Comments on the 10th anniversary of the end of the NATO operation in Libya and the death of its leader Muammar Gaddafi
10 years ago, direct military aggression of NATO countries took place in Libya in combination with the classic “colour revolution”. As a result, the country was almost destroyed, Gaddafi’s technological achievements, including the famous “large man-made river” (a giant system for transporting and storing freshwater), were turned into ruins. Libya has slipped to the level of tribal relations. Gaddafi’s prophecy of turning Libya into a “New Somalia” has completely come true.
There is a stereotype according to which the collective West is always a carrier of civilisation, and its opponents are always backward barbarians. In Libya, everything was exactly the opposite. It was the West that from the very beginning of the Libyan crisis behaved as a carrier of the ideology of destruction and barbarism.
At the time, commenting on the reconciliation with Gaddafi, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that “America does not have eternal enemies”. Time has shown that the assurances of the US State Department are not always worth taking seriously. Hillary Clinton, who replaced Rice as head of the State Department, showed this clearly when she publicly laughed while watching a video of the torture to which the captured Gaddafi was subjected.
Today, Western experts are trying to explain such a radical change in the US’ position by the events of the “Arab Spring” of 2010, when the riots, starting with Tunisia, spread to Egypt, Libya, and then to Syria. Gaddafi himself, they say, is to blame, he did not develop democratic institutions, he did not hold elections, etc.
Of course, the internal political regime in Libya was not ideal. By the end of his reign, Gaddafi was no longer able to find the right balance between the interests of the two largest regions – Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, which largely caused the unrest in Benghazi, which served as a trigger for the colour revolution, carried out not without external influence.
Attempts by the Libyan leader to compromise with the West and even integrate part of the Libyan elite into his “glamorous” segments aggravated the situation. This went against the initially stated political ideals of the Jamahiriya as the original version of Arab and Islamic socialism. The factor of the “golden youth”, the presence of elitists living out their lives in the West, had a demotivating effect on Libyan society.
Gaddafi had fewer and fewer ideological arguments every year in order to ensure nationwide mobilisation in the event of a “fifth column” rebellion or external aggression. The fact that by 2010 Libya was significantly weakened ideologically affected its future fate.
Today, most residents of the country can compare what was “before” and what became “after”, recalling the time of Gaddafi’s rule as the “golden age”, but history can no longer be reversed.
If there was a possibility of holding democratic elections in Libya today, then Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam would have won by a large margin. However, in conditions when the country’s political system is destroyed, such a scenario remains only a dream, and power in different parts of Libya (in fact, already independent quasi-states) is determined only by factors of force.
At the same time, I note that in countries that take a clear and uncompromising position in relation to Western pressure – Cuba, Venezuela, even Zimbabwe, scenarios of colour revolutions do not work. They work where the authorities are trying to sit on two chairs, calling it “multi-vector”, as it was in Georgia under Shevardnadze, in Ukraine under Kuchma and Yanukovych, and as it almost happened recently in Belarus.
However, despite all the mistakes he made, Gaddafi still went down in history as a major leader, the scale of whose personality goes beyond a single country. His pan-African project, which involved the close integration of African countries and the introduction of a single currency backed by a gold standard, could change the global economic landscape.
Given the fact that Africa has huge economic potential, development according to the model proposed by Gaddafi could help solve the problems facing the continent – hunger, unemployment, low level of medical development and, to a large extent, lack of infrastructure.
It would seem that all this should be beneficial to Europe, which eventually received a stable and predictable neighbour in the south. However, the colonial past, which Gaddafi so often reminded Europeans of, made itself felt. European leaders, including such adequate politicians as Sarkozy and Berlusconi, followed the lead of the United States and Britain on the issue of a military scenario in Libya. The most important task of this was to destroy Gaddafi’s pan-African project at the root and preserve the neocolonial influence of Western countries.
After 10 years, it becomes obvious that by stabbing Gaddafi in the back, Europe punished itself.
The demographic boom in Africa continues, but there are no conscious efforts aimed at solving the problems facing it. The place of Western powers in Africa is increasingly occupied by China, which, however, is not able to provide reliable control over the movement of the masses migrating to the West. This means that Europe will inevitably have to face a migration tsunami in the future, which is nothing compared to the migration crisis of 2015-2016.
In addition to the long-term consequences of the Libyan adventure, there are factors of the current moment that are already making themselves felt. The most significant of them is the actual split of the southern flank of NATO, where the largest players, France and Turkey, due to the division of the “Libyan legacy” are already ready to consider each other as potential military opponents.
The only country that drew adequate conclusions from the Libyan crisis was Russia. Libyan history has shown that gentlemen’s agreements with Western partners, their promises to take into account Russian interests, have consultations and coordinate further steps, are worth little. And in Syria, where processes similar to the Libyan ones began a year later, Moscow behaved completely differently. As a result, Syria was saved from terrorists, preventing a repetition of the Libyan scenario.
I would like the Libyan tragedy of ten years ago not to be forgotten and become an instructive lesson for all nations.