the uprising, but admitted, “with the benefit of hindsight, that was wishful thinking at best.”

“The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight,” the committee comments. “Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda.”

NATO’s destruction of the Libyan government also caused some of its massive weapons and ammunition reserves to fall “into the hands of the militias” and to be “trafficked across North and West Africa and the Middle East,” the Foreign Affairs Committee notes.
“The international community’s inability to secure weapons abandoned by the Gaddafi regime fuelled instability in Libya and enabled and increased terrorism across North and West Africa and the Middle East,” the report states.

It cites a study by a U.N. panel of experts, which found the former Libyan government’s weapons in Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Gaza, Mali, Niger, Tunisia and Syria. The U.N. panel noted that “arms originating from Libya have significantly reinforced the military capacity of terrorist groups operating in Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Tunisia.”
A former British Parliament study cited by the report also found that Libyan weapons ended up in the hands of Boko Haram, the ISIS-affiliated extremist group that has carried out massacres of civilians in Nigeria.
Former Chief of the Defence Staff Richards told the inquiry that the U.K. had hoped to prevent the Libyan government’s weapons and ammunition from being seized, but he could not remember the British government “doing anything to achieve it.”

France’s economic and political motivations

The Foreign Affairs Committee confirms that “France led the international community in advancing the case for military intervention in Libya in February and March 2011.” The U.K. joined next, followed by the U.S.
The report also notes that the primary reasons France pushed for military intervention in Libya were Qaddafi’s “nearly bottomless financial resources,” the Libyan leader’s plans to create an alternative currency to the French franc in Africa, “Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa” and the desire to “Increase French influence in North Africa.”
Initially, the U.S. was undecided about military intervention in Libya, the report notes. “There were divisions in the American Government,” the investigation found. This is consistent with what President Obama has since said (he called the Libya war his “worst mistake”), and what The New York Times found in its own detailed investigation.

France and the U.K. were first to pressure the international community to impose a no-fly zone in Libya, ostensibly to protect civilians, the report says. Once it was on board, nonetheless, the U.S. pushed for more aggressive military intervention.

“The United States was instrumental in extending the terms of [U.N. Security Council] Resolution 1973 beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone to include the authorisation of ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians,” the report notes. “In practice, this led to the imposition of a ‘no-drive zone’ and the assumed authority to attack the entire Libyan Government command and communications network.”

Explaining France’s motivations, the report cites an April 2011 email to the U.S.’s then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which noted that “Qaddafi has nearly bottomless financial resources to continue indefinitely.”

“Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” Clinton’s assistant Sidney Blumenthal wrote, citing “sources with access to advisors to Saif al-Islam Qaddafi,” Muammar Qaddafi’s son.

This gold “was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar,” Blumenthal said, citing “knowledgeable individuals.” He added, “This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc.”

“French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya,” Blumenthal wrote, referencing France’s then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, of the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement party.

The French intelligence officers articulated five factors that motivated Sarkozy:

“a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
b. Increase French influence in North Africa,
c. Improve his internal political situation in France,
d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.”

Crucial role of foreign intervention

The U.K. Parliament report notes that the NATO bombing “shifted the military balance in the Libyan civil war in favour of the rebels.”

“The combination of coalition airpower with the [foreign] supply of arms, intelligence and personnel to the rebels guaranteed the military defeat of the Gaddafi regime,” the Foreign Affairs Committee adds.

Resolution 1973, the March 2011 U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed a no-fly zone in Libya, was supposed to ensure a “strict implementation of the arms embargo,” the report further points out. But “the international community turned a blind eye to the supply of weapons to the rebels.”
Rebel ground forces inside Libya were “enhanced by personnel and intelligence provided by” the U.K., France, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the investigation reveals.
Then-British Chief of the Defence Staff David Richards also told the inquiry that the U.K. “had a few people embedded” with the rebel forces on the ground.
Richards emphasized “the degree to which the Emiratis and the Qataris … played a major role in the success of the ground operation.”

