Salon, Sept 16, 2016
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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“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.
On March 17, 2011, the report points out — two 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.”
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, 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, agreed with Joffé. She told the committee that there was no “real evidence 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.
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.”
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!”
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.” Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations 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.
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. “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.
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, 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.”
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.
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.”
Al Jazeera, a Qatari news outlet, and Al Arabiya, a Saudi outlet, spread unsubstantiated stories about Qaddafi and the Libyan government.
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. 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.
Уроды США: Obama и Bush, Trump … а Порочная Баба Clinton Хуже Всех! /////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Правительство США жестоко нарушало мои права человека при проведении кампании террора, которая заставила меня покинуть свою родину и получить политическое убежище в СССР. См. книгу «Безмолвный террор — История политических гонений на семью в США» — «Silent Terror: One family’s history of political persecution in the United States» — http://arnoldlockshin.wordpress.com
Правительство США еще нарушает мои права, в течении более 12 лет отказывается от выплаты причитающейся мне пенсии по старости. Властители США воруют пенсию!! Всё это — ещё доказательство, что настоящий действующий закон в США — Закон джунглей.
ФСБ — Федеральная служба «безопасности» России — вслед за позорным, предавшим страну предшественником КГБ, выполняет приказы секретного, кровавого хозяина (boss) — американского ЦРУ (CIA). Среди таких «задач» — запретить меня выступать в СМИ и не пропускать отправленных мне комментариев. А это далеко не всё…
Арнольд Локшин, политэмигрант из США