THE notion of a “Libya” has ceased to have any meaningful practical application. As a concept that either refers to some degree of national unity, an imagined community, sovereignty, or the exercise of authority by a state over the territory within its borders, “Libya” has been driven back to the time when it had yet to become formalized as a concept.
Those once celebrated as “rebels” and “revolutionaries” — by Obama, NATO states, UN bodies, Western media, and a range of liberal imperialist opinion along with those “socialists” who, after an extended period of internalized structural adjustment now model their thinking to better accord with neoliberal principles — are rarely if ever held up now as paragons of the “better future” that was to come. Visions, as in hallucinations and delusions, of the better that would come once Gaddafi was dutifully executed, abounded in the politically prepubescent writings of an “Arab Spring.”
If there ever was an “Arab Spring” in Libya, within days it quickly turned into an African nightmare. This was especially true with respect to the racist terrorism launched against scores of unarmed black Libyan civilians and African migrant workers. To the extent that “Libya” exists any longer, it is either as an absence or as a shameful stain. Libya is now Africa’s newest apartheid “state” and torture “regime”. Why the quotes? Unlike apartheid South Africa, the “new Libya” lacks any kind of cohesion as either a state or among actual or prospective rulers as a class, and in fact class analysis when applied to Libya by using Marx as a how-to-manual, produces laughable results to be expected from orthodox Eurocentrics, from those who cast the present in non-western settings as a mere projection or repetition of “Stalinism”.
The grotesque and criminal torture, murder, and butchering of Muammar Gaddafi should have symbolized what would soon be done to all of Libya, just like it had been done to thousands of black Libyans and African migrants by the “heroic rebels” of NATO’s 2011 war against Libya. Libya is being dismembered as this is being written, sinking into a war of all against all for the benefit of a few.
Days, weeks, then months and now years have passed marked by daily kidnappings, acts of torture, wrongful imprisonment, assassinations, bombings, raids and bloody clashes between rival militias, armed extortion, strikes that have reduced the oil sector to a mirage of what “once was,” and an explosion of racialism, religious fundamentalism, and regionalism. If “Gaddafi” was their enemy, then Libyans have a funny way of showing it: by slaughtering each other, armed Libyans declare that they are each other’s worst enemies. Gaddafi was clearly not the problem: he was the solution that had to be broken in order for Libya to be “fixed,” to be fixed good and proper from the standpoint of the cruel tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the U.S.
If Libya has suffered a thousand deaths since the brutal overthrow of Gaddafi and all of what he had achieved, gone too–and this is happy news–are all of the jejune and childishly simplistic pretenses at theory that are founded on Eurocentric binary oppositions and ideas that are barely veiled translations of the idiotic, demonizing caricatures of Gaddafi.
So here was “the dictator,” but who apparently ruled without a state, if you believe what Reuters tries to pass off as political analysis. (No amount of “being there” will cure you if you’re insistent about your ignorance.) Here was the “brutal” dictator, but who apparently kept his army weak. Or there was a state, but it was also a one-man show–whatever, something, anything to cast all blame on the past and take our eyes away from all those who have responsibility for the present.
If they’re continuing to fight “Gaddafi,” and credit/blame Gaddafi for everything in the present, then there was no “revolution” either, just multiple, continuous reenactments of all that was “Gaddafi.” If militia leaders see Gaddafi everywhere and in everyone, it is because they are nowhere. Gone too are the grandiose declarations–that passed for expert analysis by Juan Cole and friends–of all of Libya “rising up,” united, to “throw off the regime,” a people against a dictator. I mean really, this is embarrassing when you think that supposed adults — “scholars” even — were behind such cartoonish drivel.
To those “socialists” in the West who cheered the Libyan “revolutionaries,” let’s ask them: where do you see socialism in Libya today? To those liberals who spoke of “democracy” and “human rights,” where do you see either of those today? To the advocates of “humanitarian” principles of intervention and “protection,” why did you go so silent after the lights were turned off with Gaddafi’s murder? To those who imagined would-be “massacres” to come that accompanied the demands of British and U.S. altar boys that “Gaddafi had to go,” why does your imagination suddenly fail you when confronted with the actual massacres that you yourselves committed and enabled?