Citing The Guardian, the report notes that Qatar secretly gave French-manufactured antitank missiles to certain rebel groups. The investigation also says Qatar, a theocratic monarchy, “channelled its weapons to favoured militias rather than to the rebels as a whole.”
Moreover, Alison Pargeter, the Libya specialist, told the committee, “I also think the Arab media played a very important role here.”
She singled out Al Jazeera, a Qatari news outlet, and Al Arabiya, a Saudi outlet, for spreading unsubstantiated stories about Qaddafi and the Libyan government. These news outlets “were really hamming everything up, and it turned out not to be true,” she said.  —–(how about BBC, CNN, FOX they also did their part)

Humanitarian disaster and echoes of the Iraq War

The Foreign Affairs Committee report blames the U.K., U.S. and France for failing to articulate “a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya.”
The result of this, the report notes in the summary, “was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”
The committee cites Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2016, which indicated:

“[Libya is] heading towards a humanitarian crisis, with almost 400,000 people internally displaced and increasing disruption to basic services, such as power and fuel supplies. Forces engaged in the conflict continued with impunity to arbitrarily detain, torture, unlawfully kill, indiscriminately attack, abduct and disappear, and forcefully displace people from their homes. The domestic criminal justice system collapsed in most parts of the country, exacerbating the human rights crisis.”

Before the 2011 NATO bombing, on the other hand, Libya had been the wealthiest nation in Africa, with the highest life expectancy and GDP per capita. In his book “Perilous Interventions,” former Indian representative to the U.N. Hardeep Singh Puri notes that, before the war, Libya had less of its population in poverty than the Netherlands. Libyans had access to free health care, education, electricity and interest-free loans, and women had great freedoms that had been applauded by the U.N. Human Rights Council in January 2011, on the eve of the war that destroyed the government.
Today, Libya remains so dangerous that the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee was in fact unable to travel to the country during its investigation. It notes in the report that a delegation visited North Africa in March 2016. They met with Libyan politicians in Tunis, but “were unable to visit Tripoli, Benghazi, Tobruk or anywhere else in Libya due to the collapse of internal security and the rule of law.”
The U.K. Parliament’s Libya report comes just two months after the Chilcot Report, the British government’s Iraq War inquiry, which also admits that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was based on numerous lies, and likewise reveals that the war only strengthened al-Qaeda and other extremists.
Citing the Iraq War inquiry, the Libya report draws comparisons between the actions of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration and that of David Cameron. In 2010, Cameron created the National Security Council, ostensibly to provide a form of oversight that was lacking before the 2003 Iraq invasion.

The Libya report, however, calls on the British government to commission an independent review of the National Security Council. This review “should be informed by the conclusions of the Iraq Inquiry and examine whether the weaknesses in governmental decision-making in relation to the Iraq intervention in 2003 have been addressed by the introduction of the NSC,” the report says.
In the lone moment of humor in the otherwise macabre report, the Foreign Affairs Committee summarizes the humanitarian situation in Libya today writing, “In April 2016, United States President Barack Obama described post-intervention Libya as a ‘shit show’. It is difficult to disagree with this pithy assessment.”

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The last country we “liberated” from an “evil” dictator is now openly trading slaves


The last country we “liberated” from an “evil” dictator is now openly trading slaves

 

 

By Carey Wedler

It is widely known that the U.S.-led NATO intervention to topple Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 resulted in a power vacuum that has allowed terror groups like ISIS to gain a foothold in the country.

Despite the destructive consequences of the 2011 invasion, the West is currently taking a similar trajectory with regard to Syria. Just as the Obama administration excoriated Gaddafi in 2011, highlighting his human rights abuses and insisting he must be removed from power to protect the Libyan people, the Trump administration is now pointing to the repressive policies of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and warning his regime will soon come to an end — all in the name of protecting Syrian civilians.

But as the U.S. and its allies fail to produce legal grounds for their recent air strike — let alone provide concrete evidence to back up their claims Assad was responsible for a deadly chemical attack last week — more hazards of invading foreign countries and removing their heads of state are emerging.

This week, new findings revealed another unintended consequence of “humanitarian intervention”: the growth of the human slave trade.

The Guardian reports that while “violence, extortion and slave labor” have been a reality for people trafficked through Libya in the past, the slave trade has recently expanded. Today, people are selling other human beings out in the open.

“The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, head of operation and emergencies for the International Office of Migration, an intergovernmental organization that promotes “humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all,” according to its website. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”

The North African country is commonly used as a point of exit for refugees fleeing other parts of the continent. But since Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, “the vast, sparsely populated country has slid into violent chaos and migrants with little cash and usually no papers are particularly vulnerable,” the Guardian explains.

