Posts Tagged ‘Libye’
Ahmed Mohmamed Gaddaf al-Dam, cousin of the late totalitarian leader of Libya Muammar Gaddafi
Cairo- Ahmed Mohmamed Gaddaf al-Dam, cousin of the late totalitarian leader of Libya Muammar Gaddafi, says that reinstating the old regime –the one which rose to power after the 1969 Gaddafi-led coup- is unrealistic and that both he and his supporting group understand that fully, affirming that they only seek the restoration of Libya for the better interest of its people.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Gaddaf al-Dam mentioned a new movement rising in Libya, one which includes both Gaddafi and 17 February Revolution supporters. The movement includes military battalions, to supposedly save Libya the ‘right’ way, referring to a national reform.
However, he did say that the movement will resort to other methods should political negotiations fail to salvage the situation.
The 17 February Revolution, an armed conflict in 2011, was fought between forces loyal to Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. Libya went into civil war and Gaddafi was killed on October 20, 2011, in the Libyan city, Sirte.
To top all that, many Libya leaderships have been frequently paying al-Dam visits at his Cairo residence.
What is more is that the faces seen walking in and out do not necessarily support same political set of ideals—Libyan political figures have started meeting outside the sponsorship of the United Nations.
In his talk, al-Dam warns of looming chaos especially with ISIS still getting supplied with arms and fighters while the international community stands idle. Eventually, he added that Western countries are driven towards opening up a battle front in Libya’s largest city, Tripoli. The front will launch after battles in the southern coastal city of Sirte are done.
All this aims at spreading the chaos, in preparation for Libya’s occupation, al-Dam explained.
When addressing the rumored joint military council between both Libyan bloc’s- led by Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar- al-Dam believes that it would serve as a temporary calming factor, given that chief parties are still kept out.
Al-Dam reiterated deep concerns of the international community overlooking ISIS’ flow into Libya and the arming campaign it has being supported with. Accusing the West of desires to march into Libya, the Libyan leader described the chaos back home.
He also added that any political negotiations casting ‘al-Fateh Revolution’-otherwise known by 1 September Revolution – out is not fair given that it fails to include at least half of the Libyan people’s representatives.
Muammar Gaddafi became the de facto leader of Libya on 1 September 1969 after leading a group of Libyan military officers in a coup d’état against the regime. Winning over the public and driving the King out of the country, the Libyan Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) headed by Gaddafi abolished the monarchy and the old constitution and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic, with the motto “freedom, socialism, and unity”.
But Gaddaf al-Dam broke with Gadhafi in the first few days of a later 2001 rebellion, disagreeing with the government’s harsh repression of the uprising and fled to Cairo. Al-Dam wanted protesters to be dealt with a different way than the one Gaddafi was using.
He said the popular protest movement did not at first amount to a revolution but that NATO’s intervention, which was ill-advised, transformed it into one.
Since Gadhafi’s fall, Libya has splintered. In December, United Nations diplomats and Western leaders announced the creation of a Government of National Accord, but the House of Representatives still hasn’t recognized it.
Al-Dam explained that the West wishes to whitewash the damage it caused Libya’s infrastructure and society, hence resorts to endorsing and promoting political talks and agreements, such as the Skhirat, Morocco deliberations.
Moreover, he reiterated the West’s plans to exploit Libya’s strategic location and ample resources, including uranium and oil.
The cousin to a notorious and highly controversial leader said that the Libya war has its aftermath extending worldwide, whether it be terrorists being imported from their newly found hub to the whole world, or turmoil creeping up borderlines with neighboring countries.
He cited that some of the arms used by extremist attacks in Europe can be traced back to Libya.
After calling the intervention in Libya unconstitutional, al-Dam requested that Libya’s case file be taken out of the United Nations and handed back to the League of Arab States and the African Union.
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state NATO-led coalition began a military intervention in Libya, ostensibly to implement United Nations Security Council resolutions. The resolution was taken in response to events during the Libyan Civil War.
(Source / 12.09.2016)
‘There’s no clear-cut moment the war is launched, it just gradually expands,’ noted one media analyst, who also noted that the mainstream media has largely ignored the expansion of the war on ISIS.
