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The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi Future
Here is some advanced praise for the volume by the established authorities in the field:
“In the wake of Libya’s civil war, a number of volumes have appeared that chronicle the country’s civil war and its aftermath. Few, however, will be able to match the comprehensiveness and insights of The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi Future, which provides an admirable overview and synthesis of the different aspects of the country’s most recent upheaval by several noted Libya-watchers.”
—Dirk Vandewalle, Dartmouth College
“Deeply rooted in historical research, Jason Pack’s The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi Future is a work of original scholarship and analysis that sheds new light on the causes and origins of the Libyan uprisings, the continuous struggle throughout Libyan history between the center and the periphery, and the role of different domestic and international actors in the success of the revolt. The difficulties and hurdles of the transition from Jamahiriya to Jumhuriya are clearly exposed and discussed.”
—Karim Mezran, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
“Best Libya book since the uprisings against the Qadhafi regime. Sweeping introduction will introduce you to individual issues addressed by top experts. Despite ongoing change, this book will stand the test of time.”
—David Mack, Middle East Institute Scholar and former US Ambassador
Ministries Back to Work after Sieges End
Has the crisis been partially defused? Can Zidan stay and the GNC get back to work? It remains unclear. What is clear is that enormous delays and inefficiency have been added as a result of the current Political Isolation Law and the intimidation and resort to force surrounding it. Yet for the moment it appears the Libyan people have spoken: They prefer the idea that anyone connected to the former regime cannot hold a prominent position in public life, yet they do not want the gears of government to grind to a halt. Here is what the Libya Herald has to say in Ministries Back to Work after Sieges End.
Staff at the Foreign and Justice Ministries went back to work today after almost a fortnight of being kept out of the buildings by armed militiamen. The latter had originally mounted the blockades in support of the Political Isolation Law.
A week ago, after the Political Isolation Law was passed, the gunmen had refused to end up their sieges insisting they would remain until the government of Ali Zeidan was removed and that they saw that those had been working there who they said had been Qaddafi-era officials were removed.
The continued blocade had resulted in Marghani saying that he would move the Justice Ministry elsewhere, even out of Tripoli.
Following large demonstrations in Friday against the sieges, the militiamen withdrew and on Saturday, the judicial police returned to guard the Ministry of Justice while army units and the police moved in to guard the Foreign Ministry.
Britain Should Take the Lead in Libya
In response to the current crisis in Tripoli, I am unsurprisingly calling for more engagement and support for the Zidan government from the West. Otherwise it will be too late. In Britain Should Take the Lead in Libya I am putting forth the case for strong engagement from Cameron to try to build an international coalition to help in capacity building in Libya.
For the international community the attack against the French Embassy and the radicalization of the conflict between the militias and government institutions must serve as a wake-up call, and remind them that the gains of the NATO-led intervention are on the verge of being undone.
It is against this inauspicious backdrop of a full-fledged ‘struggle for post-Qaddafi Libya’– and not simply that of Mali backlash– that last month’s bombing, this week’s militia occupations, and passing of the destructive political isolation law must be understood. The perpetrators of the attack fully understand Western reluctance to engage in nation-building post-Iraq and Afghanistan and undoubtedly intended the bombing as a message to the foreign diplomatic and business communities to stay away from Libya.
Britain remains one of (if not the) world’s expert in the field of capacity building and Cameron has the political links to Obama and the relevant Middle Eastern players (Turkey, UAE, and Qatar) that Hollande lacks. Present conditions, however, demonstrate that the time for hesitation is over and that Britain should occupy the key position in forging a new international coalition for engagement.
Political Isolation Law Passed and Militias and Populists Still Boycott
Read it and weep — for the future of Libya. This is a sorry sorry day as the thuwwar have impose their desired ‘de-Qadhafification’ process on the GNC and it might well end up including the removal of a number of senior members of the GNC’s government. It truly appears that the militias might well succeed in subverting the democratic process and changing the whole government through populist violence and intimidation. It is thought that the ten year ban from public office called for in the Political Isolation Law passed on 5 May would apply to a number of members of the GNC, such as President Mohamed al-Magarief, at least several ministers, and possibly Prime Minister Ali Zidan. Though a new government without those who held leadership positions in ministries, universities, state-owned companies, or embassies during the Qadhafi years could be perceived as more legitimate by the Libyan public, it is doubtful that other armed groups will refrain from violence, intimidation, and populist mobilization against future governments now that it has proven to be a winning tactic.
Here are some highlights of al-Arabiyya’s coverage:
Gunmen on Monday demanded the Libyan government’s resignation as they besieged ministries despite the adoption of a law to purge officials from the regime of dead dictator Muammar Qaddafi from their posts.
“We are determined to continue our movement until the departure of (Prime Minister) Ali Zeidan,” said Osama Kaabar, a leader of the militias who had promised to lift their siege if the law was passed.
Blockades Polarizing Libya; Militiamen Now Hit Electricity Ministry
With the situation escalating, members of the government are continuing to appease the militias telling them that their demands to alter the rules of the political game by force are legitimate. Libya Herald catches how the Electricity Minister has undermined Zidan’s principled actions in calling for his supporters to the streets and not caving in the blockades. Read more here
Militiamen supporting the Political Isolation Law that would see Qaddafi-regime officials banned from holding senior government and state institution jobs took their armed campaign to the Ministry of Electricity today.
Since Monday, they have been blockading the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, claiming that Qaddafi-regime officials were working there. They also blockaded the Interior Ministry the same day. On Monday, they attacked the Finance Ministry, smashing equipment in offices, and on Tuesday took action at the Ministry of Justice.
“We are not against demonstrations,” said the Electricity Minister, Ali Muhairiq, this evening, confirming today’s protests. “They have legitimate demands.” But he did not confirm reports that the militiamen had entered the building and ransacked offices.
Libyan Stability at Risk
Karim Mezran and I again ascend the bully pulpit, advocating again for increased Western engagement in Libya in an unfortunately titled article, Libyan Stability at Risk, in Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel. We all know that Libya has not been stable since 2010, but that the central government is truly on the verge of losing control of the transition process itself. Hence, we conclude, “It is no exaggeration to say that the internal political forces inside the country are balanced on a razor’s edge. An unexpected gust of political violence could lead to anarchy; a helping hand providing a gentle push in the right direction could ease the transition toward democracy and stability.”
For the international community the attack against the French Embassy and the radicalization of the conflict between militias and government institutions must serve as a wake-up call, and remind them that the gains of the NATO-led intervention are at risk of being undone. The countries that helped overthrow Qaddafi should redouble their efforts to support the creation of professional armed forces and police, vocational training, and constitution writing. If greater support is withheld, the French Embassy attack may prove to be the start of a trend, in which case Libyan — and by extension North African — instability would become a permanent status quo. The crisis in Mali and the growing instability in Algeria — and most recently Tunisia — offer clear evidence in support of this conjecture.
It is against this inauspicious backdrop of a full-fledged “struggle for post-Qaddafi Libya” — and not simply that of Mali backlash — that last week’s bombing, this week’s militia occupations, and heated debates concerning the political isolation law must be understood.
Worse yet, the country’s fledgling national armed forces — historically weak under Qaddafi and being largely built from the ground up — have been subject to internal crises, only slowing their lackluster reconstruction. Most recently, officers from Eastern Libya demanded the removal of Chief of Staff Youssef Mangoush, citing his inability to restructure the armed forces and reinforce security. Moreover, the Southern Military Governor appointed to bring order to the country’s lawless south, recently denounced the lack of resources at his disposal, publicly admitting the impossibility of his task. The Libyan military is, to put it mildly, ill prepared for its mission to defend the state and maintain order.
Demonstration in Support of Political Isolation Law
Libya Herald tries to capture the revolutionary and dysfunctional climate in Tripoli now in the lead up to the vote on the Political Isolation law with all of the populist pressure trying to influence what should be a time for a cool, rationale, and calculated decision.
Around a thousand people demonstrated at the General National Congress (GNC) building today, in support of the Political Isolation Law.
Today’s GNC session was suspended ahead of the planned demonstration and the demonstrators were free to enter through the gates into the grounds of the GNC conference hall.
Leader of the Ummah al Wasat Party and a central figure of the Political Isolation Law movement, Saami Al Saadi, told the gathered crowd that the revolution was not only against Qaddafi but the whole corrupt system. Those involved with the old regime could not be allowed to continue in the Free Libya, he said.
Another demonstration is planned for Sunday, the day the GNC is scheduled to vote on the legislation. Demonstrators will apparently demand that details of the ballot be made public and one speaker said: “The people of Libya should know who voted in favour of the law and who opposed it.”
Libya Gunmen Surround Tripoli Foreign Ministry
Well in the latest very bad development the struggle between the militias and the central government has become overt with militiamen attempting to not only sway the votes on the Political Isolation law but to shut down the government if it doesn’t not cave in to their demands. Why the national army or Libya Shield forces are not called in to deal with this situation is insane, in short it bodes very ill for the creation of any sort of functioning central government if the militias get their way, but the GNC has followed the NTC in pretty much always caving in…. Read more about it from the BBC here.
Men in pick-up trucks bristling with anti-aircraft guns have blocked off Libya’s foreign ministry, demanding a jobs ban on Gaddafi-era officials.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, at a news conference, urged Libyans to back their government in the face of “people who want to destabilise the country”.
He also complained of other attacks and “acts of sabotage”, carried out by separate groups, against the interior ministry and national TV headquarters. But Libya’s Lana news agency said the action at the interior ministry was not linked to the events outside the foreign ministry.
French Embassy in Libya Attacked
The explosion of a car parked outside the French Embassy in Libya wounded two French guards on Tuesday in what appeared to be the first major terrorist attack on a diplomatic compound in the capital since the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011.
No one claimed responsibility Tuesday, following the pattern of earlier attacks. But Libyans immediately suspected militant Islamists angry over the French intervention in Mali, where French troops are supporting government efforts to oppose Islamic militants in the north of the country. The assault came a day after the French Parliament voted to extend the French military deployment there.
In January, Italy, the former colonial power in Libya, closed its consulate in Benghazi and withdrew its staff because of security concerns after an attempted ambush of the Italian consul. Last month, Libyan security officials said they had arrested two men in the kidnapping near Benghazi of five British humanitarian activists, at least two of them women who had been sexually assaulted.
The attack on the French Embassy, however, may raise new questions about the possibility that militants may now try to strike other targets in the capital as well. The country as a whole is viewed by outsiders as potentially perilous with many weapons in the hands of citizens and militias beyond government control. Most foreigners in Tripoli take elaborate security precautions.
The Constituent Assembly Will Be Elected
Read it and weep. As always the Libya Herald sums it up in the clearest fashion. The GNC has finally decided to pass the buck on its responsibility and true reason d’etre. And the way is paved for the GNC to further cave in to the populist demands of the Jacobins in the form of a self-defeating political isolation law. I tend to be optimistic about Libyan affairs but the events of the last months have made it truly difficult. But in this instance the only positive thing is that at least the GNC has made a definitive decision and the limbo that has existed on this question since 5 July 2012 is now over.
The General National Congress last night confirmed that the assembly that will draft Libya’s new Constitution shall be elected, as opposed to nominated, ending a long drawn-out debate that had kept Congress members from agreeing on other critical issues.
With regards to the isolation law that is yet to be passed, the GNC resolved that it was not unconstitutional and could not be overruled by the Supreme Court.
Having decided that the political isolation law project is constitutionally acceptable, as long as it complies with international conventions and human rights, the GNC can now focus on elaborating the final text that many in Libya are awaiting with impatience.
GNC Stalemate on Process for Selecting “Committee of 60″
Here is an excellent article by Sami Zaptia about the crucial legal, structural, and populist issues preventing the GNC from moving forward on selecting or electing the Constitutional Committee. This is a must read for all interested in Libya’s thorniest political issues.
Initially, the TCD in August 2011 stipulated that the 60 are chosen by the GNC. However, on the last day of its tenure in 2012, the National Transitional Council (NTC), headed by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, amended the TCD so that the 60 must be elected by the general public.It is believed that the NTC was forced to make this amendment in order to calm demands by Federalists in eastern Libya and in the face of a threat of a boycott of the 2012 GNC elections in the east.
For months after the elections, the GNC, feeling that it has the ultimate legitimacy and sovereignty, attempted to avoid the more troublesome process of election, preferring the easier selection route. However, under much political pressure, demonstrations and even armed attacks on its building, it caved in and announced that the 60 will be elected.Only weeks later after reaching that decision, the whole subject was turned on its head again as the Constitutional Court revoked the NTC amendment, declaring it unconstitutional, meaning that the GNC could, after all, select the 60.
On Tuesday the GNC was yet again unable to find consensus and reach a decision they could sell to the general public. Its members are still torn between sticking to their first instinct to select the 60 or giving-in to populist demands to elect the 60. Ultimately, they have decided to yet again postpone a vote on the issue to at least next week. A constitutional amendment to adjust the means of selecting the 60 needs a two-thirds majority. GNC members feel that they are unable to achieve such a high threshold. They are therefore considering whether to remove the two-thirds threshold requirement for the amendment, as a way to break the impasse.
John McCain in Libya
Senator John McCain made his fifth visit to Libya since the fall of Qadhafi on April 4, meeting with Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, President of the General National Congress Mohamed Magarief, other officials, and NGOs. Top among the issues they discussed were the ongoing investigation into the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, and the future of U.S.-Libya defense cooperation.
When the Libya Herald asked Senator McCain to explain U.S. policy in providing security assistance, he replied that the “US will help with training and equipment…only if it were requested by the Libyan government – as determined by the needs of the Libyan government and Libyan people”. Any such technical assistance would not include U.S. troops on the ground acting as Libyan defense forces. Apparently there have been rumors on social media sites that NATO forces will return to Libya to make up for the shortcomings in Libya’s own military – leading to the Prime Minister’s office issuing a statement denying any such rumors.
Hopefully the U.S. government will continue to provide security assistance to Libya – vital to both the security of the Mediterranean and the Sahel – when requested.
Opinion: Libya – Technological Colony – To Be or Not to Be?
Here is a fascinating article about spurring technological development in the Libya Herald building on my article with Abullah Elmaazi in AJE.
Libya is blessed with energy resources which include petroleum, natural gas and materials from its vast desert land. There is the (justifiable) temptation to export as much as possible at the highest rate possible to generate the cash flow needed for the rapid building of the nation in the wake of the disastrous 40+ years of neglect. This, of course, is the right path; to build modern infrastructure, roads, schools, hospitals, and investing in future generations. But is it enough?
Per Chatham House’s 2012 Report ‘Resources Futures’, Libya holds fourth place in the largest bilateral resource trade relationships in fossil fuels: exporting crude oil to the EU27 at a value of 28.8 ($ bn). Libya is also one of the producer countries placed in high rank in vulnerability to international commodity price fluctuations. Producer countries particularly exposed to macroeconomic shocks from commodity price fluctuations are those whose i) their economies are particularly dependent on exports and ii) commodities account for a significant share of exports.
Continued economic growth based solely on natural Libyan resources simply further advance others’ technological advancements. The country has great human resources yet very little job creating capacity to absorb them. Without more focused development in Libyan technological sectors such as solar energy and water salination projects, etc., it is feasible that the end result will be to perpetuate Libyan dependence on other people’s technology – referred to as ‘technology colonization’.
Hisham Matar on NPR’s Fresh Air
Terry Gross interviewed Matar about his father and his recent article “The Return,” published in this week’s edition of the New Yorker. Matar — author of In the Country of Men – is a novelist who divides his time between New York and London.
Hisham Matar, welcome back to FRESH AIR. So when you set out for Libya, to see if you could find your father who had been imprisoned for many years, the last you’d heard of him was in 2010, you learned that somebody had seen him or said that they’d seen him in prison in 2002. So you really had no idea if he was alive or not. So when you go to Libya looking for your father, where do you start? What was the plan?
I’m going to try to sum up why your father was considered an enemy of the Gadhafi regime. So tell me if this is accurate. He had been in the military under the king, and then when the coup overthrew the king, and Gadhafi became president, your father was given a diplomatic position in the Libyan Permanent Mission to the U.N., largely to get rid of him without alienating him as a military man and risking turning military men against the regime. But then your father decided to continue to fight the Gadhafi regime and ran a militia that hoped to depose Gadhafi. Do I have that right?
Advisor to Libya PM ‘Abducted’
The latest happy news from Libya is that the PM’s chief of staff, Mohammad Ghatous, was abducted by the militiamen he was trying to negotiate with.
Ghatous’ disappearance comes less than a week after Zidan was besieged in his office by fighters who demanded his ouster over remarks he made threatening to summon outside help to confront the armed groups. On Sunday, the same day that Ghatous disappeared, dozens of fighters surrounded the justice ministry in a daylong siege and also called for minister Salah al-Marghani’s resignation.
Al-Marghani had told a Libyan TV station that some of the fighters were illegitimate groups and were operating illegal prisons. He demanded that they relinquish control over them to the justice ministry. Zidan and al-Marghani also held a joint news conference on Sunday, saying that fighters would be held accountable for any attacks.
A Thawing of Libyan Politics?
The latest straight dope from Karim Mezran – A Thawing of Libyan Politics? speaks to the possibility of a national reconciliation and joint political agenda formulated outside of the GNC by the NFA and Brotherhood. If this could work it would be a very significant development, I have my doubts but would love to be proven wrong. Either way it is a masterfully written article by Karim.
Recent developments in Libya suggest an opening in the country’s otherwise deadlocked political process, increasing the likelihood of resolving several key issues holding back the country’s transition.
At the March 14 Brotherhood-NFA meeting, the two sides agreed to form several commissions, each dealing with an issue of national significance, in order to forge an agreement on each. The commissions will be open to all political forces, giving them the potential to serve as vehicles for compromise, an area in which the GNC has failed.
Since the July 2012 elections, when the NFA took a plurality of seats in the GNC (including thirty-nine of eighty party-list seats) the coalition has largely faltered, losing membership and influence to more ideologically coherent Islamist groups within the congress. Just one day after national dialogue talks, on March 15, the NFA showed signs of reversing this trend, holding a party convention now being heralded as a possible turning point in the group’s downward slide. Prime Minister Ali Zidan, supported by the NFA but not formally a member, delivered a powerful speech addressing a number of key issues and galvanizing his more liberal-minded cohorts.
Ending political gridlock in Libya has never been more pressing. On March 18 an armed convoy from Misrata surrounded Tripoli to communicate precisely this grievance. The Misratans demanded the removal of Zidan and the formation of a government focused on improving the welfare of the Libyan people.
Like the GNC’s political groups, Zidan too appears to be responding to recent lawlessness with political maneuvering of his own. Last week, at the conclusion of Zidan’s trip to the United States, Libyan authorities announced the arrested of a suspect in the Benghazi incident. The dubious timing of the arrest strongly suggests it may be a gambit by the Libyan government, under pressure from the United States, to buy more time.
Never before have Sawan and Jibril, who command the two largest political groupings in the GNC, worked together constructively. A more cohesive NFA that can also work with the Brotherhood and Islamists may thus enable the Congress to finally get back on track. And a functioning GNC capable of addressing the legitimate grievances of still-restless militias, as well as a strong Zidan-led government, may ultimately be the best hope for bringing about the security sector reform that is essential to improving the prospects for a meaningful democratic transition.
Libya: Two Years Later
I teamed up with the former Prime Minister of Libya, Dr. Mustafa Abushagur to produce an Huffington Post op-ed about the current bad security climate in Libya and what steps the GNC needs to take to get out of its constitutional, political and security deadlock.
In short, Libyans want to put the Qadhafi era behind them, but they also want capable individuals to draft the constitution, keep the lights on and the oil flowing. To achieve this they need a strong, moderate leadership that establishes national consensus, and a vibrant civil society that pushes the debate forward while also supporting crucial government initiatives.
In strengthening the hands of the moderates and getting the cranes moving, Western governments and business can play an essential role. Police trainers and capacity building professionals should descend on Libya as part of a coordinated multilateral effort to follow through on international commitments to the Libyan people. Just as American technology was needed to enforce the No-Fly Zone, American acumen and experience is now needed to help train Libya’s army and develop its command and control structures. Simultaneously to the government to government dimension, American businessmen should flock to events where high-level Libyan officials, private sector entrepreneurs, and experts in the legal and security challenges of operating in Libya will come together under one roof to explain to foreign companies how they can enter and prosper in the Libyan market. The FDI Libya Conference being held in London in late May is a prime example.
Deborah Jones Nominated as New U.S. Ambassador to Libya
The U.S. has had no Ambassador to Libya since the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens on September 11, 2012. Career diplomats Laurence Pope and then William Roebuck have served as Chargé d’Affaires since that time. The announcement of a new Ambassador during the middle of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan’s visit to the U.S. shows that the U.S. is actually paying attention to Libya, long overshadowed by other objectives in the region.
As hoped for, President Barack Obama’s choice for a new Ambassador is one with extensive Middle East experience. Ambassador Jones was previously Ambassador to Kuwait from 2008-2011, and has also had posts in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. She is currently a Scholar-in-Residence at the Middle East Institute.
We should expect more Chargés d’Affaires in Libya in the unknown months between Ambassador Jones’s nomination and confirmation by the Senate. Any delays or obstacles in her confirmation are more likely to be the Senate turning Libya into a political issue rather than anything in her background. The Christian Science Monitor notes that Ambassador Jones “has kept a low profile since returning to Washington after her Kuwait assignment, perhaps purposefully avoiding the kind of controversy that could doom future diplomatic prospects.”
Libyan PM Ali Zeidan Visits the U.S.
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is in the in the U.S. this week to express approval renewal of the United Nations Mission in Libya and have some key meetings with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, and other senior U.S. officials. This visit signals that Libya continues to actively solicit capacity building in all areas, welcome investment from U.S. companies, and maintain a close and cordial bilateral relationship markedly different from the Qaddafi years.
Prime Minister Zeidan said in remarks on March 13 with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that
“I would like to confirm the importance of the relationship with the United States and the strategic aspect with the – of this new Libya. This relationship will be at the best level in various aspects – political, economic, and education and oil and the area of security cooperation – in order to achieve stability and peace in the Middle East and the Mediterranean and North Africa and the coast and the desert…We dealt with various aspects of our relationship, and various issues of cooperation in the future, regardless of the education of Libyans here in America or our military cooperation, security cooperation, and economic and political cooperation, particularly trying to retrieve the money that was stolen from Libya, and the American Administration is committed to help us. And in the area of training and various other fields, the most important is the security cooperation in order to establish security and stability in the world and in the area of the Middle East and North Africa.”
Based on White House statements after Ali Zeidan’s meetings there, the U.S. rightly is committed to supporting Libya’s stability as part of an international team.
The President expressed the United States’ support for the Libyan people and their government as they continue their democratic transition. The President reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi are brought to justice, and stressed the importance of Libya’s cooperation with the ongoing investigation. The two leaders discussed how the United States and Libya could work together, along with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya and our partners in the international community, to strengthen Libya’s government institutions, and particularly to enhance security and the rule of law.
Security Guards Injured Trying to Evict Congress Occupiers
Just in from the Libya Herald, Security Guards Injured Trying to Evict Congress Occupiers. This combined with the attack on a Coptic church in Benghazi and tribal fighting in the Nafusa Mountains against the Mashashiyya and the situation in Libya does not look good right now. In fact, it looks like the GNC is doing anything and everything to not exercise its power and to appease its enemies. Quite a shame.
Three security personnel were injured in the early hours of this morning, one of them seriously, while trying to evict war-wounded revolutionaries who have been occupying the Congress headquarters for almost a month.The security forces said they did not retaliate when they realised the protestors had gelatina explosives and withdrew to avoid any further casualties.
War-wounded revolutionaries and their supporters stormed the Congress building on 3 February. Most left later that day, but a small group staged a sit-in in the main debating chamber and have continued to occupy it. As a result, Congress members have since been forced to use other venues for their debates.
The former revolutionaries, many of whom had to have limbs amputated as a result of their injuries, have made various demands, including that the government should pay for their treatment abroad. Congress last week passed a law giving a series of benefits to disabled revolutionaries. It has said that, as a result, all their demands have been met and that there is no justification for the continued sit-in.In light of today’s incident, Congress decided to postpone today’s session. It had planned to vote today on the government’s LD-66 billion budget.
Review of Gerges’s Obama and the Middle East: The End of America’s Moment
Review of Obama and the Middle East: The End of America’s Moment by Fawaz Gerges. (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2012.)
