By Konstantin Garibov
Exactly a year ago, France, Britain and the US kicked off a military operation in Libya. The aim was declared in a UN Security Council resolution on March 17, 2011. The document authorized an embargo on arms supplies to the Gaddafi regime and a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from air strikes.
During the vote, Russia, China and Germany abstained from adopting the resolution which Moscow said could be loosely interpreted by the West to start a military intervention against Libya. Russia, however, decided not to veto the resolution which Moscow hoped would help resolve the political standoff in Libya at the time. In the end, the Libyan variant of the Arab Spring resulted in an intervention and the ouster and the subsequent killing of Muammar Gaddafi. The West and its allies’ Operation Odyssey Dawn led to chaos in Libya, believes Yevgeny Satanovsky, head of the Middle East Institute in Moscow.
“The Arab Spring in Libya saw a separatist mutiny in Benghazi which was followed by Cyrenaica’s proclaiming its autonomous status,” Satanovsky says. “This explains why Saudi Arabia and Qatar were trying to topple Gaddafi. Right now, tribal discords advance to the level of genocide, with some African tribes being slaughtered. No modern-day democracy under the aegis of the Arab Spring has taken place in Libya which is currently on the edge of disintegration,” Satanovsky concludes.
When supporting Libyan rebels’ fight against Muammar Gaddafi, the West did not care a bit about democratic reforms in Libya. The goal was to take control of the countries’ resources – something that was not achieved, says Sergei Demidenko, expert of the Moscow-based Institute for Strategic Assessments and Analysis.
“Britain and France were trying to take control of the Libyan oil, but to no avail,” Demidenko says, referring to the political deadlock in Libya which prevented London and Paris from resolving the task. “The Libyan gridlock contributed greatly to the spread of Islamist radicalism in the region – something that the EU should grapple with,” Demidenko adds.
Right now, field commanders are seen as Libya’s new rulers, analysts say, citing more than 100,000 armed Libyans currently in place in this North African country. Also, there is a big question mark over the activities of the Libyan National Transitional Council, commentators say. Alexei Podtserob, of the Moscow-based Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shared his thoughts on what countries benefited from Libya’s Arab Spring.
“Capitalizing on this were those countries which currently have Libyan assets that are yet to be finally unfrozen,” Podtserob says, citing Qatar which significantly expanded its regional clout thanks to Gaddafi’s ouster.
The Russian expert pointed to poor living standards in Libya, where unemployment is on the rise and GDP is on the decline. More than 10,000 people are still in prison in Libya, and the crackdown on Gaddafi supporters continues. Podtserob also mentioned unsuccessful attempts by the International Criminal Court to obtained unbiased information about what is going on in Libyan jailhouses.