Libya: descent into chaos

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FRFI 230 December 2012/January 2013

Libya no fly zone 007

A year on from the murder of Colonel Gaddafi Libya has descended into chaos and reaction, which this paper predicted when imperialism launched its attack in March 2011. Housing projects begun under the Gaddafi-led government remain incomplete as ‘foreign contractors refuse to return to a land essentially ruled by shadowy gunmen... The country is earning $1bn every ten days from oil revenues but lacks the administrative capacity to spend it’ (Financial Times 11 October 2012). Apart from security firms, foreign businesses have not arrived, the Chinese have not returned and there is no investment. There is no centrally controlled refuse collection in Tripoli, pensions are unpaid and schools go without books. Libya’s borders are battle zones between rival smuggling gangs. Trees planted as brakes on the spreading Sahara desert are chopped down for their timber.

 British, French and US politicians hailed the election of Mahmoud Jibril’s ‘moderate pro-business’ National Forces Alliance in the 7 July 2012 congressional elections, but the Libyan government is both dependent on militias and incapable of controlling them. On 5 October Amnesty International reported, ‘thousands of people held across Libya without warrant by armed militias... ongoing abductions of individuals... and unofficial detention facilities spread across the country’. Amnesty said that hundreds of residents of Bani Walid were held across Libya and many were being tortured. Bani Walid’s people seized their own town but it was recaptured on 24 October by pro-government militia after eight days of fighting and over 30 deaths. The Red Cross said that 25,000 of the town’s 80,000 people had fled. Hundreds of Bani Walid’s citizens invaded the parliament building in Tripoli to demand an end to the violence. Bani Walid, 90 miles from Tripoli, is considered a pro-Gaddafi town and reputedly harbours those who killed the murderer of Colonel Gaddafi.

The militia accused of killing the US ambassador and three of his colleagues at the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 remain at large. The attack on the consulate was not the spontaneous demonstration against the anti-Islamic video that the US government said it was. The consulate was apparently targeted because it served as a CIA base in the region. In and around Benghazi, 15 security officials serving the new government have been assassinated, thereby ensuring that the government forces are feeble. Benghazi’s chief of security was shot dead on 19 November 2012. He was responsible for trying to curb the power of the militia. Several targeted officials were early defectors from the former state forces.

Libya’s descent into chaos is of no concern to the US, British and French governments – as long as they control the oil they will view their mission as a success.

Trevor Rayne