*** Abdelhakim Belhadj and other members of the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were participating in the rebellion in March 2011. Secret intelligence reports from 2011, written before and during the illegal US-led attack on Libya and recently obtained by the Washington Times, state : There is a close link between al Qaeda, Jihadi organizations, and the opposition in Libya… Indeed, the Libyan rebel commander admitted
in 2012: The U.S. supported opposition which overthrew Libya’s Gadaffi was largely comprised of Al Qaeda terrorists. According to a 2007 report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s center, the Libyan city of Benghazi was one of Al Qaeda’s main headquarters – and bases for sending Al Qaeda fighters into Iraq – prior to the overthrow of Gaddafi: The Hindustan Times reported last year: “There is no question that al Qaeda’s Libyan franchise, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition,” Bruce Riedel, former CIA officer and a leading expert on terrorism, told Hindustan Times. It has always been Qaddafi’s biggest enemy and its stronghold is Benghazi.
*** (Incidentally, Gaddafi was on the verge of invading Benghazi in 2011, 4 years after the West Point report cited Benghazi as a hotbed of Al Qaeda terrorists. Gaddafi claimed – rightly it turns out – that Benghazi was an Al Qaeda stronghold and a main source of the Libyan rebellion. But NATO planes stopped him, and protected Benghazi.) The Daily Mail reported in 2014:
A self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that it could have been prevented – if the U.S. hadn’t been helping to arm al-Qaeda militias throughout Libya a year earlier.
‘The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,’ Clare Lopez, a member of the commission and a former CIA officer, told MailOnline.
She blamed the Obama administration for failing to stop half of a $1 billion United Arab Emirates arms shipment from reaching al-Qaeda-linked militants. ‘Remember, these weapons that came into Benghazi were permitted to enter by our armed forces who were blockading the approaches from air and sea,’ Lopez claimed. ‘They were permitted to come in. … [They] knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed.. ‘The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress – if they were briefed on this – also knew about this.’
*** ‘The White House and senior Congressional members,’ the group wrote in an interim report released Tuesday, ‘deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler [Muammar Gaddafi] who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress al-Qaeda.’ ‘Some look at it as treason,’ said Wayne Simmons, a former CIA officer who participated in the commission’s research.
The West and Its Allies Directly Supported and Armed the Rebels The UK report confirms that the West and its allies directly supported and armed the rebels: The combat performance of rebel ground forces was enhanced by personnel and intelligence provided by states such as the UK, France, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
For example, Lord Richards told us that the UK “had a few people embedded” with the rebel forces. Resolution 1973 called on United Nations member states to ensure the “strict implementation of the arms embargo”. However, we were told that the international community turned a blind eye to the supply of weapons to the rebels. Lord Richards highlighted “the degree to which the Emiratis and the Qataris … played a major role in the success of the ground operation.” For example, Qatar supplied French Milan antitank missiles to certain rebel groups. We were told that Qatar channelled its weapons to favoured militias rather than to the rebels as a whole.
The REAL Motivation for War The real motivation for the war? The Parliamentary report explains: A further insight into French motivations was provided in a freedom of information disclosure by the United States State Department in December 2015. On 2 April 2011, Sidney Blumenthal, adviser and unofficial intelligence analyst to the then United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reported this conversation with French intelligence officers to the Secretary of State:
According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues: 1. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production, 2. Increase French influence in North Africa, 3. Improve his internal political situation in France, 4. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world, 5. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa. The sum of four of the five factors identified by Sidney Blumenthal equated to the French national interest. The fifth factor was President Sarkozy’s political self-interest.
, but the West instead wanted violent regime change. (The British report notes: “By the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change.”) The Parliamentary report notes that Gaddaffi may have been attempting to flee the country when he was killed: Muammar Gaddafi might have been seeking an exit from Libya in February and March 2011. On 21 February 2011, for example, Lord Hague told reporters that he had seen credible information that Muammar Gaddafi was on his way to exile in Venezuela. Concerted action after the telephone calls conducted by Mr Blair might have led to Muammar Gaddafi’s abdication and to a negotiated solution in Libya. It was therefore important to keep the lines of communication open. However, we saw no evidence that the then Prime Minister David Cameron attempted to exploit Mr Blair’s contacts. *** Political options were available if the UK Government had adhered to the spirit of Resolution 1973, implemented its original campaign plan and influenced its coalition allies to pause military action when Benghazi was secured in March 2011. Political engagement might have delivered civilian protection, regime change and reform at lesser cost to the UK and to Libya. If political engagement had been unsuccessful, the UK and its coalition allies would not have lost anything. Instead, the UK Government focused exclusively on military intervention. In particular, we saw no evidence that it tried to exploit former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s contacts and influence with the Gaddafi regime. The U.S. and France were also hell-bent on regime change. And the New York Times confirms thatHillary Clinton is largely responsible for the violent regime change in Libya. Why Should We Care? Why should we care? Well, the House of Commons report confirms that the Libyan war has wrecked the country:
The Libyan economy generated some $75 billion of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. This economy produced an average annual per capita income of approximately $12,250, which was comparable to the average income in some European countries.