A photo from 2011 shows buildings ravaged by fighting in Sirte, Libya. Islamic State militants have controlled the city since August 2015. The U.S. military has announced ongoing airstrikes against targets in Sirte, and other Libyan cities
WASHINGTON — With little fanfare and minimal media attention, the United States recently began bombing yet another country, further expanding a fight against terrorism that has no clear end in sight.
U.S. airstrikes in Libya began on Aug. 1 with “precision air strikes against ISIL targets in Sirte, Libya,” thePentagon announced in a press release. The airstrikes were apparently carried out at the behest of Libya’s temporary government, the Libyan Government of National Accord, appointed by the United Nations after theU.S. helped overthrow Libya’s ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, under the direction of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Special forces ground troops, deployed by the U.S. and its Western allies, are also present in Libya. On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that a “small number” of U.S. and British ground forces are present in Libya, where they are coordinating air strikes and assisting the GNA troops.
Libya is now the fourth front in the American war against Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly known in the West as ISIS or ISIL), joining bombing campaigns and ground troops in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Simultaneously, the U.S. continues arming so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria, and supplying arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, further fueling unrest throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
The expansion to Libya has been planned for months, according to The Intercept, and has no end in site. According to Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, bombing “would continue as long as [the Libyan government] is requesting them,” and the campaign has no “end point at this particular moment in time.”
“The U.S. has long planned to spread its military campaign to Libya,” reported The Intercept’s Alex Emmons on Aug. 1. “In January, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the U.S. was preparing to take ‘decisive military action against ISIL’ in Libya.”
Bombing Syria is based on the same controversial Authorization for Use of Military Force passed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that have justified the last 15 years of genocidal Middle East warfare, including the United States’ other campaigns against Daesh.
“The administration has argued that the 2001 AUMF applies to the war against ISIS, even though ISIS and al Qaeda are sworn enemies. Several members of Congress, including Hillary Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., have argued that the administration should seek congressional authorization to continue its war against ISIS. Such authorizations for the conflict have failed to gain traction in a divided Congress.”
But, he added, it’s not the first time the U.S. has ignored Congress when it comes to Libya:
“In 2011, the U.S. continued its Libyan campaign even after Congress rejected a resolution to authorize it. The White House even delivered a report to Congress that argued that the U.S.-led bombing campaign did not count as ‘hostilities’ under the War Powers Resolution. That resolution limits unauthorized conflicts to 180 days.”
The United States’ apparently endless “War on Terror” seems to have become so commonplace that the media hardly responds when it expands to new fronts, noted Adam H. Johnson, a media analyst from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting.
“While the air strikes themselves were reported by most major outlets, they were done so in a matter-of-fact way, and only graced the front pages of major American newspapers for one day,” Johnson wrote in The Nation on Aug. 5. “The New York Times didn’t even find the news important enough to give it a front-page headline, instead relegating it to a quick blurb at the far-bottom corner of the page.”
Even alternative media seemed too distracted by the election to take much notice, Johnson added.
Johnson argued that, under President Barack Obama, the expansion of conflict has been made to seem “entirely banal” under what he calls the “frog in boiling water” method of warfare. “There’s no clear-cut moment the war is launched, it just gradually expands, and because media are driven by Hollywood narratives, they are victims to the absence of a clear first act,” he wrote.
He warned that, without public outcry, Obama’s wars are likely to continue to expand through the end of his presidency and beyond.
“This is the new normal, and it’s a new normal the press codifies every time it treats Obama’s ever-expanding war as dull and barely newsworthy,” Johnson concluded.
(Source / 13.08.2016)
A period of cautious relative calm was been reported in Libya’s northern city of Sirte yesterday following fierce battles between forces loyal to the government of National Accord and Daesh.
Sources close to Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Anadolu Agency: “Calm continues in all the fighting axes in the residential neighbourhoods, north of Sirte.”
A spokesman for Misrata Central Hospital, Akram Kulaiwan told the news agency that 17 soldiers were killed in yesterday’s fighting, while 86 others were wounded.
He did not have information on losses among Daesh fighters.
On Wednesday, pro- government forces backed by the United States said they had seized the Islamic State’s last stronghold in the country, in the seaside city of Sirte.