One survivor from Senegal said he was passing through Libya from Niger with a group of other migrants attempting to flee their home countries. They had paid a smuggler to transport them via bus to the coast, where they would risk taking a boat to Europe. But rather than take them to the coast, the smuggler took them to a dusty lot in Sabha, Libya. According to Livia Manente, an IOM officer who interviews survivors, “their driver suddenly said middlemen had not passed on his fees and put his passengers up for sale.”

“Several other migrants confirmed his story, independently describing kinds of slave markets as well as kinds of private prisons all over in Libya,” she said, adding IOM Italy had confirmed similar stories from migrants landing in southern Italy.

The Senegalese survivor said he was taken to a makeshift prison, which the Guardian notes are common in Libya.

Those held inside are forced to work without pay, or on meager rations, and their captors regularly call family at home demanding a ransom. His captors asked for 300,000 west African francs (about £380), then sold him on to a larger jail where the demand doubled without explanation.

When migrants were held too long without having a ransom paid for them, they were taken away and killed. “Some wasted away on meager rations in unsanitary conditions, dying of hunger and disease, but overall numbers never fell,” the Guardian reported.

“If the number of migrants goes down, because of death or someone is ransomed, the kidnappers just go to the market and buy one,” Manente said.

Giuseppe Loprete, IOM Niger’s chief of mission, confirmed these disturbing reports. “It’s very clear they see themselves as being treated as slaves,” he said. He arranged for the repatriation of 1,500 migrants just in the first three months of this year and is concerned more stories and incidents will emerge as more migrants return from Libya.

“And conditions are worsening in Libya so I think we can also expect more in the coming months,” he added.

As the United States government continues to entertain regime change in Syria as a viable solution to the many crises in that country, it is becoming ever-more evident that ousting dictators — however detestable they may be — is not effective. Toppling Saddam Hussein led not only to the deaths of civilians and radicalization within the population, but also the rise of ISIS.

As Libya, once a beacon of stability in the region, continues to devolve in the fallout from the Western “humanitarian” intervention – and as human beings are dragged into emerging slave trades while rapes and kidnappings plague the population — it is increasingly obvious that further war will only create even further suffering in unforeseen ways.

Britain’s Seven Covert Wars


Britain’s Seven Covert Wars

by Mark Curtis

Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars. To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.

Syria

Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mountinghit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.

British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.

Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.

Iraq

Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.

British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.

Libya

SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedly fighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata. <= ***which involves of AlQaeda, Isis and other Radical groups.

But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.

Yemen

The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.

Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.

The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.

A secretmemorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.

In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.

Pakistan and Somalia

Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providinglocational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.

The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.

Drones

The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.

The Gulf

Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.

Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.

The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.

Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.

Kenya and Turkey

Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.

The web of deceit

When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.

Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.

There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.

British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.

Overthrowing Qadafi in Libya: Britain’s Islamist Boots on the Ground


Overthrowing Qadafi in Libya: Britain’s Islamist Boots on the Ground

by:MARK CURTIS

An extract from Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, by Mark Curtis

Britain’s willingness to work with Islamist forces has been evident in Libya, where it took a brutal civil war between armed opposition forces and remnants of the regime to overthrow Libyan ruler, Muammar Qadafi, who was killed in October 2011. Massive NATO air strikes, mainly by Britain and France, were conducted during March-October in support of the rebel forces and significantly contributed to the rebel victory. What concerns the story here is not a review of the whole intervention but the extent to which it involved an Islamist element being supported by Britain in furtherance of its objectives in the Middle East.

The Islamist forces were only part of the military opposition that overthrew Qadafi, but were an important element, especially in the east of the country which was where the uprising began and which provided the centre of opposition to Qadafi. The episode, to some extent, echoes past British interventions where Islamist actors have acted as among the foot-soldiers in British policy to secure energy interests. That the British military intervention to overthrow Qadafi was primarily motivated by such interests seems clear – in the absence of access to government files – to which we briefly turn later. Such oil and gas interests in Libya, however, has been downplayed by ministers and largely ignored by the media, in favour of notions of Britain being motivated by the need to support the human rights of the Libyan people and promote democracy: concerns completely absent when it came to defending the rights of other Middle Easterners being abused at precisely the same time, notably Bahrainis.

Britain provided a range of support to the rebel Libyan leadership, which was grouped in the National Transitional Council (NTC), an initially 33-member self-selected body of mainly former Qadafi ministers and other opposition forces, formed in Benghazi in February 2011 to provide an alternative government. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was passed on 17 March, imposing a no fly zone over Libya and authorizing ‘all necessary measures…to protect civilians’ under threat of attack. In an echo of Kosovo in 1999, it was certainly questionable whether civilians in Libya were under the extent of attack described by British ministers as justification for their military intervention, such as David Cameron’s claim that ‘we averted a massacre’.