[The former Indian representative to the U.N. 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 were applauded by the U.N. Human Rights Council]. Libyan Government revenue greatly exceeded expenditure in the 2000s. … The United Nations Human Development Report 2010—a United Nations aggregate measure of health, education and income—ranked Libya as the 53rd most advanced country in the world for human development and as the most advanced country in Africa.
*** In 2014, the most recent year for which reliable figures are available … the average Libyan’s annual income had decreased from $12,250 in 2010 to $7,820. Since 2014, Libya’s economic predicament has reportedly deteriorated. Libya is likely to experience a budget deficit of some 60% of GDP in 2016. The requirement to finance that deficit is rapidly depleting net foreign reserves, which halved from $107 billion in 2013 to $56.8 billion by the end of 2015.
Production of crude oil fell to its lowest recorded level in 2015, while oil prices collapsed in the second half of 2014. Inflation increased to 9.2% driven by a 13.7% increase in food prices including a fivefold increase in the price of flour. The United Nations ranked Libya as the world’s 94th most advanced country in its 2015 index of human development, a decline from 53rd place in 2010.
*** In 2016, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that out of a total Libyan population of 6.3 million, 3 million people have been impacted by the armed conflict and political instability, and that 2.4 million people require protection and some form of humanitarian assistance.
In its World Report 2016, Human Rights Watch stated that 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 People-trafficking gangs exploited the lack of effective government after 2011, making Libya a key transit route for illegal migration into Europe and the location of a migrant crisis. In addition to other extremist militant groups, ISIL emerged in Libya in 2014, seizing control of territory around Sirte and setting up terrorist training centres.
Human Rights Watch documented unlawful executions by ISIL in Sirte of at least 49 people by methods including decapitation and shooting. The civil war between west and east has waxed and waned with sporadic outbreaks of violence since 2014. 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.
The Parliamentary report confirms that the Libyan war – like the Iraq war – has ended up spreading terrorism around the globe: Libyan weapons and ammunition were trafficked across North and West Africa and the Middle East.
*** The United Nations Panel of Experts appointed to examine the impact of Resolution 1973 identified the presence of ex-Libyan weapons in Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Gaza, Mali, Niger, Tunisia and Syria.
The panel concluded that “arms originating from Libya have significantly reinforced the military capacity of terrorist groups operating in Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Tunisia.” In the 2010-15 Parliament, our predecessor Committee noted that the failure to secure the Gaddafi regime’s arms caches had led to “a proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and some heavier artillery, across North and West Africa”. It identified that Libyan small arms had apparently ended up in the hands of Boko Haram militants.
*** In January 2014, Egyptian Islamist insurgents used an ex-Libyan MANPAD to shoot down an Egyptian Army helicopter in the Sinai.
*** The FCO told us that “Political instability in Libya has led to a permissive environment for terrorist groups in which to operate, including ISIL [i.e. ISIS] affiliated groups”. Professor Patrick Porter, Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of Exeter, agreed with the FCO analysis, stating that “a lack of effective government is creating opportunities for the Islamic State.”
*** ISIL has used its presence in Libya to train terrorists. For example, Sefeddine Rezgui, the gunman who killed Western holidaymakers in Tunisia in June 2015, was trained by ISIL at its base in Sabratha along with the two gunmen who killed 22 tourists at the Bardo museum in Tunis.
ISIL’s plans may extend beyond terrorism. Vice-Admiral Clive Johnstone, a Royal Navy officer and NATO commander, commented that We know they [ISIL] have ambitions to go offshore … There is a horrible opportunity in the future that a misdirected, untargeted round of a very high quality weapons system will just happen to target a cruise liner, or an oil platform, or a container ship.
And the UK report confirms that the Libyan war has created a tidal wave of refugees: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that some 1 million migrants were present in Libya in June 2016. This estimate comprised 425,000 internally displaced Libyans, 250,000 non-Libyan migrants and 250,000 returnees. Most non-Libyan migrants travelled from West Africa, the Horn of Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. The most common countries of origin for non-Libyan migrants were Niger, Egypt, Chad, Ghana and Sudan. Between 1 January and 31 May 2016, 47,851 migrants arrived in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean from Libya. A similar number of migrants attempted the crossing over the same period in 2015. Despite the increased resources committed to Operation Triton, however, crossing the Mediterranean is becoming increasingly hazardous for migrants transiting through Libya. The IOM recorded 2,061 migrants as dead or missing between 1 January and 31 May 2016, which showed a 15% increase in fatalities compared with the same period in 2015.
In other words – just like the Iraq war – the Libyan war was based on fake intelligence, was carried out for reasons having little to do with national security or protecting civilians, destroyed a nation and created a “shit show”, spread terrorism far and wide, and created waves of refugees.