By Spy Correspondent
Libya: According to Yacoub El Hillo, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Libya, stated that the impact on civilians of the country’s nine‐year internecine war “is incalculable.” That horrible situation is the long‐term outcome of U.S. and NATO actions, and it is well past time that guilty officials are held accountable for their disastrous policies.
Libya has been an arena of strife ever since the United States and its NATO allies helped insurgents overthrow Moammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
The Libya conflict has increasingly become a proxy war involving Middle Eastern powers and Russia. Haftar receives weapons, funds, and other backing from several countries, most notably Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
In addition to the diplomatic and financial support it gets from the U.N. and most Western governments, the GNA is obtaining ever‐stronger backing from Turkey. Earlier this month, Ankara significantly escalated its involvement when its parliament authorized the deployment of Turkish forces to Libya. Russian mercenaries are already fighting there on behalf of Haftar.
The stakes are higher than just a mundane struggle for political power. Libya sits atop Africa’s largest supply of oil and natural gas, worth tens of billions of dollars. Both the LNA and GNA have maneuvered to use that oil as a weapon against the opposing side.
U.S. policy seems muddled and ambivalent. Washington still recognizes the GNA as Libya’s “legitimate” government, but the Trump administration has sent mixed signals. After a telephone call between Trump and Haftar in April 2019, the U.S. seemed implicitly to back the LNA’s offensive against Tripoli. More recently, U.S. officials called on Haftar to halt the offensive. Yet when peace talks between the GNA and LNA broke down, the administration sent U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland to meet with Haftar even before contacting the Tripoli regime it officially recognizes.
The one thing most members of the Western media establishment remain unwilling to do, however, is to explain how the current chaos in Libya began—much less who was responsible for the tragedy. Such convenient amnesia continues a long‐standing pattern.
In late 2017, Western reporters belatedly discovered that a slave trade of captured black Africans had become a feature of “liberated” post‐Gaddafi Libya. In particular, Western journalists largely ignored that war’s connection to the resumption of slave trading.
“The American and British media have awakened to the grim reality in Libya, where African refugees are for sale in open‐air slave markets,” Norton observed. “Yet a crucial detail in this scandal has been downplayed or even ignored in many corporate media reports: the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in bringing slavery to the North African nation.”
NATO supported an array of rebel groups in Libya, Norton noted, “Many of which were dominated by Islamist extremists and harbored violently racist views.” Yet journalists “have largely forgotten about the key role NATO played in destroying Libya’s government, destabilizing the country and empowering human traffickers.”
Moreover, even the few news reports that acknowledge NATO’s complicity “do not go a step further and detail the well‐documented, violent racism of the NATO‐backed Libyan rebels who ushered in slavery after ethnically cleansing and committing brutal crimes against black Libyans.”
Norton singled out a 2017 CNN report for criticism. Despite the flashy multimedia features, he noted, “something was missing: The 1,000-word story made no mention of NATO, or the 2011 war that destroyed Libya’s government, or Muammar Qadhafi, or any kind of historical and political context whatsoever.” The same omission occurred in a series of subsequent CNN news stories about human trafficking in Libya, as it did in plenty of stories in other publications.
Whatever the Obama administration’s motives and goals in launching the military intervention that ousted Gaddafi, the results have been indisputably catastrophic. Yet Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and key advisers such as Susan Rice and Samantha Power still refuse to acknowledge their blunders or apologize to the suffering Libyan people.