Thursday, October 30, 2014

Foreign intervenion in Libya now traces back to Gadaffi overthrow

The intervention in Libya politics traces back to foreign support for the rebellion against Gadaffi. The intervention not only involved western powers led by the US but also Arab countries with the UAE and Qatar supporting different rebel factions.



An article by Frederic Wehrey points out that the present Libyan strife still has aspects of being a proxy war. UAE planes in support of General Haftar were reported both by rebels and also originally by the US as being behind the night bombings of Tripoli during the period when the Libyan Dawn Islamist coalition were taking control of the international airport and the city of Tripoli. The internationally recognized Libyan government in Tobruk continues to emphatically deny that there is any foreign involvement in the Libyan conflict. The president of the House of Representatives Ageela Saleh said that allegations of foreign intervention in Libya are baseless rumors being perpetuated by forces interested in blocking recent efforts to restore stability in Libya. His remarks were reported in the Libya Herald, the same source that a while ago had reported the US surprise at the involvement of the UAE and Egypt in the air attacks on Tripoli. Even Haftar has claimed that the operation was of his own forces and the "international community".
Haftar is the CIA-linked general whose Operation Dignity begun in May launched the recent conflict between militia loyal to him and mostly Islamist militia opposed to him. The Commander of Operation Dignity's Air Force, Adam Geroushi claimed that recent operation in Benghazi had been carried out totally by Libyans. At present, the national army and Haftar's militia appear to be almost one and the same. Geroushi claims that the Benghazi operations were being carried out by the national army without any foreign support. Saleh requested the media to refrain from spreading rumours "promoted by actors and parties known for their hostility to the project to rebuild the Libyan state”. Rebuilding the Libyan State involves turning Haftar's militia into the main part of the national army and allying the government with his Operation Dignity.
Expect the Tobruk government to deny this as it denies the reality of foreign involvement in the struggle. Geroushi's remark that the operation in Benghazi was carried out totally by Libyans may be correct. One of the House of Representatives members tweeted: Member of HoR Tariq Jaroushi: Egyptian planes are used in Benghazi but pilots are Libyan. Even this claim may be designed to cover up the participation of Egyptian pilots as well. Wehrey's article points out that outside support for different rebel groups reduced their incentives to cooperate with one another.
As Wehrey put the issue: Revolutionary factions competed for arms shipments, withheld foreign intelligence and targeting data from one another, and tried to outmaneuver one another in the revolution’s endgame – the liberation of Tripoli. Wehrey notes that at least at this stage the groups were united in trying to topple Gadaffi. Today, the foreign powers are engaged in a much more divisive game of competing narratives.
 Wehrey describes the narrative of the Tobruk Libyan government as follows:A dangerous scenario looms ahead. Backed by Egypt and the UAE, the Libyan government is extending the narrative of its counter-terrorism struggle against jihadists in Benghazi to include what is effectively a multi-sided civil war in Tripoli and the western mountains – of which Islamists are only one player. It is a multifaceted struggle that is only partially understood, and for which the literature on proxy interventions does not fully account. Egypt has provided the script for the new narrative with the new president and former military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Al-Sisi became an exemplar of what could serve as the way to create a strong state and stability in Libya and counter the power of Islamist ideological opponents:The ex-regime officials, key eastern tribes, federalists and younger liberals, who began idolizing the military uniform, the proverbial “man on horseback,” as the salvation for the country’s worsening violence and, less nobly, a way to exclude their ideological opponents from power.
 The Egyptian narrative is now being transferred to Libya and the actor to play the role al-Sisi played in Egypt is none other than General Khalifa Haftar. His Operation Dignity is intended to clear out Islamist militias. Haftar had already allied himself with al-Sisi and called on Egypt to use "all necessary military actions inside Libya" in order to secure Libya's border with Egypt. Haftar also emphasized that Operation Dignity would prevent Islamists from threatening "our neighbours in Algeria and Egypt". Egypt does have legitimate concerns about its border as gunmen apparently from Libya killed 21 Egyptian border guards back in July. However, Operation Dignity, has had the effect of uniting disparate groups mostly Islamists against his attacks resulting in umbrella groups strong enough to seize both Benghazi and Tripoli and making the situation even worse.
 Wehrey goes into considerable detail about foreign intervention in Libya. One passage indicates that there is actually an agreement by Egypt to provide support for Operation Dignity with the Libyan government: The Egyptian president’s recent offer of military assistance to Operation Dignity was explicitly framed as part of a broader anti-Islamic State fight. Leaked documents in mid-September purportedly showed that this was not merely an offer but rather a formalized agreement of military cooperation between the two states.The Egyptian media has bolstered the narrative as well. Cairo is home to several pro-Dignity media outlets, including the Libya Awalan TV station owned by Hasan Tatanaki, a Libyan business magnate with a virulently anti-Islamist outlook, and a more recent addition with the giveaway name of Karama (Dignity) TV.
 Qatar is accused of intervening on the side of the Islamists with Turkey and Sudan often acting as intermediaries. Even back in June, Haftar asked Turkish and Qatari citizens to leave eastern Libya within 48 hours since “those with Qatari and Turkish passports are intelligence agents and consultants supporting the Islamist forces.” Interestingly, Egypt, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey were among 13 countries that recently signed a statement pledging that they would not intervene in Libyan affairs. In the UAE at least 30 opponents of Operation Dignity have been arrested. Human Rights organizations have been outraged by the arrests carried out without warrants. The whereabouts of those arrested are not even known. They have disappeared.
 With the Tobruk govenment giving the green light for Haftar and the national army to liberate Benghazi and Tripoli Libya appears headed for more conflict if not outright civil war. The appended video describes the announcement of a Haftar spokesperson of the suspension of the Libyan parliament as it was attacked and burned as part of Operation Dignity. The parliament met later in another location. Al-Thinni the present prime minister of the Libyan government who was then acting prime minister of the government condemned the attack, called Haftar's actions illegal and noted that there was a warrant out for Haftar's arrest. Of course the warrant has never been executed and Al Thinni's government now supports Operation Dignity. .