Tag: Libya

Libya: Difficult Dilemmas

Libya: Difficult Dilemmas

The wave of insurgency in the Middle East continues. In Tunisia and Egypt, major upheavals have taken place with relatively little use of violence. But not in Libya. The country is on fire, marked by a civil war between Gaddafi’s government forces in the west and rebel forces in the east. “Five to twelve” – ​​on March 17 – the UN Security Council decided to intervene in the conflict, and on March 19, Western planes began to bomb. Then we faced a probable massacre of the civilian population in Benghazi and other cities in the east. In dictation and action, the dictator had proved both willing and able to do so. The stated objective of the Security Council Resolution 1973 was to protect the civilian population.

  • What are the dilemmas facing the international community in Libya?
  • Who are the parties to the conflict in Libya?
  • What is meant by “responsibility to protect”?
  • Is protecting civilians the same as supporting one party in a civil war?

According to SMARTERCOMPUTING, the election in the Security Council was not easy. It was a choice between a number of controversial alternative options where the least bad alternative won out – the use of military force “to protect civilian lives”, including a no- fly zone . The UN Charter’s principle of non-interference in internal affairs was set aside. Instead, the Security Council took “responsibility to protect” – a new norm that was included in the declaration of the UN summit in the autumn of 2005.

2: Commentary March 11: how to stop Gaddafi?

There is not much we can do for the victims of the tyrants – therefore we must do what we can. The UN Security Council has often failed in recent decades – from Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s – to Iraq and Sri Lanka in the last decade. The great powers have failed either because they do not want to agree on how to confront brutal despots like Saddam Hussein, because they are willing to accept anything from regimes fighting “terrorists” – or because they do not want to use resources to save lives. citizens of other states.

Positive exception? Libya can continue to be a positive exception in and for international politics. The members of the Security Council quickly agreed on sanctions (Resolution 1970 ) against Muammar al-Gaddafi and his circle: an arms boycott, seizure of financial assets, travel and visa bans and “reporting” to the International Criminal Court . The investigation of Gaddafi as a possible war criminal has already begun. The EU will extend economic sanctions. This has not come close to reacting to the generals in Burma.

The problem is that it takes time for such measures to bite. A lot of blood will flow while government-loyal forces use superior fighting power against civilians and insurgents. Therefore, a no-fly zone and other use of military force against Gaddafi’s soldiers must be planned. However, the dilemmas are in line:

  • Those who can implement an effective no-fly zone are Western states, which after Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza – and arms sales to Gaddafi in particular – have minimal credibility as world police in Arab countries.
  • International military sanctions are most effective while being planned and can scare the regime’s supporters into flag flight. Once the operation is underway, accusations of civilian casualties and growing demands for ground operations will come.
  • The open discussion about the effectiveness, legitimacy and costs of flight bans, weapons aid to rebels and invasion undermines deterrence. When several members of the Security Council and NATO question any military action, Gaddafi’s elite forces have less reason to desert.

3: Comment 2, March 25: the next steps in Libya

Massacres in Benghazi were prevented and Gaddafi’s plane was crushed. Now Arab countries must contribute, the Africans mediate and the rebels organize.

A successful Libyan operation could be a breakthrough for the UN’s ability to further develop international law and defend fundamental human rights in a dramatically changing world. But the drop is staggering . The fall of Gaddafi and Tripoli must not appear as the work of the West. If NATO ‘s muscles are used more actively than the UN’s brains, it will be more difficult than easier to intervene the next time a tyrant sharpens his knives.

The Western world military alliance, NATO, must not act as a rebel air force after the liberation of the besieged city of Misrata . Only a new UN resolution can give the legal signal for a change of regime or an attack on Gaddafi’s forces where civilians are not under attack.

Successful start. If the United States, France and Britain had not attacked and stopped the Libyan government forces on March 17, next week’s news would have shown how Gaddafi’s forces had “gone from street to street, house to house and room to room without showing mercy” in the rebel cities. to use the dictator’s own words. Weekend 22. – 24. In March, rebels seized cities and oil facilities from Ajdabiya in the east to the outskirts of Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte in the west. The UN-authorized international coercive operation has so far been militarily successful. Many civilian lives are saved.