Subsequently, British policy went well beyond the narrow strictures of the UN resolution, clearly seeking to target Qadafi personally and overthrow the regime. British air strikes and cruise missile attacks began on 19 March and within the first month of what became a seven-month bombing campaign NATO had flown 2,800 sorties, destroying a third of Qadafi’s military assets, according to NATO. The RAF eventually flew over 3,000 sorties over Libya, damaging or destroying 1,000 targets, while Britain also sent teams of regular army, SAS and MI6 officers to advise the NTC on ‘military organizational structures, communications and logistics’. Britain also assisted NATO airstrikes by deploying SAS troops to act as ground spotters and supplied military communications equipment and body armour. Whitehall also aided the NTC’s ‘media and broadcasting operations’ and invited the NTC to establish an office in London.

Military operations were coordinated with France while the US, which played no overt part in the military intervention, authorised $25 million in covert aid to the rebels in April. British ministers denied that they provided arms and military training to the NTC (given that an international arms embargo was applied to Libya) but media reports suggested that the US gave a green light for the new Egyptian regime to supply arms and also asked Saudi Arabia to covertly do so.

The NTC’s military forces were led by various former Libyan army officers, such as Colonel Khalifa Haftar who had set up the ‘Libyan National Army’ in 1988 with support from the CIA and Saudis and who had been living for the past 20 years near Langley, Virginia, home of the CIA, which also provided him with a training camp. But Islamist elements were also prominent. Two former mujahideen who had fought in Afghanistan led the military campaign against Qadafi’s forces in Darnah, to the east of Benghazi, for example. Abdel Hakim al-Hasady, an influential Islamic preacher who spent five years at a jihadist training camp in eastern Afghanistan, oversaw the recruitment, training and deployment in the conflict of around 300 rebel fighters from Darnah. Both al-Hasady and his field commander on the front lines, Salah al-Barrani, were former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), the Islamist force that had long targeted Qadafi, and which Britain covertly funded to kill Qadafi in 1996.

It was also reported that Sufyan Ben Qumu, a Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden’s holding company in Sudan and later for an al-Qaida-linked charity in Afghanistan, ran the training of many of Darnah’s rebel recruits. Qumu spent six years at Guantanamo Bay before he was turned over to Libyan custody in 2007; he was released, along with al-Hasady, from a Libyan prison in 2008 as part of Libya’s reconciliation with the LIFG. Al-Hasady, who had fought against the US in Afghanistan in 2001, had been arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and turned over to the US, imprisoned probably at the US base at Bagram, Afghanistan, and then mysteriously released. The US Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg, told Congressmen he would speak of al-Hasady’s career only in a closed session.

In an interview with an Italian newspaper in late March 2011, al-Hasady said he had previously recruited ‘around 25’ men from the Darnah area to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, were ‘today are on the front lines in Adjabiya’, a coastal city in north-central Libya which saw some of the heaviest fighting against Qadafi’s forces. Wikileaks cables obtained by the British media revealed US files highlighting supporters of Islamist causes among the opposition to Qadafi’s regime, particularly in the towns of Benghazi and Darnah, and that the latter area was a breeding ground for fighters destined for Afghanistan and Iraq.

Captured al-Qaida documents that fell into American hands in 2007 showed that Libya provided more foreign fighters to Iraq in per capita terms than any other country and that most of the volunteers were from the country’s northeast, notably Benghazi and Darnah. Former CIA operations officer Brian Fairchild wrote that since ‘the epicentre of the revolt [in Libya] is rife with anti-American and pro-jihad sentiment, and with al-Qaida’s explicit support for the revolt, it is appropriate to ask our policy makers how American military intervention in support of this revolt in any way serves vital US strategic interests’.