By Jason Pack in Journal of North African Studies Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring 2013
Rebels with a Pen: Observations on the Newly Emerging Media Landscape in Libya
Anja Wollenberg and I compiled an overview of the evolution of print and broadcast media in the new Libya. We analyse Libya’s dynamic media sector commenting on the role of government regulation. Our article is published in The Journal of North African Studies 18:2, 191-210 under the title Rebels with a pen: observations on the newly emerging media landscape in Libya. Below is the abstract and you may read the whole article here. Below is the abstract:
The role of social media as a catalyst of the ‘Arab Spring’ has been subject to much debate – both by academics and the press. Likewise, the impact of international media, such as Al-Jazeera, has been thoroughly examined elsewhere. While acknowledging the significance of these players, this article explores the emergence of a new landscape of local print and broadcast media in revolutionary Libya that is both the result of the dramatic changes that the country has undergone and one of their facilitators. This article analyses the political impact of these new forms of media during and after the 2011 Libyan uprisings, with an emphasis on how the role and the self-image of journalists and media producers has evolved alongside with Libya’s political transformation. It is demonstrated that the new Libyan media began their life as ‘partisan advocates’ and that different societal currents are now struggling to set the new role of media. It concludes with an analysis of the newly implemented legal framework and institutions which govern the Libyan media. It remains unclear if recent legislation will protect independent media from the authorities or, conversely, allow the state to exert censorship and consolidate its ownership over the media. This article analyses the various approaches to media jurisdiction prevalent in post-Qadhafi Libya as reflecting various degrees of state intervention. This discussion reflects the inherent contradictions of a society which, with very little preparation, has had to manage the change from conditions of absolute governmental control to conditions of relative anarchy.
U.S.-Libya Cooperation Update
Secretary of State John Kerry’s first Middle East visit after taking office has been announced, and Libya is not one of the stops on his agenda. It can be inferred, however, that Libya will end up being a topic of discussion with multiple officials in his visits to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. I would prefer to see direct higher level discussions between U.S. officials and their Libyan counterparts rather than indirect talks with neighboring countries with mutual concerns, and in fact had hoped that Secretary Kerry would have added Libya to his agenda as I argued in Politico and on the Hill’s Congress Blog last week.
At least the U.S. and Libya are still actively discussing much needed technical assistance with Libya’s security forces and military. Ali Sheiki, spokesman for Chief of Staff General Yousef Mangoush, announced that General Mangoush and U.S. Chargé d’Affaires William Roebuck have been discussing U.S. technical training and maintenance for Libya’s Air Force. The Libya Herald’s report pointed out that the range of discussion rightly remained on vital training and that:
So far there has been no suggestion of equipping the [Libyan] Air Force with US fighter aircraft. Nor, in present circumstances, is it thought likely that any sales of such aircraft would be approved by the US Congress.
The 15th February 2013 Counter Revolution that Never Was
The straight dope from Sami Zaptia of the Libya Herald as to why a huge pro-federalist, anti-GNC demonstration did not materialize in Benghazi. Read The 15th February 2013 Counter Revolution that Never Was by clicking here.
A combination of the dissatisfied and Federalists in Benghazi were initially planning a large demonstration yesterday to express their discontent and frustration at the GNC and the current government.The demonstration was labeled the “correction of the course of the Revolution” and its main demands are decentralization, more local government and the transfer of government organizations that used to be located in Benghazi, such as the NOC, back to the city.
In reality, yesterday’s events were a series of happy celebrations, speeches and pledges of support to the new order. Speeches were made, flags were flown, fireworks were let off and car horns were blown all day and night with no security incursions reported by the end of the night.The proposed 15th February counter revolution to “correct the course of the Revolution” was at the end itself revolted against by the overwhelming majority of Libya’s population – including the people in the east and specifically in Benghazi.
Libya Needs International Assistance, Not Drone Attacks
And here is my second salvo: a collaboration with Noman Benotman and Haley Cook to monitor development among jihadists in the Sahel region, Algeria, and Libya. We formulated this article for The Hill calling on the Obama administration to eschew drone attacks and to engage in nation building in Libya to limit the spread of Islamist contagion.
Barack Obama wisely pledged in his recent State of the Union address to help Libyans “provide for their own security” including cooperation on counterterrorism. However, should the promised “direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans” turn out to be code for conducting drone attacks on Libyan soil, then the president is on the verge of a catastrophic blunder which would irrevocably jeopardize vital American economic and strategic interests.
Until now foreign training of the Libyan army, police, and border guards has been small in scale. Most training has largely been conducted outside of Libya, in Jordan and Turkey. The U.S. for its part has discussed possible training of around 400 military special forces, but has not yet committed to firm details about the program. These positive cooperation measures are incomplete steps upon which we must rapidly build.
The new Libyan security plan announced on February 12 moves the location of training inside Libya, calling for a two-year EU border security training program using civilian trainers starting in June 2013. This plan should aid in dismantling the dysfunctional, militia-dominated Supreme Security Committee and Libya Shield Force.
The Importance of Stabilizing Libya
I have started a multi-pronged campaign to advocate for increased American capacity-building assistance to buttress Libya’s failing security institutions and to follow up on the February 12th Support Libya Conference in Paris. Here is my first salvo fired at policymakers in Foggy Bottom and on Capitol Hill: a special op-ed in Politico based on interviews with the top Libyan political leadership in the run up to the 2nd anniversary of the Libyan revolution. Libya was the real cause of the conflict in Mali and the recent tragedy in Algeria. This op-ed (co-authored with Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council) outlines a platform of American engagement in North Africa and the Sahel that policymakers need to see.
From Cairo on the Nile to Tunis on the Mediterranean, a political vacuum has descended across North Africa… The spread of Salafist and jihadist groups, the war in Mali and the recent terrorist attack in Algeria are all direct consequences of the overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi. Paradoxically, international action in support of the Libyan people led to this whole mess, yet it is also the key to resolving it.
To help Zidan bring stability, win back the trust of his people and cement his legitimate authority against Magarief’s overreach, a new international coalition must help the Libyan government construct a coherent security apparatus. On Tuesday, representatives of the major Arab and Western powers — including the U.S. — met in Paris under the aegis of the Support Libya conference and finally agreed to “the rapid deployment of European experts” to train and rebuild Libyan security forces. To be effective, the whole process must be initiated, owned and managed by the Libyans, while building upon the international community’s role as guarantors of the Libyan revolution.
The coalition should start by training a new security force, approximately 6,000 strong. NATO countries should lead, but key Arab allies should also be given a prominent role. This force should receive on-the-job training while securing the country’s borders and physical institutions. American know-how is needed to build an army capable of handling diverse threats from nonstate actors, leaving the Europeans to focus on training the police.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron made a savvy surprise visit to Tripoli on Jan. 31. Secretary of State John Kerry should follow suit and go to Libya as part of his first trip to the Middle East. This would signal to the world America’s commitment to engagement. It could also signal the U.S.’s commitment to spearheading the diplomatic coalition and lending its unique technical expertise rather than continuing its role of passively “leading from behind.”
Saudi Arabia to Invest in Libya?
While much of the focus on Libyan business ties with Gulf countries has been on the UAE and Qatar, Saudi Arabia could also emerge as an important partner. During Libyan Oil and Gas Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia he discussed with various Saudi Arabian businessmen the possibility of their investing in a whole range of Libyan industries including infrastructure, petrochemicals, tourism, health, and education. His time with the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce was spent with the private business community, but he also paid a visit to the state-owned oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco.
During his visit to the Aramco Company, Aarusi said he discussed several issues related to oil and gas as well as means to benefit from Aramco’s services, adding he expected Libyan delegations to visit Aramco in the future in order to sign agreements.
If Saudi Aramco is seriously considering involvement in Libya, then the highest levels of the Saudi government must be in favor of closer bilateral ties. Are their joint refining projects on the horizon?
Libya’s Constitutional Committee to Be Elected
After a frustrating delay, Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) has finally decided on the method by which the committee to draft the new constitution will be selected: direct election as under Amendment Three to the Draft Constitutional Declaration. The ability of the GNC to meet and make vital decisions such as selecting a prime minister and approving his choice of government has been repeatedly hampered by inadequate security that has repeatedly allowed protesters – sometimes armed – to occupy the assembly hall. The GNC is now supposed to have its own security force to prevent such incidents. However, despite increased security, protesters occupied the hall yet on 3 February and were still there on 5 February. The GNC had to meet elsewhere in the meantime.
Despite these growing security concerns, there is hope that Libya would be able to carry out a second post-conflict election, following the successful conduct of the GNC election on 7 July 2012. The question is whether this system would be advisable. The GNC’s latest decision means that the future constitutional committee will be patterned after the 1951 constitutional committee, meaning that it will have exactly 60 members, with 20 members representing each of the three historical regions of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fezzan. Voters will select committee members only for their own region. This constitutional committee model has the difficulty that it may unfairly bias the future constitution in favor of a federal system of government before the first draft is even written. The pro-federalist militants who pushed the NTC into amending the Draft Constitutional Declaration just two days before the GNC election so that the constitutional committee would be elected by the people instead of selected by the GNC as a compromise for allowing the 7 July election to go forward have now gotten their wish.
It cannot be stressed enough that “appeasement of local actors via regional autonomy is a recipe for disaster.” Federalism in Libya – tried and failed.
Libya’s Spheres of Bad Influence
Libya’s Spheres of Bad Influence by Karim Mezran hits the nail on the head about the urgency of engaging in Libya. This is exactly the argument I made on BBC News Last night, but just not as eloquently as Mezran.
As many analysts have pointed out, the collapse of Libyan security and the transformation of Libyan territory into a safe haven for jihadi terrorists is causing a security nightmare in the area that could easily spill over into southern Europe through the porous coastal borders of Tunisia and Libya.
It is time for the Obama administration to understand that contrary to its previous evaluation, North Africa, because of the threat to international security that its destabilization can cause, should become an area of primary interest for the United States. At this point, it is important to ask what might be done to deter and prevent such a potentially catastrophic situation. The primary cause of this collapse in security is also the place where the solution lies: Libya.
The administration must engage Libyan institutions in a more proactive way, and these there must be a guarantee of physical protection for the members of the government, the assembly and local councils. The Libyan government should be pushed to ask for NATO support in training a military force to be put at the direct command of the Libyan prime minister to guarantee the enforcement of the central government’s control. If order is reconstituted in Libya, it will prevent the permanent establishment of terrorist organizations in the country, thus inflicting a hard blow to a burgeoning al-Qaeda network in North Africa.
Engagement in Libya Was and Remains the Right Answer
In the form of a book review of Exit Gaddafi: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution by Ethan Chorin for The Spectator Magazine, I make the case why diplomatically and commercially engaging with Libya was always the right answer. I think this is one of the most urgent and important contributions to the debate about Libya that I’ve been able to put out there, so I strongly urge you to read and comment on the article.
Chorin’s real legacy is his unique version of the events which led to the uprisings, especially his focus on the causative role of the US-Libya relationship. In so doing, he presents the most succinct and engaging account yet in print of the secret diplomacy that led to Gaddafi paying off the Lockerbie families and renouncing his WMD program. Chorin puts forth the fascinating – yet likely erroneous – thesis that Gaddafi’s brilliant negotiating turned the Lockerbie families from the greatest opponents of Libya’s normalization with the West into its greatest proponents. According to Chorin, greed lured Western diplomats and businessmen into Gaddafi’s masterful gambit. Furthermore, Chorin asserts that the Bush administration’s policies towards Libya were primarily shaped by its desire ‘to prove’ that its strategy in Iraq was having a successful deterrent effect elsewhere. He simply dismisses the concrete counterterrorism advantages garnered from intelligence sharing.
This bears little resemblance to the reality I experienced. Few State Department or FCO officials were under any illusions about Gaddafi (as demonstrated by Wikileaks cables), many felt Libyan HUMINT seriously strengthened the fight against Al-Qaida, and no official I ever met was primarily motivated to approach Libya to demonstrate that America’s Iraq policy had encouraged other rogue states to come clean. Rather, Western diplomats and companies engaged Libya, because it was both in their interests to do so and because engagement could be used as a means to open Libya to the internet, educational exchanges, infrastructural investment, foreign scrutiny, and outside cultural influences. A by-product of this new openness was to raise the ambitions, aspirations, and know-how of ordinary Libyans. If North Korea could have been pried open in a similar manner only through dealing with Kim Jong-Il, wouldn’t policymakers have been wise to do so? And wouldn’t it have made the glorious reign of Kim Jong-Un (aka The Great Successor) less likely?
Now read the actual article on the Spectator’s Book’s blog.
Alternate Introduction to Engagement in Libya was the Right Answer
Below is an alternative introduction with a contemporary affairs hook leading into my book review defending Western policy in Libya:
More than twenty-two months after the United States joined France, Britain, Qatar, and others in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, the morality, political wisdom, and international legality of helping rebel forces topple Muammar Gaddafi is still hotly debated.
Was it a success as it aided the Libyan people’s fight for freedom and led to successful elections bringing the Arab Spring’s only non-Islamist successor government to power? Or a failure as the post-Gaddafi central government is so weak and security so patchy that the British Ambassador’s motorcade was bombed and the U.S. Ambassador was assassinated by Islamist militants even though the authorities and the vast majority of the Libyan people hold favorable attitudes towards Britain and America?
Even the highest political officials in the land can’t seem to decide if the United States adopted the right policy in engaging in Libya. In fact, since the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 the subject of America’s role in Libya has become irrevocably tainted by partisanship.
In her last public act as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton appeared before Congress on January 23rd. She presented vague admissions concerning the State Department’s and the intelligence community’s failings that led to the death of Ambassador Stevens. Freshman Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul claimed that Clinton should have been fired for the security lapses, while Senator McCain bravely redirected the discussion away from security and towards the larger issues of the US-Libya relationship. He bucked the consensus in Congress which holds that the US should invest more in security and less in ‘nation-building’ in societies in transition. McCain hit the nail on the head as he pointed out that Ambassador Stevens was inherently in danger in travelling to Benghazi, not because Americans are hated in Libya, but rather because the U.S. did not provide enough capacity building assistance to the Libyan authorities to help them construct central security mechanisms. He rightly acknowledged that American failings in Libya have been from engaging too little not too much.
Predictably, McCain’s fellow Republicans did not follow him into a high mind policy debate, rather they descended into a partisan blame game attempting to besmirch Obama’s entire approach to Libya – ignoring of course that it was merely a continuation of the Bush-era policy of engagement, deterrence, and détente.
Sparked by the urgency and politicization of the debate surrounding the “West’s Libya policy,” certain popular books have attempted to weigh in. A common theme has been to blame Western nations and multinational corporations for their role in the international “rehabilitation” of Gaddafi from 2003-2010. Lampooning Tony Blair for his “deal in the desert” has become common place in almost all British broadsheets. The standard argument holds the West as partially culpable for Gaddafi’s sins because it sold him sophisticated weapons and served him his Islamist enemies on a silver platter rather than sticking to Ronald Reagan’s un-nuanced aim of ousting “the mad dog of the Middle East.” This case is made most coherently in Ethan Chorin’s, Exit Gaddafi: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution (Saqi Books, October 2012).
Now read the actual article on the Spectator’s Book’s blog.
Review of Michael Willis’s Power and Politics in the Maghreb
Review of Power and Politics in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring, by Michael J. Willis. (London: Hurst & Co, 2012.)
By Jason Pack and James Roslington in Middle East Journal Vol. 67, No. 1, Winter 2013
What You Need to Know About Hillary Clinton’s Testimony
The National Journal has hit the salient points in its 9 Things You Want to Know About Hillary Clinton’s Testimony–and 1 You Need to Know: The scuffles, the praise, the questions about Benghazi–it all came out Wednesday morning and so did an ominous warning about al-Qaida.
8) Chris Stevens wanted to be there. In his opening statement, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the acting chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Ambassador Stevens wanted the special mission to be in Benghazi because it was the cradle of the Libyan revolution and essential for U.S. diplomacy.
But here is what you really need to know:
10) Clinton painted a very worrisome picture of the terrorist situation in Africa. Discussing the Islamist rebels in Mali, she sounded an alarm. Just because al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has never attacked the United States doesn’t mean there’s no threat developing in the Sahara desert, she maintained ominously: “Before 2001, we hadn’t been attacked before the war of 1812 and Pearl Harbor,” she said.
She noted that while what she called “core al-Qaida” in Pakistan and Afghanistan has been significantly degraded, “affiliates and wannabes” were very much alive in Africa and they have plans to target Western interests, as they did in Algeria this month, and to overthrow governments in the region—even Islamist governments established since the Arab Spring.
While Clinton offered examples where the U.S. has been able to turn around a deteriorating security situation—most notably Somalia, where we recently restored diplomatic relations, and Colombia, where the narco terror wars are more muted—none of it was terribly reassuring. In Somalia, she noted that we’d played a vital role. “We trained the Djiboutis, we trained the Burundis,” she said of the regional forces that helped restore some semblance of stability to Somalia. But Clinton noted that several months after the attacks on Benghazi, a “Pandora’s Box” of weapons had been opened up in the region.
Libya’s Fractious New Politics
Parsing Libyan politics at the moment is no easy task. As noted earlier, a conflict has emerged beneath the surfaces between Prime Minister Ali Zidan and General National Congress (GNC) head Mohamed Magariaf. At its core, the Magariaf-Zidan conflict, which they have never publicly acknowledged, is a battle over defining the country’s nascent institutions. In the absence of by-laws or a more thorough constitutional declaration, Magariaf has been free to exercise power potentially far outside the scope of his office—even declaring himself head of state—much to the dismay of nearly everyone.The Magariaf-Zidan conflict and the institutional paralysis it has caused dims the prospect that Libya will make swift progress on its fledgling security apparatus, yet the country’s political infighting does not end there.It is in this context, and as the country seeks a larger, unifying force to overcome political differences and rebuild the Libyan state, that the National Forces Alliance, the relatively secular bloc led by Mahoud Jibril, announced its boycott of the GNC on Sunday. Its grievances, unsurprisingly, are largely tied to GNC speaker Mohamed Magariaf. An NFA statement disapproved of Magariaf’s total control of the GNC’s agenda, overshadowing the work of GNC special committees, and delaying the sixty-member constitutional committee. The NFA also criticized the lack of proper security around the GNC building.It is highly probable that members of the former regime in exile are plotting the destabilization of the country through targeted assassinations and terrorist attacks and may be responsible for last September’s attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. The modus operandi of these Gaddafi groups is to hire outside guns—often individuals unfamiliar with their benefactor—to carry out attacks. Last week’s assassination attempt on Magariaf in Sebha would seem to match the work of the Gaddafians as well. If successful, these sorts of attacks would cause a rapid shock to state institutions and the possible derailing of the transition.
The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi Future
Building on my policy monograph, I am the editor of a Forthcoming book with Palgrave Macmillan: The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi Future. Its release date is June 2013. It is a work of contemporary history. As such, it analyzes the Libyan uprisings thematically and analytically rather than chronologically.
In 2011, spontaneous popular uprisings overthrew Muammar Qadhafi — one of the world’s most infamous tyrants. Paradoxically, Qadhafi’s own efforts to “reform” Libya’s economy and rebuild his country’s international relationships since 2003 set the stage for his downfall. Despite the enabling effects of twenty-first century communications technology and the aid of NATO jets, the 2011 Libyan uprisings were largely organized along traditional regional, local, and tribal cleavages. The future of post-Qadhafi Libya will be determined by a struggle between “center” and “periphery.” This contest has deep resonances in Libyan history. A work of contemporary political history, this volume analyzes the 2011 Libyan uprisings thematically — focusing on the role of economics, outside actors, tribes, ethnic minorities, and Islamists. This volume’s contributors include the British Ambassador to Libya during the uprisings, the President of the American University of Cairo, a former commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and the world’s leading academic and security specialists in Libyan affairs.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: The Center and the Periphery by Jason Pack
Chapter 1: Civil War and Civil Activism by George Joffé
Chapter 2: Dynamics of Continuity and Change by Youssef Mohammed Sawani
Chapter 3: The Post-Qadhafi Economy by Ronald Bruce St John
Chapter 4: The Role of Outside Actors by Ambassador Richard Northern and Jason Pack
Chapter 5: The Rise of Tribal Politics by Wolfram Lacher
Chapter 6: The South by Henry Smith
Chapter 7: Islamists by Noman Benotman, Jason Pack, and James Brandon
Afterword: Libya—A Journey From Extraordinary to Ordinary by Lisa Anderson
Transforming Libya’s Ungoverned Spaces through Development
In Transforming Libya’s Ungoverned Spaces through Development , I use the assassination attempt on the Libyan PM in Sebha as a jumping off point to explain how Libya can never achieve security unless the economy is kick started. The article focuses on the Southwestern province of Fezzan and how critical it remains to larger developments in the Sahel region and Libya’s coastal regions.
As political posturing surrounding the murder of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens four months ago continues to dominate news about Libya in the Western media, Libya has silently reached the crossroads. Vast swathes of the country are on the verge of becoming ungovernable, while the new democratically elected Libyan authorities are struggling to gain traction in the hinterlands and to prevent local powerbrokers from enshrining their own fiefdoms.
As the focus of the current Ali Zidan government remains squarely on security – narrowly defined and implemented via old-fashioned mechanisms such as imposing military governance and co-opting militiamen with handouts – national infrastructure planning and getting the cranes moving has lagged. Yet, to achieve security, the economy must create wealth, jobs and a sense of inclusion for all of Libya’s regions.
The Fezzan urgently needs to be integrated into the rest of Libya via infrastructural investment, job creation, demobilisation of militias and strategic partnerships with outside universities and corporations. The current crisis represents a great opportunity. One can only hope Libya does not become yet another example in a long list of wasted opportunities and wasted revolutions.
GNC Sets Up Own Military Force
I’ve written before on this blog and on Aljazeera.com about the dangers to GNC members and independent decision-making caused by inadequate security allowing armed protestors to storm the GNC assembly hall. I admit that my prediction for better security measures involved increasing the numbers of police and military personnel assigned to guard the premises, and not what was just announced on 10 January.
Instead, the GNC’s first decision of the new year is to set up its own independent security force under direct command of the President of the GNC. This force is neither part of the police nor the army. Better late than never? You can read GNC Decision 1 for 2013 here.
As the Libya Herald has commented on this new body,
It is not known how large the new body will be. Resolution No 1 for 2013, setting it up, has no mention as to its size. It is thought its forces will also act as bodyguard for Congress members wherever they are in the country.
Rooting Out Extremists in Libya
Well here is a first: The first time a Congressman has gone out of his way to respond to an article of mine. In this instance, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) has totally missed the point of my article and accused me of misquoting him (although I did not) while totally dodging the substantive point about how his remarks inhibit understanding and cooperation between the US and Libya. Moreover, Brad Sherman misses that if the US is concerned about Libya (or Cyrenaica in particular) becoming an ungoverned space where terrorists can operate than we have to diplomatically engage in Libya and help with capacity building and the forging of institutions like a national army and not take the approach of Sherman, that is to simply lambast the Libyans and claim that their government contains “evil jihadist elements” and should be doing more to fight terror. It is high time for Rep. Sherman to grow up and see the world in all its nuances and to ignore the simplistic narrative of his constituents.
Jason Pack’s op-ed on January 4, 2013, entitled “Another missed opportunity on Benghazi,” misstated my remarks at a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on December 20, 2012. Mr. Pack quoted me as referring to the Libyan government as “a coalition… which includes some of the most evil jihadist elements imaginable.” I actually stated that, “The fact is, this is a government that is a coalition that includes, or at least countenances, some of the most evil jihadist elements imaginable.”
The Country Formerly Known as GSPLAJ
After taking great pains to learn the correct order of words to write “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” on official documentation, there was a beautiful simplicity in referring to Libya simply as “Libya” in the new order of things.
Now the GNC has decided that henceforth (which is to say only until the future constitution comes into effect) Libya will be known on all official documents as the “State of Libya”. Will the future Libya be the Federal Republic of Libya? State of Libya? Or something else entirely? The Libya Herald has more on the story – GNC Officially Renames Libya the “State of Libya” – Until the New Constitution.
According to a report by the state news agency LANA, the new name, was adopted unanimously by GNC members, and will from now on be used in all documents, slogans, passports, identity cards and all official transactions.
Details Emerge of Attack on Magarief in Sebha
Libyan President Survives an Assassination attempt– The Libya Herald presents Details Emerge of Attack on Magarief in Sebha . The long and the short of the episode is that Libya’s South appears to be veering increasingly towards becoming an ungovernable space and if the GNC does not intervene to placate warring tribes, Fezzan may end up destabalizing all of Libya.
Head of the General National Congress (GNC) Mohamed Magarief said last night, Saturday, that the hotel he was staying in on a visit to Sebha was attacked by gunmen who fired at the hotel while he and members of a GNC delegation were present.
Another Missed Opportunity on Benghazi
Here is my latest on what US politicians and statesmen should actually be saying and thinking about Libya rather than engaging in the blame game over the Ambassador’s death. I warn against the dangers of the US securitizing its bilateral relationship with Libya and instead call for Congress to double down on capacity building assistance and committing itself to helping the Libyan government consolidate its authority.
Yet again the Obama Administration has missed an opportunity to turn a crisis into a sincere reassessment of the unsustainability of America’s current policies. And I’m not talking about the president’s compromises to avert the fiscal cliff, but rather his December 30 statement about the Benghazi attack.Given the state of (mis-)understanding of Libyan realities on the Hill, it is unsurprising that Congress seeks to treat the new Libyan government as untrustworthy partners and therefore seek to securitize our bilateral relationship. This is exactly the wrong policy. It certainly would not have prevented fifty jihadists armed with rocket launchers from incinerating the Special Mission in Benghazi.
After reflection on the facts, the incoming secretary of State should reject this Beltway consensus and instead empower our diplomats to open training facilities, hospitals, and American cultural centers – as Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi to do.Therefore, rather than engaging in the blame game and securitizing our relationship with Libya, Congress should unveil a package of targeted capacity-building assistance. We share many objectives and values with the Libyan people and their current leadership. Helping them build their country and construct functional institutions is a far better investment for our scarce resources than any state-of-the-art fortified compound.