Still, there is cause for concern . If the coercive operation is still totally dominated by western countries such as the USA, France and the United Kingdom, a civil war in Tripoli with long-term sanctions will neither appear successful nor legitimate outside the EU and the USA. It was the Arab League that first requested a flight ban on March 12, thus paving the way for the Security Council’s decision (Resolution 1973) .

This was not to be another Western campaign in the Muslim world. Yet the great Arab countries shine with their absence – despite their large and expensive air weapons. Only the small states of Qatar and the United Emirates provide flights. It must be more politically expensive to be for something you do not contribute to. More and more people will want to make the operation in oil-rich Libya suspicious if non-western countries remain on the fence.

The phase of diplomacy. High-tech air warfare is easier to carry out and attracts more public attention than political mediation and reconciliation. Easier a Norwegian plane from Crete, it gets more news coverage than African heads of state who want to mediate peace, but are not allowed to fly into Libya.

Several elements of the decision. The protection of civilians is only part of the Security Council’s resolution 1973 . Equally important is the Council’s decision to seek a ceasefire, peace mediation and a political solution. This means that African, Arab and Western diplomats must exercise as much initiative as NATO’s generals and pilots. At a summit in Addis Ababa on Saturday, March 22, representatives of the African Union, the United Nations, the countries of the Security Council, the EU and the Arab League agreed on the framework for a political solution: a ceasefire and negotiations between Gaddafi’s regime and the rebels on a transitional period until elections to democratic institutions.

It is also a prerequisite for success that the rebels are better organized. With great courage and enthusiasm, untrained and undisciplined militia groups conquer and lose one city after another, but the rebels still stand without a unified leadership and a political program. They must appear as a credible alternative to Gaddafi’s regime and not as a threat to the groups and tribes that have not taken part in the uprising.

Following a bloody victory for Gaddafi, a protracted civil war between East and West is the worst-case scenario for Libya, as well as for the countries participating in the military operation. A civil war in a divided country will lead to economic and social collapse and enormous civilian suffering on both sides of the front lines. Therefore, diplomacy must now take over after the air force has done its thing.

4: The rest: from the online meeting on March 17 – before the decision in the Security Council

Q: What reactions can the rebels expect if Gaddafi regains control of Libya? The Gaddafi regime has always been extremely brutal. Opposition groups called for a boycott of the rally. Hundreds of prisoners have been killed in prisons and thousands have been tortured. We can expect bloody revenge from Gaddafi, unfortunately, if he were to win and take the rebel capital, Benghazi.

Q: What is the best thing the world community can do for Libya now (March 17), and why? At the UN summit in 2005, the principle of ” responsibility to protect adopted ” when 190 countries vowed that “… we are willing to act collectively, in a fast and powerful way … if peaceful means are inadequate and national authorities clearly fails to protect its population from

  • genocide,
  • war crimes,
  • ethnic cleansing, and
  • crimes against humanity ».

It can not be said more clearly. Heads of government from the United States to Norway and from Russia to China have a commitment to protect civilians in Libya. The Security Council quickly agreed on sanctions (Security Council Resolution 1970 of 26 February 2011) against Gaddafi and his entourage.

The problem is that it takes time for such measures to bite. A lot of blood will flow while government-loyal forces use superior fighting power against civilians and insurgents. Therefore, the international community should adopt a no-fly zone and threaten Gaddafi with another use of military force, even if the threats are not necessarily implemented.

Q: How can we facilitate that Russia and China also perceive Gaddafi’s actions as illegitimate, so that motions for resolutions are not rejected in the Security Council? In 2011, our leaders are not allowed to be spectators to civilians being slaughtered on foot. The pressure on Gaddafi should have been stepped up as early as February. The Security Council should have long ago authorized the implementation of a no-fly zone and a naval blockade. Only the UN can provide the necessary authority.

The creativity of our Western politicians must be challenged: they must speak less publicly, and they must act with and through the Arab League and the African Union . As early as March 2, Amre Moussa (leader) declared that “the Arab League will not stand with its hands tied while the blood of the Libyan fraternal people flows”. An Arab-Western action with a UN mandate would be a diplomatic triumph.