Other commentators recognised the Islamist nature of some of the rebels. Noman Benotman, a former member of the LIFG who had fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, estimated that there were 1,000 jihadists fighting in Libya. Former Director of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove observed that the rebel stronghold of Benghazi was ‘rather fundamentalist in character’ and Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said that US intelligence had picked up ‘flickers’ of terrorist activity among the rebel groups; this was described by senior British government figures as ‘very alarming’.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said in parliament that since there was evidence of the presence of al-Qaida-linked forces among the rebels, Britain should ‘proceed with very real caution’ in arming them. In response, William Hague downplayed the concern, saying that ‘of course we want to know about any links with al-Qaida, as we do about links with any organisations anywhere in the world, but given what we have seen of the interim transitional national council in Libya, I think it would be right to put the emphasis on the positive side’. Following a Freedom of Information request by the author to the Ministry of Defence, asking for the latter’s assessment of the presence of al-Qaida forces or their sympathisers in the Libyan rebel forces, the MoD replied that it did not even want to disclose whether it held such information because this would be contrary to the ‘public interest’.

The extent to which these Islamist and al-Qaida-linked elements may have received weapons or military support from the British, French, Egyptians or Saudi Arabians is not yet known, but officials in Chad and Algeria repeatedly expressed concerns that the al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb organisation might have acquired heavy weapons, thanks to the arms supply. What is known is that the state of Qatar was a major financial backer of the Libyan rebels, providing them with a massive $400 million worth of support, much of which was provided to the Islamist radicals. Moreover, Qatar also sent hundreds of troops to fight on the frontline and to provide infantry training to Libyan fighters in the western Nafusa mountains and in eastern Libya. Much of Qatar’s support went to the so-called 17 February Martyrs Brigade, one of the most influential rebel formations led by Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, a leading member of the LIFG who became the rebel military commander in Tripoli.

Qatar’s support for the Islamists in Libya was surely known to British ministers, as they consistently supported Qatar’s prominent role in the campaign against Qadafi, alongside deepening military and commercial cooperation, as we see in the next section. Indeed, Qatar’s chief-of-staff, Major-General Hamad bin Ali al-Atiya, later said: ‘We acted as the link between the rebels and Nato forces’. Qatar also played a key role alongside Britain in the ‘Libya contact group’ that coordinated policy against the Qadafi regime; the first meeting of the group, in April 2011, for example, was convened by Qatar and co-chaired by Britain in Doha. After Qadafi was overthrown, Libya’s new oil minister, Ali Tarhouni, issued a rebuke to Qatar saying that ‘anyone who wishes to come to our house should knock on the front door first’; this was described by the Economist as ‘a thinly-veiled warning to Qatar to stop favouring ambitious Islamists at the expense of the shaky central government’.

What is especially intriguing about this episode relates to the past British support for the LIFG to overthrow Qadafi and whether the British still saw LIFG fighters and other Libyan Islamists as, in effect, their boots on the ground, similar to the way the British saw the Kosovo Liberation Army, then working alongside al-Qaida, in the Kosovo war of 1999. This is surely likely but again the details are murky. Certainly, there were plenty of LIFG fighters available to challenge Qadafi both in Britain and Libya, helped by a reconciliation process between the regime and the LIFG begun in 2007 and presided over by Saif al-Islam al-Qadafi, the son of the ruler. This process resulted in 2009 in dozens of LIFG members being freed from jail in Libya in return for giving up their war against the regime. In July 2009, 30 LIFG members living in Britain, some of them senior figures in the group, signed on to the reconciliation process. British Home Office Control Orders imposed on them, having been regarded as posing a danger to UK national security, were, in some cases at least, dropped. Many of the released LIFG fighters are likely to have taken part in the uprising against Qadafi alongside those who had never been captured by the regime. A series of documentaries shown on the al-Jazeera news channel followed a group of Libyan exiles in London return to Libya to take part in the overthrow of Qadafi.

In mid-March 2011, when the Qadafi regime was still clinging to power in Tripoli, Libyan authorities paraded in front of the world’s media a British citizen captured in Libya and branded an Islamic terrorist. Salah Mohammed Ali Aboaoba said he was a member of the LIFG and had moved from Yemen to Britain in 2005, where he stayed until 2010, having been granted asylum, living with his family in Manchester and raising funds for the LIFG. There is no evidence that the British authorities facilitated the despatch of LIFG fighters from Britain to Libya, which may have been a re-run of the Kosovo conflict. Yet there is the suspicion that the Libyan reconciliation process could have enabled the British, and US, to maintain contacts with the LIFG and to regard them as potential future collaborators to remove Qadafi.