Ali Aujali Will Not be Foreign Minister
Ali Aujali never took the oath of office to become foreign minister on 9 December after approval from the Integrity Commission, and he has now resigned for unspecified personal reasons. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan has not yet announced a replacement; he and Minister for International Cooperation Muhammad Abdulaziz are currently handling the portfolio. It is also not known who will succeed Ali Aujali as Libyan Ambassador to the U.S., or whether he will return to Washington. Ali Aujali was always a controversial choice for foreign minister after his 42 years of diplomatic service under the Qadhafi regime and arguably weakening effectiveness as Ambassador in Washington.
His resignation was given to the General National Congress by the Prime Minister yesterday, Sunday. It is reported that Zeidan informed Congress that the reasons for the resignation were personal. However, no statement has been made by Aujali himself and it has not been possible to contact him.
Obama Vows to Fix Flaws Discovered in Benghazi Inquiry
Obama Vows to Fix Flaws Discovered in Benghazi Inquiry– The latest from Eric Schmidt of the NY Times shows how the politics of Washington is totally misguided when it comes to recalibrating the US’s strategy in Libya in the wake of the attack. Obama essentially adopted the narrative put forth by the Accountability Review Board’s report, i.e. that if so called security failures and sloppiness were dealt with then the attack could have been prevented. This is exactly the wrong conclusion.
President Obama, in his most detailed comments on an independent inquiry’s report on the attack against the American diplomatic compound in Libya that killed four Americans on Sept. 11, said Sunday that the security and management flaws identified were “huge problems” that reflected “sloppiness” in how the State Department safeguards its missions abroad.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has been one of the fiercest critics of the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack, said on Sunday that the Senate should delay confirmation hearings on Mr. Obama’s choice to be his next secretary of state, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, until Mrs. Clinton fulfills her promise to testify to Congress.
State Department Accountability Review on Benghazi
The short version of the State Department Accountability Review Board for Benghazi report is that communication and decision-making failures within and between the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs left the U.S. Mission in Benghazi understaffed, underfunded, and underprotected which caused the security failure that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens on September 11, 2012.
The unclassified version of the report does not mention individuals in those two bureaus by name, but it was later reported that four State Department officials resigned including Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Embassy Security Charlene Lamb, another unnamed official in diplomatic security, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Maghreb Affairs Raymond Maxwell.
The ‘dozens of armed attackers’ responsible for killing four Americans and injuring two Americans and three Libyans are not identified as a particular group in the report. However, there are hints in the report that armed Islamist extremists carried out the attacks because of the inability of Libya’s central government to build functioning security institutions in service of the country rather than purely local interests prior to September 11. In that deteriorating security situation:
Frequent clashes, including assassinations, took place between contesting militias. Fundamentalist influence with Salafi and al Qaeda connections was also growing, including notably in the eastern region.
Out of the report’s 24 recommendations, it seems likely that U.S. diplomatic missions around the world will see an increase in security personnel including a greater Marine presence. There is also a recommendation for increased Arabic language skills and training in State Department staff, especially diplomatic security. If U.S. diplomats are ever allowed outside of their increasingly fortified missions again, at least they will be well equipped to forge connections with Arabic speaking people in the conduct of diplomacy.
Congressmen Move to Dismiss Mangoush as Army Chief of Staff
In the Libya Herald exposee, Congressmen Move to Dismiss Mangoush as Army Chief of Staff George Grant explains that discontent over the performance of Libya’s central authorities are boiling over and 50 members have added their names to a motion calling for greater transparency and auditing the performance of senior government officials many of whom are hold overs from the Al-Kib government. At the top of the list to be scrutinized is the Army Chief of Staff because frankly few concrete steps have been taken to improve security, demobilize the militias, and actually build a coherent national army.
It is understood that the majority of those supporting the motion are members of the NFA or independents. Members of the Islamist Justice & Construction party along with Congress members from Misrata, where Mangoush – though born in Benghazi – originally has his roots, are said not to be included.
In an unclassified US diplomatic cable sent on 11 September 2012, “In times of crisis, Mangoush has no other choice than to turn to their brigades for help, they said, as he did recently with unrest in Kufra. As part of this arrangement, Mangoush often provides the brigades direct stocks of weapons and ammunition.”
Although the landscape shifted significantly following the death of Ambassador Stevens and the Save Benghazi demonstration that followed, Benghazi’s brigades still operate with effective autonomy. The two national army colonels appointed to take control of Rafallah Al-Sahati and the 17 February brigade – as part of the drive to replace militia leaders with professional military ones – were quickly side-lined. Colonel Salah Al-Din Bin Omran, the anointed leader of Rafallah Al-Sahati, is now said to be in Sirte, whilst Colonel Amrajaa Al-Msheiti operates from an office not even located on the 17 February brigade’s compound.
Oil Update, Or Wait?
Sometimes you’d think it is the job of a politician to be as vague as possible, and that the news media would have caught on by now. Business reporters must really be stretching to come up with new developments in Libya’s oil industry these days if Reuters has really managed to turn a non-news item into a headline. I admit, I got all excited and clicked on the link when I saw “Libya’s Interim Govt May Seek New Oil Bids“, thinking that there must have been some great announcement of plans moving in that direction. Really, all this means is that the possibility of seeing a new round of Exploration and Production Sharing Agreements during the term of the current government has not definitively been taken off the table. This is no different than the state of things yesterday, but since the new oil & gas minister has made so few public statements thus far, everyone felt obligated to scramble for a story out of ‘maybe’ and ‘perhaps’.
Asked whether Libya is likely to see another licensing round within the next 15 months, he said, “Could be, I am not sure, could be; it depends on the situation here in Libya”.
If future talks for a new EPSA round fail to materialize, or if Ministry plans to split the NOC into two companies with the downstream company headquartered in Benghazi fail to stir up enough ruckus to make good newspaper fodder there’s always another exciting growing export to follow on Libya’s oil beat – olive oil.
U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands
Some more investigative journalism from the NYTimes that is sure to cause a political scandal in DC. U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands is not necessarily filled with ground breaking revelations but that this info is out in the open is still quite crucial. On the face of it, there is no great surprise that the Qataris distributed arms to all takers and that they may have favoured radical Islamist groups. That we knew before hand. But what is new is the direct confirmation that American officials blessed these arms shipments and then later raised doubts and objections. That looks bad given subsequent developments.
The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.
But in the months before, the Obama administration clearly was worried about the consequences of its hidden hand in helping arm Libyan militants, concerns that have not previously been reported. The weapons and money from Qatar strengthened militant groups in Libya, allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Qaddafi government.
He said that Qatar would not have gone through with the arms shipments if the United States had resisted them, but other current and former administration officials said Washington had little leverage at times over Qatari officials. “They march to their own drummer,” said a former senior State Department official. The White House and State Department declined to comment.
In March 2011, just as the Libyan civil war was intensifying, Mr. Turi realized that Libya could be a lucrative new market, and applied to the State Department for a license to provide weapons to the rebels there, according to e-mails and other documents he has provided. (American citizens are required to obtain United States approval for any international arms sales.)
Al Jazeera takes a closer look at Libya’s Tubu with Libya’s Tebu Tribe Hopes for Lasting Peace. The state of Libya’s Tubu today brings into question what it means to be Libyan, and serves as a reminder that tensions still boil over into conflict in southern Libya over a year after end of the 2011 uprisings. How the government responds to these ethnic clashes — whether or not they can employ truly impartial peacekeeping forces and enact a meaningful reconciliation process — is crucial to the future stability and social cohesion of the country.
Recurrent violent clashes in Kufra between the Tebu and Zwai tribes over the past year have left more than 150 dead, and a fierce battle in March between the Tebu, Arab Awlad Sulieman and Abu Seif tribes in Sebha claimed an estimated 200 lives.
With hundreds more injured and neighbourhoods devastated by intense mortar fire, these small communities are now polarised by hate. The Tebu are accused of being “foreign”, while they say the Arab tribes are racist.
Ali Aujali Confirmed As Foreign Minister
Libyan Ambassador to the U.S. Ali Aujali has been given permission by the Patriotism and Integrity Commission to be Libya’s new foreign minister. The Commission also approved the new Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Agriculture. The investigation for the Minister of Religious Affairs is still ongoing. When the Commission previously rejected four appointees, the Ministers of Interior, Electricity, Higher Education, and GNC Affairs, it seemed for a moment that all of those under investigation would be rejected. Today’s decision brings a number of questions for other high profile positions – Who will be selected to take the place of the rejected/resigned ministers? Will current deputy ministers be selected to remain in place? And who will be Libya’s new ambassador to Washington?
I remember several old rumors surrounding Ali Aujali’s possible successor. The first one around the time of the Liberation is that Libyan envoy to the UN Ibrahim Dabbashi would become the new Ambassador in Washington. The second rumor earlier this year was that outgoing NTC members were jostling to position themselves in cushy diplomatic posts. So, will Washington go to a career diplomat, a political appointee, or a mixture of the two?
GNC Starts Constitution Debate
I am glad to hear Al Jazeera report that the GNC has started to discuss the many weighty issues surrounding the writing of the new constitution. The GNC must first decide who will choose the constitutional committee, how many will be on the committee, and who will comprise the committee. However, since the committee’s composition will have a strong effect on the ultimate form of the constitution, debate on the most contentious issues must undoubtedly make its way onto the floor of the GNC: the amount of decentralization, whether to adopt a parliamentary or presidential system (with implications for the future name of the country), constitutional protection of minority rights, and whether Islamic shari’a will be ‘a’ source or ‘the’ source of legislation. I suspect it will be a long debate. Hopefully the ongoing EU parlimentary training of GNC members will keep discourse civil as tempers flare.
According to Al Jazeera’s interviews with leadership from various Libyan political parties and GNC members, it sounds like the GNC is not completely agreed on the idea of a ‘Committee of 60′ with 20 representatives each from Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fezzan. Nor is the GNC agreed on whether to appoint the committee or to follow the last minute amendment to the draft constitutional declaration that the constitutional committee should be elected. If this amendment designed to keep the peace with more assertive pro-federalist elements is cancelled, we could see a resurgence of the supporters of a Libyan version of federalism assert their desire to see the ‘Committee of 60′ model in the road closures and taking over of government buildings that characterized their behaviour leading up to the July 2012 election. You can read the Arabic report here – Intilaq Ma’araka al-Dustur bi-Libya.
Rising from the Ruins
Rising from the Ruins: Amid lingering violence, a modern state is struggling to take shape — an optimistic Economist article investigating the creation of local governance structures in the new Libya.
“The farther you move away from Tripoli,” says a Western diplomat, “the less of a state you see.” But that is changing. Regional structures are taking shape. Rickety they may be, but they increasingly trump those in the capital, where political rivalries and the fear of being accused of corruption have led ministers to duck hard decisions. Some cities are creating their own economic links with the outside world. Misratans now have a range of daily flights to neighbouring countries.
Dynamic local leaders have improved services. The streets of a range of coastal towns are far cleaner than in Cairo or Tunis. Rubbish-collecting lorries and street sweepers in tidy overalls are out every morning. Hospitals have reopened. Most important for ordinary Libyans, services such as tap water and electricity—disrupted during the rebellion—are working just about everywhere. Children are back at school.
Local government must operate in a legal vacuum until a new constitution is agreed upon, probably not before the middle of next year. In the meantime local leaders owe their legitimacy to the citizens. Misrata and Benghazi held municipal elections several months ago. Ajdabiya, which lies between the two, will follow suit by the end of the year. The people of Brega and Ras Lanuf chose their councils and leaders at public meetings. Only Sirte, the Qaddafi stronghold, remains under a forced administration, its local leaders chosen by the authorities in Tripoli. Benghazi and Derna, in the east, are still struggling to contain discontent. Jobless young people in these towns are still liable to be recruited by extremists.
US-backed force in Libya face challenges:
US-backed force in Libya face challenges: Extremism a growing problem in security vacuum since Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall. This is a great article about conflicting and ill-coordinated security forces in Libya and provides an overview of the primary complexities of turning the Supreme Security Committee or the Libya Shield Force into a professional gendarmerie with a coherent command and control structure that could address Libya’s Security woes.
After committing $8m to help build a counterterrorism force in Libya, the US now faces a difficult choice: work through a weak government that has so far proved unable to build a national army and police force from the thousands of former rebels who have operated as militias since Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall – or work with the militias themselves.
Last week, a US embassy delegation, led by CIA operatives, travelled to Benghazi to meet and recruit fighters directly from the Libyan Shield, a powerful umbrella organisation of militias, according to Fathi al-Obeidi, a commander of the group. The Libyan Shield provided the rescue force that assisted the US mission in Benghazi on the night of the attack, and Obeidi said that his fighters represent the most viable local option for a special unit.
Violent clashes between rival militias, including those that fall within larger umbrella groups such as the Libyan Shield and SSC, are near daily occurrences. Last weekend, gun battles shut down a neighborhoodof the capital as the SSC used machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades to tame one of its own groups that had begun arresting and torturing members of the community.
ibyan Shield forces wear army fatigues and drive “National Army” trucks but privately dismiss the chief of staff as a lame duck. Meanwhile, the SSC militias frequently don police uniforms, even as commanders say they often act unilaterally.
Sewehli refuses to endorse new government
Sewehli refuses to endorse new government, boycotts oath-taking ceremony– an article from the Libya Herald about how regional politics is being played out over Ali Zidan’s cabinet which was sworn in on 14 Nov 2012. This indirectly shows that Misratans are not pleased with losing control of the interior ministry and wish to be the arbiters of revolutionary propriety.
Congressman Abdurrahman Sewehli, head of the Union for Homeland Party (UHP) and chairman of Congress’ Defence Committee boycotted the new government’s oath-taking ceremony in protest at the inclusion of ministers who he says “do not meet the standards of integrity and patriotism”. He accuses them of having been too closely connected to the Qaddafi regime.
The commission was set up to assess whether officials were too closely connected with the former regime and are sufficiently committed to the revolution to represent the “New Libya”. Five out of 31 ministerial portfolios are vacant at moment, as the Commission rejected four candidates for ministerial posts nominated by the Prime Minister: Interior Minister Ashour Suleiman Shuwail, Ali Mohammed Muhairiq (Electricity), Abdulasalm Bashir Duabi (Higher Education) and Muaz Fathi Al-Khoja (Minister for Relations with Congress).
The commission still has to make rulings on four other ministers: Ali Al-Aujali (Foreign Affairs), Kamla Khamis Al-Mazini (Social Affairs), Ahmed Ayad Ali Al-Urfi (Agriculture) and Abdulsalam Mohammed Abusaad (Religious Affairs and Awqaf).
Many in Libya were surprised at the composition of Zeidan’s cabinet, as it includes many unknown names as well as some who had held positions during the Qaddafi era. Aujali, the most notable example, is a career diplomat who was Libyan ambassador to the United States when the revolution began but was an early supporter of it.
Finally an elected Libyan cabinet, but is it fearsome enough to govern?
My latest opinion piece for AJE asks the question, “Finally an elected Libyan cabinet, but is it fearsome enough to govern?” When all the ministers are finally sworn in after delays, more delays, further delays, investigations, and possible replacements, I hope that we have the chance to answer in the affirmative.
After yet another last minute delay, it now appears that on November 14th, Libya’s first elected cabinet will finally be sworn into office, possibly without six key ministers who are under investigation. They will replace the interim non-elected one which should have been replaced nearly two months ago and has been governing as a lame-duck since July…After this wearying wait, the prevailing wisdom is that the new cabinet will combine technocratic competence with the full legitimacy of being selected by an electoral body, and Libya’s most intractable problems can finally be tackled head on….Until now, none of the leaders of post-Gaddafi Libya (elected or unelected, military or civilian) have shown the ability to put aside their factional or personal interests and take the bold steps the country needs. Will Ali Zidan’s government be able to provide that? The jury is still out.
It is a positive sign that Ali Zidan has refused to give in to militia demands to reshuffle his cabinet immediately but instead will wait for the committee to make its recommendations, showing that in a few instances, the legitimate central government can stand up to the self-appointed armed few.
We assert [that] the GNC cannot blame the security situation for its inability to create jobs and rebuild Libya. It must use its control over the oil spigots and purse strings in a clever manner to lead the country forward into a brighter future.
The GNC and the new government have the elected mandate to lead. They can only do so successfully if they encourage citizens to exercise their right to political participation without allowing a minority to resort to making demands at the point of a gun and subverting Libya’s transition to democracy in the process.
Libyan “Analysis” of US Election [Joke]
These friends tell me that it’s a major package deal between Obama and the Bani Ohaions in which Obama betrayed the people who adopted him and made him what he is today the Bani Illionoisiyyin.
This morning after they discovered the deciet, the Bani Illionoisiyyin are furious with Obama , hopping mad and screaming treason . Bani Illionoisiyyin have a long history of conflict with the Bani Ohaions going back to their first battle on the football field in 1897. Its possible that they might unite with their civil war enemies in the south to block the confirmation of the Bani Ohaion ministers in congress. Don’t even be surprised if the Bani Illionois bus armed members of their militia ( The Bani Illionoisiyyin National Guard ) to storm both houses of congress and prevent the confirmation vote from taking place altogether.
This might explain why the Bani Ohaion insisted on having the Inland Security Ministry as one of the departments under their control . The other being of course the treasury . Part of the deal will be for the Ohio department of transportation to assign the contract, for the Cuyahoga County – West 73rd Street relocation and new bridge construction as part of the Lakefront West project, to the first cousin once removed of a close friend of, Michelle Obama brother, Craig Robinson . The contact originally budgeted for around USA 32 million dollars is now expected to exceed 250 million dollars and will require help from the Federal government.
These analyst friends also pointed out to me what they perceive as a growing anti-West coast sentiment among people of the North East coast because of resentment over favourable weather conditions on the Pacific side of the country. This is met by a growing secessionist movement on the West coast fuelled by complaints of people on the West Coast having to pay for damage done by frequent East Coast hurricanes and tornadoes . Historically people on the East coast joked about the decadence and the vanity of people of the West coast who among other things boasted of their horticultural prowess claiming unrivalled power for their San Francisco grown flowers while People of the East coast mocked people of the East coast for naming their most important street after a wall.
My friends warn that in the midst of these tribal and regional issues the future of the USA hangs perilously in the balance.
These friends were not able to corroborate their analysis with evidence acceptable even to a Libyan integrity commission but as you very well know , the burden of proof is never on the analyst.
Do you have evidence to challenge the basis of this analysis or are you like the rest of Americans content to reside in a bubble of complacency pretending it’s all about swing states ,demographics, Latino vote , abortion, and all the nonsense about this mythical creature called ISSUES . ?
New Libyan Cabinet Approved
Libya finally has a new cabinet to replace the pre-July election El-Keib government! However, now that six of the potential new ministers have been referred to the Integrity Commission, some replacements may be forthcoming. It is hoped that these investigations will not delay the new government from getting down to business and addressing the major issues of the day – starting with security. A full list of all 32 cabinet members is available here – Congress Votes to Approve Zeidan Government; Six Members Referred to Integrity Commission
[S]ix of the ministers have been referred by the Integrity Commission to determine whether or not they should remain in post or not. They include Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Al-Aujali; Justice Minister Salah Bashir Margani; Interior Minister Ashour Suleiman Shuwail; Health Minister Nurideen Abdulhamid Dagman; and Religious Affairs Minister Abdulsalam Mohammed Abusaad…Referral to the Integrity Commission does not necessarily mean dismissal, however.
GNC Stormed AGAIN After Zidan Cabinet Announcement
Well, hold on to your hats, folks! I’ve been planning a party to watch the U.S. presidential election, but I should have had everyone over to watch today’s GNC session debating Ali Zidan’s cabinet choices instead – much more action-packed. Aside from the need for different political interests to learn the value of compromise, the most critical lesson surrounding the announcement of Abushagur’s cabinet was the need for the GNC to foster security in Libya, starting with their own assembly hall. Sadly, this lesson was not taken to heart. Unbelievably, protestors were once again able to storm the GNC and interrupt today’s debate! You can read the Libya Herald’s report here – GNC debate of Zidan government halted as Tripoli thuwar storm building.
The Tripoli thuwar stormed the GNC and disrupted the proceedings of the afternoon session complaining that their area was underrepresented in the new Zidan government…It has also been claimed that amongst the group were Salafists protesting the appointment of Abdulsalam Mohammed Abusaad as minister of religious affairs.
2012 Ibrahim Index of African Governance: Governance in Libya (in Gaddafi Era) ‘Imbalanced’
An Analysis by the Tripoli Post of 2012 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance: Governance in Libya (in Gaddafi Era) ‘Imbalanced’
Jason Pack, president of Libya-Analysis.com, was sceptical of some of the findings of the Index and commented that the data that make up the health score (maternal and child mortality, some basic immunisations, treatment of some diseases) only look at a certain basic standard of health, and gives Libya a surprisingly high health score of 98/100. By most accounts, Libya requires expansion to existing healthcare facilities, the building of new facilities, and improvements in the quality of healthcare. When asked by The Tripoli Post what the Libyan government could do to achieve a better rating next year Mr Pack replied that Libya has much potential, provided that security is achieved; other reform areas hinge upon this key principle.
“Libya still needs to make improvements in disarming and demobilising the brigades to build effective government security forces that are able to uphold and protect the rule of law. The current government needs to work to prevent the kind of corruption that flourished in the Gaddafi era and continued into the NTC period in certain instances in the absence of accountability. They should also work on improving public management. Once safety and the rule of law are achieved, then major improvements in sustainable economic opportunity through infrastructure improvements and a better business environment are possible.”
Jason Pack on Al-Jazeera’s 23/10/12 Inside Story
With Libya increasingly back in the news since the tragic 9/11 attack in Benghazi and the prominence given to this issue in the Presidential Debates (it was the first question in the foreign policy debate), Al-Jazeera’s 23/10/12 Inside Story tackles the subject of Libyan internal politics one year after the country was liberated from Col. Qadhafi. The show’s three guests were: Abdelmonem Alyasser, a Libyan MP and a member of the National Security Committee; Jason Pack, a researcher of Libyan history at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge University; and Faraj Najem, a Libyan historian and author of Tribes, Islam and the State of Libya.
The show is 24 minutes long and there are no commercials. It starts with a 4 minute intro to the topic and then there are three guests of which I was one. I have three extended (i.e. over a minute long) segments where I speak. So if you want to cut just to those bits: They begin at 4:40, 10:05, and 17:10. You can watch all my segments in less than 5 minutes.
Year After Gaddafi Death Libya Confronts Successes and Failures
Year After Gaddafi Death Libya Confronts Successes and Failures a succinct summary of the main issues from Leela Jacinto of France 24.
In the long term though, the solution lies in disbanding the militias and putting together a professional national army. But that, notes Pack, is easier said than done, given the political hurdles facing the nation. In the three months since the national assembly election, two new prime ministers have been appointed, neither of which has been able to present a cabinet list that satisfied legislators. “Even if the politicians want to crack down on the militias, they can’t do that because they need a cabinet and bureaucracy first,” explained Pack.
In a country that moved from colonialism to monarchy to dictatorship, democracy is a new phenomenon, and Libyans are slowly learning the ropes – some would say too slowly. “Some Libyan intellectuals understand that it’s a win-together or lose-together situation,” said Pack. “But the politicians aren’t acting that way.”
U.S. to Help Create an Elite Libyan Force to Combat Islamic Extremists
U.S. to Help Create an Elite Libyan Force to Combat Islamic Extremists by NYT CounterTerrorism coorespondant Eric Schmitt
The Obama administration quietly won Congress’s approval last month to shift about $8 million from Pentagon operations and counterterrorism aid budgeted for Pakistan to begin building an elite Libyan force over the next year that could ultimately number about 500 troops. American Special Operations forces could conduct much of the training, as they have with counterterrorism forces in Pakistan and Yemen, American officials said.
The effort to establish the new unit was already under way before the assault that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya. But the plan has taken on new urgency as the new government in Tripoli tries to assert control over the country’s militant factions.
Libyan commentators have expressed hope that a Western power would help train the country’s fledgling national army, so the proposal might be well received. But it still faces many challenges, including how to get the powerful militias to buy into it while taming their influence, and vetting a force to weed out Islamic extremists.
“Over all, it’s a sound strategy, but my concern is that in the vetting they make sure this doesn’t become a Trojan horse for the militias to come in,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who visited Libya recently and wrote a paper last month on security in the country, “The Struggle for Security in Eastern Libya.”
Ali Zidan Elected as Libya’s New Prime Minister
Ali Zidan, formerly independent GNC member from Jufra, now has two weeks to complete the difficult task of balancing the demands of various Libyan political interests to come up with a cabinet acceptable to the GNC. Will political parties, independent blocs, and regional factions learn how to compromise this time around? The Libya Herald has the story – Ali Zidan Elected Prime Minister.
Zidan enjoyed the broad support of the National Forces Alliance, who also backed him in the speaker’s race, as well as a number of independents…He will now have two weeks to submit his Cabinet, and it remains to be decided whether Congress will choose to maintain the same system of ratification as previously, in which every name on the list had to be voted on individually.
