It’s been a year since a bloody civil war in Libya broke out, which lasted into late October and ended in the manslaughter of the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi after he was ambushed and captured by rebel forces near his home town of Syrte.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) is still waiting for Libya’s new authorities to clarify the circumstances of the death of the colonel, who had ruled the country for more than three decades since 1969. Former Russian ambassador to Libya Alexei Podtserob notes that the new regime’s reluctance to cooperate with the ICC indicates that the civil war is going on.
“Clearly, the winners are squaring accounts with the losers. According to international human rights watchdogs, about 7,000 Gaddafi supporters are locked up in jails, abused and tortured. The new authorities are not in control of the whole of Libya. They are only controlling Tripoli and a stretch of land 130 km west of the city. The rest of Libya’s territory is being controlled by tribes. Libya now resembles a barrel of gunpowder with a blaster fuse. Either the fuse is pulled out, or it will catch fire and the barrel will blow into pieces.”
Yevgeny Satanovsky, a political scientist and Director of the Middle East Institute, fears the barrel might explode before the fuse is neutralized.
“Libya is not a unified country any more. Formally, it has retained its borders, but operating within those borders are various tribes, militants and radical Islamist groups of the Al Qaeda stripe, who hadn’t been there under Gaddafi. They are fighting one another in what appears to be a smoldering civil war. Libya is gradually falling apart and is beginning to look more like Somalia, with signs of a deepening conflict between Berbers and Arabs in the west along the border with Tunisia and Algeria. Chaos and mismanagement are reigning in the provinces and human rights are being grossly violated. It’s common practice – the new authorities are taking a bloody revenge on the tribes which supported Gaddafi a year ago. Humanitarian aid is being looted in the most appalling way.”
The United States has spent $2 billion on special operations aimed at toppling Gaddafi. France has spent 300 million euros. Saudi Arabia and Qatar contributed by unleashing a broad anti-Qaddafi campaign in the media, sending mercenaries and supplying arms to the rebels. The fact that the West managed to win some of the Arab countries over to its side is another lesson that needs to be learnt from the Libyan war. Hussein Nasrullah, chief editor of the Al-Mutauasset magazine, thinks that the West is successfully pursuing a divide-and-rule policy towards the Arab world.
“The policy of splitting the Arab world did not begin during the Libyan campaign. It began during the Lebanese campaign. The West did whatever it could do to split Lebanon but suffered a defeat. And later, it re-enacted the same scenario in Libya. Unfortunately, certain Arab countries are serving Western interests. Arab League member states back the proposed intervention in Syria. The Arabs just don’t realize what they are doing.”
In the Arab analyst’s view, the West has devised and tested a technology for the seizure of Arab countries, which it is going to apply in the Middle East in the future.
“The military strikes against Libya made it clear that the West was targeting infrastructure facilities and committing genocide against Libyans. Now the focus is on Syria. The West may destabilize the entire region if the Libyan scenario repeats itself in Syria. The West turned the Libyan campaign in its favor, split Tunisia with the help with the Muslim Brotherhood, divided Egypt through the Higher Military Council, succeeded in Yemen, and is now accomplishing the fragmentation of Sudan. And we don’t know what may happen in Iraq and Algeria in the near future.”
The Libyan war was an extension of the “Arab spring” in Tunisia and Egypt. And later, it was Yemen’s turn. Decades-old Arab regimes began crumbling one by one. A year on, the “Arab spring” in Libya has given way to a harsh and seemingly endless “Arab winter”.