Germany's War Record (III)

BERLIN/TRIPOLI | | libyen

BERLIN/TRIPOLI (Own report) - Five years after NATO's aggression against Libya, a British parliamentary committee has issued a damning assessment of that war and its alleged causes. The allegation, Muammar Gadhafi was planning to massacre the people of Benghazi and that this must be prevented was the main pretext used by western powers for their intervention in March 2011. Internationally renowned experts found no credible evidence to substantiate this allegation, therefore it is probably false, concluded the parliamentary committee. Foreign interests, in fact, had played the decisive role. Referring to French intelligence officers, the report points out that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for example, was interested in obtaining access to a greater share of Libyan oil, increasing French political influence in North Africa and demonstrating France's military power. The collapse of the Libyan state and the rise of militant Islamists were to be expected from the outset. Berlin can also not be exonerated from accusations. While officially rejecting the war - not least of all for reasons of German-French rivalry - Berlin actually dispatched more than a hundred German soldiers to NATO's headquarters commanding the war on Libya. The war resulted in the economic, social and political collapse of that country. Libya is on the verge of becoming consumed by a protracted full-scale civil war.

German Participation in the War

NATO's war on Libya, launched in March 2011 on France's initiative, had been waged with active German support. The German government had abstained during the UN Security Council's vote to establish a "no-fly-zone" over Libya and it did not provide combat, surveillance or refueling aircraft for attacking that country. This corresponded to its strategy to call for EU support for military operations particularly in Southeast Europe when it fits German interests, but prevent wars - whenever possible - when they are in France's interests.[1] However, immediately after the war on Libya was launched, Berlin agreed to dispatch additional German troops to Afghanistan to relieve soldiers of other NATO-countries for joining the war on Libya. In addition, Berlin not only did not repatriate its Bundeswehr officers at NATO's command structures waging the war, it even dispatched 66 officers and 37 non-commissioned officers to NATO's headquarters in command of the war on Libya. The German Ministry of Defense explicitly confirmed that German soldiers were not only handling communications in Libyan airspace, but were also involved in "target selection."[2] Moreover, politicians, today in prominent positions, have strongly criticized the government for its abstention during the UN Security Council's vote. Referring to Libya, Joachim Gauck declared in early June 2011, if rebels call for help against despots, one should "not immediately have a fearful reaction about how it could end" but with "joy that it begins."[3] Today, Gauck is the president of Germany.

PR for Intervention

Such statements, which were also propagated in German media at the time, were bluntly assessed by a report issued this month by a British parliamentary committee. The Foreign Affairs Committee was ordered to examine whether the reasons given for the war in 2011 were well founded and if the intervening powers had had a responsible strategy. To clarify these questions, the Committee invited leading international experts on Libya. Their findings were remarkable. One internationally renowned analyst expressed her shock at the lack of awareness of the history and regional complexities of Libya, when she had to confer with the competent bodies in the Foreign Office, involved in planning the war.[4] She and other experts concluded in March 2011 that there was no real evidence at the time that Muammar Gadhafi would order a massacre in insurgent Benghazi. This was the scenario used to justify western aggression against Libya. The independent experts confirmed to the committee that, neither in past upheavals nor when retaking insurgent towns, like Ajdabiya in March 2011, had Gadhafi ever ordered massacres of civilians. Particularly Libyan exiles, pursuing their own interests and the media of countries, such as Qatar (Al Jazeera), hostile to Gadhafi, had been propagating allegations to the contrary. In the UK, politicians and media had certainly been anxious to believe these allegations.

Objectives of the War

The Commission's report enumerates, in detail, the French interests leading to President at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy's initiative to go to war in February 2011. French intelligence officers are named as the sources of information. According to these officers, Sarkozy had wanted to obtain access to a greater share of the Libyan oil production, "increase French influence in North Africa," and "provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world," and to thwart Gadhafi's plans to "supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa." He was also eager to improve his own domestic prestige: Having failed to stand up to the German chancellor in solving the Euro crisis, Sarkozy was put on the defensive. This also played a role in his decision to go to war. The fact that London had had not only understanding for these interests and to some extent, even shared the same intentions, renders the question of a possible massacre in Benghazi in March 2011 quite superfluous. However, the allegation that this danger had existed, served as a convenient justification for going to war. US media later compared this pretext to the false narrative of alleged weapons of mass destruction to justify war in Iraq in 2003.[5]

State Collapse and Jihadists

The British parliamentary commission also notes that the total collapse of the Libyan state following Gadhafi's overthrow had been anything but surprising. "Libya was a country with no institutions to speak of," Libya expert Alison Pargeter told the Commission. It was clear, that "when you took Gadhafi away, you took everything away." Indeed, the repressive authorities, the judiciary, and governmental services collapsed in but a short time. According to the experts, it was evident from the very beginning of the Libyan insurgency that militant Islamists were an important factor. For attentive observers, it came as no surprise that they would play an important role following Gadhafi's overthrow and even opened the way for the "Islamic State" (IS/Daesh) and other jihadists. (german-foreign-policy.com reported [6]).

A Country Destroyed

NATO powers waged their war based on their economic and political interests and the ignorance derived from their being imbued with their own power. This war has plunged Libya into a disaster. Combat in 2011 alone, cost the lives of an estimated 20,000 people - but probably even more. It is unknown how many have been killed since. The number of the internally displaced is estimated at 400,000. The Libyan economy has plummeted. In 2010, the gross domestic product (GDP) was at around US $75 billion (an average annual per capita income of approximately US $12,250, which was comparable to the average income in some European countries). In 2014, the GDP had fallen to about $41 billion (an annual $7,820 per capita income). The deterioration continues, current reliable figures are unavailable. In 2010, the United Nations Human Development Report ranked Libya as the 53rd most advanced country for human development. In 2015, it had declined to rank 94 - and this decline continues. According to the United Nations, out of a total Libyan population of 6.3 million, 3 million are directly affected by armed conflicts in the country; 2.4 million depend on some form of humanitarian assistance. The country is currently facing a new escalation of the civil war, with militias of all sorts and heavily armed jihadists confronting each other on numerous fronts.

No Success

The western powers have yet to reach the objectives of their war in Libya and are trying - so far, in vain, and even without the prospect of success - to control the country with a "transitional government" imposed from the outside. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7]) Even the traditional oil production has been greatly reduced and - as in the case of the Germany's Wintershall oil and gas company - has come to a complete standstill.[8] This of course does not exonerate the NATO powers of their guilt, which Germany also shares, for this war.

For more on this theme see: Germany's War Record (I), and Germany's War Record (II).

[1] See The Disengagement of France.
[2] Antwort des Parlamentarischen Staatssekretärs im Bundesverteidigungsministerium, Thomas Kossendey, auf eine schriftliche Frage des Abgeordneten Hans-Christian Ströbele. Berlin, 08.09.2011.
[3] Christian Geyer: Frech und frei. www.faz.net 05.06.2011.
[4] Quotes taken from: House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee: Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK's future policy options. Third Report of Session 2016-17. London, September 2016.
[5] Hillary Clinton's WMD moment: US intelligence saw false narrative in Libya. The Washington Times 29.01.2015.
[6] See More Important than Human Rights and Eine Atmosphäre der Straflosigkeit.
[7] See Gegen Terror und Migration and Against Terrorism and Migration (II).
[8] See Die Erdöl-Schutztruppe.