Bloomberg Editors Agree: Invasion of the Drones Is Wrong Policy for U.S. in Libya
I share the sentiments of this Bloomberg editorial against U.S. drone strikes in Libya. The following quote neatly encapsulates the editorial board’s main points in Invasion of the Drones is Wrong Policy for the U.S. in Libya.
Libya is the most pro-American nation in the Arab world today, so much so that Benghazi residents outraged by the attack on the U.S. mission stormed and temporarily overtook Ansar al- Shariah compounds in the city. That remarkable store of goodwill almost surely would be lost should U.S. forces act unilaterally in Libya, especially if civilians were killed or hurt, as they often are in drone strikes. As for AQIM, U.S. attacks would almost certainly ensure that the group, which hasn’t targeted U.S. interests, would do so in the future.
Democracy is Messy – Especially in Libya
My latest op-ed on Libya’s cabinet crisis in the Guardian’s Comment is Free, co-authored with my new Director of Research Haley Cook: Democracy is Messy – Especially in Libya.
After Abushagur’s list was voted down, he was allowed to present an emergency replacement cabinet list. This was swiftly defeated – triggering a successful no confidence vote against him and reopening the process of selecting a new prime minister.
Libya’s already weak central authorities will now be left without a proper government for another few weeks, at exactly the time that they need to crack down on the militias and Islamist radicals who attacked the American mission in Benghazi, killing ambassador Chris Stevens.
It is rumoured that the NFA and the Justice and Construction party are in back-channel negotiations. If an agreement were to materialise – which would have been unthinkable a month ago – it could produce a solid unity government able to take the necessary bold decisions to crack down on the militias and renew major public infrastructure projects.
It must also be remembered that despite the cabinet crisis there is not a complete power vacuum in Libya. The democratically elected Congress is still in place and despite the terrorist attack on the American mission, Libyans have spontaneously united to denounce violence and rebuild their nation.
It is far too early to predict the demise of the Libyan democratic experiment.
Libya Awaits Announcement of New Government
Libya Awaits Announcement of New Government by AFP explains Abu Shagur’s miscalculation in proposing a cabinet dominated by his allies in the Al-Kib government.
Analysts said Abu Shagur faces an uphill task. “The first challenge is security,” said Jason Pack, a Libyan history researcher at Cambridge University and president of online repository libya-analysis.com. “The central government does not yet have sufficient military capacity to provide adequate security for its own parliamentary offices, let alone for the complex process of disarming and demobilising the hundreds of militias,” he added.
Carlo Binda, director of the US-based National Democratic Institute’s Libya branch, said Abu Shagur to his credit had “shown sensitivity and political sophistication by appointing deputies and ministers from each of the regions”. Binda downplayed the Zawiyah protest’s significance, saying it reflected one “local grievance”, and stressed that regional and tribal politics were not the main reason the GNC rejected his proposed Cabinet.
“It was rejected for a collection of reasons… You can’t possibly satisfy each and every interest when trying to compose a Cabinet. Then you would have a Cabinet of six million people,” Binda said. Pack agreed: “Anyone in Abu Shagur’s position would be hard-pressed to come up with a list that could please everybody.”
Congress Rejects New Libya Government
Libya is still without a new government nearly three months after the July 7 Genearal National Congress elections. Prime Minister-elect Mustafa Abushagur withdrew his entire cabinet list on Thursday after facing massive opposition from GNC members and from the Zawian protestors who stormed the GNC meeting hall in the middle of debate on the cabinet. Libya needs to have a new cabinet to get down to the business of running the country and to restore confidence in the July 7th electoral process which had the formation of a new government as one of its goals. You can see more on this story from Magharebia.com – Congress Rejects New Libya Government.
In response to protests, Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur withdrew Thursday (October 4th) the government he proposed to the General National Congress for approval. Abushagur has until Sunday (October 7th) to submit a new list in the wake of protests.
U.S. Said to Be Preparing Potential Targets Tied to Libya Attack
The mere preparation of drone strikes over Libya to attack Islamists radicals s is enough to capture the headlines and also to potentially explode the good will that was developing between the USA and Libya in the wake of the attacks. The NYT’s Eric Schmidt broke the story with U.S. Said to Be Preparing Potential Targets Tied to Libya Attack. In my view, now is a highly fragile time for post-Qadhafi Libya. The newly elected government is trying to cement its authority and the Libyan population is finally mobilized against the militias and radical Islamists in their midst. American drone strikes no matter how few civilians they kill or how effective they are at disrupting Ansar al-Shari’a's operations would erode the outpouring of sympathy for the United States that has characterized the Libyan street over the last weeks. It would also likely tip the balance in favor of the militias in their efforts to avoid their demobilization by the Libyan authorities. In short, although there is an electoral reason for Obama to engage in such strikes, they are likely to have exactly the opposite of the intended effect by strengthening the hardcore jihadist elements in Libya. America should invest in training Libyan security personnel and vocational training programs– not drone strikes.
The Libya Surprise
The Libya Surprise by Tom Malinowski is a most read about how impressive Libya’s popular pro-American response has been.
Terrorists can strike anywhere. But it is how governments and societies react that determines whether terrorism succeeds or fails. And Libyans’ reaction to the tragedy vindicated what Stevens believed the country is and could become. Could anyone, whether a cynic or optimist about the region, have dreamed of a better response to an attack on a diplomatic mission on Arab soil than what happened after the violence in Benghazi — tens of thousands of people marching on the headquarters of the law-defying militias suspected of complicity in the assault (and of multiple other killings over the past several months) to run them out of town, while holding signs paying tribute to the fallen ambassador?
It was not just Libya’s political elite who were angry and ashamed about what happened. The morning I learned of Stevens’s death, I emailed an influential Islamist leader in eastern Libya, fearing that he would be more agitated by the anti-Mohammed video than the killings we thought (wrongly it seems) it had precipitated: “You can’t imagine how sad we are,” he immediately replied. “Clearly, [Stevens] was a citizen of a country that has helped us to be liberated from one of the most bloody regimes; and before all that, he was our guest who we were supposed to protect. We will do all we can to make clear that a killing is a killing no matter what the motives were.”
Certainly, this is no time to lurch to the opposite extreme — to start seeing the region in terms of threats, not opportunities, to pull out the diplomats and send in the drones. It is sad that the only questions Congress is asking the administration now about Libya concern the attack on U.S. diplomats and whether someone can be blamed for not anticipating it or beefing up security enough. Congress should be demanding to know how the administration plans to continue the fallen diplomats’ mission. How will it help the legitimate Libyan authorities rein in the militias responsible for the lawlessness in the country, as the vast majority of Libyans want?
National Congress Leader Magarief Says Libya Should Be a “Secular State”
Somewhere on the list of Libyan priorities after forming a new cabinet, disarmament of militias, and job creation is the writing of a new constitution. If President of Libya’s General National Congress Mohamad Magariaf has his say, then the new Libya would be a “secular state” in which the character of the state and its laws would be influenced by the religious nature of the Libyan people in a manner compliant with the Islamic sharia, but without control from an official religious body. Will the Islamic sharia be “a source” or “the source” of legislation in the new constitution? Only time will tell. The Libya Herald has some excellent analysis of the original Al-Hayat interview with GNC President Magariaf here: National Congress Leader Magarief Says Libya Should Be a “Secular State”
In the post 17 February Revolution Libya, there is a great battle, sometimes armed and violent, to impose a particular interpretation of Islam on all of Libyan society.
If what Magarief purported to the Al-Hayat newspaper is an accurate and true representation of what the head of the GNC thinks and believes, it will definitely position him nearer the non-Islamist bloc of Jibril’s NFA rather than the Justice and Construction party bloc.
11 Killed As Libyans Depose Benghazi Militias
In late breaking developments, the anti-militia protests and occupations of militia bases have expanded their scope. Some pro-GNC militias bases were also occupied. AFP reports these happenings in 11 Killed As Libyans Depose Benghazi Militias — Ansar Al Sharia members flee as protesters storm and torch its compound which quotes Jason Pack framing the big picture.
Libyan protesters ousted a jihadist militia from its headquarters and seized a raft of other paramilitary bases in second city Benghazi early Saturday in heavy clashes that left 11 people dead.
But to the alarm of senior officials, the demonstrators also stormed a raft of other paramilitary bases in the city controlled by former rebel units that had declared their loyalty to the central government.
“We came peacefully and asked them with our loudspeakers to disarm,” said protester Nasser Saad, stressing that armed reinforcements only came after the demonstration was attacked. But one of the brigade’s fighters, Ahmad Faraj, insisted that the goal of the attackers was not the suppression of militias but the seizure of the base’s armoury. “They were coming to take our weapons,” he said. “We are part of the ministry of defence, we fought in the revolution, we can’t just walk away and hand over heavy weapons to a bunch of drunks and criminals.” National assembly chief Mohammad Al Megaref, who had initially welcomed the Benghazi protest, urged the demonstrators to withdraw from the bases of loyal brigades. He named Raf Allah Al Sahati and February 17 Brigades, and Shield Libya. Libya specialist Jason Pack said that the scale of the anti-militia protest in Benghazi showed the “depth and breadth of support for the United States that prevails in Libya in the wake of the attack on Ambassador Chris Stevens.”
“Now with the people calling for a hardline anti-militia policy, Libyan leaders may find themselves steeled with the requisite courage to purge these groups from the Libyan body politic,” Pack said.
Popular Protests: Not the first time
In Popular Protests, Not the first time: President Obama finds himself in a similar situation to that of Jimmy Carter during the hostage crisis, I outline with a Cambridge colleague James Roslington the historical parallels between the recent spate of anti-US violence and Embassy attacks with the events of 1979.
Not for the first time, Western governments have been caught off-guard by a wave of popular protest in Muslim countries. Things started in Cairo with a grassroots assault on the US embassy. Then, in Libya, the attack on the US Mission in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, left four diplomats dead – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Another parallel is perhaps more important: the protests and attacks on US embassies in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The events in Iran rippled outward because the spread of television sets allowed more people around the world to know what was happening – this parallels the increased access to the internet and social media which have transformed Muslim societies in the last three years. But the current crisis threatens to dash these hopes. Like Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, leaders of the new Islamist regimes in the region have to cater to the whims of their supporters to preserve their legitimacy. Sooner or later, they may choose to ride the wave of anti-US feeling by caving in to populist gestures – such as permitting the occupation of an American embassy. Like Jimmy Carter, President Obama faces an unenviable choice. Either he can tread carefully, using diplomacy and aid to keep his leverage with the new democracies of the region; or he can court popularity at home by giving in to calls for direct action. The signs are not encouraging.
The Republican challenger Mitt Romney has already denounced Obama for his “weak” response. Congressmen have called for the cancellation of US aid to Egypt and Libya. Obama has now ordered very public deployments of warships off the Libyan coast and US Marines to Yemen. Meanwhile, although more diplomatic and humanitarian engagement is needed, the State Department has called on all US citizens to leave Tunisia and Sudan.
We can only hope that, despite the pressures of an election year, President Obama will recognise that the long-term interests of the US lie in building constructive relations with the new democracies of North Africa. Knee-jerk reactions such as withdrawing US citizens, or lashing out in revenge, would threaten to undermine all the positive potential that the Arab Spring holds for changing the US position in the Middle East.
Benghazi Anti-Militia Protest
Benghazians continue to demonstrate against the Islamist who killed Amb. Chris Stevens. This trend may goad the GNC to take the decisive action that the NTC avoided. Read more about today’s protests from the HuffPost article– Benghazi Anti-Militia Protest: Libyans March Against Armed Groups After U.S. Embassy Attack.
Hundreds of protesters angry over last week’s killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya stormed the compound of the Islamic extremist militia suspected in the attack, evicting militiamen and setting fire to their building Friday. In an unprecedented show of public anger at Libya’s rampant militias, the crowd overwhelmed the compound of the Ansar al-Shariah Brigade in the center of the eastern city of Benghazi.
The public backlash comes in part in frustration with the interim government, which has been unable to rein in the armed factions. Many say that officials’ attempts to co-opt fighters by paying them have only fueled the growth of militias without bringing them under state control or integrating them into the regular forces. Residents of another main eastern city, Darna, have also begun to stand up against Ansar al-Shariah and other militias.
The anti-militia fervor in Darna is notable because the city, in the mountains along the Mediterranean coast north of Benghazi, has long had a reputation as a stronghold for Islamic extremists. During the Gadhafi era, it was the hotbed of a deadly Islamist insurgency against his regime. A significant number of the Libyan jihadists who travelled to Afghanistan and Iraq during recent wars came from Darna. During the revolt against him last year, Gadhafi’s regime warned that Darna would declare itself an Islamic Emirate and ally itself with al-Qaida. But now, the residents are lashing out against Ansar al-Shariah, the main Islamic extremist group in the city.
Amid Chants of ‘Free Libya, Terrorists Out,’ a Nation at a Crossroads
Jason Pack with Andrea Khalil in The Wall St. Journal on how and why the majority of Libyans support the USA not only in an abstract sense but wish for increased American engagement in their country. It may be behind a firewall. So I’m presenting many of the sections here.
September 11th now signifies a national tragedy not only for the United States but also for Libya. The killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi during LAST Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. MISSION has upset the delicate political transition from dictatorship to democracy that was unfolding here in Libya. It also has obscured parliament’s prudent selection LAST Wednesday evening of Mustafa Abushagour—a moderate Islamist and respected technocrat—as prime minister. Yet spontaneous street demonstrations THROUGHOUT THE WEEK denouncing the attack AND SEEKING TO PRESSURE THE GOVERNMENT TO ACT AGAINST ITS PERPETRATORS suggest that Libyans are determined to build an inclusive society, free from fear.
According to a recent Gallup poll, Libyans hold a more favorable attitude toward Americans than even Canadians. This is in STARK contrast to the situation in Egypt, Yemen, and elsewhere, where the storming of the American embassies seems to have been a grass-roots undertaking.
As days have passed since the attack on the consulate, Libyans’ popular condemnation has only amplified. A meeting took place on Thursday evening at the Shbelia Hotel in order to coordinate CITIZEN action against the militants. The people who attended also wanted to goad the government into reining in the myriad militias that fought the struggle against Gadhafi and have since deepened their hold on local politics since his ouster. According to one activist, “There is no government response—because there is no government.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister Abushagour issued a strong statement condemning the attack, expressing solidarity with the U.S., and promising to bring the criminals to justice. THIS IMMEDIATELY PROMPTED TALK of an upcoming government offensive to shut down all the roads in eastern Libya and sweep for militants. FRIDAY, BENGHAZI’S BENINA AIRPORT WAS CLOSED TO LIMIT ESCAPE OF SUSPECTS. Despite such HIGH HOPES and at least SIXTEEN arrests, experts doubt that the Libyan authorities have the firepower or organizational know-how to tackle the nonstate actors in their midst. Moreover, this attack has further added to the perception that the Libyan government does not effectively control the territory it supposedly governs. BY SATURDAY AS THE GRAND SWEEP HAD NOT MATERIALIZED, PUBLIC PRESSURE MOUNTED FOR BOLDER GOVERNMENT ACTION.
CIVIL SOCIETY AND YOUTH ACTIVISTS PLANNED A ” FRIDAY TO RESCUE BENGHAZI” DEMONSTRATION. TRIBAL SHEIKHS FROM ACROSS EASTERN LIBYA MEET TO COORDINATE THEIR LOCAL EFFORTS TO COLLECT WEAPONS AND PRESSURE THE GOVERNMENT TO DISSOLVE MILITIAS. ALL WHO SPOKE AT THE MEETING READ STATEMENTS CONDEMING THE VILE KILLING OF THE US AMBASSADOR.
GIVEN THE PROFOUND WEAKNESS OF THE LIBYAN GOVERNMENT, IT CANNOT FILL THE SECURITY VACUUM ALL BY ITSELF. How, then, could there be a silver lining to this tragedy for both the U.S. and Libya? IT could prompt LIBYANS TO DECISIVELY UNITE AGAINST THE EXTREMISTS AND NONSTATE ACTORS IN THEIR MIDST WHILE ALSO GOADING the U.S. to INCREASE capacity-building assistance to the Libyan people—helping them construct the requisite institutions for a democratic and prosperous future. In the words of Sen. John McCain, “Libya is wealthy. It does not need our money . . . It needs our technical expertise.” Based on our observation, popular sentiment throughout Libya longs for such increased international cooperation.
Honoring Chris Stevens
My Latest in FP– Honoring Chris Stevens : How the U.S. ambassador killed this week in Benghazi would have handled Libya.
I met Ambassador Stevens on a handful of occasions. He was a casual and approachable man who boasted an impressive personal touch. His killing is not only a tragedy for both Americans and Libyans — it is an attack on the engagement efforts between the two countries that he symbolized. It is no small irony that Stevens was killed as he was in Benghazi to open up an American cultural center. The likely long-term effect of this tragedy is that the U.S. mission in Benghazi will be shut down indefinitely, and plans to open a full consulate will be shelved. This is terrible news for the new Libya: Benghazi needs the mission, the cultural center, and the consulate to help overcome its decades of isolation under Muammar al-Qaddafi.
Amid a week filled with tragedy, Libya took another step forward: On Sept. 12, the GNC convened to elect Mustafa Abu Shagur as prime minister, making him the first truly elected leader in the country’s history. So joyous was this news that many Libyans resumed their habit of firing celebratory rounds into the night sky. Abu Shagur knows that the security situation must be his top priority, but building the fledgling Libyan security services will require active Western, and especially American, involvement. The goal of the consulate attack was to scare away just such assistance. To prevail over the terrorists, the United States must remain involved in Libyan capacity building. As I wrote back in February, there is much more the United States can do to help its Libyan allies, including serving as a matchmaker between Libyan officials and the American private sector and engaging with moderate Islamists and mainstream militias.
Before the attack, there was a sense that Libya’s sporadic violence consisted of regional or tribal conflicts that did not pose much direct threat to foreigners. It will be extremely dangerous if this healthy perception shifts. If America cuts and runs or lashes out in revenge, security and stability will deteriorate, foreign direct investment will dry up, and the Libyan economy outside of the oil sector will stagnate. That will provide fertile soil for the worst elements inside Libya to regain a foothold.
Carefully crafted American engagement can help restore positive momentum to the political transition currently underway in Libya. In the wake of the savage killing of its ambassador, it’s time for the United States to double down.
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Is Killed
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Is Killed by Margret Coker of the Wall St. Journal explains the tragic attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi that threatens to redefine the U.S.-Libya relationship and to threaten Libya’s transition to democracy by undermining security, calling into question the extent to which the Libyan authorities control the country, and by making foreign investment less likely. Now is the time that outside governments and business should engage in Libya and help it with the capacity building it needs to rebuild itself.
The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other American diplomats were killed when suspected Libyan religious extremists stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi late Tuesday, sparking a security crisis across the North African country and raising tensions across the Middle East.
The news of the killings broke as Americans were waking up Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the attack should “shock the conscience” of people of all faiths, but that it wouldn’t alter U.S. policy in Libya. The “mission in Libya is noble and necessary … and will continue,” she said from Washington. The U.S. also announced increased security measures for all U.S. diplomatic facilities worldwide.
Libyan officials, many of whom led the rebel government based in Benghazi and worked with Mr. Stevens during that time, also condemned the killings. The head of the new congress, Mohammed Magarief, apologized to the American public for the tragedy. The deputy prime minister, Mustafa Abushagour, called the killings “an attack on America, Libya and the free world.”
Libya’s new government has struggled to impose its authority on a myriad of gangs and former rebel brigades that remain armed and act outside the law. New security officials have had mixed success in implementing a plan whereby former rebels would be disbanded from their old brigades and given jobs as part of the new national army, defense forces and border guards.
Libya’s Constitution Controversy
From Foreign Policy — Libya’s constitution controversy explains the key issues surrounding the question of appointment vs. election of the sixty members of the constitutional convention. It also explains how the NTC has muddied the waters and the GNC must clean up the mess. Lastly, it points out the dangers of the 1951 constitutional precedent, federalism, and most crucially the implications of the rushed timeline.
The process by which the constitution will be written is unclear. The National Transitional Council (NTC) — which served as Libya’s interim parliament after the ouster of Qaddafi until the July 7 election of the General National Congress (GNC) — had proliferated a constitutional declaration to govern the transitional phase. The declaration called for the congress to appoint 60 experts to a constitutional committee, 20 from each of Libya’s three historical provinces in the west, east, and south. But the NTC amended the declaration the week prior to the election, stating that the members of the constitutional committee would be elected rather than appointed.
While the overall number and 20-20-20 makeup of the committee is likely to stand, the question of appointment versus election is yet unsettled. The amendment is legally dubious due to its proximity to the election, and elected members of congress can overrule decisions made by the unelected NTC. Because an election would wrest the power from members of congress who are expected to hold the power of appointment, it is likely that they will overturn the NTC decision in the coming weeks.
But as it stands, the short timeline for the drafting process will put unnecessary pressure on the constitutional committee and effectively exclude important voices from civil society. Some Libyan politicians have countered critiques of the timeline by pointing to the referendum that will, in their view, satisfy demands of public participation. But a referendum limits a voter’s opinion to “yes” or “no,” which is no substitute to a robust debate on the issues. A more inclusive process will also increase the likelihood that the Libyan electoral will accept the final text, an essential element in establishing a constitutional order.
GNC Decides on New Measures Concerning Selection of PM
From the Libya Herald — GNC Decides on New Measures Concerning Selection of PM
The vote on who will become Libya’s next prime minister will now take place on 12 September, with nominations beginning at 10am today, Monday, and continuing for the next 48 hours…Yesterday afternoon, it was announced that no member of the Congress could also be prime minister, and nor could the prime minister hold dual nationality. It has subsequently been decided that this rule will also apply to the posts of foreign minister, interior minister and defence minister. The holders of those positions must also not have a foreign spouse. At present, both of the most frequently-mentioned contenders for the prime minister’s job hold foreign passports. Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur is an American citizen, whilst Electricity Minister Awad Barasi holds Canadian nationality. In the past few days, Mohamed Barween, who was widely hailed for successfully organising the Misrata Local Council elections in February, has also emerged as a contender.
Congress Votes to Exclude its Members from Standing for PM
The latest from Libya Herald concerning how procedural issues are being addressed by the GNC. Today’s choice to select the PM from outside of the GNC’s membership was expected and opens the door for the selection of a candidate who has already served in the NTC’s cabinet such as AbuShagur — Congress Votes to Exclude its Members from Standing for PM.
The National Congress has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that disbars any of its members from holding the position of prime minister in the next government.
With none of the main contenders for the prime minister’s job currently members of the Congress, today’s decision is not believed to have significantly altered the dynamics of who will be elected to the post. The two names most commonly cited as the front-runners for the prime ministership are Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur and Electricity Minister Awad Barasi.
Libya’s Largest Refinery Restarts after War Closure
Libya’s largest refinery restarts after war closure– read the complete Reuters Africa article posted below
LONDON (Reuters) – Libya’s largest oil refinery, Ras Lanuf, has resumed operating after shutting during the uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi last year, traders said on Friday. The refinery, which accounts for well over half of the country’s oil processing capacity, was offering two cargoes of jet fuel for loading in September, an indication the plant is back in operation.
“It was only two stems, which would imply its running at abour 50 percent capacity,” said a jet fuel trader. Ras Lanuf can process 220,000 barrels of oil per day and is a significant exporter of jet fuel and naphtha in the Mediterranean.
The Bomb Attacks in Libya: Are Gaddafi Loyalists Behind Them?
The Bomb Attacks in Libya: Are Gaddafi Loyalists Behind Them?: Or are the jihadists? The incidents pile up even as the newly elected government has not quite established a security regimen — An article by Time Magazine’s Steven Sotloff which quotes me.
“We know that Gaddafi loyalists are behind these bombings” says a source close to the country’s newly elected president Muhammad Muqaryef. In the last few months, the security services have intensified the campaign against the late dictator’s loyalists in strongholds such as Bani Walid and Tarhuna. In a recent interview with TIME, Prime Minister Abdel Rahmin al-Kib noted that a bomb making cell in Tripoli was captured, yielding much information about how the loosely organized cells operate.
Some however believe jihadists are behind the bombings because many of the attacks have singled out Western targets such as the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and convoys carrying the British ambassador and the United Nations special envoy to Libya.
Some Libyan analysts believe the government has found a convenient scapegoat in the disgruntled loyalists. “It’s easy for the government to blame Gaddafi supporters for the violence,” explains Anas El Gomati, Director of Governance and Security at Al Sadeq Institute. But the real culprit is government negligence he says. “It’s a case of violence in a vacuum.”
The National Transitional Council (NTC), the interim government that overthrew Qaddafi received low marks for its handling of the post revolution security situation. It failed to stabilize the country and demobilize the more than 100,000 fighters who toppled the former regime. “The problem is that Libya is awash in groups with grievances against the central authorities combined with easy access to guns, money, and bomb making materials,” notes Jason Pack, a researcher of Libyan history at Cambridge University.
Massive Damage to Major Sufi Shrine Follows Fatal Zliten Clashes
Massive damage to major sufi shrine follows fatal Zliten clashes– Sadly, these kinds of incidents appear to be multiplying in the past days despite the general feeling of good will that has prevailed since the elections and the widespread trust for the GNC and the cooperation/ reconciliation of Islamist and so-called ‘Liberal’ political blocs.