Q: Gaddafi still has some support. Do we know who has deserted? How is the balance of power between the parties? Gaddafi and his sons have long built up their own loyal elite forces, which they use in addition to more or less compliant army and air forces. Many officers and soldiers deserted as it looked like the rebels would win. The absence of a credible threat has since caused many to come down from the fence – on the wrong side. Gaddafi also uses African mercenaries. We know too little about how ethnic and cultural contradictions are used and abused.

International military sanctions are most effective while being planned and can scare the regime’s supporters into flag flight. When the operation is underway, there are accusations of civilian casualties and increasing demands for ground operations.

The open, Western discussion about the effectiveness, legitimacy and cost of flight bans, weapons aid to rebels and invasion undermines deterrence. When several members of the Security Council and NATO doubt that military action could be carried out, Gaddafi’s elite forces have less reason to desert.

5: Norway – aid to Libya?

Q: Should Norway send in forces to kill Gaddafi? How can Norway contribute without having to send troops to Libya? After the Cold War, neither Norway nor any of our allied countries have had a policy that allows the killing of leaders in countries we are not at war with.

We should urge Arab countries, with the help of other UN members, to use all necessary means to stop Gaddafi’s abuses. We should ask the Arab League and the African Union to take a leading role in forcing Gaddafi to stop the abuses and negotiate with the rebels.

Q: Has Norway had a connection with Gaddafi in the form of trade, economy or support, before the uprising in Libya began? How will this affect Norway in these areas? Answer: Norway has extensive investments in Libya’s oil and gas, among others. a. through Statoil. Many people probably find it a little embarrassing that it was argued for an embassy in Tripoli not long ago. Norway will now loyally follow up on the UN’s punitive measures.

Q: Will a comprehensive boycott of Libya help now? Will Gaddafi think so long-term that this will hinder his actions? A good series of boycott measures have already been adopted, but that does not stop Gaddafi from attacking civilians and violating human rights. In the long run, it will hopefully contribute to negotiations on a transition to a democratic system. A full economic boycott of the whole of Libya is unlikely to be introduced. This will hit most people harder than the privileged Gaddafi family. (cf. the Iraq boycott of the 1990s)

6: West and Libya

Can Libya become a new “Afghanistan” if the West intervenes and helps? If Western countries, led by the United States, entered with ground forces, there might be a new “Afghanistan war”. But it will not happen. U.S. Secretary of Defense Gates recently told U.S. cadets that “those who want the United States on the ground in a new war in the Middle East should have their heads examined.”

Who are the rebels? Will most of them need help in the form of military forces from the West, or will they lead the revolution alone? Gaddafi has cracked down so hard on all opposition in his dictatorship that no prominent opposition leaders or political groups are emerging with holistic alternatives. Opponents are from all walks of life and from both religious and secular forces that have one thing in common: opposition to the dictator.

Did the West make a mistake when we took Gaddafi back into the heat due to. the war on terror? Is it possible to send troops into Libya, and which soldiers should we send in? Yes, Western countries should not go to bed politically and economically with Gaddafi just because he went from promoting terror to cooperating in the “war on terror”. That it is Western weapons Gaddafi uses against civilians, says most. I do not think western countries should send soldiers into the ground. But we can contribute to an Arab-Western flight ban and naval blockade after a clear signal from the Security Council.

Is it possible to sue Gaddafi in an international court? Is it possible to send elite soldiers to arrest Gaddafi? The International Criminal Court in The Hague, ICC, is under way, but it demands that Gaddafi be handed over or captured. It is not easy to take a dictator who surrounds himself with thousands of loyal elite soldiers. In any case, Western countries should not try. Then Gaddafi will easily present himself as a brave defender of Arab honor against the superpower USA. Perhaps Arab countries with their new regimes and together with other Arab countries will be able to take Gaddafi if the International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant.

7: Responsibility for protection – «R2P»

The international law boundary for when the international community has the opportunity to intervene is unclear. Does the support that the UN summit in 2005 made for “The Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) have any direct or indirect significance for this demarcation? The UN Security Council has often failed in recent decades – from Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s – to Iraq and Sri Lanka in the last decade. The great powers have failed either because they do not want to agree on how to confront brutal despots like Saddam Hussein, because they are willing to accept anything from regimes fighting “terrorists” – or because they do not want to use resources to save lives such as do not belong to their own citizens.

