Editor   03 Oct 2011   Brussels e-Briefings

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Brussels e-briefings host: Richard Werly
Date: 21 September 2011

The following is a digest of the webinar discussions held on Thursday, 21st September, 2011, with our host Richard Werly.

- Col. Gaddafi and his group are not in position to regain power in Libya. The battle for their last strongholds, in Sirte and Beni Walid, may last for weeks as the ex-rebels have to be careful not to engage in urban warfare. NATO also has to be careful not to strike targets with high risks of collateral damages. But the balance of forces and the political power play is undoubtedly in favour of the democratic opposition led by the National Council for Transition (NCT). After 42 years in power, the Gaddafi regime now belongs to the past.

- There is a serious risk of armed destabilisation in the neighbouring countries bordering Southern Libya, namely Chad, Niger and Sudan. As Gaddafi forces and leaders have retreated mainly in the south, that is, those regions bordering the Sahara, there is the risk they might become mercenaries eager to fight on behalf of whoever pays them, or warlords eager to secure new strongholds of very lucrative trafficking taking place in this part of Africa. This is bad news as the Sahara region is already under the problematic influence of some Islamic groups affiliated with Al-Qaida. Expect turbulence to happen in these regions.

- NATO has secured in Libya an undeniable victory. Without NATO's strikes, regime change would have been impossible. Gaddafi's grip on power, with his security apparatus and stockpiles of weapons, would have crushed the rebellion in no time. Our conclusions, based on our field reports in Tripoli and Misrata, are that NATO was right to intervene to prevent massacres and has secured, therefore, a strong support among the Libyan population. It does not mean, however, that problems will not occure especially as political rivalries emerge. The fact that huge stocks of weapons have been found in Libya is the most problematic one.

- The Islamist threat, often pointed out, does not seem to be serious at the moment. The downfall of Tripoli was mainly due to the fact that military officers and soldiers from Gaddafi's regular forces shifted loyalty and helped the ex-rebels take control of the capital. At the moment, those security forces - though everybody wears civilian clothes - are still in power in Tripoli and they are certainly not pro-Islamists. The well-known figure of Abelhakim Belhadj, an ex-fighter in Afghanistan who was detained by the CIA and sent back to Libya to be tortured and detained by Gaddafi's secret police, does not seem yet to be in control of a large number of men. But as usual, the political situation is expected to be volatile and dynamic. Islamists will certainly appear to be an alternative to the rural, less educated population. Expect them to grow stronger, but for the moment, their goal is certainly not to face the West who has liberated Libya and is very popular among the vast majority of the population.

Questions? Post a comment below, or e-mail Richard Werly at richard.werly@letemps.ch


  • Profile picture for user Stephanie Borg Psaila
    Stephanie Borg…, 05/30/2020 - 08:06

    Comment noted Rahul. Thanks for sharing your view on Kadhafi's execution. I personnaly share your concern for the way he was killed and for the need of justice, which we will probably elaborate on during an upcoming webinar. But here are some elements we shall also take into account while looking at the situation in Libya after the downfall of his regime: - Libya has been at war for more than 6 months, with Col. Kadhafi's forces indeed waging attacks on civilians especially in the city of Misrata in April-May. You will then notice that his killers were from Misrata. Vengeance is, unfortunately, a frequent and quite unavoidable act of war. - Col. Kadhafi could have surrendered and, most probably, he would have been protected by NATO and avoided the destruction of the whole city of Syrte. - That being said, his execution bears the mark of chaos everybody is worried about in Libya, and discredit largely the Nato-led operation which was made possible by a twisted UN resolution. Twisted in the sense that UN resolution 1973 became an instrument of war, to overthrow his regime, rather than a tool to protect civilians, as it should have been. Result: no chance to get a similar resolution regarding Syria... - And finally, for the sake of debate, one question should be asked: was his indictment by the ICC adequate? In reality, this decision, taken after the case was referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council, cornered the ex-Libyan leadership into war at all costs. This again, shall be a matter of reflection.
  • Rahul (not verified), 05/30/2020 - 08:06

    It was very painful to see the barbaric way of killing of a person who lead the Country for 42 years. He and his style of functioning may not have been liked, but, he was Head of a State who steered his Country for it's present standing. In fact, he was the savior for the rich oil reserves of Libya as NATO allies are now speculating for it's share in return for their support to National Transitional Council. ( Source : CNN ). In death, everything gets settled and he should be accorded all respect that is due to a Statesman. It is not proper to keep his stripped body in a meat freezer. He should be given an honourable burying befitting for an ex - Head of State and in line with his religious rites.
  • Deok (not verified), 05/30/2020 - 08:06

    France crushed the then daccoratimelly elected FIS in Algeria from assuming power thereby denying the people the right to choose Islamic government. Prior to that Italy planted Gaddafi to prevent Islamic rule in Libya. The West did the same with Hamas in Palestine.However the ground realities have change to the extent that Gaddafi having eliminated ALL/ANY opposition to his rule is unable to be succeeded by another Western puppet; unlike the situation in Tunisia & Egypt, which still have the existing regime structure in place, though their respective figure-head Presidents have fled. This means the masses in Libya are for the first time, ‘free’ to establish an Islamic State as there are no remnants of Gaddafi regime remaining as an obstacles. Hence, EU, US stand to lose a major source of oil and thus “reasons” must be manufactured for them to intervene militarily. The stakes are too high for them to pay mere lip service.Meanwhile chants on Libyan streets remain: ALLAHU AKBAR!

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