One of Libya’s most important Sufi shrines, that of the Sidi Abdul-Salam Al-Asmar Al-Fituri in Zliten, has been massively damaged in fighting in the town, some 90 kilometres east of Tripoli. The violence started earlier in the week and according to government officials has left at least three people dead and eight more injured. The conflict is between Zlitenis and, reportedly, members of the small Awlad Al-Shaikh tribe who live in the area.
Although very small in number, Salafists have been trying to impose their view, by force if necessary, that such places are un-Islamic. There have been a number of attacks or attempted attacks on Sufi shrines throughout the country. In October last year, the mosque at Sidi Masri was vandalized and the remains of two Muslim scholars, Abdul-Rahman Al-Masri and Salem Abu Seif, removed. The same month, the cemetery in Gargaresh was ransacked while, in November, Tripoli’s Sidi Nasr mosque was similarly desecrated.
At the beginning of last month, a bomb exploded at the Sahaba Mosque in Derna destroying the tomb housing the grave of Zuhayr Ibn Qais Al-Balawi, a seventh century Arab commander who helped bring Islam to the region. Salafists again were blamed. As in the case of the Zliten attack, the grave itself was not destroyed and the tomb is to be rebuilt.
Were the attacks in Tripoli actually conducted by Qadhafi loyalists?
In an extensive French-language interview with France 24, I explain how it is unlikely that Qadhafi loyalists actually conducted the August 19th attacks in Tripoli, yet it is quite likely that the GNC’s stating this helps them rally the Libyan people against the attackers.
Selon les autorités libyennes, un groupe resté fidèle à Mouammar Kadhafi serait lié aux attentats meurtriers survenus dimanche à Tripoli. Une assertion difficilement vérifiable, selon Jason Pack, chercheur à Cambridge.
Comme lors des précédentes attaques, les autorités libyennes ont presque immédiatement accusé des partisans de l’ancien régime de Mouammar Kadhafi. “Nous sommes sûrs que c’est le travail des forces fidèles à Kadhafi”, déclarait tout ainsi le vice-ministre libyen de l’Intérieur, Omar al-Khadhraoui, sur l’antenne de FRANCE 24.
Une assertion “difficile à prouver”, selon Jason Pack, chercheur en histoire du Moyen-Orient à l’université de Cambridge et président de Libya-Analysis.com. “C’est le motif que le gouvernement libyen donne quand il y a une attaque. C’est une façon de rassembler l’opinion contre les assaillants, quelles que soient leurs motivations”, ajoute-t-il.
Toutefois, Jason Pack reste optimiste : “Ce ne sont pas une ou deux attaques qui vont interrompre le processus en cours en Libye”.
Libyan General Discusses Military Priorities
An interview with Major General Suleiman Mahmoud al-Obeidi that provides a candid look at the hurdles that remain in the way of actually forming a national army.
Major General Suleiman Mahmoud al-Obeidi was among the first military commanders to defect from Moamer Kadhafi’s regime. He held several high-ranking posts, including Deputy Director of Military Intelligence and Chairman of the Republican Guard in Benghazi, before switching sides.
Al-Obeidi now serves as the deputy chief of staff. He spoke to Magharebia about the role the military can play in re-building the country in transition and recounted his own story of joining the historic rebellion.
Magharebia: What is the reason behind suspending the formation of the national army? Who benefits from it?
Al-Obeidi: It is to the benefit of radical Islamists and those with foreign agendas who do not want the army to hold together. The army in American society, for example, is very important: the first layer is the president and the vice-president. The second layer is the Congress, while the third layer is the military.
Active nations are not afraid of their armies, but give them rights: they are given their pride, dignity and possibilities in order to defend the government faithfully, not as Kadhafi who struck hard against the Libyan army. I believe in a military institution that abides by the law and protects the constitution and the nation.
The military should protect not the ruler but the system, whether republican or royal, as the land is sacred. I believe in the institution of law, freedom and rights. This is my perception of the army of the future.
What Lies Ahead for Libya: An interview with the Prime Minister
Al-Keib expresses his views to Time Magazine in What Lies Ahead for Libya: An interview with the Prime Minister.
Keib suggested the best way to defuse the burgeoning crisis was to increase decentralization by empowering municipalities and provinces, and moving a number of government companies to marginalized regions. “People must feel that they are a part of the whole process and they are getting their share,” he explained.
His decentralized vision sounds much like the one Gaddafi tried and failed to implement in the late 1980s. In the wake of a 1986 American bombing, a vulnerable Gaddafi sought to spread out his government, bent on preventing a repeat of the devastating attack that paralyzed the capital. But after a few years, he returned the ministries back to Tripoli, when he realized that little work could be accomplished with institutions spread out over the vast desert country. Some analysts believe instituting a decentralized model today would undermine the fragile Libyan state rather than strengthening peripheral support. “It would weaken the central government, making it difficult to improve security and secure the nation’s borders,” explained Jason Pack, a researcher of Libyan History at Cambridge University.
Keib does not discount his country’s problems but he remains optimistic. “Libya is going through a lot of very difficult times now,” he said as he headed out for his last meal before sunrise. “But overall it’s OK. I guarantee you it will be much better in the near future.”
Libya’s Next Step: A Panel on Voice of Russia Radio
I joined Michel Cousins Editor-in-Chief of the Libya Herald, Professor Saad Jawad of the LSE, and Ahmad Gibreel of the Libyan Mission in London on August 8th for a panel discussion on Voice of Russia Radio to discuss the handover of power to the elected government in Libya. Our wide ranging discussion touched upon the struggle between the Centre and the Periphery, the role of Sharia in the new Libya State, issues of federalism/decentralization, and the actions of the newly elected General National Council. This panel is accessible to the lay listener but contains enough details to be of interest to specialists.
The Problem with Removing Dictators
The Problem with Removing Dictators a hard hitting op-ed in Al-Jazeera English about the complexities of outside intervention in Syria. I make the argument that regional rather than outside intervention is key to resolving the crisis, while explaining in detail how outside intervention inherently short circuits organic nation building processes.
Instead of interpreting Annan’s departure as a definitive failure of diplomacy, the international community should take seriously his reasons for stepping down and heed his warnings both about Syria’s internal fragmentation and the risks of a divided international community turning Syria’s civil conflict into a multi-state proxy war. As he pointed out, much more important than removing Bashar al-Assad is what happens afterwards. It is for these reasons that a consensus-based regional solution represents the best way forward, rather than one imposed from afar.
Before embarking on a new course that might culminate in military intervention, Western leaders should review their “success rate” at militarily removing dictators. Previous instances of regime decapitation not only removed the dictator but also destroyed the mechanisms that had been holding the state together, which led to greater instability and suffering. The main reason for this is that, since the European empires have been decolonised, the world’s most brutal tyrants have emerged in the most volatile parts of the former colonial empires. These dictators and their supporters forcibly held together states that are not always considered “nations”.
In the absence of a “strongman”, such states require organic processes to formulate new identities and viable, inclusive institutions. Outside intervention short-circuits this. Although direct outside intervention can create space for political transformation, it also runs the risk of short-circuiting that very process by fashioning and supporting power centres willing to collaborate at the expense of home-grown actors.
The real question after June’s Houla Massacre, July’s withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission, and Annan’s resignation in early August is not how to get Russia and China to support a Western-led UN Security Council Resolution on international intervention in Syria.
Instead, it is how the Syrian people might construct their own national institutions, national identity, and sufficient unity to tackle the trials they will face after Assad. Getting the regional powers that are funding and arming the Syrian opposition – reportedly primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey – to coordinate their efforts and achieve some degree of unanimity with more hesitant regional players such as Lebanon and Iraq would help not only resolve the crisis but could help build unity inside the Syrian opposition. Such a development would have the makings of the regional solution that we advocated for months ago in the Christian Science Monitor.
Federalists Launch Political Party
Some of Cyrenaica’s federalists have finally started Libya’s first federalist political party, nearly a month after the General National Congress election. Hopefully this is a sign of moderation through political participation, and that roadblocks and destroying election materials are a thing of the past. Since federalists missed their chance to contest the July 7 election due to previously opting out of the political process, it is unclear what their role will be in Libyan politics. Lobbying the constitutional committee for a tripartite federal model? Competing in the post-constitution general elections? The Libya Herald has more on the story – Federalists Launch Political Party.
Benghazi-based supporters of federalism have formed a political party in support of their ideas. According to the Federal Alliance of Benghazi, the aim of the Libyan Unionist Party is a federal system in Libya based on the country’s three historic regions — Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. It will campaign against any discrimination between them.
Another Tell-All from Qaddafi’s Inner Circle
Former foreign minister, U.N. envoy and childhood friend of Muammar Qaddafi, Abdurrahman Shalgam, published a tell-all book back in January 2012 about the former Libyan leader and the men who surrounded him – Ashkhas hawl al-qadhdhafi (The People Surrounding Qaddafi). Now the London based Arabic daily Al Hayat has published a scathing six part interview with Qaddafi’s former protocol chief Nuri al-Mismari. Is truth stranger than fiction? How much of these lurid stories really happened, and how much of them were fabricated to make Nuri al-Mismari look better? After all, in the final part of the interview he claims that he helped the Libyan revolution by supporting a revolutionary cell in Tripoli and supplying the coordinates of Baab al Aziziyah to the French. No subject was spared in this series, covering all the supposed secrets of the diabolical dictator from assasination orders to youth-obsessed treatments.
Preliminary Election Results are In
Until we know more about the 120 individual candidates it is too early to assume defeat for the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, but perhaps the mood of the audience at the official announcement of preliminary results for Libya’s General National Congress Elections is telling. Those watching last night on Al Jazeera Mubasher will have noticed the distinct lack of applause in the room for the names of winning candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party (JCP), whereas victories for the National Forces Alliance and the National Front were met with applause. Out of the 80 seats for party lists, the National Forces Alliance took 39 seats and the affiliated National Centrist Party has another two for a total of at least 41 seats for the Alliance. The Justice and Construction Party came in second with 17 seats, and the National Front (curiously more popular than the JCP among those invited to attend the announcement) came in third with three seats. As party leaders scramble to form alliances and bring winning individual candidates to their side after yesterday’s announcement, the JCP’s Mohammed Sawan has changed his tune from likening Mahmud Jibril to Muammar Qadhafi to looking to be more cooperative. The Libya Herald has the story – Mohammed Sawan Signals Retreat over Previous Stance towards National Forces Alliance.
The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice & Construction Party, Mohammed Sawan, has conceded that collaboration with Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance may be inevitable if his party is not to be relegated to opposition in the National Congress.
Asked if he still believed the Justice & Construction party could form a government without the NFA, Sawan told the Libya Herald earlier today that “theoretically it’s possible, but we are not looking to do that in practice”.
Libya’s Militia Menace
While Libya’s political figures wait for the announcement of final election results, they have been discussing with journalists and each other whether or not they want to form coalitions or blocs within the General National Congress. What they have not yet articulated is a clear policy of what should be done to address Libya’s most pressing problem: disarming the revolutionary brigades. On the Foreign Affairs website, the Carnegie Endowment’s Frederic Wehrey gives some suggestions, and demonstrates the perils of jumping to conclusions about Libya’s new leadership before all the results are in. The author did not take into account the possibile affiliations of the individual candidates and wrongly assumes in this piece that the successes of the National Forces Alliance will automatically equate to a leadership position for Mahmoud Jibril. See Libya’s Militia Menace: The Challenge after the Elections.
All of this points to a government that has ceded an unhealthy degree of authority to local militias and tribal intermediaries. So the Jibril administration’s first order of business will be to right the security sector and bolster the judiciary quickly. Much of its work will should focus on dismantling or institutionalizing two ad-hoc security bodies that the transitional government created or tolerated: the Supreme Security Committees (SSC), which fall under the Ministry of Interior, and the Libyan Shield Forces, which are nominally attached to the Ministry of Defense.
Libyan Police Cadets Start a Riot
Sad but true, Libyan police recruits sent to Jordan set an Amman sports center on fire when their return flight to Libya was delayed.The very people who will soon be responsible for upholding Libya’s law and order started a riot and behaved like hoodlums. How’s that for a show of gratitude to Jordan? Jordan Times has the story – Libya Police Cadets Set Amman Sports Centre Ablaze
A group of Libyan police trainees on Wednesday set fire to a sports facility at the Jordanian International Police Training Centre in protest against a delay in their return flight to Libya.
The trainees had completed police training in the Kingdom and were to fly to Libya Wednesday, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Agence France-Presse quoted a security official as saying that around 140 Libyans took part in the riots.
Article Length German-language Interview of Jason Pack concerning the Libyan Elections
Here is some special content for any German Speakers that may frequent Libya-Analysis.com. It is an article length interview for the Austrian Newspaper Der Standard about the larger context of the Libyan Elections and my views and analysis of them.
derStandard.at: Die “New York Times” sieht in dem vermutlichen Wahlsieg der liberalen Allianz von Mahmud Jibril in Libyen einen Fels in der islamistischen Brandung, die seit dem Arabischen Frühling konservative Kräfte in die neuerdings demokratisch gewählten Parlamente der Region spült. Richtig?
Jason Pack: Wer das so sieht, der missversteht das libysche Wahlsystem, das nur zum Teil auf Parteilisten beruht, zum Großteil aber auf der lokalen Kandidatur von Einzelpersonen. Das ist ein großer Unterschied zu den Wahlen in Tunesien und Ägypten. Man kann theoretisch auf Parteiebene gewinnen und trotzdem keine Mehrheit im Parlament haben, weil die Abgeordneten, die in den Bezirken gewählt wurden, anders stimmen.
derStandard.at: Ist die Gefahr, dass Libyen in zwei oder mehr Teile zerfällt, gebannt?
Pack: Der Diskurs in Libyen dreht sich weit stärker um Föderalismus als um regionale Unabhängigkeit. Auch die Föderalisten in der Cyrenaika, die am Tag vor der Wahl einen Hubschrauber abgeschossen haben, streben nicht wirklich einen eigenen Staat an, sondern wollen eine gleichgestellte Vertretung mit Tripolitanien und eine sehr dezentralisierte Regierungsform. Sie fordern zum Beispiel gleich viele Sitze im Parlament, obwohl die Cyrenaika nicht einmal ein Drittel der Bevölkerung hat. Ich glaube nicht, dass eine Aufspaltung Libyens machbar ist, es funktioniert schon nicht in puncto Infrastruktur.
Libya’s Islamists Count on Independents to Get A Majority
As election results continue to come in, the National Forces Alliance still has a strong showing with the majority of the party list seats announced so far. But what about the seats for individual candidates that will make up the bulk of the National Congress? Now the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party claims that Islamists will take a majority of the individual candidate seats and thus a majority of overall seats. I’m going to wait for all the ballots to be counted before making any grand pronouncements. AFP has the story - Libya’s Islamists Count on Independents to Get A Majority
“We expect to have a very large presence in the congress,” said Mohammed Sawan, head of the Justice and Construction Party, an Islamist party spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Preliminary results (which appear to give the liberal coalition a net advantage) reflect only 40 percent of seats. But early figures show that the coalition has no presence in the remaining 120 seats,” he added.
“Jibril’s party is one of the parties that we have the least in common with,” he said when asked whether he would be willing to work with the liberal coalition in the next congress.
Liberal Coalition Claim Early Lead in Libya Vote Count
Seemingly amazingly, a very trust worthy source, Dominique Soguel of AFP, is able to report that Liberal coalition claim early lead in Libya vote count . On the one hand, it is unclear what having a lead in the elections entails as it would be possible for the National Forces Alliance to do well in the party election but not gain as many seats as the different shades of Islamist opinion in the individual candidate elections. Therefore, their claim of an ‘early lead’ might be spin in advance of the actual results being known later in the week/month. So that both the National Forces Alliance and various Islamist groups will both claim a modicum of victory. Stay tuned for more!
“The National Forces Alliance achieved good results in some large cities except Misrata. They have a net lead in Tripoli and in Benghazi,” said Mohammed Sawan, who heads the Justice and Construction party.
“But it is a tight race for us in the south,” added Sawan, a former political prisoner and member of Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood, which launched the party.
Votes were still being tallied by Libya’s electoral commission with preliminary results expected by Monday night.
The world is waiting to see whether Libya, a conservative Muslim country with no significant minorities, will deliver a win for Islamists like in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia.
From the parties, the National Forces coalition and two Islamist contenders, Justice and Construction and Al-Wattan, stood out from the start.
Libya Election: High Hopes, Turnout, and Expectations
Just as Libya watchers everywhere had hoped, turnout was high, and violence minimal in Libya’s first national election in decades. Stay tuned for election results later this month! Meanwhile, catch a recap of today’s vote in the Christian Science Monitor – Libya election: In Tripoli high hopes, turnout, and expectations.
Turnout was high in the first post-Qaddafi Libya election today, with voters eager to help start building a new regime.
Final results of today’s election are not expected until later this month. Some observers have speculated that Islamists could score well, as in Tunisia and Egypt.
For Mr. Triki, in Tripoli’s old city, such questions are secondary to the task of building a democratic system.
“We’ll probably need a second and third election to know what people really want,’ he says. “For now, we’re still building state institutions.”
Asked how it felt to vote at last, he spoke for multitudes: “Happy, happy, happy!”
Libya’s Election: Uncertainty before and after
My latest on Al Jazeera English Opinion Libya’s Election: Uncertainty before and after. On the eve of Libya’s historic election, much is at stake but little is certain.
The interim government has often pointed to its lack of an elected mandate as a reason for making no decisions that would have a key long-term impact. Only the July 7 election can remove this excuse for political (and, by extension, economic) paralysis.
Should elections be further pushed back until after the month of Ramadan (which begins on July 20), this window of opportunity for post-war political progress, once missed, may never re-appear. First of all, the election itself, even though based on an arbitrary draft constitutional declaration written by the NTC, would maintain faith in the political process. More importantly, in the continued absence of a legitimate central decision-making authority to disarm and demobilise Libya’s remaining armed brigades, there would be a greater potential for isolated incidents of violence to spiral into a state of chaos and stagnation.
While the General National Congress election will bring new top level leadership, it will not itself change the balance of power between the central government and local militia. Regional bickering and wrangling will, no doubt, continue, but will those dramas play out with the most powerful armed groups – those of Zintan and Misrata – again using coercive means to secure important posts in the new government and potentially ruin it? Will enough of the framers of Libya’s new constitution favour federalism to derail the forging of national unity? Will they choose a presidential or parliamentary system? Neither the most informed outside pundits nor the Libyans themselves can state with any degree of confidence what the future may hold. Libya, like the other Arab Spring countries, remains a work in progress whose fortunes cannot be foretold, and will likely be fundamentally affected by honest mistakes, fortunate and unfortunate circumstances and coincidences – and disappointing false starts.
NTC Tries to Change the Rules of the Game at the Last Minute
Shockingly, the NTC ratified a last-minute amendment to the draft constitutional declaration mere days before the election that not only tries to mold the constitutional committee after that of 1951 with equal seats to Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan, but also takes away the responsibility for selecting the committee from the soon-to-be-elected General National Congress and turns it over to another election. Certainly the General National Congress will not be bound to follow the whims of its predecessor the NTC in forming the constitutional committee in a manner meant to appease the very vocal federalists. Breaking from the Libya Herald – NTC Takes Responsibility for Constitution from National Conference.
The National Transitional Council dropped a political bombshell on the eve of the National Conference elections by stripping it of one of its main functions. It passed a new law under which the 60-member commission which is to draw up plans for a new constitution will no longer be appointed by the Conference. Instead it will be directly elected by Libyan voters.
Constitutional amendment Number 3 was passed today, Thursday, at a special meeting chaired by Mustafa Abdul Jalil. Under the amendment, the 60-member commission will have 20 members from each of the historic regions of Libya: Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan.
Elections to Mark New Start for Libya Economy
Will there be a return to business as usual after the July 7 election? Reuters thinks so – Elections to Mark New Start for Libya Economy.
Nine months after the end of Libya’s uprising, Mohammed hopes Saturday’s election of a national assembly will mark a new start for an economy that stagnated under Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year autocratic rule.
Investors will be closely watching the outcome of the vote – with no indication of a leading contender – to see what it will mean for projects that were frozen during the fighting and for the vast opportunities likely to emerge in an oil-producing nation with the wealth to pay for construction and healthcare.
Libya’s new rulers have said no major new concessions would be awarded until after the polls and are reviewing past deals.
Once elected, the new 200-member assembly will appoint a government to replace an interim administration that lacked the mandate to make major decisions, and expectations are for old projects to restart and for new contracts to be signed.
Voting Begins Overseas Ahead of July 7 Election
Are you excited? I’m excited for the first ballots to be cast in the General National Congress election! The Libya Herald reports – Overseas Libyan Started Voting Today.
Libyans living abroad have started voting in embassies and consulates in six countries, Canada, Dubai, Germany, Jordan, the UK and the USA, where voting booths will remain open for five days up to the 7 July election here. There is no clear idea of how many expatriate Libyans there are, but the figure could be as high as one million. Apart from an abandoned effort in the United States last month to register voters online, there has been no advance registration process.
Melinda Taylor Finally Freed
A Libyan government spokesman says that Libya respects the ICC’s immunity by freeing Melinda Taylor and her colleagues. Will Libya’s armed brigades show that same respect? More on this story from Australia’s ABC - Taylor Leaves Angered Libya Behind.
TONY EASTLEY: Three officials from the International Criminal Court who were also detained in Libya almost a month ago have also been released.
The ICC has expressed its regret over the incident as part of a deal to get the legal team freed.
The Libyan government’s official spokesman has told AM that Melinda Taylor’s disrespected the law and another official says it will not be safe for her to ever return.
Democracy a Learning Process as Libya Set to Vote
Fresh in from Reuters, an analysis of Libya’s election preparations - Democracy a Learning Process as Libya Set to Vote.
Almost a year after Libyans ousted Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed rebellion, they are preparing to elect a 200-strong assembly that will help to draft a new constitution for the new Libya they hope to build.
The Brotherhood, the most politically sophisticated and well financed group running, is expected to do well after receiving a boost from the Islamist victory in Egypt.
Al-Wattan, a group led by former militia leader Abdul Hakim Bel Haj, is highly visible. Mahmoud Jibril’s coalition is also popular with Libyans who were impressed by the political skills he displayed in the uprising.
But the election rules are likely to usher in an assembly dominated by a fragmented patchwork of independents representing competing local interests rather than fixed ideologies.
And while 2.7 million Libyans registered to vote — almost 80 percent of eligible voters in the North African country — most are still struggling to learn the rules of democracy only days before they put it into practice on July 7.
ICC Captive Is Pawn in Struggle between Militias and the NTC
My latest on Al-Jazeera English Opinion ICC Captive Is Pawn in Struggle between Militias and the NTC: Four ICC officials detained by Libyan militia are prisoners of the political chaos gripping the North African state.
The fault lines dividing the interim Libyan central government from both the militias and the international community are starkly illustrated by the ongoing saga surrounding the detention of four International Criminal Court (ICC) officials in Libya since June 7.
In today’s Libya, the NTC does not have a monopoly on force. Far from it. It is the plethora of regional militias that effectively control the country. This ongoing tug of war between the NTC and the militias does not bode well for Taylor and her colleagues. The most probable explanation for all the diplomatic manoeuvring is that the NTC simply lacks the power to compel the Zintani militia to release her, but simultaneously wishes to use the Taylor issue to stake out a populist position. Moreover, since Taylor’s incarceration on June 7, the Libyans have a powerful bargaining chip to trade for the ICC’s “determination” that Libya now possesses the judicial capacity to try Saif.
The NTC is clearly caught up in a zero-sum struggle for power with the militias, setting a bad precedent for the forging of a working relationship between the militias and the soon-to-be-elected new government. Caught in the whirlwind is Melinda Taylor, whose bosses at the ICC do not seem to appreciate how power is currently being contested in the new Libya. The ICC appears willing to appease the NTC, but what are they offering the Zintani militiamen who actually hold her captive? As far as I can tell, nothing.
ICC Expresses “Regret” over Staff Held in Libya
Reuters details the latest twist in the complex diplomacy regarding Melinda Taylor in their article — ICC expresses “regret” over staff held in Libya. In my reading, it appears that the ICC did the minimum necessary in terms of ‘apologizing’ to push the ball into the court of the Libyans and see what the NTC or the Zintanis will do next. But the NTC appears to be passing the buck as well — most likely because they can’t cause Taylor’s release because they have no power over the Zintanis and they are covering up for that by saying she compromised Libyan National security. Alternatively, they are able to effectuate her release but either think she is guilty or are making this into a populist issue where they can ‘stand up’ to the West. Any of these alternatives is very unfortunate and it doesn’t look like Taylor will be leaving Zintan anytime soon.
“The ICC deeply regrets any events that may have given rise to concerns on the part of the Libyan authorities,” the court said in a statement issued after a meeting at the court’s headquarters in The Hague between Abdelaziz Al-Hassadi, the Libyan attorney general, and Sang-Hyun Song, the court’s president.
Libya has said it will try Saif al-Islam, and has refused to extradite him.
But many question how strongly the writ of the capital Tripoli runs in the western mountain town of Zintan, where Saif al-Islam is being held and where the ICC staff were detained.