To those who claim “lives were saved,” where were you when the bodies began to pile up amidst swarms of flies in blood-stained, abandoned hospitals? When patients in hospitals were gunned down in their beds, and when handcuffed prisoners lying on their stomachs were executed at such close range that the grass beneath their heads was scorched, did you wince? In other words, where do you all see this great “success story” in the charnel house that is now “Libya”?
It’s polite analysis to speak of the time-space compression of globalization, that presumably explains how many iPad imperialists personally vested themselves in “correcting” Libya so it could become more like what they imagined they possessed. They would not stand idly by, no, not when another chance presented itself to flatter themselves with a reinvigorated cultural evolutionism, applied by the force of NATO bombardments.
Libya was now “ready for democracy,” and the cruise missiles showed just how ripe Libya was for “improvement.” Time-space compression? The globalization of consciousness? Consciousness, however much there ever was, was certainly compressed: into a tiny a nut-shell that prohibited considering contrary opinions, as right as they consistently proved to be.
In that vein, I recommend that the reader invest a mere 40 minutes or so in reviewing how things looked before we became deluded by our own lies. These are overviews of Libya and Gaddafi, produced by the BBC and CBS news (believe it or not), when the demonological fantasies had not yet fully hatched, taken wing, and unloaded so many propaganda droppings on our heads as come from Obama’s vainglorious, imperial monologues. Challenge yourself, and look at some of what Libya has lost, all in the name of the great nothingness.
Gaddafi Has Gone But Libya Is More Dangerous Than Ever, Thanks To The West
LIBYA needs viable political institutions and a credible security apparatus but none of the ‘liberators’ seem interested any more.
‘The barbaric manner in which Gaddafi was killed should surely have provided Cameron, and indeed the entire international community, with a stark warning about what was to follow.’
It is more than three years since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan dictator, was murdered by his own people. His savage killing, which took place on 20 October 2011, near Sirte, was welcomed with almost sadistic relish by western politicians. RAF and French warplanes had “facilitated” the butchery, the despot’s corrupt and inhumane regime was gone, “friendly” rebels were in charge, and gung-ho TV news channels were there to record the celebrations. “Job done” was the reassuringly simplistic verdict.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president who had pressed for the Nato bombing campaign that guaranteed Gaddafi’s demise, was particularly jubilant. He was greeted as a “liberator” in Tripoli, along with David Cameron, prime minister of the country that had poured the most resources into the adventure – up to £900m of British taxpayers’ money according to some calculations.
Nobody would deny that an end to the Gaddafi regime was long overdue. It was characterised by numerous human rights abuses, including the murder of more than 1,000 prisoners – mainly political opponents – at the Abu Salim prison in 1996. Gaddafi was also linked with a long list of heinous crimes abroad, such as the bombing of Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 with the loss of 270 lives, and the murder of police officer Yvonne Fletcher in central London in 1984.
While UN Resolution 1973, the one that gave the green light to military intervention, had by no means authorised regime change, a dead Gaddafi heralded peace, prosperity and, crucially, a “strong and democratic future”, according to Cameron.
How dismal all that sounds today. It was US air force jets flying above Tripoli this week, and their job was to guarantee the safety of their escaping diplomats. British and French subjects were also fleeing in fear of their lives. Even the UN mission was shut down.
Rebel infighting makes almost everywhere unsafe. Assassinations are routine, robbers stalk the roads, while water and electricity supplies are regularly interrupted. Abundant reserves of oil and gas, which had attracted multinational companies to Libya and whose profits helped educate a sizeable middle class, are all going up in smoke – literally. Millions of litres of fuel are set ablaze during clashes between rival militias, before another depot was rocketed.
All of this a few miles from Tripoli airport, which is under constant fire.