(Source / 12.08.2016)
Pentagon officials said the attacks were carried out in keeping with their ongoing approach to fighting ISIS
A photo from 2011 shows buildings ravaged by fighting in Sirte, Libya. Islamic State militants have controlled the city since August 2015. The U.S. military has announced ongoing airstrikes against targets in Sirte.
US warplanes have attacked Islamic State forces in Libya, the Pentagon has announced, at the start of what US officials say will be a sustained offensive against the militant group outside Iraq and Syria.
Isis positions in the strategic port city of Sirte were hit by manned aircraft and drones on Monday, after a request from the UN-backed unity government, the Pentagon said.
Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said “additional US strikes” against the group in Sirte were to come. Their goal, Cook said, will be to enable local US allies make a “decisive, strategic advance” on Sirte, which for the past eight weeks has been the site of fierce urban fighting between forces loyal to the unity government and entrenched Isis fighters.
Cook said the attacks – which included “precision strikes” against an Islamic State tank and other vehicles – were launched after requests from the Tripoli government, which nominated the targets.
Fayez Serraj, the prime minister of the UN-backed government in Tripoli, said in a televised statement that the airstrikes caused “severe losses to enemy ranks”. No US ground forces will be deployed, he said.
“The presidency council, as the general army commander, has made a request for direct US support to carry out specific airstrikes,” Serraj said. “The first strikes started today in positions in Sirte, causing major casualties.”
Serraj said that the strikes will not go beyond Sirte and its surroundings, adding: “This is the time for the international community to live up to its promises to the Libyan people.”
The latest airstrikes are not the first time the US has targeted Isis in Libya – US warplanes attacked an Isis training camp in Sabratha in February and a senior Isis figure in November – but that did not herald a sustained operation. The US has also launched strikes and raids against al-Qaida targets in the country since 2011, when Nato conducted an air war against dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi’s death, at the hands of local revolutionaries, left a vacuum that Isis has sought to fill, something Barack Obama has called the “worst mistake” of his presidency.
US special operations forces have been deployed in Libya since December, in an attempt to seek local “partners” in the fight against Isis, and Libyan commanders say that American and British special forces are advising their forces on the ground.
Cook said US forces are not participating on the ground in the current fight in Sirte, but did not say that US ground forces have left Libya entirely.
The US-backed forces have had successes against Isis in recent months, taking Sirte’s port away from the radical jihadist group. US and British forces provided logistics and intelligence support for the operation.
But local forces have struggled to crush the remaining Isis fighters who have established defensive positions in the city. The US estimates Isis has fewer than 1,000 fighters in the city, representing the bulk of its strength in Libya.
The battle against Isis has been led by militias from Misrata, Libya’s third city, which are aligned to the new government. The offensive began in early June, with sweeping gains that crushed Isis’s self-declared caliphate that had stretched 125 miles along Libya’s coast.
But the fight for Sirte itself has proved a bloody affair, with the Misrata militia suffering more than 300 dead and 1,300 wounded in a grim attritional struggle.
Isis fighters holed up in the city have exacted a steady toll on the pro-government militias with snipers and suicide carbombs attacking Misratan lines. Isis units have built heavily defended positions amid homes and offices, posing problems for Misratan units who lack artillery and tanks
“It has been very difficult to dislodge them. This is the kind of international help that is needed,” said Dr Guma El-Gamaty of Libya Dialogue, the Tripoli government’s supervising authority.
El-Gamaty added: “The fight against Isis in Libya is not just a Libyan problem, it’s an international problem.”
It is unclear how many civilians remain in Sirte. Most of the population have fled since Isis first took over the city last year, but a small portion have stayed.
Senior US officers have indicated they seek a lasting victory against Isis in Libya.
Marine general Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said in a January appearance with France’s chief officer that they sought “decisive military action” and warned of the need for “a way ahead” to defeat Isis’s Libyan rise.
Cook said the current operation would continue as long as the unity government requests support.
The UK has confirmed reconnaissance flights are providing intelligence over the battlefield, but when asked about the prospect of UK planes joining in the airstrikes, a British ministry of defence spokesman said: “There is no UK involvement and no plans at present to do anything similar.”
