Ever since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) under the mantle of the United Nations Security Council resolution of ‘responsibility to protect’ adapted in 2005, Libya has been riven by fighting between tribal groups, militias and Islamists, including extremists from the so – called Islamic state militant group (IS) and other Jihad groups based in the country’s lawless desert regions.
The chaos has allowed people – smuggling gangs to use Libya as a base for sending refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean to Italy, and empowered some Libyan racist rebels to take laws into their hands. The horrific condition experienced by African migrants in Libyan detention centers has attracted worldwide attention. In fact it mirrors the true nature of the relationship between Africans from Chad, Niger, Mali, Sudan and elsewhere in the sub – Sahara. The Libyan rebel forces were on full display in the killing of fellow Africans on the premise that these Africans are or were mercenaries.
These racist actions by the so – called Libyan rebels were reported from the start of this Allied power so called humanitarian intervention in Libya But even at the point when these hodgepodge forces (rebels, British and French special forces, and military contractors with NATO air support) entered Tripoli, after bombing went on for over five months reportedly involving 9,700 bombing missions, there was fresh evidence of wanton on killings of black Africans. The world must note the lessons of a NATO supported intervention that remains silent on the killing of “innocent Africans .”
The NATO intervention in Libya came at a crucial turning point in the history of the world. Multiple crisis – economic, ecological, political, military and social were all demanding new mode of social and economic management. Exploitation, alienation and dehumanization had deepened in Africa after years of structural adjustment and IMF economic principles. Libya escaped the worst aspects of the market system by seeking to organize a distributive economy. Under Gaddafi’s leadership all students had access to higher education and Libya had the lowest infant mortality rate in Africa.
When the African Union (AU) was formally inaugurated in Durban, South Africa on July 8, 2002, the international relations experts were dismissive of this new international organization. They had been taken aback by the speed with which the constitutive act had been drafted, debated and finally ratified. Gaddafi had been supportive of the process and the Sirte Declaration of 1999 had laid the foundations for the transition from the Organization of African Unity, OAU, to the AU. New organs, including the peace and Security Council, the Pan – African parliament, and the Economic, social and cultural council (ECOSOC) were established.
If the western motives were predatory, their actions against Gaddafi can only be fully understood in a wider geopolitical context. It is necessary to fully examine the lessons of the NATO intervention for the African freedom struggle. It is important, then, to sum up the Gaddafi role in Africa and the African Union. Libya under Gaddafi was among six of the ten fastest developing countries in Africa. The West was conscious that Gaddafi was also orienting politically and economically more and more towards the African continent. He was using the rhetoric of Pan Africanism and forging close trading ties particularly with other African states that had recently discovered new mineral resources.
Confronted with this evidence of hard – headed autonomy, the United States began to develop a new track to its Libyan policy by encouraging alternative leadership figures. According to one analyst of the Wikileaks exposures, “the US cultivated relations with certain disgruntled figures in Gaddafi’s regime, and secretly discussed the benefits of his removal from the scene.’’ Many high – level Libyan bureaucrats who had been educated in British universities and “persuaded” by neo – liberal economics were turned against the regime. In 2008, one of them, Ibrahim El – Meyet, was reported by the US embassy as saying that he had concluded that “there will be no real economic or political reform in Libya until Gaddafi passes from the scene and this will not occur while Gaddafi is alive.’’/
The critical question posed by peace activists was whether the NATO intervention in Libya is a prelude for the building of another AFRICOM and NATO facility in Africa as the operations of Global NATO has awakened many leaders to the reality of the ways in which third parties and private military forces will be used to invade Africa. There is now an evolving strategy of the West, led by the US not to turn entirely away from an aggressive foreign policy, but to move towards proxy wars, special operations and drone attacks.
Horace Campbell, author of the book: Global NATO and the catastrophic Failure in Libya said: “The military intelligence hierarchy had formulated a policy to align with certain militia groups in Eastern Libya… France, the CIA and AFRICOM had aligned with these Jihadists to destabilize Libya, freeze billions of dollars of assets, execute Gaddafi, and keep the alliance going using Libya as a rear base in the drive for regime change in Syria.
While these heinous operations got underway, the NATO intervention got underway, the NATO intervention was being presented as an act of high morals which would save lives and not waste them. Many Africans were taken in and allowed themselves to believe that the Western war machine could turn benign. Today the entire sub – Sahara Africa is perpetually under the threat of destabilization as they battle with proxy wars being speared by Islamic extremists from the Sahel.
Nigeria and the entire West African Sub – region has not known peace as a result of the NATO destruction of Libya as it is currently engaged in this new kind of war with Islamic fighting groups from the Sahel.
Yaya writes from Minna