Libya After Gaddafi: End Of A 40-Year Saga, Start Of A Shaky Future

Analysis: A violent military demise was fitting for Gaddafi who ruled that way for four decades. But the war to oust him has decimated the nation, and divisions among Gaddafi opponents create uncertainty both for Libya's new leaders and Western p

Can Libya move on from its bloody past? (Abode of Chaos)
Can Libya move on from its bloody past? (Abode of Chaos)

Politically, Muammar Gaddafi had been dead for a long time. He had virtually no friends left in Liyba, or among world leaders. Even at the height of his powers, he was an embarrassment to other Arab nations. His followers in Libya, whether sincere or opportunistic, distanced themselves from him as it became clear over the past few months that, thanks to military support from NATO, the rebels were sure to topple him.

But until the end, fantasy played a bigger role for Gaddafi than reality. He hadn't been seen in public since National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters and tribal warriors from the western part of the country captured Libya's capital, Tripoli, on August 23. Despite that, he continued to broadcast messages from the underground that forces loyal to him – who, towards the end, were centered mostly in his hometown of Sirte – would soon be vanquishing the traitors.

The only thing he got right was the end of the Gaddafi legend that he spent a lifetime weaving. He would not capitulate; he would not emigrate; he would fight to his dying breath. He said it several times. His death – whether by a rebel bullet or from a NATO helicopter– is a much better end for everyone than his imprisonment.

The rebels must also be relieved. What would they have done with the fallen leader? Vindictive justice would not have been to the taste of the allies. A fair trial in Libya would have been virtually impossible, not just because there were too many bodies in too many closets, but because the chumminess Gaddafi exploited for so long with Western governments could not have been overlooked. There is a kind of historical justice in the fact that this former military officer, who ruled by military firepower for 42 years, should die by it too.

And now, following the fall of Sirte, the hour of truth has sounded for the transitional regime. The victory doesn't solve the problems -- they're just beginning.

Failure in so many ways

The NTC had already set a framework within which it would immediately move to create a government after the fighting stopped and Gaddafi was out of the way. It won't be easy. Too many different parties -- traditionalists and liberals, democrats and Islamists, deal makers and tribal leaders -- want a piece of the power, and of Libya's wealth. Success is very far from certain. And a lot is at stake for the country's Western supporters as well.

Gaddafi's negative legacy does give his successors a bit of a head start, however. The revolutionary leader failed at every single thing he touched in his political life. He tried Arab unity. He tried supporting anti-imperialist movements around the world. He turned to Black Africa. He armed his country to the hilt, commissioned ruinously expensive projects geared to shore up his own prestige. Bizarrely, he even tried forging his own political paths – and ingratiating himself with the West.

It all cost a great deal of money, but brought only a very mediocre standard of living to Libyans. Freedom, and developing civil society, were left by the wayside. So expectations are that much higher now. The Libyan people want to be able to enjoy the fruits of their oil riches.

But this Gaddafi "bonus' will go only so far for the new regime. After eight months of fighting, a large part of Libya's infrastructure has been destroyed. It's going to take years, not months, before the oil wells are up and running again the way they were before the war. The huge numbers of foreign experts and workers who fled because of the war, but who are necessary for a productive economy, are going to have to be successfully wooed back.

This all means that soon enough many Libyans will begin comparing now and then. And since everything can't be made better quickly, nostalgia will hit – first just as a mumble, but growing to publicly voiced criticism. After all, not every last one of Gaddafi's followers – and clients – will have disappeared in the quicksand of the dictator's overthrow.

The victorious rebels have often behaved like rank amateurs, both with their weapons – and with the truth. They did a lot of posturing, and shooting into the air. They learned about how to wage war only gradually, and they would have lost if they hadn't been supported by outside help. The rebels announced victories where they didn't exist, or sometimes before they had actually been secured.

Finally: the bill in terms of the human costs of the war still has to be tallied up. In a civil war, neither side abides by the Hague Conventions. Ally air cover was supposed to avoid a massacre and protect the population. But the so-called collateral damage was nevertheless considerable. This too has to be assessed. Friday is the first morning without Gaddafi in 40 years, and it's time now to take inventory in Libya.

Read the original article in German

photo - Abode of Chaos

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!