What UN Resolution 1973 actually called for was an end to “attacks against civilians”, but they are now a daily occurrence. Leading human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis was stabbed and shot through the head in Benghazi in June. It is all part of a non-stop cycle of violence which, in September 2012, saw US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American consular staff killed in the so-called “cradle of the revolution”.
Those of us who visited the rapidly expanding glass-and-steel infrastructure of the commercially minded Libya at the start of the revolution saw hope in the country’s technical class. Highly trained engineers, energy workers, and numerous other professionals all wanted to do business globally, offering the possibility of radical transformation for the good.
Instead, western leaders put faith in unregulated forces carrying a vast arsenal of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles. Many of the warlords have strong links with Islamist terrorist groups operating across the deserts of north Africa.
The repressive Gaddafi decades had kept these warring tribes in check through unacceptable levels of brutality. Viable political institutions and a credible security apparatus are now urgently needed, but none of the “liberators” seem interested any more.
Sarkozy is now an alleged criminal himself – he is being actively investigated in France for receiving up to £50m in illegal cash from Gaddafi to fund his 2007 election campaign. Examining judges are said to want to know why the so-called “brother leader” was honoured with a state visit to Paris that year, and treated like a personal friend by Sarkozy. Sarkozy denies the charges. France’s current Socialist president, François Hollande, does not even mention Libya, and nor does Barack Obama. The US president was always lukewarm in supporting the intervention in Libya in the first place, making sure that his forces only played a supply role in the military campaign.
Cameron is now similarly lacklustre about the growing crisis in a country he was once so proud to visit in person. The barbaric manner in which Gaddafi was killed should surely have provided him, and indeed the entire international community, with a stark warning about what was to follow.
Assassination Pushes Libya Towards Civil War Three Years After Gaddafi’s Death

LIBYA marks the third anniversary of the death of Muammar Gaddafi with the country on the brink of a new civil war and fighting raging in the eastern city of Benghazi, birthplace of its Arab spring revolution.
Violence between radical militias and regular forces broke out night and continued, while the capital Tripoli is braced for fallout from the kidnapping earlier recently, of prime minister Ali Zaidan. Federalists in Cyrenaica, home to most of Libya’s oil, open their own independent parliament in Benghazi this week, in a step that may herald the breakup of the country.
For months, radical militias and regular forces in Benghazi have fought a tit-for-tat war. Recently two soldiers had their throats slit as they slept in an army base. The killing of Libya’s military police commander, Ahmed al-Barghathi, shot as he left a mosque, has became the trigger for wider violence. Hours after an assassination branded a “heinous act” by US ambassador Deborah Jones, armed units stormed the Benghazi home of a prominent militia commander, Wissam Ben Hamid, with guns and rockets.
Fighting continued, with army units heading for the home of a second militia commander, Ahmed Abu Khattala, indicted by the US for the killing of US ambassador Chris Stevens last year. There, they were turned back by powerful militia units.
“There’s fighting everywhere, checkpoints everywhere, I’ve moved my wife and children to somewhere safe,” said one Benghazi businessman, Mohammed, who declined to give his second name.
Ben Hamid went on live television to insist he had no role in the killing of al-Barghathi, and vowed reprisals against those who destroyed his home.
Libya’s militias are in the spotlight as never before, in a country racked by violence and economic stagnation. Zaidan has blamed the Revolutionaries Control Room, headquarters for the biggest militia – Libya Shield – for his kidnapping promising harsh measures
Shield forces deployed in the capital denied staging the abduction, but their units were fortifying their positions in fear of attack.
The trigger for this spiralling violence was the arrest by Delta Force commandos of al-Qaida suspect, Anas al Liby, from his Tripoli home. That arrest has polarised opinion between supporters and opponents of Zeidan, and Nato, which bombed the rebels to victory in the 2011 Arab spring, has found itself in the hot seat over plans to train a new government army. Britain is to join the US and Italy in training Libyan army cadres at a base in Cambridgeshire.