This changed when the «obligation to protect» was adopted in 2005: Now the Security Council must in principle react collectively and «in a quick and powerful way,… if peaceful means are not sufficient and national authorities clearly fail to protect their population from genocide , war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity ».

Libya - Difficult Dilemmas

Libya: Road Choices are in Line

Libya: Road Choices are in Line

The Arab Spring is almost two years old, and it is still going on. Most striking is what is happening in Syria. In a situation where the news picture is characterized by ongoing fighting and abuse, it can quickly evoke demands for foreign involvement, but will it always be helpful? There are also news from Libya and other Arab countries that things are taking time. Often the next phases after a takeover can be the most difficult. The case of Libya illustrates this.

  • How united is Libya?
  • What are the prerequisites for Libya to succeed in the change of power?
  • What happened to the UN resolution of 1973?
  • What are the most pressing issues facing the new leaders in Libya?

2: The fragmented Libya

Every country has its history. Libya has more. In the Ottoman Empire, the country was administered as three different provinces:

  • Tripolitania in the west,
  • Kyrenaika (with Benghazi) in the east,
  • Fezzan in the southwest.

When the Italians occupied the country in 1911, they retained the same division, but switched to a fifth division before World War II: Tripoli, Misurata, Benghazi, Derna (a coastal strip) and the Libyan Sahara. When the British and French occupied the area in 1943, they returned to the old triad with British rule in Kyrenaica and Tripolitania and French rule over Fezzan. After the country became independent in 1951, the same division was used. Libya then became a constitutional (constitutional) monarchy organized as a federation with three capitals: Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabha.

However, this administrative structure was only a coarse-grained division. Beneath it lay a network of just over 20 major tribes , and still tribal affiliation largely determines people’s identities. The vast majority of the 5.6 million inhabitants are Arabs , while the minority consists of Berbers (the western name of the indigenous people of North Africa) in the west and south and the nomadic Tuareg and Toubou peoples in the south.

Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, where the Arab Spring began, the people of Libya therefore have no common history in their territory, but many different narratives. In Tunisia and Egypt, the Arab Spring meant that people had a chance to “reclaim” their lands after decades of dictatorial rule. In fragmented Libya, this task is different and more difficult, because here the feeling of historical community is much weaker.

3: Rebellion against Gaddafi

In 1969, King Idris was overthrown by a group of non-commissioned officers. Muammar Gaddafi became the country’s new leader at the age of 27. At that time, Libya had started exporting oil, and when the price of oil skyrocketed in the 1970s, the country received large revenues. Libya eventually became the richest country in North Africa , but dissatisfaction was still significant because revenues were unevenly distributed.

Internationally, Gaddafi’s radical ideology and distinctive leadership style created unrest and discontent. He supported international terrorism and imposed sanctions on it. He sought acceptance and “homeland” in the Middle East, Africa and the West, but was rejected – with one important exception: the Western powers showed him respect when in 2003 he pledged to stop all support for international terrorism and all attempts to obtain weapons of mass destruction. But as the war in 2011 showed, there was no deeper understanding or agreement behind this.

Inside, Gaddafi spent a lot of money securing support for the regime. The quality of the health care and education system was higher than in neighboring countries. But at the same time he played on the heterogeneous (disparate) Libya and distributed and disadvantaged according to political will. It created a lot of irritation and anger and became part of the backdrop for the revolt against him.

Gaddafi kept the military on fire while he politicized them. This is how he secured his own position. Extensive use of foreign mercenaries also secured his grip on power. The fighting power was greater among the semi-military, who were closely linked to the intelligence services where the sons held important positions. Gaddafi came to power in a military coup, thus reducing the risk of falling victim to another coup.

When the uprising started in February − March 2011, this made the road to Tripoli easier. But without NATO’s bombing campaign and ground support from several countries, not least Qatar, it would hardly have succeeded.

