Associated Press have an interesting story/commentary regarding the Egyptian/UAE/Saudi Arabia action in Libya. After reading only the first few paragraphs, I can see how it all makes sense.
General Kalifah Hifter is considered by western media to be a renegade general…. but is he? This general was an ally of Gaddafi but at the end of the regime he turned and sided with the opposition in the civil war.
Libya has really made the effort to turn things around but the government that was elected has been a very weak instrument with no strong person being able to take control and restore order. As a result of this weakness, one can see that things have not been going well in Libya:
1. The militias such as the group from Misrata refused to go home and they continued to be a presence in Tripoli. The newly formed government had been unable to control this particular group that had refused to give up their weapons.
2. Libya failed to rebuild their armed forces, leaving security to militias such as the men from Zintan, and the 17th February Brigade.
3. The new government failed to control other militias such as Ansar Al-Shariah, leaving the whole country vulnerable to their whims… which in turn led to the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi as well as attacks on the U.K. and other western consulates.
4. Whilst the people of Benghazi took matters into their own hands and chased out Ansar al-Shariah, this group returned and began a new reign of terror; this in turn led to the assassination of 2 prominent women politicians during the last Libyan election.
5. The group from Misrata had been allowed to enter the General Assembly in Tripoli and to make demands that saw several prominent people resigning, leaving the Assembly in the hands of Islamists. The issue had been that the men forced to resign had links to the government of Gaddafi, even though they did not agree with what Gaddafi had been doing e.g. the former Libyan Justice Minister fits into this category.
6. Towards the end of the last General Assembly there was a change of Prime Minister. The old Prime Minister did not want to leave. Please bear with me because there is a link to what is happening now in Tripoli with the demand that the old General Assembly be re-established meaning that there are now 2 governments with the men of Misrata claiming that the parliament that is now located in Tobruk is not legitimate, even though the people voted for those who make up that Assembly. (It makes sense when one realizes that the old Assembly had more Islamists involved in trying to frame a constitution than the make up of the new Assembly).
7. The “renegade” general began his work of taking care of the Islamists in Benghazi. Over a number of months the general had been busy taking care of groups such as Ansar al-Shariah and running them out of town. His targets are the Islamists. He has been somewhat successful in taking some of them out.
What this AP article tells me, is that the renegade general has the backing of Egypt/UAE/Saudi Arabia. Therefore it makes sense that Egypt/UAE decided that they had to act to try and stop the Islamists from Misrata from taking over the Tripoli airport.
According to this report, General Khalifta is a rebel, but is he in fact a government rebel or is it merely that he disagrees with the US? This is a question that I am raising because something tells me that the General has the support of the elected assembly to go ahead and take care of the Islamist militias. The militia from Zintan is pro-government and they were not the target of the general. However the men from Zintan were recently defeated on the ground at the Tripoli airport despite the efforts of Egypt and UAE to bomb the positions of the men from Misrata. Does any of this make a lot of sense?
Yes, to me it is now beginning to make sense. During the Libyan civil war that led too the ousting of Gadhafi one of the main backers of the “rebels” was Qatar. The Qatari have also been backing ISIS and ISIL. The other main backer was Turkey. On top of that France, the UK, Canada, the USA and NATO worked together to protect the people of Libya who were facing annihilation at the hands of Gaddafi. It must be remembered that at the point that the bombing began, Gaddafi forces were on their way to Benghazi and those forces were primed to annihilate the community. That community was made up of more than the Islamists, and included people who hated Gaddafi’s guts sufficiently enough to side with what would be seen as their own natural enemies. People were being murdered in the streets by the hired snipers from Mali and other African nations who were loyal to Gaddafi. In fact Misrata was another example of where Gaddafi was determined to massacre his own people, holding them as hostage in the town square and his forces firing upon people as they moved about. Similar stories came out of Zintan and Tripoli. In one instance a little girl was shot by a sniper in her own bedroom!! There were many atrocities committed by Gaddafi but the other side was not without blemish either. (Note: I believe that not every cry of Alluah Akbar is the curdling cry before slaughter because the English translation allows me to see that a person might in fact mean that someone like Gaddafi does not take the place of Allah or God – I first got this understanding during the trouble in Iran in 2009, and again when Gaddafi soldiers were willing to kill medics who were on the battlefield to attend to the needs of the wounded. There was one instance when a medic was killed and the soldier was demanding that he give allegiance to Gaddafi which he refused to do, leading to his death).
Keeping all of this in mind, we need to recall that the Libyan “government” has remained weak, and that the US as well as the NATO nations have not given any direct assistance to help with getting new security forces up and running. I think that this was a real failure on behalf of the rest of the world. It has been a missed opportunity. The people behind the rebel council did not want boots on the ground during the civil war because they did not want the involvement of Al Qaeda. They understood very well how such action by these western nations could lead to Islamists being motivated to enter Libya and to fight against the rebel alliance, rather than for the rebel alliance. Qatar was behind the LIFG which was headed by a man who had been in Afghanistan and who had been “extradited” back to Libya thanks to the British and the USA. He is now suing the British over that rendition. You see the torture that he and his wife underwent has shown him to be a strong opponent as far as Gaddafi was concerned, but his party did not gain any traction following the first set of elections in Libya.
Egypt shares a border with Libya. The last thing Egypt needs is a country that supports Islamists, and especially one that has seen the rise of Muslim Brotherhood. I assume that the “rebel” general is an anti-Islamist and that explains why Egypt would be supporting him. The involvement of UAE and Saudi Arabia at first glance seems to be less clear, except that both have a lot to lose if the Islamists are successful.
It is all tied up with the “Arab Spring” movement that began in Tunisia and then moved to several other Arab States including Egypt as well as Libya and Syria. The Syrian Civil War is bogged down because Assad has proved too strong. What Assad has done is also reprehensible, but that is not the true issue, since the failure to act has meant that groups such as ISIS and ISIL, AL-Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army etc. moved in to battle Assad. On the other side is Iran and Hezbollah from Iran. it is not in the interests of Saudi Arabia or UAE for any of these groups to be successful. Egypt has already faced security issues on the border with Libya and this would be a further incentive to try and check the activities of the Islamists.
Libya, on the other hand shares a border with several other states, including Algiers, Nigeria, Mali and Tunisia. If the Islamists were successful in taking over in any of these countries (and they seem to run Tunisia) then Egypt’s position in particular remains very vulnerable with regard to Muslim Brotherhood attempting to stage another takeover in Egypt.