Libya: A Nest of Terrorism 2

Share this item
Tools
 Podcast
 RSS

Since the fall of Gaddafi, Libya has spiraled into a vicious civil war and this instability has turned Libya into a transit port for illegal immigrants striving to enter Europe.

TIME CODE: 00:00_5:00

Narration: Several years ago in Bab Al Azizya, Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan dictator, warned his audience: 'If, instead of a stable government, these militants linked to al-Qaeda come to power, the Africans will have to move en masse towards Europe and the Mediterranean will become a sea of chaos.' Today, his prophecy has been fulfilled sooner than expected.

Like many African nations, Libya had fallen victim to colonialism. In 1911, Italians took control of North African country and ruled over it until 1942 when World War II allies drove them out.

For nine years, Libya had been divided between France and Britain. In 1951, it became independent under King Idris al-Sanusi who was deposed by Colonel Gaddafi in a Coup in 1969. Gaddafi was erratic and eccentric, under him this country never experienced real democracy and modernity and is still run according to traditional tribal system with insignificant developments. The Libyans today demonstrate what they have experienced throughout the last century.

Libya is being worn out by an all-out civil war. On one side are forces of Operation Dignity, loyal to General Khalifa Hafter, a former Gaddafi officer who defected in the 1980s and returned to Libya in 2011. In May, he launched Operation Dignity, a military campaign to root out militants in the eastern city of Benghazi and keep them away from political power. His allies are mainly disaffected military units, security men from the former regime, prominent eastern tribes and federalists demanding greater autonomy for the east, and militants from Zintan and other western towns.

On the other side is the Libya Dawn coalition, formed in July as a countermovement to Operation Dignity. It includes ex-militants from the Libyan Fighting Group, militants from the powerful port of Misrata, fighters drawn from certain Tripoli neighborhoods, the ethnic Berber population, and some communities in the western mountains and coast. The Libya Dawn has forged a tactical alliance with a coalition of Benghazi-based militants that are battling Hafter’s forces; one of them is Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda franchise in Libya.

The United Nations, the United States, and other world powers only recognize the Dignity-allied government, with its parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk and its cabinet near Bayda. About three and a half years after the Libyan Revolution, still a cohesive political entity known as Libya doesn’t exist.

The lack of a strong central government in Libya has contributed to human trafficking, a source of income for many of the various militants and rebel groups that still exist in Libya to purchase weapons and achieve their goals in the country. It’s easy for the militants to bring people into Libya because they play a key role in controlling the borders. The Border Guard Force does not have enough resources to protect the entire nation. The militants also have the advantage of running many of the migrant detention centers in the country. This gives them access to a large number of people who can easily be exploited.

They are bringing in many Somalis, Eritreans, Nigerians, Sudanese, and Malians with the promise of a better life. There are a large number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the country due to the military coup that ousted Gaddafi as well as wars in neighboring countries. The UNHCR estimates that there are more than 93,565 internally displaced persons and about 4,384 refugees all in camps.

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

Narration: Many victims who enter Libya in transition are sent to European countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, particularly Italy.

On February 15, ISIL released a video in which 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt were beheaded on a Libyan beach. The atrocity triggered Egyptian bombing raids on the fighters’ positions in the Libyan city of Derna and highlighted ISIL’s spread beyond its base of operations in Iraq and Syria.

The gunmen who killed 38 people on the 26 June – including 30 British Nationals - in the Tunisian holiday resort of Sousse is believed to have trained in Libya, as well as those responsible for a previous shooting at the country's Bardo museum in March which left 21 people dead. ISIL claimed responsibility for both attacks. To defend its borders, Tunisia has announced plans to build a wall along its border with Libya to counter the threat from terrorist militants. It would stretch 160km inland from the coast, and be completed by the end of 2015.

SOUNDBITE [English] Federica Mogherini, EU Foreign Policy Chief: “At the situation in Libya it was already foreseen on the agenda of works today, the last foreign affairs council I was host with the plan of developing options European Union to assist transition in Libya to supports the effort of UN in Finding agreement on the government of national unity and to start very complete planning on how European Union can support future government of national unity. Now after what happened in the Mediterranean, the day and night before, I felt I have moral duty to concentrate also on our responsibility as Europeans, prevent these kind of tragedies to happen again and again.”

Narration: The federalist militants allied with Hafter’s forces currently control the oil-pipeline terminals at al-Sidr and RasLanuf. Their commander, Ibrahim Jathran, rose to notoriety in 2013 for seizing the ports to compel the Tripoli-based government to grant easterners more control over oil revenues. Jathran, who was ironically part of the guard force meant to protect those facilities, tried unsuccessfully last year to sell the oil on the black market. After the Dignity-Dawn split, Jathran aligned himself with Hafter and the Tobruk-based parliament.

Prior to the 2011 revolution, Libya produced about 1.6 million barrels a day, exported mostly to Italy, Germany, Spain, and France.

On December 13, Libya Dawn forces, drawn mostly from Misratan militants, launched “Operation Sunrise” to wrest the terminals from Jathran and his Dignity backers. The fighting shut down the terminals’ operations, cutting Libya’s overall oil production to one-fifth of pre-2011 levels.

On the worsened internal situation in Libya, the Hafter’s Minister of Information and Culture, Omar al-Qweri, stressed that the current situation in the country does not require a political solution, as sought by international mediation efforts, but rather he says it needs a military solution to put an end to the security crisis.

SOUNDBITE [English] Drik Vandewalle, Professor of Darthmouth College: “I think on political basic system that actually is in Libya, the cart was put before the horse, they had elections before they had any of the institutions that in most circumstances really give elections any kind of meaning that is if you think about elections which is really need political system within which the election result will be respected and that means you have all kinds of supporting institutions to give elections meaning but Libya never had those, coming out of the Gaddafi period and so you have elections but what you saw in Libya is that you have political institutions which created as a result of those elections, really lost all meaning, they became economical circumstances, they became again valued for what they could deliver, payroll tax, money to the different sides and the other would be political instruments and so the really big problem in Libya is that it needs to create the number of institutions trust among the population, to create senses, to create number of institutions being trusted to the political system in which unitary government really would carry meaning in Libya.”

   

Coming Up Online