LISCO Restarts Steel Production in Misrata
Steel production was always important economically and ideologically to Qadhafian Libya. Read about its restarting in the Libya Herald.
The Misrata-based Libyan Iron and Steel Company (LISCO) has now resumed most of its steel production a year after it suspended operations, meaning a return to work for many of its 6,500 employees.
In its steel processes, LISCO uses imported iron ore pellets from Brazil, Canada and Sweden and domestic natural gas. Its major products include DRI or sponge iron, hot-briquetted iron (HBI), which is a compacted form of DRI, and reinforced steel and rods. HBI had been one of Libya’s principal exports since production commenced in 1997 at the LISCO II facility, accounting for over 50% of the company’s overseas sales. Before February 2011, over 60% of LISCO’s output was exported to Europe, other Middle Eastern countries and China.
Libya Dashes Hopes of Early Release for Melinda Taylor
From Chris Stephens of the Guardian– Libya dashes hopes of early release for Australian ICC official: Melinda Taylor is being interrogated over claims documents were passed to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, says government spokesman
The arrest of Taylor is spiralling into the most serious crisis in the ICC’s 10-year history. Never before has one of its officials been arrested and held in detention.
The decision comes after the Australian foreign minister, Robert Carr, met Libya’s prime minister, Abdulrahim el-Keib, earlier this week, announcing a hope that Taylor would be released if the ICC issued an “apology”.
Carr said earlier this week that Tripoli would be likely to release Taylor if the ICC agreed that Saif could be tried in Libya, rather than The Hague.
But ICC judges can make such a decision only if they are satisfied that Libya, struggling to rebuild a shattered country after last year’s civil war, can guarantee Saif al-Islam Gaddafi a fair trial with a fully functioning legal system.
Coastal Road Blocked by Cyrenaica Federalists
Fresh in from an informant in Libya: “At first I thought the Cyrenaica Transitional Council was just a nuisance. Now they’re armed.This is the same self-appointed non-official group that previously threatened to boycott elections if Cyrenaica didn’t get the same amount of seats as Tripolitania.” Read the latest from the Libya Herald– Coastal road blocked by Cyrenaica federalists: report
Cyrenaica federalists are reported to have set up a road block on the coastal highway today, Tuesday, at Wadi Al-Ahmar between Sirte and Ben Jawad. They are said to be demanding the NTC and government agree to an equal number of seats in the National Conference for the country’s three historic regions: Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan, rather than a system based on demographics.
The road was apparently closed by the self-appointed Cyrenaica Transitional Council’s military arm, led by Hamed Al-Hassi. He said that his forces were closing just the road for the moment but if the NTC did not accept the federalists’ demands, they would move to the oil refinery at Ras Lanouf and facilities at Brega and Zueitina and stop the oil flowing altogether.
Uncertainties Underlie the Celebrations in Cairo
Who knew the path to the presidency was writing a thesis entitled, “High-Temperature Electrical Conductivity Structure of DonorDoped Alpha-Aluminum Oxide”… For more on Egypt’s new President Mohammad Morsi, read the NYT article Uncertainties Underlie the Celebrations in Cairo. From my vantage point this development hurts centrist/secular/technocratic candidates in the Libyan election like Ali Tarhouni and Gibril’s Center party, while strongly boosting the likely hood of an Islamist rout come July 7th.
And sticking with the Egypt theme, it is interesting how outside powers like America are now thrust into supporting the Islamists in Egypt against the secularist army out of concern for the democratic process. This dynamic features quite clearly in the NYT’s editorial, Egypt’s Democracy Interrupted.
After trying to cultivate an image of moderation, the Brotherhood allied itself with the hard-line Salafis and joined in their calls for the implementation of Islamic law. But if Mr. Morsi is indeed the winner, he must be allowed to do the job.
Egyptians made their revolution and ultimately must make it succeed. The reformers are going to have to regroup. They will be stronger if they work together.
And they will be stronger if they have less equivocal backing from the Obama administration, which was quiet for too long. It sent the wrong message in March when it resumed military aid to Egypt — $1.3 billion annually — after a five-month hiatus, even though the generals had not repealed the emergency law or dropped prosecutions against employees of four American-financed democracy groups. The administration should have delayed some of the aid to show firm support for the democratic process.
American officials were right to warn the generals on Monday that they risk losing billions of dollars if they don’t swiftly transfer power to the president, ensure elections for a new Parliament and begin writing a new constitution with help from a broad range of Egyptians. The United States needs to work with Egypt to maintain the peace treaty and a stable border with Israel. But an undemocratic Egypt in perpetual turmoil is no help to its own people or Israel or the rest of the region.
Libya Wants ICC Hamstrung Via Aussie’s Capture
An article I co-authored for the Australian — Libya wants ICC hamstrung via Aussie’s capture
THE detention of International Criminal Court officials in Libya – including Australian Melinda Taylor – highlights the key fault lines in post-Gaddafi Libya among the central government, the militias and various international actors.
Taylor, a lawyer assigned to represent deposed dauphin Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, was incarcerated earlier this month for allegedly passing her client coded messages from Mohammad Ismael, a former Gaddafi-regime official wanted for war crimes.
Cognizant of its challenges, yet reluctant to relinquish its most prized prisoner, the NTC understood that another acrimonious meeting with ICC defense counsel would be detrimental to its case to try the younger Qadhafi. As Jihani told one of the authors in December, ‘if we don’t start to investigate and prosecute Saif, the demand to turn him over to the ICC will come.’
In arresting Taylor and her colleagues, the NTC has sought to hamstring the ICC’s investigation while sending the court a message that Libya will not tolerate an infringement of its sovereignty.
Yemen as a Model for Syria’s Transition
The Libya Analysis team pere et fils write for Christian Science Monitor about the likely best case scenario for Syria — Look to Yemen as model for Syria’s transition after Bashar al-Assad: Recent history in Iraq and Libya shows that the departure of a tyrant can lead to a deterioration in stability and an increase in human suffering. In Syria, a Yemen-style transition (dictator forced into exile to be replaced by a transition figure) may be the best possible outcome.
Since the European empires have been decolonized, brutal tyrants have arisen to hold together the most volatile remnants of empire – states that are not really nations. Iraq, Syria, and Libya are just a few examples of colonial amalgamations of different sectarian, ethnic, or regional groups.
In the 20th century, the colonial overlords and then their post-colonial strongmen replacements kept their internal fissures in check by force. Understanding this history, UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan is right to be wary of military intervention in Syria and to seek regional support for a political transition there. An ill-conceived international intervention to remove Assad – especially if it lacked regional support – could easily unleash a war of all against all.
Looking to Yemen – which many have called a failed state – as a model for anything may seem counterintuitive. The country is fraught with internal strife, high rates of poverty, drought, drug abuse, and Islamist terrorism. But Annan and others have hinted that the recent process for political transition in Yemen is the one they hope to largely duplicate in Syria.
A few tweaks to Annan’s proposals would improve its chances of success. First, the path to peace in Syria requires an “imposed non-military solution.” This would be a political transition driven by outside powers with broad international support.
Libya’s Missteps Threaten Descent into Federalism
My AJE Opinion piece and latest salvo against Federalism, co-authored with Ronald Bruce St John and featuring some commentary about the tough week Libya just had – Libya’s missteps threaten descent into federalism: Decentralisation in the north African state would cause strife, waste, and bloated bureaucracies.
It is finally official: Libya’s elections will be delayed from their scheduled date of June 19 and held on July 7. This unsurprising decision followed on the heels of the Libyan Election Commission repeatedly leaking news about a delay since late April. However, the Commission’s decision to wait until the proverbial eleventh hour before announcing the delay strikes many Libyans and outside observers as representative of the National Transitional Council’s (NTC) many missteps since Gaddafi’s fall and their inability to establish a functioning administration.
It also capped one of the least encouraging weeks in post-Gaddafi Libya’s brief history. On the morning of June 5,militiamen from Tarhouna (50km south of Tripoli) stormed the international airport and President Mustafa Abdel-Jalil instantly caved into their demand that their imprisoned militia leader be released. On Tuesday night, the American Consulate in Benghazi was bombed, likely a revenge for the American assassination of top al-Qaeda official Abu Yahya Al-Libi in a drone strike in Pakistan the previous day. On Thursday, a rally of armed Salafists and Islamists took place along the waterfront in Benghazi. They were campaigning for the immediate imposition of Islamic Sharia law.
Set against this background, the significance of Saturday’s official postponement of the elections comes into clearer focus. The NTC is in control of neither the country nor the bureaucracy. Despite these failings, they must succeed in their most important task, their very reason d’etre: transition power to an elected government.
Stand-off in Northern Mali
An AJE Opinion about the struggles between the secular and Islamist strands within the Tuareg Independence movment and the ramifications of the post-Qadhafi fallout for Mali — Stand-off in Northern Mali: Two groups wage a bitter fight for control over the West African nation.
The stakes couldn’t be higher – both for Mali and West Africa as a whole. If the Islamists in Ansar ud-Dine and their quietly Machiavellian leader Iyad Ag Ghali fail to come to terms with the nationalist and secular NMLA, then the prospect is either a protracted civil war in the north or a rapid defeat of the NMLA by the better-equipped and better-funded Ansar ud-Dine and their allies in al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The wheeling and dealing between the two parties has revealed serious flaws in the political and military structures of the NMLA, flaws that Ag Ghali has exploited masterfully. That’s not surprising; he knows the arcane political mechanisms of the southern Sahara better than anyone else. The NMLA’s political wing in exile, based mainly in Nouakchott and Paris, is comprised of geopolitically savvy “internationalists”, with connections in the foreign ministries and governments of Europe and North America.
Blood ties tend to override ideological ones in Tuareg society. The NMLA’s leaders come predominantly from a distinct and rival tribe called the Idnane. The fight for supremacy between the Ifoghas and the Idnane in the Adagh, the name the Tuareg give to the far northeast of Mali, has been going on for a long time. For Iyad Ag Ghali and others like Alghabass Ag Intalla, son of the traditional Ifoghas chief Intalla Ag Attaher, the Ifoghas are the divinely ordained rulers of the region and no one has the right to try to usurp them. The NMLA’s struggle with Ansar ud-Dine is underpinned by a complex tribal conflict.
Such a Quiet Libyan Stock Exchange
Such a Quiet Libyan Stock Exchange by Chris Stephens
The cartoon adorning the cover of the Libyan Stock Market brochure is stark: A man with a frown on his face and his pockets turned inside out explains to his horrified wife how he has been swindled by an unscrupulous broker. The message—that investors should stick with a regulated market—is being pushed hard by the fledgling stock exchange as it struggles to establish itself.
Few stock markets in the world are as out of sync with their economies as Libya’s. The country, 10 months after shaking off the dictatorship of Muammar Qaddafi, is rich: It pumps 1.55 million barrels of oil a day and is nearly up to prewar export levels. Bloomberg estimates Libya’s foreign investments are worth $168 billion, and the country has no debt. The nation’s 6 million inhabitants are hungry for new homes, cars, cell phones, public transport, and hospitals, and Libya can afford them. This all spells opportunity for banks, cement makers, construction companies, oil drillers, and other companies that could raise money on the exchange.
Yet Libya’s stock market is tiny—literally. The entire trading floor, in a shopping block in Tripoli’s Highland suburb, would fit onto a basketball court. Twelve companies, mostly banks and the exchange itself, are listed, and the total market capitalization of these stocks is $3 billion, compared with $56 billion for the Cairo exchange. Taxi drivers are unable to find it. The exchange was started in 2007 amid promised reforms, closed when last year’s revolution broke out, and reopened on March 15 of this year.
Bernard-Henri Levy and the West’s Intervention in Libya: A Discussion with Experts
Jason Pack commented tersely: “Gaddafi considered OK in today’s Libya? That isn’t what Libyans are saying: as frustrated as many are with today’s lack of security, no one wants to go back to a strongman. Besides, why discuss now whether Libya would have been better off with or without intervention? Political analysts don’t deal with counterfactuals. The current situation in Libya post-liberation may have deteriorated due to the NTC’s poor ability to consolidate power, with the militias left largely in control, but none of this means that the NATO No-fly zone and the concept of intervention per se wasn’t morally and strategically justified and successful executed. The West helped a genuinely Libyan movement to overthrow their dictator.”
Libya Splits into Disparate Militia Zones
In the Guardian — After Gaddafi, Libya splits into disparate militia zones: The rebel strongholds of Benghazi, Misrata and Zintan have become increasingly independent of Tripoli’s new regime
“In the old days there would be 12 forms and it would take 10 days to pay all the bribes,” says Nasser Mokhtar, who printed photographs of the shaheed – martyrs – in the war in his print shop and is now back at his clothing import business.
Now, he explains, there are no bribes; customs officers fear the wrath of the port authority if they try it on.
There is wild talk of a second uprising on the streets of former rebel towns, but the weapon of choice is not the gun but the ballot box. City elections have been rushed through while the central authorities dither with the national election, and the municipalities adopt their own powers. El Gallal explained that, if the elections nationally go well, all will be fine. If not, Benghazi will fall back on its own city administration. “If it (the national election) goes wrong, we don’t need the national congress,” she said.
Back in Tripoli, the signs are that the national elections are going very wrong indeed. The NTC insists that the vote will take place, as promised, on 19 June. But staff at the election commission tell me that they have yet to agree the list of candidates. Giving Libya’s enthusiastic political parties only a few days to campaign will cause uproar. But so will a delay, stoking fears by the rebels that the NTC plans to hang on to power.
Libya Takes Baby Steps Toward Democracy
Washington Post editorial focusing on the real strides Libya is making.
THE CLAIM that the NATO-backed overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi has produced little but chaos in Libya got a boost on Monday when gunmen briefly took over Tripoli’s international airport, fired a few shots and grounded the international airliners that only recently had begun to arrive. Less well-reported was the follow-up: The dust-up ended in a few hours without fatalities, and the airport was back in business Tuesday. Such is Libya: a country awash in militias and weapons and almost entirely lacking in institutions that nevertheless appears to be taking a couple of steps toward a new democratic order for every step back.
The greatest danger is that the much-promised elections will not take place soon enough. The interim government promised them by June 19; senior officials are now saying they won’t complete the process of vetting candidates and printing ballots by then. Mustafa Abushagur, a deputy prime minister visiting Washington this week, said the vote would be delayed by at least a few days but added that it would be held before the beginning of the Ramadan holiday in late July.
The sooner Libya can stage elections, the sooner it will have authorities with sufficient legitimacy to complete the work of extending the government’s rule, dismantling militias and providing sufficient security to attract foreign investment. Until then, incidents like Monday’s airport takeover can be expected.
Armed Salafist Protest in Benghazi
On Wednesday there was a bombing at the US Consulate in Benghazi and then on Thursday I received the below from an anonymous trusted informant.
Am in Benghazi right now and got caught up in yesterday’s demonstration by armed Salafi/Islamist brigades on the corniche while going for a Thursday evening stroll. They were there to attend a meeting on the promotion of Sharia in Libya—but the fact that they came heavily armed was quite striking. Dozens of pickups mounted with heavy weapons, bearing stickers of at least a dozen different brigades, most of them from Benghazi, but some from Darnah and Misrata. Lots of black flags with the Shahada, lots of guys with long beards; those who wore masks were probably covering their lack of beard… Anyway, it was all quite worrying.
Bomb Targets U.S. Mission in Libya’s Benghazi
A bomb exploded outside the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi overnight, an attack that could be retaliation for the killing, in a U.S. drone strike, of al Qaeda’s Libyan second-in-command.
An improvised explosive device was dropped from a vehicle outside the mission, in an upmarket area of central Benghazi. It exploded moments after, slightly damaging the building’s gate but no one was hurt, U.S. and Libyan officials said.
Uncertainty Abounds Around Elections and Federalism
Libya: Uncertainty abounds around Elections and Federalism – By Jason Pack and Ronald Bruce St John
It is all but official that, Libya’s elections will be delayed. But by how long nobody knows. The Libyan Election Commission has repeatedly leaked news about a delay but made it clear that they are still not ready to announce it officially. Simultaneously, they have semi-officially promised the public that the delayed elections will take place before Ramadan begins on July 20th. This game of shadows and mirrors borders on the surreal, given that the elections’ scheduled date, June 19th, is less than two weeks away. Borrowing from Churchill ‘[We] cannot forecast to you the action of [Libya]. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key’.
Yet in early June, Western Diplomats stationed in Tripoli were anonymously stating that the overarching reason for the imminent delay is that the ballot papers will not be ready on time. On the other hand, the Election Commission themselves have attempt to justify the ‘potential’ delay by pointing to the fact that the finalized list of candidates and parties was just released on Tuesday, June 5th, which would only allow for two weeks of campaigning — clearly not enough to allow voters to make informed decisions. Many speculate that the real rationale underlying this song and dance is that if a delay were announced presently, the Election Commission is not yet sure it would be able to hold the elections by the new date. While the Egyptians and Tunisians have both managed to hold their elections on time, the Libyans seem not even prepared enough to be able to delay their elections coherently. In short, true to form, uncertainty reigns in post-Qaddafi Libya.
Elections To Be Delayed
Well it’s semi-official. The Elections will be delayed, but the Election Commission is not yet ready enough to delay them officially. Read more from Michael Cousins in the Libya Herald.
It is now certain beyond any reasonable doubt that the elections for the National Conference on 19 June will be delayed, Libya Herald can reveal.
The reason given for not yet announcing the delay is that the HNEC has not made up its mind when the poll should be. “They cannot announce a delay without at the same time announcing when the new date will be”, one of the diplomats said.
It is widely perceived that the Libyan public will accept a delay providing the reasons are clearly explained and a date is given that is not too far away. Two or three weeks is thought acceptable. But it has to be before Ramadan, which begins on 20 July (depending on the first sighting of the new moon). After that it would be seen as too late.
Libya: Open for Business?
Open for business? A Libya under reconstruction poses some potential.
Although circumstances in Libya are still difficult more than a year after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, the assessment of the head of the U.S.-Libya Business Association is that the country presents attractive opportunities for American firms.
The association’s executive director, Charles W. Dittrich, visited Tripoli and Benghazi for a week in April along with 37 U.S. business leaders. Speaking Tuesday in Pittsburgh as a guest of the American Middle East Institute, Mr. Dittrich said he sees a potential match between southwestern Pennsylvania’s assets in medical care, education, energy and environmental expertise and the needs of a Libya pursuing reconstruction after 42 years of rule by Mr. Gadhafi and the ensuing civil war.
Libya Oil Output Almost Back to Prewar Level
Speaking to Dow Jones, Omar Shakmak said production of crude oil and condensates had now reached 1.6 million barrels a day. That compares to 1.7 million barrels a day before the civil war that toppled strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
He said the swift recovery had been achieved despite the absence of many key foreign workers. Only 45% of staff at foreign services companies have returned, he said.
Libyan Rebels Head to Cannes Film Fest
French writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy will stride the red carpet at Cannes Friday with four Libyan rebels for the premiere of his documentary on the Libyan war, “The Oath of Tobruk”.
Levy, who was instrumental in persuading France to actively support the rebellion, made the film both to chronicle the struggle against Moamer Kadhafi and to pay homage to his father, who fought in Libya with the free French forces during World War II.
Megrahi’s Death—An End to a Century of Mistrust?
My Al Jazeera Op-ed about how the century old politics of mistrust between the West and Libya must end.
Western politicians should no longer refer to Lockerbie when dealing with Libya’s new leadership.
Libya’s relationship with the West has long been fraught with many paradoxes. Despite being almost entirely dependent on Western expertise and markets to produce and conusme its oil, former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi pursued virulently anti-Western foreign policies…. As long as Megrahi lived, he symbolised a century of mistrust. With his passing, a new era of cooperation may blossom.
Review of Del Boca’s Mohamed Fekini and the Fight to Free
Review of Mohamed Fekini and the Fight to Free Libya, by Angelo Del Boca (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
By Jason Pack in Middle East Journal Vol. 66, No. 2, May 2012
Libya: NTC Must Assert Itself And Consign Federalism To The Dustbin Of History
Libya: NTC Must Assert Itself And Consign Federalism To The Dustbin Of History — My Article in African Arguments
In the run-up to the June elections many militias and civil society organizations are lambasting the interim government’s mission to centralize authority rather than, more importantly, its lacklustre results at achieving that task. On March 5th, notables in Benghazi – Libya’s second city and capital of the Eastern region of Cyrenaica – proposed to compensate for the ineffectiveness of the central NTC authorities by asking them to relinquish certain powers to sub-state bodies such as an autonomous Cyrenaican provincial government. On April 17th, they met again to demand that NTC authorities change the election law and stake their claim to Libya’s resource rich Sirte basin.
Federalism in Libya: Tried and Failed
Federalism in Libya: Tried and Failed – An Al Jazeera Opinion Commentary
Given Libya’s history and infrastructure, appeasement of local actors via regional autonomy is a recipe for disaster.
In today’s Libya, local is king. Today’s Libya requires the rapid creation of nation-wide institutions and human capital that Libyan history shows is incompatible with federalism.
In the long term, enshrining a federal system would almost certainly doom the implementation of any coherent, countrywide development plan.
Libya Violence Puts Poll Timing at Risk
Libya violence ‘puts poll timing at risk’ by AFP– contains quotes and analysis from most of the Libya guild.
“Militias and local citizen groups constitute the primary barrier to stability, reconstruction and a democratic transition,” said Jason Pack, a researcher at Cambridge University and president of Libya-Analysis.com.
But Pack said the polls are likely be postponed — not because Libya is not ready or able to hold them on time, but because the NTC is failing to make the “difficult decisions needed to carry them out” on schedule.
Jason on Press TV’s Double Standards
Watch My appearance on Iranian State TV. My segment starts at 15:40. I Discuss why federalism won’t work in Libya and how Obama should and will do everything in his power to avert an Israeli attack on Iran. Don’t be bothered by the crazy anti-Western tone of the rest of the Double Standards program. It is meant to be satirical and not actually meant to be taken all that seriously.
Economists Interpretation of Van Creveld and Pack’s Thoughts on Iran
The Economist seized upon Van Creveld’s paradigm that nuclear proliferation is not a big deal and may even bring stability in a recent article. In so doing, they adopt my reading of both the threat of Syria turning into a failed state and how it could have a spillover effect onto the Iran situation.
Mr van Creveld’s main point, obviously, is that Israel and America are inflating the Iranian nuclear threat. “Iranians are rational people, they’re not interested in suicide,” he says. “As a nuclear power, Israel has very little to fear from an Iranian nuclear weapon.” In a Project Syndicate piece co-written with Jason Pack of Cambridge University earlier this month, Mr van Creveld argued that while the situation in Iran is not a grave threat to regional stability, it’s distracting us from the situation in Syria, which is. The violence “could spill over into Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel, increasing the risk of a regional conflagration… Events in Syria appear increasingly similar to the civil war in Lebanon in the 1980s.” An Israeli or American attack on Iran would vastly exacerbate the dangers, inflaming anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment and turning the Syrian conflict into a staging ground for radical Islamists.
Solve Syria, Leave Iran Alone
My In-Depth Al Jazeera English opinion piece “Solve Syria, leave Iran alone” with Martin Van Creveld. This article builds on our NYT article entitled “In the Arab Spring, Watch Turkey” which attacks the view that the West is involved in a Cold War with Iran as incorrect and demonstrates how Turkey is the primary victor of the Arab Spring.
The world must turn its attention to Syria, not Iran, to avoid escalation into a regional war.
The real threat is not Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, but Israel’s attempts to halt it, which would surely incur Iranian retaliation via the Strait of Hormuz. This would cause the price of oil to skyrocket to more than $200 a barrel and send the world’s major economies into sustained free fall. In fact, despite the faux solidarity that US President Barack Obama expressed at the conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in early March, Israel’s sabre-rattling appears to be galvanising a US modus vivendi with Iran in order to avert an Israeli attack.
Now is not the time to provoke Iran, but rather to tend to Syria’s troubles before it is too late - for example, by publicly offering Assad a way out of the country that would safeguard the minority Alawite community if he were toppled or forced to flee. If the Syrian situation is ignored, its spill-over may inadvertently provoke Israeli or Iranian action, inciting a regional war and a global depression.
Preliminary Details of Book
I am editing a volume about the 2011 Libyan Uprisings. It builds on the central thesis of my monograph – that the the revolution in Libya was a series of discrete ‘Uprisings’ and that within the Uprisings the periphery conquered the centre.
The book will feature many of the world’s top Libya experts in the fields of diplomacy, economics, social media, military, etc. — each expert will contribute a chapter about a discrete aspect of the Uprisings.
I expect the book to be released in early to mid 2013. For more details about the contributors or the publisher stay posted. At this point these must remain top secret.
Hands On Syria, Hands Off Iran
Solve Syria, Don’t Provoke Iran a mini-magnum opus with Martin Van Creveld about why an Israeli attack on Iran would cause a global depression.
Acknowledging the virtual Armageddon that could follow from an ill-conceived attack on Iran is not appeasement. It is simply recognition of the reality that Israel and the West have little to fear from Iran – even an Iran with limited nuclear capacity.