The UK said its contribution to an Italian-led force that has been mooted to support Libya’s government of national accord would be primarily to help with training, with about a third engaged in force protection.
Cook cited the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as legal authorization for the strike. That open-ended authorization long predates the existence of the Islamic State, and was originally drawn up to allow attacks on al-Qaida.
(Source / 02.08.2016)
Rather than a strike against ‘Islamic State’, this was Obama striking a blow against his political enemies and their mercenary armies.
Today, whenever we read a report about an event such as this we have to read between the lines and use our wider knowledge to figure out what exactly is going on behind the scenes to have caused this event to happen.
We very strongly suspect that this air strike was against CIA/Israeli assets that are part of the group that, from 2001 onwards ran Gaddaffi’s intelligence services and with Dick Cheney acting as de facto ‘Governor General’ of Libya, set up prisons and a rendition transit facility.
Again, we remind the reader that the US government, military and intelligence agencies cannot be viewed as a monolithic entity, rather they are divided into factions and this air strike is part of the ongoing struggle between those factions. In this case, we have Obama’s White House faction striking at their political enemies in the Pentagon-Neocon-CIA-Israel faction.
The timing of this strike is significant, coming at a time when the US is in the midst of a very nasty election where Hilary Clinton has been continually lambasted for her supposed role in the fall of Gaddaffi in 2011. Obama is entering the final months of his presidency so he is able to make some moves against his political enemies now that he couldn’t risk earlier, hence this air strike.
US launches air strikes on IS in Libya
The United States has carried out air strikes on positions of so-called Islamic State (IS) in Libya, following a request by the UN-backed government there, the Pentagon says.
The strikes targeted positions in the port city of Sirte, an IS stronghold.
Libyan PM Fayez Sarraj, in a televised address, said the strikes caused “heavy losses”.
Western powers have become increasingly concerned at IS’s growing presence in Libya.
The air strikes are the first such US military intervention co-ordinated with the Libyan unity government.
There have been two previous US attacks on IS targets in Libya – last February and in November.
The Pentagon said Monday’s strikes, authorised by President Barack Obama, were in support of government forces currently fighting IS militants.
“These actions and those we have taken previously will help deny ISIL a safe haven in Libya from which it could attack the United States and our allies,” the Pentagon statement continued, using another term for IS.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the strikes hit “precision targets”, including a tank, in response to a request from the Libyan administration in the past few days.
It now appears the US has formally started a sustained air campaign to degrade the IS group’s capabilities in Sirte. The jihadists have been losing ground there in recent months, but the armed groups fighting it have been witnessing an increasingly high death toll.
An advanced air campaign could speed up the removal of IS militants from their biggest stronghold in the country. The Pentagon has carefully attributed its latest move to the unity government’s request to help its forces.
But these anti-IS forces are only loosely allied to the government in Tripoli. The wider military and militia forces across Libya are still embroiled in local rivalry. In the aftermath of campaigns of this kind, the US, and other countries involved in Libya, will probably be left with more questions than answers over the stability of the country and the local forces they backed.
The government began an offensive against IS fighters in Sirte in May and said two weeks ago that it had made its largest gains to date.
Western officials say the number of IS militants in Libya, previously estimated at 6,000, is declining in the face of concerted government action and pressure from other militia.
Mr Cook said fewer than 1,000, possibly several hundred, remained in Sirte, and no US forces were on the ground in connection with “this operation”.
Libya has become increasingly divided since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with competing governments and rival militias seeking to gain territory and influence.
The chaos had left Libya vulnerable to an influx of IS fighters, many from Syria.
The United States has voiced strong backing for the unity government, or Government of National Accord, which began operating from the capital, Tripoli, in April.
US Secretary of State John Kerry declared in May that it was the “only way to generate the cohesion necessary to defeat Daesh [IS]”.
(Source / 01.08.2016)
More than 90,000 people have fled Sirte and the clutches of IS. Many left with nothing other than the stories of desperate conditions inside the city
Thousands of young children are among the 90,000 forced to flee Sirte
MISRATA, Libya – At the back of a carpet shop in Tripoli Street, one of the main roads through Misrata, citizens collect essential items for refugees. There are shoes, clothes, mattresses, books and games for children and even food baskets for young couples who cannot afford a wedding lunch.
