The brutal assassination of the American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three US diplomats in Benghazi, the cradle of anti-Qaddafi uprising in Libya, suggests an extremely improvident foreign policy of the United States in recent years.
The commentators and experts are busy seeking a triggering motive of the thugs. Was the mediocre film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ a true cause of the uprising or just a pretext?
The more we listen to them the more distressing is the impression. The West has lost the conscience and does not even dare to recognize the fatal mistake committed to Colonel Gaddafi. A few days ago the US president speaking at the UN General Assembly repeated a terrific mantra:
We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the UN Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents; and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant.
And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin.
First of all there was no UN Security Council mandate for intervention in Libya. If you essay a task reading the resolution 1973 (2011) on ‘no-fly zone in Libya’, you will find out that it does not contain a single word regarding possible intervention. The flexibility of that resolution was the only reason of its fatal approval by the Security Council.
Today Libya is being torn in parts by the rivaling tribes. During Gaddafi’s rule it was a confederation of tribes mostly loyal to central authority. Now they are not. Eastern tribes have already declared factual secession and ignored the parliamentary elections. They are trying to pocket the revenues of gas and oil fields exploration on their territories. One of the most economically prosperous countries of Maghreb is rapidly turning into Afghanistan or Somalia.
Every Libyan tribe now has its own armed militias with estimated total manpower exceeding 100,000. They permanently fight each other for lands, pastures, fresh water sources, but mainly – oil fields. For example a large scale war between Misratah and Benghazi clans for Sirte basin is looming nowadays. No one has a slightest intention to concede these assets to the central authorities in Tripoli.
Alexander Mezyaev from Strategic Culture Foundation describes the daily slaughterhouse routine in Libya:
On the whole, there are no signs that tensions are going down in Libya, where fighting flared up non-stop over the past 5-6 months. Serious clashes between the Toubou brigades and Arab groups began in Sabha, southern Libya, in June and took hundreds of lives. Later battles raged in Kufra, south-east Libya. The traditional inter-clan dispute over border control in the western part of Libya escalated into a three-day armed conflict between Zuwara city on the one side and the cities of al-Jumail and Reghladin on the other, with around 50 people being killed. Ten people died when Arabs and Tuaregs hammered each other in Ghadames, and around 1,600 Tuaregs were forced to flee to the nearby Derg later on. In June, the Zentan and Mashashia tribes locked horns in the Nafusa mountains, leaving over 70 people dead and some 150 – wounded. Government forces were deployed between Zentan and Shagiga to keep apart two local communities warring over land. The Barki council continued to pursue “federalist” policies in the east of Libya. Violence spilled even into the premier’s premises where a guard and a “rebel fighter” were killed in a shootout last May. Government facilities, international community representatives, and the security forces come under fire in east Libya with frightening regularity.
The administration of Barack Obama not only supported ousting Colonel Gaddafi (just refresh in memory his delighted speech on October 20, 2011), but also facilitated raising Muslim Brotherhood to the power in Egypt. Today we witness anti-American demonstrations there as well (no victims yet by sheer luck). And they also support anti-Assad insurgents in Syria. What will happen to the feeding hand in Damascus in case the guerrillas succeed we can’t even imagine.
Unfortunately the lessons of history are not learned in Washington. They have already paid a lot for distinguishing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ jihad (we are sorry to use this sacred word in ungodly militant meaning here). They consider the terror against geopolitical rivals as an admissible form of ‘national liberation’, while anti-American actions – as crimes against humanity. The price of such political schizophrenia for the US will be rising.
We shouldn’t relate these landmark events of the anti-American autumn exclusively to a movie parody released in America. The problem is much deeper. A villain global genie has already been let out of the bottle and is busy crushing the ancient mausoleum in Tripoli, demolishing Christian shrines in Kosovo, Indonesia, Nigeria, killing Egyptian Copts etc.
To understand the geopolitical solitaire on the Middle East properly we should name the winners and losers of the ‘Arab Spring’ gamble. The Gulf monarchies are certainly among the first. It is an open secret that the Gulf countries aspired to control Libyan gas for a long time. Qatar, having ambitious plans over the huge European liquefied gas market, was the main interested party in ousting the Libyan leader. As a bonus Qatar’s Emir Al-Thani has managed to get rid of his personal adversary (several harsh exchanges between them during some pan-Arab meetings were not left unnoticed) and a penultimate powerful secular leader of the Arabic world (the last one is Syria’s president Bashar Assad). Today the influence of pro-Salafi Islamists is seriously strengthened in Libya. The former military governor of Tripoli Abdelhakim Belhadj, theQatar protégé, is considered one the most influential figures there. Despite a miserable result in the recently held ‘democratic’ elections to the General National Congress, he still plays a decisive role in Libya.
The main loser is obviously Europe (to say nothing of the Libyan people who would live in a new Afghanistan). It hasn’t achieved any goal originally pursued. The attempt to show its political and military might has nearly turned fiasco and factual second Suez crisis. The idea to establish a liberal secular state in Libya has failed as well. Those taking Mahmoud Jibril for liberal are deeply mistaken: he has already called for restoration of polygamy and, according to him, would strictly act in line with Sharia principles.
Moreover the operation in Libya has created new problems for the European continent. They have lost a reliable gas supplier (no serious company would invest into what is now called Libya). They face multiplied illegal immigration from Africa. The threat of the emergence of a huge oil-rich terrorist hub on the other side of Mediterranean armed by sophisticated weapons including MANPADS is as tangible as never before. But maybe the most dangerous is the loss of the Third World leaders’ confidence. Now they know that flirtations and secessions to the West would not guarantee them against democratic bombings.
What should be the lessons of the tragedy in Benghazi? First of all the party of war in the UN Security Council should contain its ambitions to reshuffle the Middle East. Their irresponsible policies have already cost a lot not only to the region, but its own reputations. The clearly expressed will to make Security Council act symphonic to maintain international peace and security would be a smart first step. (Unfortunately, Mrs.Clinton gave a wrong signal earlier this week leaving Security Council conference room while her Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov was about to switch on his microphone. The role of an offended girl does not correspond to the status of the US official.) They should understand that further attempts to destabilize Syria letting alone an apparent suicidal strike against Iran would catalyze irreversible processes in a global scale. The result will be shocking for the West: they would discover that they are definitely loosing subjectivity in international politics. The most retrograde forces will be advanced to the forefront putting an end to all human achievements in science, culture, arts, democracy and humanism. The agents of decadence are powerful even inside the US establishment. Will the sane and sober elements in national elites in America and other countries be able to cope with them is an issue critically important for the survival of contemporary world.