Without a central government with any real power, Libya is breaking into pieces. And all this is happening nearly three years after Muammar Gaddafi’s counteroffensive to suppress the uprising in Benghazi. With the US keeping its covert involvement in the Libyan events, NATO launched a war in which rebel militiamen played a secondary role which led to the overhrow of the Gaddafi regime and to the killing of Gaddafi.
The past weeks offer have shown that leaders and countries which were full of enthusiasm in 2011, when the war in the supposed interest of the Libyan people broke out, have little interest in the developments in Libya now. Initially, US President Barack Obama spoke proudly of his role in the prevention of a “massacre” in Benghazi at that time. But neither Washington nor London or Paris voiced any protest after the militiamen, backed by NATO, opened fire on a demonstration against America’s presence in Tripoli in November last year in which at least 42 protesters were killed.
Coincidentally, it was last week that Al-Jazeera broadcast the final episode in a three-year investigation of the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people . For years this was considered to be Gaddafi’s greatest crime but the documentary proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of carrying out the bombing, was innocent. Iran, acting through the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, ordered the blowing up of Pan Am 103 in revenge for the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane by the US navy carrier in 1988.
As you know, journalists say that if you want to find out government policy, imagine the worst thing they can do and then assume they are doing it.
However, the NATO countries that overthrew Gaddafi – and by some accounts gave the orders to kill him – did not do that because he was a tyrannical leader. It was rather because he pursued a nationalist policy backed by big money which was at odds with western policies in the Middle East. This is equally true of Western and Saudi intervention in Syria.
Libya is breaking apart. Its oil exports have fallen from !.4 million barrels a day in 2011 to 235,000 barrels a day. Militia s hold 8,000 people in prisons, many of whom say they have been tortured. “The longer Libyan authorities tolerate the militias acting with impunity, the more entrenched they become, and the less willing to step down,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
It is a sorrowful fact that the militias in Libya are getting stronger. Libya is a country where ethnic warlords are often simply well-armed racketeers using their power and taking advantage of the absence of an adequate police force. Nobody is safe in the country: the head of Libya’s military police was killed in Benghazi in October while Libya’s first post-Gaddafi prosecutor general was shot dead in Derna on February 8. It often happens that the motives for killings are obscure.
Western and regional governments are responsible for much that has happened in Libya, but so too should the media. The Libyan uprising was reported, mainly, as a clash between good and evil. Gaddafi and his regime were demonized and his opponents were treated with a lack of skepticism.
Can anything positive be learned from the Libyan experience ? Of importance here is that demands for civil, political and economic rights, which were at the centre of the Arab Spring uprisings, mean nothing without a nation state to guarantee them; otherwise, national loyalties will find themselves in a state of sectarian, regional and ethnic feud.
“Freedom under the rule of law is almost unknown outside nation-states,” writes a British politician, journalist and author, Daniel Hannan MEP, in a succinct analysis of why the Arab Spring failed. “Constitutional liberty requires a measure of patriotism, meaning a readiness to accept your countrymen’s disagreeable decisions, and to abide by election results when you lose,” he added in conclusion.
Voice of Russia, Independent