The donations will be shared among the tens of thousands of civilians who have fled Sirte and the clutches of the Islamic State group. The UN says more than 90,000 have left – two thirds of the city’s population – including 35,000 in the two months since the start of a Libyan offensive to take back the city. Among them are 3,000 children under the age of three.
Misrata, Beni Walid and Tarhouna have taken in the vast majority, many of whom arrived with nothing other than the clothes on their backs and stories of their break for freedom from desperate conditions inside the city.
Fatima is in line at the carpet shop with her 13-year-old daughter Aisha, one of her five children. Until a few months ago they lived in Sirte.
“My husband is blind and has a heart problem,” Fatima told Middle East Eye. “When we were in Sirte we lived with his family, sharing the food and expenses, and as long as I could work my salary was enough to guarantee children what they needed.”
“Then Islamic State arrived, and the end of our lives began. They took possession of all aspects of our lives.”
Holding a picture of her eldest son, Ali, 15, Fatima said: “They wanted to recruit our children. We knew there were spies everywhere who controlled the boys who went to their lessons. Young people were forced to listen to their sermons.”
The situation became desperate for Fatima as food and medicine began to run out.
“At that point my husband and I began to think of escape. We were afraid of being stopped at a checkpoint and kidnapped, as we knew it was happening to many others.
“But one night we took courage and we fled. I did not want my son to be corrupted by their ideology, but at the same time I was afraid they would kill him. For this, we fled.”
‘I tried to resist till the end’
Another refugee, Ibrahim, met with MEE in a hotel in Misrata. He asked to remain anonymous for fear IS would kill his brother, whom they abducted and forced to fight.
“They took him from our home, at night, after having ransacked everything. The same thing happened to many other young people.
“They forced them to train, we know that around Sirte there are several training camps and we saw weapons arriving all the time during these months.
“I tried to resist till the end. I did not want to leave Sirte without my brother, but when the bombing started I convinced my mother to flee,” he said.
Ibrahim recounted the punishing conditions inside Sirte after IS arrived in 2014, and the reign of terror exacted on its population.
“They controlled everything: the port, the air base, the radio station, they stopped all communication with the outside, they closed banks. They taxed my shop, my family was starving.
“They forced citizens to attend public executions. Many people were beheaded and hanged on a scaffold on the roundabout in Zafran.
“I was forced to attend public executions seven times… they passed in the street with loudspeakers threatening retaliation for those who did not attend.
“They killed innocent people, accusing them of witchcraft, blasphemy, or spying.
“I can never forget the faces of my fellow citizens killed. I will never forget the pain of their families and the fear of all of us.”
The IS fighters were mostly foreign, he said.
“The largest group was Tunisian, and there were soldiers from Yemen, Chad, Nigeria. Their judges were mostly Nigerians. The leaders were not Libyans – they were mostly Syrians and Iraqis.
“They were carrying lots of currencies; there were Libyan dinars but also euro and so many dollars.
“There was a prison in a school, in the Ribat area, and another at the central bank, we were all terrified of their Islamic police, terrified of ending up on their lists.
“A friend of mine was sentenced to be publicly flogged because the Islamic police claimed to have seen him smoking in public.”
He said he hated fleeing, but there was no alternative.
“And I pray for the civilians left in Sirte. Because I fear that they are used as human shields.”
“Many people ask me why I had not run away before. I answer: because Sirte is my home, because I wanted my brother back, because I was hoping that someone might save us.”
Forces loyal to the Libyan unity government, based in Tripoli, have been inching towards Sirte for two months. Reports from the front lines suggest British and American forces are directing the Libyan campaign, but progress is slow.
And the many thousands who have fled death must find a new way to live until their city is liberated.
“Now I’m here in Misrata and I pray every morning to find a job to feed my mother,” Ibrahim said.
Fatima is also struggling. “We feel deeply alone,” she said. “I have three jobs to pay the rent of the house we found, but if I pay the rent little or nothing remains to buy food.
“I had to ask Aisha to start working with me. I do not want her to do menial work too. I clean houses and ask her just to cook.”
In a convoluted political picture, one must see beyond simply “good guys” and “bad guys,” and instead understand that while there are indeed good guys and bad guys, some of the good guys are sometimes bad, while some of the bad guys are sometimes good.
Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, speaks to the media at a press conference in a hotel in Tripoli, Libya
The news that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the assassinated leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Muammar Gaddafi, has been released from captivity is one of the most significant developments in Libya in some time. For while the Western corporate media would like people to believe that the Gaddafi name is dead and buried, the fact remains that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and the surviving members of the Gaddafi family, are seen as heroes by many in Libya. Moreover, Saif’s release has the potential to transform the political situation in the country.
Although details are few and far between, what we do know is that according to his lawyer at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Saif Gaddafi “was given his liberty on April 12, 2016.” Indeed official documents (which remain unverified) seem to support the assertion that Saif has, in fact, been released. Considering the statements from his attorneys that Saif is “well and safe and in Libya,” the political ramifications of this development should not be underestimated. Not only is Saif Gaddafi the second eldest and most prominent of Col. Gaddafi’s sons, he is also the one seen as the inheritor of his father’s legacy of independent peaceful development and the maintenance of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
This last point is of critical importance as his release is a clear signal to many Libyans that the resistance to the NATO-imposed chaos and war is alive and well. And while there have been isolated upsurges of pro-Gaddafi sentiments at various times in the last five years, they mostly remained underground. Perhaps it might soon be time for the resistance to once again become united as it moves to drive out the terrorists and opportunists who have torn the jewel of Africa apart these last five years.
Libya: Chaos Reigns Thanks to NATO
In order to answer the question of what Saif Gaddafi’s return to political life would mean for Libya, one has to first understand the nature of the Libyan state (if one can even call it that) today. Libya has become a fractured nation made up of at least two governments – one aligned with Al Qaeda in Tripoli, the other moderate, non-Islamist government based in Tobruk – with the vast majority of the tribes having at least some ties with the Tobruk government, and its sometimes backers in Egypt. Indeed, it is the tribes who in many ways dominate political life as much of Libyan society has fallen back on tribal affiliations and loyalties in the wake of the destruction of Gaddafi’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya government.
With disunity having been created by the NATO war on Libya, and the introduction of longtime CIA asset General Khalifa Haftar into a political equation already exhaustingly complex with myriad factions and shifting loyalties, it becomes rather difficult to know exactly where each group and alliance stands. As if to complicate the matter further, Saif has been held since 2011 by the militias centered in the city of Zintan; the Zintanis were no friends of Gaddafi, but have steadfastly refused to cooperate with the Al Qaeda-Muslim Brotherhood allied factions dominating Tripoli as part of the so-called “Libya Dawn” coalition.
Of course, one cannot forget about Abdelhakim Belhadj and the fighters of his Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which played a key role in the NATO-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Belhadj, the darling of western intelligence and political elites like John McCain and Lindsey Graham (who posed for pictures with the infamous Al Qaeda terrorist), had been accused of being involved in training ISIS operatives in Eastern Libya, though sources in Libya have denied the claim, instead maintaining that Belhadj remains holed up in the Tripoli airport, commanding his fighters in alliance with his longtime Al Qaeda comrades.
All of this is to say that the political map of Libya is like broken glass, fractured into dozens of pieces strewn about by the destruction of the once peaceful and prosperous nation. But in the midst of all the chaos, there have been moments of hope, moments when it seemed a pushback from the people of Libya might soon come.
One key element of the political situation in Libya that is often ignored is the role of Egypt’s President Sisi. While Sisi has a dubious human rights record of his own, in the Libyan context his government has seeminglyprovided air support to the Tobruk government and its allied tribal groups fighting against ISIS/Daesh terrorists, and potentially also against Al Qaeda-affiliated groups. Sources inside Libya have conveyed that, contrary to rumors on social media, Egyptian forces have been closely collaborating with some key Libyan factions, including representatives of the tribes whose loyalty remains with the Gaddafis.
In this convoluted political picture, one must see beyond simply “good guys” and “bad guys,” and instead understand that while there are indeed good guys and bad guys, some of the good guys are sometimes bad, while some of the bad guys are sometimes good. Got it? Good.
