Coup for sale


The rebellion in Libya is closely associated with American machinations.

The saying goes that Americans are better at winning wars than winning the peace. They won the war in Iraq but were not able to provide a peace-saving formula for the divided country and hence they left. Those who actually understand the nature of the world superpower know that the model of Iraq was the one for the whole Middle East. Libya is no exception. The Arab spring was not only meant to remove old-aged dictatorships but to besiege the new systems with extremists and radical Islamists until the right moment when the principle of “creative chaos” would go into third gear. The spring has been the piece of cheese that drove out of Afghanistan’s caves thousands of Al-Qaeda fighters, assuming they found a space in the new regional order. But the aftermath of the spring seems to be well-orchestrated and the “chaos” was also well-organised.

When the US developed the “alliance of the willing” to attack Iraq, several countries in the group presumed that they will finally get a piece of the Iraqi cake, in this case oil, but none of them got anything. This is also the case in Libya when NATO called upon its members to join forces and respond to the humanitarian calls of Benghazi dissidents who were oppressed by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. They also presumed that Libyan oil will be at their disposal. A couple of years ago, Philip Hammond, the British defence secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction and to exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources. Yet, Hammond ignored one of Iraq’s facts of life: the escalation of violence usually hinders business and again Libya is no exception.

The rule of the local militia spread anarchy across Libya whose central government was in free-fall as the southern and western regions were demanding autonomy. Meantime, Benghazi called for a division of the country into provinces. Large tribes, aided by armed militias, were in control, refusing to allow the police or the military to override the government’s authority. At that stage, the Americans could say they won the war because creative chaos brought to the limelight the armed radicals.

Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, where proper government institutions were in place before the revolutions, the strong tribal system encouraged by Gaddafi to manage his state was yet to be replaced by democratic political entities and institutions. On the road to establishing a new concept of citizenship and a strong central government that could rule a vast country with a small-size population, the Muslim Brotherhood was well organised and ready to take over, sometimes with the help of radical militias or with Western blessings. In both cases, the country remained in chaos and the Islamist militias rose to the surface. Thus, when the Libyan parliament dismissed Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from office after the government failed to stop armed groups in the eastern region from exporting oil independently, it was no surprise to many in Washington. Zeidan fled the country just a few days short of the third anniversary of UN Resolution 1973 that imposed a no-fly zone and opened the door for NATO’s intervention.

On the face of it, many might believe that what is happening in Libya is not the result the US and its partners hoped for when it intervened to end the Gaddafi regime. But the fact is that this is exactly what they wanted.

Shortly after the oil saga, General Khalifa Haftar announced a televised coup against the government even though it was able to defeat an attempt on its life. A new prime minister, supported by the Islamists, was later named but challenged by the rebels holding two oil ports. Before the new premier took office, the earlier coup announcement — which had faded away until the US managed to regroup and decided to put down the Islamist influence in Libya — resurfaced. As the US moved special response teams from Spain to Sicily, said to be standing by if needed to help restore order or evacuate US personnel from Libya, Haftar made his second appearance — thus a new coup.

Haftar launched his attacks in Benghazi by attacking two Islamist bases. Since he blamed parliament for allowing extremist forces to exert so much influence in Libya, the building in Tripoli was set on fire. The general, who says he is fighting “for the people’s choice”, is closely connected with the CIA.