At the very least, Britain in 2011 once again found that its interests – mainly concerning oil – coincided with those of Islamist forces in Libya. By now, however, the British relationship with the LIFG was clearly quite complex. Blair’s government had been so keen to curry favour with Qadafi that in 2004 MI6 was involved in the seizure of LIFG leader Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and his deputy Sami al-Saadi. Belhaj was captured at Bangkok airport and claims he was handed over to the CIA, who he alleges tortured him and injected him with truth serum before flying him back to Tripoli for interrogation. Belhaj subsequently spent six years in solitary confinement at Tripoli’s notorious Abu Selim jail, and claims that he was questioned by three British agents, who ignored his complaints about mistreatment.

MI5 sent a delegation to Tripoli in 2005, apparently to cement relations with the Qadafi regime at a time when the British were concerned with the potential threat posed to British security by other dissident members of LIFG living in the UK, whom they believed were increasingly inspired by al-Qaida. MI5 also gave the Libyan regime the names, personal details and addresses of 50 LIFG members living in the UK. Once again, the episode highlights how expedient British policy towards the LIFG was – covertly supporting the organisation in the mid-1990s and acquiescing in its presence in London as a counter to the Libyan regime, then taking action against it at the behest of Qadafi, while later finding itself on the same side again and working alongside those, such as Qatar, providing significant military and financial support to it.

****Editors note: In other words England for over a century has been affiliating all kind of terrorists gave them asylum a British passport aka British citizens all terrorists were working with MI5/MI6 and black ops and when Britain would find a window to overthrow any sovereign government so that it could steal its resources they would use these terrorists. Britain has no intention to protect its own people so any terrorist act that is taken towards Britain the only one who is to blame is MI5/MI6 and the shadow government same goes to all other European countries who have been sleeping with the devil (Alqaeda, Isis, Nusra etc) using them for their own interests. Europe and USA have no interest in DEMOCRACY or saving civilians but how to steal resources and war my friends is a GOOD BUSINESS, as refugees is a GOOD BUSINESS, human trafficking is a GOOD BUSINESS, organ harvesting is a GOOD BUSINESS.

IF YOU THINK THAT YOUR COUNTRY WORRIES ABOUT YOU.  YOU ARE SADLY MISTAKEN AND UNLESS YOU WAKE UP AND GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND START FIGHTING AGAINST THE ESTABLISHMENT THAT IS EARNING IN THE TRILLIONS WHILE YOU GET CHUM-CHANGE AND SUFFER AUSTERITY. WAKE UP

 

Libya Since 2011 NATO War: A Failed Quasi-State


Libya Since 2011 NATO War: A Failed Quasi-State

By: Alessandra Bajec

A child runs past graffiti at the old city in Tripoli. | Photo: Reuters

Libya currently has no single, central government, there is no security, oil revenues have halved, and weapons flow out of the country.
In the 6th year since the NATO-led intervention in Libya resulted in the toppling of long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi, the North African country has descended into a noticeably worse position amid political chaos and a growing extremist threat.

Libya currently has no single government or central authority which controls the whole nation, there is no security, oil revenues have halved, and weapons flow out of the country. Libya is torn apart by a civil war between rival militias which has been raging since 2014, after the internationally-recognized government relocated to Tobruk in the east, with General Khalifa Haftar as top commander of the armed forces, and Libya Dawn – an Islamist-dominated coalition – set up a rival government, known as the new General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

By the end of February, hopes for peace vanished again after members of the parliament in Tobruk were reportedly “prevented” from voting on the make-up of a new unity government under a U.N.-backed plan aimed at bringing together Libya’s warring factions, which they said they supported. Since it was signed by some elements of the two opposing groups on Dec. 17, 2015, in Morocco, the U.N. plan has been opposed by hard-liners on both sides and suffered repeated delays.

WATCH: Remembering the 2011 NATO Bombing of Libya

https://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/player/363493/remembering-the-2011-nato-bombing-of-libya/?aspectratio=auto

Not even the logic of a power-sharing agreement has worked, said Dr. Khaled Hanafy Aly, a researcher in African affairs at Al-Ahram Center, referring to the peace deal that followed other U.N.-mediated efforts at creating a Government of National Agreement (GNA).

According to Karim Mezran, resident senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, there are a few thousand militias fighting each other, each linked with some political attache. “Fragmentation” is the first word that comes into his mind to define the situation in Libya. The senior fellow described the country’s political outlook by first noting that in the east, while the majority within the parliament backs the U.N. accord, other lawmakers alongside powerful army chief General Haftar oppose the deal.