Now is not the time to provoke Iran, but rather to tend to Syria’s troubles before it is too late – for example, by publicly offering Assad a way out of the country that will safeguard the minority Alawite community if he is toppled or forced to flee. If the Syria situation is ignored, its consequences could provoke Israeli or Iranian action, setting the region aflame and triggering a global depression.
Libya: NTC Must Exercise Authority And Tackle Militias
Libya: NTC Must Exercise Authority And Tackle Militias. This is the Libya Herald op-ed version of my monograph.
The current situation in Libya can best be characterized as a struggle pitting the ‘center’ that controls national institutions, the flow of oil, and billions in unfrozen assets against a marginalized ‘periphery’ that can challenge the center’s legitimacy via its use of force and appeal to local loyalties.
The key problem today is not security, per se, but rather a hesitant NTC that is often reluctant to exercise its authority — preferring negotiations and extending patronage networks to its opponents rather than swiftly enacting government decrees. At present, the NTC appears to be operating under a mistaken “security and legitimacy-first” doctrine which maintains that bold initiatives cannot be undertaken until further stability is achieved and an elected government takes office after the June elections. Paradoxically, only by redressing the current center-periphery imbalance can Libya achieve the security required to jump-start its economy and hold free and fair elections.
Summary of my Monograph Translated into Arabic
في أعقاب الحرب: الصراع على ليبيا في مرحلة ما بعد القذافي [Executive summary of my monograph translated into Arabic]
In War’s Wake: The Struggle for Post-Qadhafi Libya
My Monograph on Libya’s Militia Problem “In War’s Wake: The Struggle for Post-Qadhafi Libya”
During the 2011 uprisings in Libya, rebel militias emerged throughout regime-held territory, fighting Qadhafi’s forces despite being largely cut off from coordination with the center of opposition power. By revolution’s end, these peripheral militias were stronger than the interim government’s forces and had resorted to jockeying for power against each other via gun battles in downtown Tripoli. How can the international community help avoid further deterioration in a country devastated by months of war?
In this new study, Jason Pack and Barak Barfi explain why the United States must take a proactive stance in ensuring that Libyan authorities win the peace, not just the war. Although Washington cannot overtly interfere in the country’s internal politics, it can pave the way for NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, private firms, and foreign officials to help the National Transitional Council establish institutions capable of connecting with the periphery. Only then will the center be up to the crucial tasks of building capacity, jumpstarting the economy, and defeating the inherent centrifugal force of the militias.
U.S. Needs A Grand Strategy in Its Relationship with China
U.S. Needs A Grand Strategy not Grand Standing in its relationship with China. An op-ed I co-authored for the Australian with an old friend from Oxford, Brant Moscovitch.
Romney’s longstanding efforts to paint himselfas someone willing to ‘‘stand up to China’’ exemplifies an alarming trend of China-bashing in US politics.
It is understandable that US politicians of all stripes vie to be seen as the one most capable of clipping the wings of their
country’s pre-eminent challenger. Yet such grandstanding must not be confused with long-term strategic thinking.
Dean Acheson once famously quipped following World War II that Britain had ‘‘lost an empire, and has not yet found a role’’. In retrospect, the US has lacked a sense of its role in the world since 1991.
Qatar: Kingmakers in Syria?
Qatar: Kingmakers in Syria? My CNN article with Shashank Joshi on Qatar’s role in Syria expressing our take on Qatari motivations, capabilities, and limitations when it comes to intervention in Syria.
It used to be said that ‘when America sneezes, the world catches a cold’. In the new multipolar world, a new aphorism may be in order. For 2012, we propose: ‘when Qatar whispers, the tyrants whimper’.
Qatar has what Western powers lack in the Arab World: near-limitless reserves of disposable cash, a media network respected by Arab publics, and the ability to intervene with special forces and military trainers without risking tremendous blowback at home or in the court of international public opinion. Following their successes in Libya and buttressed by their expanding regional connections with ascendant Islamist movements and the new regional juggernaut Turkey, the Qataris have emerged as the quiet kingmakers. Alone, they cannot make things happen – but they can forge diplomatic coalitions, shape the popular narrative, and lend their unique skills to targeted interventions.
Qatar’s bold vision of involvement in post-Gadhafi Libya has already caused prominent figures in the National Transitional Council and the non-Islamist militias to speak out against Qatar’s meddling. The Arab League is also fundamentally divided. Two of Syria’s neighbors, Lebanon and Iraq, have no wish to go along with tougher measures – and could easily frustrate an embargo through their long land borders. Moreover, when Qatar has tried to broker peace deals in the Levant, as it did in Lebanon in 2008, more established regional powers were able to unravel the threads.
The Qataris seem to have mastered the role of agitators, facilitators, bankrollers, and power brokers – but punching so far above your weight can leave you perilously off balance.
NYT Article: In the Arab Spring, Watch Turkey
My Article with Van Creveld in the New York Times entitled “In the Arab Spring, Watch Turkey”. It attacks the view that the West is involved in a Cold War with Iran as incorrect and demonstrates how Turkey is the primary victor of the Arab Spring.
Moreover, Western observers have missed the primary thread of events — namely, the ongoing asymmetric Turkish-Iranian “soft” partition of the Arab republics. Concomitantly, the American position as regional hegemon is vanishing. Today, only the Arab monarchies and Israel continue to look to the United States as their primary patron.
To investigate how these changing dynamics are seen by actors within the region, one of us (Jason Pack) spent his Christmas holidays in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government, or K.R.G., in Iraq. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, K.R.G. officials bemoaned their need of a regional patron to protect them from dominance by Baghdad.
Kurds Look to Old Enemies for Survival
Kurds Look to Old Enemies for Survival an Article by Jason Pack in The Australian. As the American withdrawal from Iraq leaves a void, Turkey is becoming the major power in Northern Iraq. This article was written in ERBIL, IRAQ [to view click here and scroll down and look to the right].
SINCE the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US has been allied with the Kurds in their drive for regional autonomy. Washington has been committed to maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Iraqi state. As a result, the Bush and Obama administrations have failed to articulate a clear policy objective with respect to future US ties with the Kurdistan Regional Government. The US has left the field without formalising its role as security guarantor or nationbuilder in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Beauty Meets the Beast—Nancy Ajram Encounters Kurdistan
Erbil, Iraq—Beauty meets the Beast—aka Nancy Ajram, the Lebanese bombshell and Britney Spears of the Middle East, plays post-conflict Kurdistan
Tonight was Nancy Ajram’s first and presumably last ever concert in Iraq. Tickets were priced from $75 to $500, putting it within easy reach of the vast Armani wearing uber-elites that congregate in the capital of oil-rich Kurdistan.
My American companions and I arrived fashionably late because even though our house in the upscale Christian neighborhood of Ainkawa was a mere 10 minute walk from the concert, the cabbie we took to get there didn’t know where it was. Despite the fact that it was at the biggest banquet hall in Kurdistan and this concert is the biggest music happening the country has experience since Saddam’s fall, each time we asked for directions we got told to go in an entirely different direction, sometimes to different neighborhoods entirely. Erbil—called Howler in Kurdish—is a city in which half the buildings are less than eight years old and many of the nicer restaurants and government offices have only been open a couple of months. It was therefore, not that surprising that no one knows where anything is.
After arriving at the Galaxy hall and traversing an enormous dirt field, as the parking lot and roads leading to the hall are not yet built, we entered the brand-new, cavernous ball room and were haphazardly ushered to an empty table filled with half-eaten kabobs and soiled napkins. The hall seated about 1500 people arranged in tables of 8. It was 90% full. While listening to the debka style opening band, I approached a waiter and asked if we could have fresh kabobs (they were included in the ticket price). Three hours later when Nancy was almost done our food arrived. In the intervening period, I chatted with every waiter in the place and got a whole range of responses about the likelyhood of our being served. They ranged from a) your food will be out in five minutes to b) we are out of food as we only thought 1000 people would come but 1400 are here to c) everyone is being served sequentially and you are at the back of the room please just sit down and wait to d) I can’t bring you your food but go talk to the maitre d’ and maybe he can fix it.
Now, after waiting two hours during the hyper-repetitive opening act while starving, it was finally announced in Arabic that Nancy would be appearing if the audience just clapped and yelled loud enough. Then, at the top of their lungs, all the young Howlerians howled and the MC announced Nancy and the curtain covering the side door swung open. Droves of men surged towards the stage with their smart phones held above their heads to film her entrance. Rather than appearing on cue, ten minutes later she appeared and started singing, but the miking was so poor you could only hear the band and not her voice. Then, she stopped in the middle of the song to allow the MC to announce that everyone must return to their seats. Now all official communication in the concert hall was in Arabic. Advertisements, signs to the bathroom and backstage, the music sung by the warm up band, and of course the MCs communications to the audience.
It is unclear if this is the reason that stage commands were not heeded. For many young Kurds who were educated after 1991, Arabic is their third or fourth language. Generally, their native dialect of their regional or sectarian group is their first language (i.e. Kurmanji for northerners, Chaldean for Christians, Fayli for Shi’I Kurds, a nameless dialect for Yazidis, and some form of Sorani for most of the urban Sunni population etc.). Then their second language is Modern Standard Iraqi Sorani Kurdish which appears to be the official standardized language of the Kurdish Regional Government and is the official variant of the Sorani dialect traditionally prevalent in South Eastern Iraqi Kurdistan, which has increasingly become the literary language of Iraq Kurds over the last fifty years. The universally taught foreign language in school is English. Obviously, the American liberation/occupation and the Kurds’ position in the global economy makes English a necessity for individual success. However, some Kurds who have returned from the Diaspora are more likely to know German or Swedish as those are the centers of the Kurdish Diaspora. Arabic is, therefore, the fourth language of most of the Kurdish population and in some smaller towns, it is not spoken at all by people under thirty.
Yet it was in this language that Nancy was singing and that the MCs were trying to convey things to the crowd and encourage them to move back to their seats. For the next hour while Nancy tried in vain to sing the concert, the security failed to prevent people from standing up on chairs to take pictures, rushing towards the stage, blocking everyone’s view, and making so much noise that hearing her singing was impossible. After an hour or more, Nancy’s manager came on stage and told her to embrace the unstoppable by asking select women and men (particularly those with children or non-hijabed girlfriends and wives) to come on stage and have their picture taken with Nancy. This created a degree of order as everyone knew if they behave well they might be picked. But, the ruse only lasted about ten minutes as it became hyper-repetitive causing the natives to become restless. It also prevented singing from actually happening.
After Nancy had kissed many babies and let many women get their pictures with her taken by their brothers on their iphones, she announced, “Hadha ghayr haflat taswir, hiyya haflat musiqa. ‘Ibadu, ‘Ibadu min fadlaku wa khalni akun murtaha li ughani.” (This is not supposed to be a photo party but a concert, please give me some space so I can sing.) At this moment she stepped backwards away from the front edge of the stage, now instead of having the desired effect of causing people to back away from the stage, as she moved further and further back her security people also backpeddled causing a gap to appear between the security and the mob. With each step Nancy took backwards, the security also backpeddled and the mob surged into the gap. By the time Nancy was halfway back on the stage, scores of young Kurdish men were on the stage. By the time she had fled to the back of the stage behind the drums and stage equipment, the security men (all wearing black suits and red ties) were overwhelmed by the mob. Pinned against the wall, Nancy then knelt on the floor and the remnants of her security force formed a box around her, to prevent her from being molested. This worked for about a minute. Then, new audience members mobbed the stage –apparently to see what was happening — preventing the initial mob from retreating or advancing. After a few minutes of stalemate — during which time it was unclear what indignities she suffered — the concert lights were turned on and men in Peshmerga uniforms marched in from the back of the hall with AK-47s. This created a distraction ‘pulling’ the attention of members of the crowd away from the stage and towards the back of the hall. At this point, Nancy’s security team fought a rear-guard action to extricate her from the crowd by pushing and punching their way from the back of the stage to the side door. After surviving this nearly ten minute siege, Nancy was safely backstage, the lights were on, and the men with guns proceeded to clear out the concert hall.
At this point, the surreal began to turn into farce—the MC took the stage to address the mob as we exited the hall. Rather than berating the crowd members for being savages, a proof of Iraqi backwardness, the reason major Arab performers never come to Iraq, or an embarrassment to the Kurdish nation… The MC said ‘I see that Howler is very happy to have witnessed Nancy’s first concert in Iraq. She was very happy to sing for you as well. She apologizes that due to the crowd control and security issues that she will not be able to continue singing. The concert is now over, we are all happy, it was a great show, and we hope you have a wonderful evening. We apologize that Nancy did not get to sing the much anticipated premier of her new song in the Iraqi dialect which she hoped to unveil tonight. Please be safe and go home.’
Now on the way out, I looked at people’s faces and they did not seem shocked or angry. Then amidst the crowd, I noticed a woman in her mid forties that I recognized, she is the chief of staff to the Minister of Justice of the Kurdish Regional Government (the minister was the chief justice in the Saddam Trial, I do not mention her or his name so that this blog does not come up on searches about them. They are both extremely kind, gracious, and knowledgeable individuals who are striving to build Kurdistan). As it happens, I had just had a meeting with the Justice Minister two days previously and had talked at length with his chief of staff, so I signaled her out of the crowd as someone who spoke excellent English and would be able to share with me her insight into the evening’s events.
I opened the discussion by asking her what she thought of the concert. She responded that ‘People were very happy and it went very well.’ I told her I had the opposite impression. She then said, ‘It was a great night for Kurdistan that Nancy Ajram, a cultural icon of the whole Middle East, visited Irbil and people were very happy and do not know how to behave in such situations.’ Taking us into decidedly undiplomatic territory, I probed ‘Is it really a great night for Kurdistan? If I were Kurdish I would be embarrassed at how many of my countrymen behaved, especially the wealthy young men in fancy western clothing.’ She said, ‘no not at all, People merely behaved normally and enjoyed themselves, they were relaxed and felt they were in their home. And could behave as they wanted to. That is good.’ I wondered outloud if everyone got to enjoy themselves or if in fact some people enjoyed causing chaos and inconveniencing everyone else. Her husband jumped in saying ‘It was a great night for Kurdistan, it is a shame that they had such a cheap security firm, they must not have been Kurds or they could have controlled the crowd better. I used to live in London, I know this stuff happens all the time there when big stars like Michael Jackson play and they don’t have the best security. One hears of such incidents at concerts in Europe all the time.’
Later while walking out we met the maitre d’hotel who I had complained to about not getting served our food. As a non-diplomat, he was slightly more open with me. He explained that they expected 600 people, planned for 1000 and that 1400 showed. He said it was a very sad day for him as he failed to serve everyone food and that the concert was a failure. He wished it had never happened. I commiserated with him, assuring him it wasn’t his fault and that I understand how hard it can be to manage such an event. I told him there will be other opportunities to get both the food and the crowd control right. However, I doubt if I was Miss Ajram I would want to make a return visit anytime soon.
The website Al-Bawaba.com describes the incident slightly differently, stating:
Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram broke in hysterical tears during her recent concert in Irbil Iraq, after the audience forced themselves on stage and surrounded her from all sides. The singer became very scared during the concert, which did not go according to plans.What was considered to be very unusual during the incident is the fact that the security men assigned to protect Nancy from being attacked by fans also turned into fans and became preoccupied with trying to take pictures with her neglecting their assigned duties. This neglect of the security men led the audience to go on stage knowing they would not be stopped. At this point, Nancy’s business manager Jiji Lamara, the organizer of the event and the band played the role of the security men and tried to protect the singer from being hurt and toppled by fans. Nancy became terrified and began crying hysterically and as a result of the crowds of people pushing towards her was injured in her foot. It took Nancy over 15 minutes to get to her private car and flee the scene. Once she was able to escape, Nancy packed her bags and immediately left to go back home.
Libya in Transition: Implications and Opportunities for Britain
An Africa All Party Parliamentary Group event in the House of Commons co-hosted by the Royal Africa Society and Libya-Analysis.com and consisting of two Closed Briefing Sessions for MPs and one Open Session for MPs and the public.
The Complete Program (PDF)
Libya’s New Role in the World
Monday December 12th, 7-9pm
House of Commons, Committee Room 15
The audio of the session begins at around 37:00 minutes of the file. My 12 minute speech begins at 1:10:00, I get attacked for concieving the militias as a threat to stability in Libya by a Libyan/British woman who I know from St. Antony’s at 1:24:50, I respond to my attacker at 1:38:15, get my viewpoint supported by the most knowledgeable Libyan in the room at 1:45:25, comment on capitalism and the Old Guard in Libya at 1:54:10, and give my closing remarks about job creation at 2:15:25.
Closed Briefing Sessions for MPs
The State of the ‘Transition’ and Britain’s Role
Tuesday, November 29th, 11am–12:30pm
The House of Commons, Meeting Room M
Business Opportunities for British Companies
Wednesday December 7th, 10am-11:30am
The House of Commons, Meeting Room M
Read the substantive points raised in these sessions as submitted to HMG’s Foreign Affairs Select committee as written evidence.
Evidence Submitted to Foreign Affairs Select Committee
The UK Parliament publication’s website has the evidence submitted to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee from the joint Royal Africa Society / Libya-Analysis.com sessions in the House of Commons.
Libya Must Bring Militias into the Fold
LIBYA MUST BRING MILITIAS INTO THE FOLD: My humourous article in the Australian about the Zintani militias.
WITH the capture of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi on Sunday near the southwestern Libyan town of Awbari by militiamen loyal to the Zintan Military Council, and his transport northwards, Zintan has achieved international stardom. The neighbouring towns of Rajban and Yafran have every right to be jealous. They too could have been catapulted on to the world stage, aided by their easy to-pronounce Berber names.
The appointment of a new interim NTC cabinet this week is the right opportunity to jump-start the detente between the militias and the central authorities. The next step will be folding all of the militias into a new national army and police force. Giving them fancy unit names such as the Revolutionary Platoon of Jadu, the Misratah Martyrs Brigade, the Zintani Scourge of Saif, and the Zwaran Zombie Strike Force might help.
The Zintan Rebels Strike Back
For some strange reason, I think everyone I know should have to memorize the names of the Libyan cabinet ministers who have been announced today. Attention young ladies out there—you never know when you might be on a date and have the opportunity to land a contract by playing footsie with the new NTC minister for Industry Mohammad Mahmud al-Ftise, or be at a cocktail party and be asked if—based on name alone—you would be more likely to trust the current NTC deputy finance minister Mrajaa Mgeg or the defected Gaddafian Foreign affairs minister Musa Kusa. I mean, this is the kind of stuff that the 21st century man or woman about town trying to make it in a consulting business has to keep in mind. To that effect, I want to share with you all my first ever humourous op-ed article in today’s The Australian.
But before I include my article below, I wanted to share with you my most serious and hard-hitting article about the capture of Saif Gaddafi and what it all means for Libya.
But now onto the fun… I wanted it to be titled The Zintan Rebels Strike Back but they changed it! Pls open the PDF to see the article in colour.
Capturing the Qaddafis
Capturing the Qaddafis: The new Libya has a chance to wipe the slate clean — or descend into regional bickering. My argument in FP about how both Abdullah Senussi and Saif, in their own ways, promoted the crony westernization which brought down the Gaddafi regime.
Saif was known for his seemingly genuine admiration of Western constitutionalism and technological progress. Senussi understood that Libya couldn’t survive isolated from the West, but also grasped that introducing Western technology and the discourse of human rights would complicate his continued efforts to repress the Libyan people.
Both men were profoundly aware of the challenges the 21st century presented to the continued rule of the Qaddafi clan and urged a controlled opening to the West to save the “family business” — an effort that eventually backfired. Most outside observers assume that Senussi, as a security thug from the desert, was a reactionary figure who fought against Saif’s progressive détente with the West after 2003 and his economic privatization inside Libya. I came to meet Senussi while working in Libya in 2008 and discovered, to my great surprise, that, although he bordered on being illiterate — even in Arabic – he grasped the urgency of attracting foreign direct investment as much as any of the so-called Libyan reformers with doctoral degrees.
Review of Baldinetti’s The Origins of the Libyan Nation
New Insights into Libyan History: A Review of Anna Baldinetti, The Origins of the Libyan Nation: Colonial Legacy, Exile and the Emergence of a New Nation-State (Oxford: Routledge, 2010).
By Jason Pack in Middle East Report, 261, Winter 2011
Post-Gaddafi Libya Should Think Local
My Op-ed in the Guardian, Post-Gaddafi Libya should think local.
After a revolution that started at the periphery, Libya must empower local networks while avoiding factionalism.
Amid many questions about the future of post-Gaddafi Libya, one fact cannot be ignored: the Libyan revolution of 2011 is dissimilar – in scope, content, and origin – to its sister revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Indeed, it has almost no parallels in world history.
Generally, sweeping revolutionary change (France in 1789, Russia in 1917, etc) is carried out by an organised group at the centre of power with a distinct ideology. In Libya, the revolution originated in the periphery and is surprisingly devoid of ideology.
ooking forward, the NTC has frequently acknowledged the existence of a ground-swell of “localist” opinion that it would have to successfully appease to unite post-Gaddafi Libya. Mahmoud Jibril promised to step down after the liberation to appease this sentiment.
Libya After Gaddafi: Experts Fear Chaos, See Opportunity
Although many experts fear post-liberation Libya could spiral into civil war, others contend the Libyans have been gifted with a tabula rasa upon which they can build a stable society, especially if the country’s economic assets are properly leveraged and power is equitably distributed.
Lisa Anderson, president of the American University of Cairo, believes there is a risk of “regionalist triumphalism”, in which local movements each proclaim privileged positions within the new Libya.
However, Jason Pack, president of Libya-Analysis.com, points out how the movement’s fragmentation is also its strength.Writing in The Guardian, Pack asserts that because a “diffuse periphery dominates the center” of the Libyan revolution it differs from Egypt and Tunisia where power is at risk of simply being consolidated and transferred within the military and societal elite.
Hence, those revolutions are “unlikely to fundamentally change the connection between the state, citizens and army or to invert the social classes as the French or Russian revolutions did”.
Pack argues stability in Libya can only be achieved through avoidance of the factionalism Anderson fears and equitable localization of power: “Today’s Libyan revolutionaries want locally accountable power and institutions that govern them according to a rule of law, but not in a western way. Rather, many of them appear to wish for traditional kinship and local networks to create a social web connecting all Libyans to the state and to each other.”
Young Qaddafi and King Idris
Foreign Policy has released an exclusive slideshow of never-before-seen Qaddafi pictures that were captured in Tripoli. They have a certain 1960s chic about them. So gaze on a handsome youthful Qaddafi, and King Idris bewildered by the modern world. And doesn’t HRH look hot in picture #7?
BBC interview on the meaning of Qaddafi’s death (start at the 7:00 mark).
Yesterday was a big day for me, and I don’t mean because it was the first time I was on Iranian State Television (Press TV).
Yes it has also been a big day for Libya, Nato, and the cause of liberation from fear. But looked at from my little perspective the larger than life, one-of-a-kind, much misunderstood, quite stylish, partially cuddly and partially genocidal, but certainly totally paranoid dictator that I have devoted the last three years of my life to understanding is no more. I mean it is difficult to convey to you how much time I have spent mulling over the core tenets of his ideology, following his every utterance, anticipating his policy moves, and tracing the connections between his thought and that ofh Rousseau and ibn Khaldoun.
And now Gaddafi the philosopher, statesman, icon, tyrant, and sideshow freak is gone.
I feel a great void. Yes, I am happy. Yes, I know the world is a better place… but I feel that it has all happened too fast and I am just unsure what the changes this will mean for me and my ‘style’ of living. I mean some people live the NFL. Others live the stock market. I have lived Gaddafi. I almost consider him a kind of twisted family member—he has always been at the dinner table even when you didn’t want him there and he embarrassed you. And now he is gone. RIP Q. You bloody, bastard.
Libya Must Repay its Backers with a ‘Peace Dividend’
My Christian Science Monitor Article with Sami Zaptia. With Qaddafi dead, Libya must repay its backers with a ‘peace dividend,’ not favors: Now that Qaddafi is dead and Sirte is captured, Libyans can repay those countries who helped in his ouster not through kickbacks or development contracts, but by establishing a stable, democratic, economically open future for Libya. That’s the real ‘peace dividend.’
North Africans are famous for their culture of boundless hospitality. Yet as a result of their traumatic history with European colonialism, they understand that in international politics, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
Now that Libya is officially “liberated” and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has returned from a well-timed visit to Tripoli, officials of the State Department will no doubt attend briefings about how to reap the strategic dividends of America’s intervention. They must resist the temptation to publically, or even privately, ask the Libyans for payback in the form of preferential contracts. Surely no amount of oil, construction, infrastructure, or defense contracts can be better than a strong, moderate, and stable Libya that learns to select its business partners based on their merits rather than their nationality.
We believe the alliance powers should not ask the NTC to prostitute Libya’s vast treasure. Doing so would only cheapen the tremendous value of what the NATO alliance has done for Libya. The only true way the Libyans can repay the rest of the world for liberating them from Qaddafi is not through kickbacks, but by making the tough choices required to lay the foundation of a democratic, meritocratic, and economically open future.
My op-ed in Foreign Policy, Qaddafi’s Legacy: Only in his death is the Libyan leader’s radical vision of a decentralized republic becoming a reality.