The Security Council Resolution 1973 of 17 March 2011 was used as a justification for the intervention in Libya. Initially, this states that a ban on all air traffic over Libyan territory is a significant contribution to the protection of the civilian / population , and establishes a no- fly zone over the area. Furthermore, the Security Council demanded a ceasefire immediately . Two days later, a group of NATO countries (among them Norway) started the most intense air traffic that has ever taken place in Libyan airspace.

And in the months that followed, the Western powers opposed any ceasefire. The aim was clearly a change of regime – Sarkozy (France) and Cameron (Britain) had made that clear in advance. But had the resolution said that the intention was a change of regime with military power, it would never have been adopted.

The way in which the resolution was used, however, had an aftermath in the case of Syria. With the Western twist of the Libyan mandate fresh in mind, Russia and China sharpened their opposition to interfering in the conflict. Wise of the damage, they said a definite no to any thought of getting the Security Council to legitimize foreign interference in it.

In Libya, the new leaders are naturally in a certain debt of gratitude to the countries that helped them remove Gaddafi. And not just the leaders: The assassination of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens – killed in Benghazi by a radical militia – led to a strong popular reaction. People demanded that the militias be brought under control – in practice a cry for law and order.

4: Libya in a comparative perspective

In Libya, as in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Kosovo, the Western powers won militarily in the sense that the existing regimes were removed. But the subsequent phase – stabilization and democratization – proved to be much more difficult. What are the prospects for stabilization and democratization in Libya? What can we read from the experiences gained in the other countries?

Nation building is expensive. The size of the countries says something about the price tag. The population of Libya is two to three times as large as in Kosovo and Bosnia, but barely a third of Iraq and Afghanistan. Libya is also richer than the other countries, with an annual income per capita of over $ 14,000 before the war began. The war and the sanctions before it were also less devastating. The economic foundation for nation building is therefore relatively good.

The geography is also favorable. Libya has a long coast that allows for exports and imports, while the other countries barely have a coastline (Iraq has access to the Persian Gulf, but is trapped and dependent on the goodwill of others). Libya’s neighbors lack both the motive and the strength to prevent the rebuilding of the country; the other countries have demanding neighborhoods . The strategic importance is small and does not call for competition between the great powers for influence in the country. All this counts in favor of Libya.

However, the country is politically immature. Only Afghanistan can be compared to Libya in that way. Gaddafi’s legacy was heavy. His recipe was divided and prevalent: in addition to the historical, regional and ethnic differences, he pitted the tribes against each other. The National Transitional Council inherited a country with long traditions of local self-government and weak ministries that lacked the trust and legitimacy of the population. The state institutions were poorly developed or simply absent.

The legacy of the Civil War was also heavy. The rebel leadership in Benghazi called for support from armed groups in the west of the country – not only to crack down on Gaddafi, but also to prevent the war from taking the form of fighting between East and West. Many armed groups gained a share in the victory, and when the war ended, it overflowed with weapons. More than 125,000 Libyans carried weapons and were members of well over 100 militia groups. However, many weapons and mercenaries disappeared south where they destabilized Mali . Libya suffered from a lack of nationwide police, and the judiciary was poorly developed and congested.

5: Libya one year after the war

In July 2012, parliamentary elections were held – for the second time in Libya’s history. The first time was in 1952, shortly after independence (an election was held in 1965 as well, but then no political parties were allowed). According to EU observers, the election went smoothly and smoothly, although technical problems and violent unrest disrupted voting at some of the polling stations.

To a parliament with 200 seats became

  • 80 elected on party lists
  • 120 as independent

The parliament, which will sit for one year, has legislative authority and will decide how the work on the new constitution will take place.
An alliance of parties led by former (interim) Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril won 39 of the 80 party seats, while the Brotherhood’s party won 17. This was interpreted as a victory for liberal forces in the country and as progress for women’s participation in politics. Jibril’s campaign constantly encouraged this. Among the independent candidates, many had a vague position in the political landscape, but the Brotherhood expected to find much support there. All in all, the election was a major step forward for Libya.