“A large number of parliamentarians in Tobruk would be happy to have the unity cabinet, but Gen. Haftar keeps pushing for a military solution, not a political one,” said Mezran, who is also professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “Haftar and his allies are the strongest voices, and they’re the ones who can spoil the agreement,” he added.

In the west, the head and members of the rival Tripoli-based GNC also oppose the deal. Its affiliated government, led by Prime Minister Khalifa al-Ghweil, has no intention of relinquishing power to the new GNA, as the Middle East fellow hinted.

To add to this, a third government led by Faiz Siraj hangs over the two rival administrations, which has the backing of Western powers. However, it is not recognized by any of the major powers inside Libya, and the international community looks paralyzed on what to do.

“The problem is not only the multiplicity of governments but the impasse in which conflicting interests make the existence of a central government difficult,” Dr. Aly stated.

WATCH: Hillary Clinton’s Involvement in Libya’s Turmoil

https://videosenglish.telesurtv.net/player/522814/hillary-clintons-involvement-in-libyas-turmoil/?aspectratio=auto

In the midst is the Islamic State group, which has capitalized on the power and security vacuum to set a foothold in Libya by establishing its presence around the central coastal city of Sirte, hometown of former Libyan leader Gadhafi. The extremist group has briefly seized territory in Sabratha, between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, and threatens to destroy what’s left of the country.

For Aly, the Islamic State group merely feeds on the east-west divisions without which it would be doomed to failure. He believes social and tribal grievances on the ground need to be addressed properly in order to prevent and stop affiliation of local militants with the group.

Yet, with media reports giving inflated numbers of Libyan fighters who have fallen to Islamic State group ranks, joined by foreign jihadists coming from Tunisia, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere, the group’s strength in Libya has been somewhat overestimated.

In Mezran’s view, the Islamic State group threatens more that territorial gain; it intends to completely destabilize Africa’s oil rich state. “It’s by no means territorial expansion in Libya,” he argued. “ISIS’ (Islamic State Group) strategy there is to have a base where from it launches sporadic attacks to hit oil fields and Libyan cities like Tripoli and Benghazi.”

The professor specified that the Islamic State group aims to destroy, not conquer, Libya’s oil facilities so as to prevent any possibility for a recognized government to draw from the oil industry, the key pillar of Libya’s economy, as well as reconstitute a state army and rebuild the country.

Libya’s oil production has collapsed to around 20 percent of its 2011 level. The country is at its most critical juncture since the overthrow of the Gadhafi regime with Central Bank reserves dwindling. Caught in the instability, the average Libyan has to put up with increased prices, lengthy fuel and power cuts and medicine shortages.

Libya is largely a quasi-failed state. “It’s not one big mess, it’s a whole set of many messes,” Rafik Hariri Center fellow observed. “There are institutions functioning in certain areas, then it’s total anarchy in other parts of the country.”

Libya has also turned into a battleground for foreign powers, with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, the UAE, giving open military backing to Haftar’s armed forces while Turkey, Qatar and Sudan are believed to have helped arm the Libya Dawn forces in Misrata.

 

For their part, Western governments, namely the U.S., Germany, the U.K., France and Italy have been considering direct military intervention against the Islamic State group in Libya. The new unity government, which Washington and its European allies are pushing to ratify, would effectively have the authority to call in international support, paving the way for a new NATO-led military intervention in Libya under the pretext of combating the Islamic State group.

“The West bears responsibility for today’s Libyan crisis,” the Al-Ahram Center researcher pointed out. “Failing to secure the country after Gadhafi’s death and disarm militias has turned Libya into a lawless state.”

Dr. Aly maintained that Libya today poses a threat to regional security. In his opinion, nonetheless, another foreign intervention will attract many risks for two main reasons. The Libyan elite does not seem keen on inviting foreign military forces. Second, an international operation may create more problems than intended and could lead to an even more complex scenario.

Mezran thinks the Libyan crisis needs to be resolved before fighting the Islamic State group, which, he feels, should not be overblown as “the issue.” “If [the] Western approach is just to hit ISIS (Islamic State Group) and forget what goes on in Libya, they’re trying to kill an octopus,” the senior researcher noted.

Five years after the NATO intervention in Libya, which has created a genuine disaster, another intervention is being prepared against the North African state. Whether that will materialize or not, failure to achieve political unity with an inclusive, participatory approach, could risk turning Libya into a failed state in future.