The Leader Libya Needs, the Leader It Deserves
It is against this dizzying political backdrop that one must examine the significance of a potential return for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Saif remains a hero to many Libyans who see in him the inheritor of the independent spirit of his father, a man whose education and erudition, and most importantly wartime experience, make him a natural leader.
It should be remembered that Saif was the main advocate of the rapprochement between Libya and the West in the early 2000s, spearheading the campaign for Libya’s disarmament of its nuclear and long-range ballistic missiles program. However, by 2011 and the US-NATO illegal war on Libya, Saif had changed his tune, regretting terribly his having taken western leaders at their word. In a now infamous interview with RTconducted in the midst of the NATO war, Saif stated:
“Many countries, Iran and North Korea are among them, told us it was our mistake to give up, to have stopped developing long-range missiles and to become friendly with the West. Our example means one should never trust the West and should always be on alert – for them it is fine to change their mind overnight and start bombing Libya…One of our biggest mistakes was that we delayed buying new weapons, especially from Russia, and delayed building a strong army. We thought Europeans were our friends; our mistake was to be tolerant with our enemies.”
One could sense the penitence in Saif’s voice, a man who acknowledged his own responsibility in weakening his country and opening it to foreign invasion. But Saif’s contrition, almost a plea for forgiveness from his people, was also seen by many Libyans as the mark of his true character, a man who forthrightly accepted responsibility while simultaneously standing defiant against the most powerful military alliance in the world, and its terrorist proxies overrunning his country. Indeed, for many, this was the moment – along with hisappearance at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli before a crowd of stunned reporters and Libyans – when Saif ceased to be simply the favored son, and instead became a bona fide leader.
And today, nearly five years later, Saif remains the chosen son of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – a man who has endured five years of confinement at the hands of his one-time enemies, who has remained defiant of the US and of its puppet institutions such as the International Criminal Court. His is the man who for so many represents the promise of a better future by symbolizing a better past.
And this is why factions inside Libya, and their backers in the US and Europe, are terrified of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi; they understand perfectly what he represents. They know that Saif commands the loyalty and respect of the majority of Libyans, far more than any other single faction. They know that Saif is backed by the most influential tribes in the country, as well as what remains of the Green Resistance which has emerged at key moments in the last few years, including the brief takeover of a critical air base in the southern city of Sabha in January 2014. They know that Saif is the only individual leader left in Libya who can unite the disparate political formations into a single force prepared to finally defeat the jihadist elements backed by the US-NATO.
But the fear of Saif runs even deeper than just the theoretical leadership that he represents. Rather, the powers that be fear the political force he already is. When Saif’s death sentence was handed down by a kangaroo court in Tripoli, supporters of Gaddafi and the Jamhiriya took to the streets in Benghazi, Sirte, Bani Walid, and a number of other cities across the country, despite ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists in control of much of those cities. At the risk of their own lives, these Libyans carried portraits of the assassinated Col. Gaddafi and Saif al-Islam, chanting their names and calling for a restoration of the socialist government. Consider the devotion necessary for followers to risk life and limb in a show of political support. Now imagine what would happen with Saif free.
Sources in Libya, and among those who have fled to neighboring countries, as well as Europe, have noted that elements of the former Gaddafi government have been working closely with the Sisi government in Egypt. While it is difficult to confirm independently, such a move is entirely plausible considering the common jihadi enemy both face in Libya which shares a long, porous border with Egypt. Assuming that the collaboration is true, it presents yet another reason why the US and its proxies, to say nothing of the terror groups inside Libya, would greatly fear Saif’s freedom. With the backing of an assertive Egypt, the all-important tribal councils, and elements of the disparate factions on the ground, Saif would instantly become the single most powerful man in Libya.
And for those in the West, it is incumbent on everyone to vigorously and publicly defend Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and to redouble efforts to back him. Saif represents a chance for Libya to be rebuilt, for the country to be pulled from the morass of chaos manufactured by the US and its NATO partners. Saif is the hope of the Libyan people who have suffered unspeakable horrors these last five years. Even those who have no love lost for Gaddafi understand the importance of reconstituting a single, united Libya under a single, united government. Only Saif al-Islam Gaddafi can do that now. And that’s why freedom for Saif might one day mean freedom for Libya.
(Source / 16.07.2016)