According to SECURITYPOLOGY, Muhamed Magariaf was elected president of the National Assembly and is the country’s de facto head of state. He was early on demanding democratic reforms, and in 1984 he tried to kill Gaddafi. He then spent most of his time in the United States before returning to Libya in 2011. The new prime minister was Mustafa Abu Shagour , who narrowly won over Mahmoud Jibril. Shagour is an engineer and has an academic career behind him, also with a long stay in the United States . But when he presented his list of governments in October, he was ousted by the National Assembly. That the country is unstable in this phase should not surprise anyone.

A new political system is thus taking shape, and it is happening faster than expected. The election, the popular reaction to the storming of the US consulate in Benghazi and the government’s subsequent integration of three key Benghazi militias into the Libyan army give cause for optimism. The protesters – an estimated 30,000 – raided several of the bases of Ansar al-Sharia , a militant Islamist group suspected of participating in the attack on the consulate. The United States supports the construction of the army and other parts of the nascent Libyan security apparatus financially and / or through training.

6: The problems

The continuation is still uncertain . When the fighting ceased so quickly, it was largely due to local leaders and civilian and military groups engaging in an end to the devastation. But this patchwork of security actors is fragile. The agreements and arrangements are time and place specific and can break down almost at any time.

The regional contradictions, tribal affiliations, the many different militia groups and the large supply of weapons can in the long run become a recipe for endless tactical maneuvers and persistent conflicts and clashes. In such a landscape, there is little pointing forward.

Much therefore depends on the government in Tripoli managing to establish a reasonably efficient national security sector. For most people, there is nothing more urgent to keep the country together and to bring it on a democratic course. The pattern of local leaders and militias must be broken in favor of state governance and control. The need is urgent, for Gaddafi’s divide-and-rule policy reinforced fragmentation by pitting groups against each other. Some won the regime’s favor, while others suffered. When the dictator fell, militant Islamist groups, especially in the East, launched assassination campaigns against Gaddafi’s supporters. A number of armed groups were then ready to defend their interests or seek a larger portion of the cake.

Initially, much of the conflict dynamics have been kept in check, but a more secure future depends on the dissolution of the militias and the reintegration of its members , either in the army or in civil society, and the collection of weapons . The classic definition of a functioning state is a government apparatus with a monopoly on physical means of power. But the building up of state power must take place gradually and therefore becomes a painstaking task.

Following the unrest in Benghazi and the assassination of Christopher Stevens, the Tripoli government demanded the dissolution of all militias beyond its control. However, such a top-down strategy for disarmament and demobilization has little chance of success and can make matters worse. The government of Tripoli has neither the means nor the legitimacy for such an approach. In anticipation of a nationwide police, judiciary and prison system that can guarantee the safety of citizens, the collection of weapons must be based on consensus with the militias.

At the micro level , it is about power, resources and in many cases revenge. At the macro level as well: the uprising against Gaddafi gave new life to the historical conflict between Kyrenaica and Tripolitania, between Benghazi and Tripoli. These cities are close to 1000 kilometers apart and with the Sidragulf in between, and each have their own identity. The divide is very much alive. The government of Tripoli must find a balance between the development of a fairly unified security sector and a degree of autonomy for Benghazi. The Berbers in the west and south, who played a significant role in the conquest of Tripoli, also demanded autonomy (internal self-government).

Libyans are Sunni Muslims and generally conservative. Therefore, the new leaders early on advocated sharia law, perhaps more out of respect for the dominant religious currents in the country than out of their own convictions. Decades in the United States must have left traces in both al-Magariaf and Abu Shagour. These are leaders who showed courage in the fight against Gaddafi and who are well suited to secure American and other Western support. They can also play on the gratitude of the people for the Western support in the fight against the dictator (although it is far from unison).

Revolutions, however, tend to eat their own. The fraternity can come stronger into the picture over time, as in other countries that have experienced the Arab Spring. The pattern in Egypt and Tunisia was that relatively liberal and secular forces kicked off the revolution, while the Islamic movements led by the Brotherhood gradually came stronger and took control. The same in Iran in 1979: Initially, the revolution was fronted by moderate and secular leaders (Mehdi Bazargan, Abolhassan Bani Sadr), before Khomeini tightened its grip on the 1980s. Something similar could happen in Libya as the settlement with Gaddafi comes to a close.

Libya - Road Choices are in Line