by Garikai Chengu
October 19, 2014
Garikai Chengu is a
research scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on
This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Western-backed
assassination of Libya's former president, Muammar Gaddafi,
and the fall of one of Africa's greatest nations.
In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in
Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned
Libya into Africa's wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per
capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below
the poverty line than in the Netherlands.
NATO's intervention in 2011, Libya
is now a failed state and its economy is in shambles. As the
government's control slips through their fingers and into to the
militia fighters' hands, oil production has all but stopped.
The militias variously local, tribal, regional, Islamist or
criminal, that have plagued Libya since NATO's intervention, have
recently lined up into two warring factions. Libya now has two
governments, both with their own Prime Minister, parliament and
On one side, in the West of the country, Islamist-allied militias
took over control of the capital Tripoli and other cities and set up
their own government, chasing away a parliament that was elected
over the summer.
On the other side, in the East of the Country, the "legitimate"
government dominated by anti-Islamist politicians, exiled 1,200
kilometers away in Tobruk, no longer governs anything.
The fall of Gaddafi's administration has created all of the
country's worst-case scenarios:
Western embassies have all left
the South of the country has
become a haven for terrorists
the Northern coast a center of
Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all
closed their borders with Libya. This all occurs amidst a backdrop
of widespread rape, assassinations and torture that complete the
picture of a state that is failed to the bone.
America is clearly fed up with the two inept governments in Libya
and is now backing a third force:
long-time CIA asset, General
Khalifa Hifter, who aims to set himself up as Libya's new
Hifter, who broke with Gaddafi in the
1980s and lived for years in Langley, Virginia, close to the CIA's
headquarters, where he was trained by the CIA, has taken part in
numerous American regime change efforts, including the aborted
attempt to overthrow Gaddafi in 1996.
In 1991 the New York Times reported that Hifter may have been one
"600 Libyan soldiers trained by
American intelligence officials in sabotage and other guerrilla
skills… to fit in neatly into the Reagan Administration's
eagerness to topple Colonel Qaddafi".
Hifter's forces are currently vying with
the Al Qaeda group Ansar al-Sharia for control of Libya's second
largest city, Benghazi.
Ansar al-Sharia was armed by America
during the NATO campaign against Colonel Gaddafi. In yet another
example of the U.S. backing terrorists backfiring, Ansar al-Sharia
has recently been blamed by America for the brutal assassination of
U.S. Ambassador Stevens.
Hifter is currently receiving logistical and air support from the
U.S. because his faction envision a mostly secular Libya open to
Western financiers, speculators, and capital.
Perhaps, Gaddafi's greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was
his desire to put the interests of local labour above foreign
capital and his quest for a strong and truly United States of
In fact, in August 2011, President
Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya's Central
Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of the
African IMF and African Central Bank.
In 2011, the West's objective was clearly not to help the Libyan
people, who already had the highest standard of living in Africa,
but to oust Gaddafi, install a puppet regime, and gain control of
Libya's natural resources.
For over 40 years, Gaddafi promoted economic democracy and used the
nationalized oil wealth to sustain progressive social welfare
programs for all Libyans.
Under Gaddafi's rule, Libyans enjoyed ,
Now thanks to NATO's intervention the
health-care sector is on the verge of collapse as thousands of
Filipino health workers flee the country, institutions of higher
education across the East of the country are shut down, and black
outs are a common occurrence in once thriving Tripoli.
One group that has suffered immensely from NATO's bombing campaign
is the nation's women.
Unlike many other Arab nations, women in
Gaddafi's Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold
property and have an income. The United Nations Human Rights Council
praised Gaddafi for his promotion of women's rights.
When the colonel seized power in 1969, few women went to university.
Today, more than half of Libya's university students are women. One
of the first laws Gaddafi passed in 1970 was an equal pay for equal
Nowadays, the new "democratic" Libyan regime is clamping down on
The new ruling tribes are tied to
traditions that are strongly patriarchal. Also, the chaotic nature
of post-intervention Libyan politics has allowed free reign to
extremist Islamic forces that see gender equality as a Western
Three years ago, NATO declared that the mission in Libya had been,
"one of the most successful in NATO
Truth is, Western interventions have
produced nothing but colossal failures in
Lest we forget, prior to western
military involvement in these three nations, they were the most
modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa with
the highest regional women's rights and standards of living.
A decade of failed military expeditions in the Middle East has left
the American people in trillions of dollars of debt. However, one
group has benefited immensely from the costly and deadly wars:
Building new military bases means billions of dollars for America's
As Will Blum has pointed out,
following the bombing of Iraq, the United States built new
the United Arab Emirates
Following the bombing of Afghanistan,
the United States is now building military bases in,
Following the recent bombing of Libya,
the United States has built new military bases in,
Given that Libya sits atop the strategic
intersection of the African, Middle Eastern and European worlds,
Western control of the nation, has always been a remarkably
effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.
NATO's military intervention may
have been a resounding success for America's military elite and oil
companies but for the ordinary Libyan, the military campaign may
indeed go down in history as one of the greatest failures of the