In the end, for all Qaddafi’s pretensions of ideological revolution and professed commitment to ruling on behalf of a people who loved him, his regime had become an old-fashioned family dictatorship, with key security posts doled out to his sons and trusted loyalists. Now that he’s dead, Libyans have been given a double-edged sword: a chance to create a new political order from scratch.
The great irony of the 2011 Libyan revolution is that this spontaneous formation of local committees, drawing on traditional bonds of solidarity, is what Qaddafi preached in his Green Book but never implemented. His quote “Committees Everywhere” can still be seen on billboards across the country. However, the Brother Leader never envisioned that a true people’s democracy would have come about not as a result of his hypocritical exhortations but rather in determined opposition to them. Time will tell if the Libyans can keep it.
Saddam and Qaddafi
I thought they wouldn’t catch him for a long time. Saddam took seven months after the liberation of the whole country. However, both were hiding underground in a tunnel near their home towns. Interesting? It strikes me that Q could have gotten away if he wanted to but that he wanted to fight to the end and be there in Sirte to rally his troops. He believed in his ideology. He said he would die in Libya.
He also said that Libya would be the world’s only popular (i.e. local) democracy without mediation through representative bodies. And that has come about to an amazing extent. Qaddafian ideology has culminated in his being killed like a rat by his people in their attempt to actualize a kind of freedom which resembles the freedom that Qaddafi preached but did not practice.
The world is an interesting and paradoxical place!
I discuss this more in my Foreign Policy article, but they truncated a lot of the best bits. So, I hope to figure out where I can restate more of my views on this point:
Crossing into Libya—How I survived interrogation by the militias and sustainable development consultants.
Libya’s Challenge: Not Rebuilding, But Creating a Nation—Miraculously, the 17 million documents stored at the Libyan Studies Centre concerning Libya’s 20th century history have all survived both the war and Gaddafi’s attempts to use and abuse history to buttress his claim to power.
How Libya’s Archives Survived the War
Libya’s Challenge: Not Re-building, but Rather Creating a Nation a special feature for British TV4 exploring Libya’s repository of archival documents and how Gaddafi used and abused Libyan history to buttress his regime.
Some of Libya’s most precious archives survived the violent overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. But can they now help Libya’s new leaders forge a national identity, asks expert Jason Pack.
When I arrived in early September I was pleased to see that the only visual change to the centre’s exterior was the boarding-up of its windows. Miraculously, the 17 million documents concerning Libya’s 20th century history have all survived both the war and Gaddafi’s attempts to use and abuse history to buttress his claim to power.
What they may find hidden beneath the surface is that the different regions of Libya were never fully patched together. Therefore, what the National Transitional Council is now engaged in isn’t the rebuilding of Libya but actually the building of it from scratch.
Winning The Peace in Libya Collectively
Co-Authored with Shashank Joshi, Libya: Winning the Peace Collective for Chatham House’s The World Today.
It is neither too early nor too flagrantly self-congratulatory for NATO to declare victory in the military phase of its recent foray into North Africa. Nevertheless, just as the international community was crucial to the rebels’ success in overthrowing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, so too will it be vital to the stabilisation efforts that are now underway, and in the ensuing process of transition to legitimate governance capped by the nation-wide elections slated for 2012.
More broadly, Tripoli’s capture by disparate militias, all loyal to the anti-Gaddafi cause but lacking joint command
and control structures, presents what may be the greatest opportunity of the Arab Spring – however fraught it may also be with the possibility for anarchy.
Crossing Into Libya
Crossing Into Libya – Jason Pack Survives Border Bureaucracy And Sustainable Development Consultants
I figured getting to Tripoli for another quick research trip would be significantly easier than the time I went to visit the Iraqi archives in late 2003. This time around, I thought it would be very unlikely that I would encounter what the Iraqis used to call an ‘Ali Baba border guard’. One such petty bureaucrat playfully attempted to enforce the HIV test that had been mandatory for foreign visitors under Saddam, thereby compelling me to cough up a hundred bucks to prevent him from sticking a dirty syringe in my vein. I had also heard that the Libyan road network from the Tunisian border to the capital was entirely secure, unlike the Amman-Bagdad route in 2003 which passed through the ‘Sunni Triangle’ near Fallujah where frequent IEDs necessitated lengthy detours onto local roads. On both accounts I was flat out wrong.
As soon as I was off the propeller plane at the Djerba airport, I spotted two hipsters at the baggage carousel positively oozing a metrosexual vibe. They turned out to be Arabic-speaking Georgetown grads, who over the course of the next 36 hours would alternatively style themselves as sustainable development consultants, green entrepreneurs, and experts in import-export. In their more candid and giddy moments they made such statements as “Libya feels like the Wild West. I am sure it is where I will make my first million.” Or even more revealing of the condescending and predatory nature of many ambitious Westerners in the development field, “When I was in Benghazi in April, it struck me that the people were in such dire need of skills and capacity building, you could rake in the cash simply by setting up a falafel restaurant if you could import decent ingredients and bring quality control to its operations. Imagine what you could do in the fields of desalinisation or genetically-engineered seeds modelled on Israeli agronomy methodology but produced in Jordan!” Although I did not share their motivations for coming to Libya, I knew that sticking with them would keep me safe and cut my costs in getting to Tripoli.
First Revolution, Now Democracy
WSJ article with Sami Zaptia First Revolution, Now Democracy: The world is watching Libya’s transition.
From a technical and constitutional perspective, the NTC is correct to postpone the selection of a government until complete liberation is declared. But there is no mistaking the fact that the perpetual delay reflects ongoing squabbles among local factions for cabinet positions. Further delays, and continued lack of transparency in decision making, will cost the NTC the public’s trust.
The world is watching Libya’s story unfold with great interest. The NTC must again surprise the Libyan people and the world by voluntarily handing over power to local interests according to a genuine, decentralized democratic process.
Bullets in the Air
I visited the ruins of bab al-aziziyya, Gaddafi’s compound, today. Amidst the rubble, shattered glass, and miles of underground tunnels Libyan families by the thousands roam in an out of Gaddafi’s former palaces, drinking tea with almonds, writing graffiti on the walls, and taking pictures of themselves amidst the destroyed kitsh of their former dictator.
Weirdly, Libyan militia units storm into the place as a kind of ‘rite de passage’ where they climb the buildings, shoot celebratory fire into air, and take photos. I could see bab al-aziziyya becoming a kind of Libyan Masada or Gettysburg.
Also when one band of particularly rambunctious rebel soldiers fired into the air, I ran for cover underneath an archway… later they approached me and teased me for being the Arabic equivalent of a ‘scaredy-cat’. I explained that many people have died in Tripoli from bullets that were fired into the air and then fall back to earth with terminal velocity and I don’t want that to happen to me… so please don’t fire into the air all the time when you are happy. They told me I was wrong and that the NTC is propagating a myth about this to preserve ammunition.
Now if you are interested in the truth about the dangers of bullets fired into the air rather than the chatter amongst various Libyans then click here.
The upshot is that bullets fired perfectly straight up don’t kill people, but those at an angle do. Sadly, I have seen celebratory rebels shooting into the air… they tend to hold the gun between 65 and 85 degrees… and rarely do they ever fire at a perfect 90 degree angle. Consider the photo of these kids shooting celebratory fire that I took at bab al-aziziyya:
Birth of a Modern Islamist Ideology?
I’m in Tripoli and I’m safe, for now… but I’m afraid of all the gunfire into the air. I didn’t realize how big an issue this would be. All seems secure but I would hate to not get my doctorate cuz some f-cking rebel celebratory fire hits me while falling back to earth.
Green/Martyrs’ Square is crazy crowded and there are lots of Islamists there (i.e. men with beards/guns/ and megaphones preaching)… as well as inflatable slides and popcorn vendors… and even women holding hands with men!!! As for the Islamists, I am not scared about them and I think they can and should be incorporated successfully into the political system. This may be a golden opportunity for the birth of a nationalist/Islamist/free-enterprise country that is not hostile to the west. I would be interested to explore the connections between what might happen here in Libya to what would have happened in Algeria in 1991-92 if the US and France had not helped the Algerian military annul the election results which were a victory for the Islamists. In both cases, if the West had (in Algeria) or will (in Libya) side with the moderate Islamists, they would probably have kept away from al-Qaeda ties… whereas in the Algerian case, by siding against the Islamists the USA pushed them towards Al-Qaeda and the strengthening of AQIM.
Also there could be a fascinating study about how Saif’s rehabilitation programs for LIFG militants were actually successful in both leading to the toppling of the Qaddafi regime and also allowing for a new moderate Islamist ideology to be born which eschews jihadism.
In the birthplace of free North Africa, Tunisia, the late summer air is still humid and stagnant. Yet, when a refreshing breeze blows through, the locals say that that wind is like revolution. Invigorating, calming, freeing, yet ephemeral.
The graffiti outside the media reads, “Freedom is something that you practice everyday” (in Arabic this is a not-so-clever rhyme [Hurriyya, inta lazm tumarisha yomiyya]). More graffiti campaigns for public vigilance. Seeing the precious revolution as endangered, it proclaims, “Qaddafi at large, is a threat to the Tunisian Revolution.”
And yet wandering the streets all is as it once was. The cats paw at piles of reeking garbage. The soldiers inside the barbed wire barricade at the Prime Minister’s office wear their same uniforms and continue their service merely for different masters. I overheard them talk of sex and cigarettes–I asked if they had been conscripts under Ben Ali, and all said yes.
At 5pm, young soldiers in flowing red and white capes emerge from the Ministry of Defense accompanied by a 10-piece marching band. Amidst pomp, circumstance, and some off-key playing, the young men in their outlandish capes proceed to the huge ceremonial flagpole in the center of the Place de la Gouvernement. After lowering the the large flag with laudable efficiency they have difficulty folding the flag in the wind.
After the recessional, I approach an Arab man in business casual attire who I have noticed filming the whole ceremony on his iPhone 4. I ask him in my ridiculously American-accented French, “Isn’t that the same hymn and ceremony from before the revolution?” He answers me in perfect Parisian French, defending the need to preserve the culturally authentic Tunisian traditions.
I ask him, “but didn’t these traditions only start with Bourgiba and the independence regime [ie, from the late 1950s] and isn’t it essentially a colonial vestige to have a flag lowering ceremony daily with a French hymn played on bugles and drums?”
Impassioned he answers, “The flag is our heritage and we need continuation or we will be swallowed up by globalization. We must cling to our traditions. If we change our flag or our hymn we would have nothing to replace it with and it would surely be replaced by some Hollywood-inspired farce. We are proud to be Tunisian and we must not become cosmopolitan and abandon our roots merely because we seek freedom.”
Either he has elegantly hit the nail on the head demonstrating the cultural authenticity of the Tunisian revolution, or he has inadvertently revealed that there has been no revolution at all. My guess is the people at the top know that they had to change their figurehead to save themselves. Amazingly, they haven’t tried to conceal that development by at least changing the country’s slogans and ceremony a little bit.
This episode revealed to me that the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings represent only small change at the top of the social pyrimad while the libyan revolution represents a much larger inversion of social and political order. How exciting that I happen to be studying Libya!!!
في أعقاب الحرب: الصراع على ليبيا في مرحلة ما بعد القذافي
Economist Letter to the Editor on Tribes
I wrote to the Economist to correct a few factual mistakes in their article and argue that the pro-Qadhafi tribes [mostly Magarha and Qadhadhifa] will be severely disadvantaged in the new Libya.
It would be incorrect to assume that just because the NTC’s chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has nobly called for no revenge killings, as well as amnesty for former regime supporters without blood on their hands and future equal hiring practices, that such policies will be fully implemented.
As Tikrit and its tribesmen no doubt suffer in today’s post-Saddam Iraq, Sebha and Sirte as well as the Megarha and Gadadfa will be severely disadvantaged in the post-Qaddafi Libya. It is undesirable but unpreventable.
Pack BBC Piece on Libya in the 1940s
BBC World Service interview about the British Military Administration of Libya (1942-51) and lessons for today
The Seif Paradox
The Seif Paradox: Was Gadhafi’s second son a modernizer or monster? The answer is: both.
After triumphantly and haphazardly bursting into Tripoli on Sunday evening, Libyan rebel fighters claimed to have captured Moammar Gadhafi’s second-eldest and most internationally famous son, Seif al-Islam. The initial reports announcing his capture were hastily confirmed by International Criminal Court President Luis Moreno-Ocampo, but have since been proven false. Seif appeared to journalists Monday night outside the Bab al-Aziziyya compound curiously and defiantly proclaiming that Tripoli is under Gadhafi’s control and that the rebels will be routed.
Seif’s latest media stunt only further enhances his mystique. Usually known for sipping champagne in an exquisitely tailored Italian suit after speaking about …
The Liberation of Tripoli
Guest Analyst on Al-Jazeera’s “The Stream” discussing the liberation of Tripoli and Libya’s uncertain future. We also comment on the role of Oil in Western decision making vis-a-vis Libya.
Review of Vandewalle’s Libya since 1969
Review of Libya Since 1969: Qadhafi’s Revolution Revisited, edited by Dirk Vandewalle (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
By Jason Pack and Dana Moss in The Journal of North African Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2, June 2011
Jason on Riz Khan with Dirk Vandewalle
For my first live TV appearance, I was a Featured Guest on Al-Jazeera English’s Riz Khan Show alongside Dirk Vandewalle. We discussed the African Union’s peace plan and a I gave a cogent defense of the importance of a distinction between the rebel’s political leadership and the revolutionary fighters. This appears prescient as it is precisely this distinction which became the central dynamic in post-Qadhafian Libyan politics.
The Two Faces of Libya’s Rebels
From Foreign Policy, Pack’s — The Two Faces of Libya’s Rebels: The anti-Qaddafi forces are a strange mix of ragtag fighters and defector technocrats. And more than guns, the latter desperately need Western moral support.
If you let strangers know that you research Libya for a living, there seems to be only one question on their minds: “Who are the Libyan rebels?” I’ve been asked it at cocktail parties, on ski lifts, at academic seminars, and even by Western journalists in Benghazi who have developed the flattering habit of Skype-ing me at odd hours. Americans seem captivated by this question, perhaps because they have heard senior U.S. officials from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to various Republican congressmen proclaim that they do not yet know enough about who the rebels are. I do not take such statements at face value. U.S. statesmen know quite well who the rebels are — but pretend otherwise to obscure the fact that the United States has yet to formulate a comprehensive policy toward them.
The rebels consist of two distinct groups: the fighters and the political leadership.
The Case for Intervention on Strategic Grounds
My first in Foreign Policy – Libya Is Too Big to Fail: International intervention is the right move — and not just for humanitarian reasons.
Despite what you may be hearing from critics of March 17′s U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a no-fly zone and “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from harm, Libya is not peripheral to the world system. It is at its very core. Libya possesses 1,800 kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. The country produces 2 percent of the world’s oil, with 85 percent of exports going to Europe. Libyan nationals have been prominent jihadists in Iraq. Since the beginning of the Great Recession and the slump in global demand in 2008, Libya has allocated $200 billion toward new infrastructure spending.
And yet Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, curiously described U.S. interests in Libya as “less than vital” in aWall Street Journal op-ed last week. He cautioned that even the modest step of participating in a multilateral no-fly zone would be incommensurate with America’s limited strategic interests. Harvard University professor Stephen Walt made a similar point. “For starters,” Walt argued, “let’s acknowledge that the United States has no vital strategic interests at stake in the outcome of the Libyan struggle.”
In 2008, I changed my career as an academic of Syria to become instead a professional engaged in the American and European efforts to bring Qaddafi in from the cold and forward the agenda of pro-market economic reform and Western investment in Libya. My logic then was the same as it is now: Libya is too important in the world system to have Western strategic priorities in Libya unfulfilled and U.S. businesses shut out. This logic is grounded in history and is also best for the aspirations of the Libyan people. Over the last six decades, successive U.S. and British administrations have consistently concluded that the “Libya question” merited great economic and diplomatic sacrifices. It still does.
Abdullah Sanussi and Qaddafi’s Inner Circle
An exposé of Abdullah Senussi commissioned by The Guardian on and based on my personal experiences with him and his son.
Gaddafi’s right-hand man should not be underestimated: Abdullah Senussi, shrewd, paranoid and honed by years of practising repression, is more than just a thug in a suit.
As the Gaddafi regime continues to fight on in Libya, we must ask ourselves what kind of men constitute Muammar Gaddafi’s inner circle of confidants and trusted allies. Are they thugs fighting to preserve their control over the spigots that pour black gold? Or do they believe that their cause is just and that the Gaddafi regime has genuinely inaugurated the era of the rule of the masses?
How are we to judge Abdullah Senussi? It never entered into his shrewd and paranoid mind that a leaderless mob inspired by revolutions in neighbouring countries, armed with Twitter and videos taken on their mobile phones could threaten the Gaddafi regime. When faced with this unforeseen scenario, Abdullah Senussi and those around him naturally fell back on what they knew best: killing their opponents.
- Book Launch poster (17 May 2013)
- The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi Future (13 May 2013)
- Ministries Back to Work after Sieges End (13 May 2013)
- Britain Should Take the Lead in Libya (8 May 2013)
- Political Isolation Law Passed and Militias and Populists Still Boycott (7 May 2013)
- Blockades Polarizing Libya; Militiamen Now Hit Electricity Ministry (3 May 2013)
- Libyan Stability at Risk (2 May 2013)
- Demonstration in Support of Political Isolation Law (2 May 2013)
- Libya Gunmen Surround Tripoli Foreign Ministry (29 Apr 2013)
- French Embassy in Libya Attacked (23 Apr 2013)
- The Constituent Assembly Will Be Elected (12 Apr 2013)
- GNC Stalemate on Process for Selecting “Committee of 60″ (6 Apr 2013)
- John McCain in Libya (6 Apr 2013)
- Opinion: Libya – Technological Colony – To Be or Not to Be? (3 Apr 2013)
- Hisham Matar on NPR’s Fresh Air (3 Apr 2013)
- Advisor to Libya PM ‘Abducted’ (2 Apr 2013)
- A Thawing of Libyan Politics? (21 Mar 2013)
- Libya: Two Years Later (20 Mar 2013)
- Deborah Jones Nominated as New U.S. Ambassador to Libya (14 Mar 2013)
- Libyan PM Ali Zeidan Visits the U.S. (14 Mar 2013)
- Security Guards Injured Trying to Evict Congress Occupiers (3 Mar 2013)
- Review of Gerges’s Obama and the Middle East: The End of America’s Moment (26 Feb 2013)
- Rebels with a Pen: Observations on the Newly Emerging Media Landscape in Libya (26 Feb 2013)
- U.S.-Libya Cooperation Update (21 Feb 2013)
- The 15th February 2013 Counter Revolution that Never Was (17 Feb 2013)
- Libya Needs International Assistance, Not Drone Attacks (15 Feb 2013)
- The Importance of Stabilizing Libya (15 Feb 2013)
- Saudi Arabia to Invest in Libya? (7 Feb 2013)
- Libya’s Constitutional Committee to Be Elected (6 Feb 2013)
- Libya’s Spheres of Bad Influence (1 Feb 2013)
- Engagement in Libya Was and Remains the Right Answer (31 Jan 2013)
- Alternate Introduction to Engagement in Libya was the Right Answer (31 Jan 2013)
- Review of Michael Willis’s Power and Politics in the Maghreb (30 Jan 2013)
- What You Need to Know About Hillary Clinton’s Testimony (24 Jan 2013)
- Libya’s Fractious New Politics (17 Jan 2013)
- The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi Future (15 Jan 2013)
- Transforming Libya’s Ungoverned Spaces through Development (13 Jan 2013)
- GNC Sets Up Own Military Force (11 Jan 2013)
- Rooting Out Extremists in Libya (10 Jan 2013)
- The Country Formerly Known as GSPLAJ (8 Jan 2013)
- Details Emerge of Attack on Magarief in Sebha (7 Jan 2013)
- Another Missed Opportunity on Benghazi (4 Jan 2013)
- Ali Aujali Will Not be Foreign Minister (2 Jan 2013)
- Obama Vows to Fix Flaws Discovered in Benghazi Inquiry (1 Jan 2013)
- State Department Accountability Review on Benghazi (19 Dec 2012)
- Congressmen Move to Dismiss Mangoush as Army Chief of Staff (11 Dec 2012)
- Oil Update, Or Wait? (9 Dec 2012)
- U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands (7 Dec 2012)
- Libya’s Tubu (3 Dec 2012)
- Ali Aujali Confirmed As Foreign Minister (27 Nov 2012)
- GNC Starts Constitution Debate (18 Nov 2012)
- Rising from the Ruins (17 Nov 2012)
- US-backed force in Libya face challenges: (17 Nov 2012)
- Sewehli refuses to endorse new government (15 Nov 2012)
- Finally an elected Libyan cabinet, but is it fearsome enough to govern? (7 Nov 2012)
- Libyan “Analysis” of US Election [Joke] (7 Nov 2012)
- New Libyan Cabinet Approved (31 Oct 2012)
- GNC Stormed AGAIN After Zidan Cabinet Announcement (30 Oct 2012)
- 2012 Ibrahim Index of African Governance: Governance in Libya (in Gaddafi Era) ‘Imbalanced’ (26 Oct 2012)
- Jason Pack on Al-Jazeera’s 23/10/12 Inside Story (23 Oct 2012)
- Year After Gaddafi Death Libya Confronts Successes and Failures (20 Oct 2012)
- U.S. to Help Create an Elite Libyan Force to Combat Islamic Extremists (17 Oct 2012)
- Ali Zidan Elected as Libya’s New Prime Minister (16 Oct 2012)
- Bloomberg Editors Agree: Invasion of the Drones Is Wrong Policy for U.S. in Libya (11 Oct 2012)
- Democracy is Messy – Especially in Libya (9 Oct 2012)
- Libya Awaits Announcement of New Government (7 Oct 2012)
- Congress Rejects New Libya Government (6 Oct 2012)
- U.S. Said to Be Preparing Potential Targets Tied to Libya Attack (2 Oct 2012)
- The Libya Surprise (2 Oct 2012)
- National Congress Leader Magarief Says Libya Should Be a “Secular State” (2 Oct 2012)
- 11 Killed As Libyans Depose Benghazi Militias (23 Sep 2012)
- Popular Protests: Not the first time (23 Sep 2012)
- Benghazi Anti-Militia Protest (22 Sep 2012)
- Amid Chants of ‘Free Libya, Terrorists Out,’ a Nation at a Crossroads (17 Sep 2012)
- Honoring Chris Stevens (14 Sep 2012)
- U.S. Ambassador to Libya Is Killed (12 Sep 2012)
- Libya’s Constitution Controversy (5 Sep 2012)
- GNC Decides on New Measures Concerning Selection of PM (3 Sep 2012)
- Congress Votes to Exclude its Members from Standing for PM (3 Sep 2012)
- Libya’s Largest Refinery Restarts after War Closure (3 Sep 2012)
- The Bomb Attacks in Libya: Are Gaddafi Loyalists Behind Them? (25 Aug 2012)
- Massive Damage to Major Sufi Shrine Follows Fatal Zliten Clashes (24 Aug 2012)
- Were the attacks in Tripoli actually conducted by Qadhafi loyalists? (20 Aug 2012)
- Libyan General Discusses Military Priorities (17 Aug 2012)
- What Lies Ahead for Libya: An interview with the Prime Minister (9 Aug 2012)
- Libya’s Next Step: A Panel on Voice of Russia Radio (8 Aug 2012)
- The Problem with Removing Dictators (7 Aug 2012)
- Federalists Launch Political Party (2 Aug 2012)
- Another Tell-All from Qaddafi’s Inner Circle (22 Jul 2012)
- Preliminary Election Results are In (18 Jul 2012)
- Libya’s Militia Menace (15 Jul 2012)
- Libyan Police Cadets Start a Riot (14 Jul 2012)
- Article Length German-language Interview of Jason Pack concerning the Libyan Elections (11 Jul 2012)
- Libya’s Islamists Count on Independents to Get A Majority (11 Jul 2012)
- Liberal Coalition Claim Early Lead in Libya Vote Count (9 Jul 2012)
- Libya Election: High Hopes, Turnout, and Expectations (7 Jul 2012)
- Libya’s Election: Uncertainty before and after (6 Jul 2012)
- NTC Tries to Change the Rules of the Game at the Last Minute (5 Jul 2012)
- Elections to Mark New Start for Libya Economy (4 Jul 2012)
- Voting Begins Overseas Ahead of July 7 Election (3 Jul 2012)
- Melinda Taylor Finally Freed (2 Jul 2012)
- Democracy a Learning Process as Libya Set to Vote (28 Jun 2012)
- ICC Captive Is Pawn in Struggle between Militias and the NTC (26 Jun 2012)
- ICC Expresses “Regret” over Staff Held in Libya (23 Jun 2012)
- LISCO Restarts Steel Production in Misrata (22 Jun 2012)
- Libya Dashes Hopes of Early Release for Melinda Taylor (21 Jun 2012)
- Coastal Road Blocked by Cyrenaica Federalists (20 Jun 2012)
- Uncertainties Underlie the Celebrations in Cairo (19 Jun 2012)
- Libya Wants ICC Hamstrung Via Aussie’s Capture (17 Jun 2012)
- Yemen as a Model for Syria’s Transition (14 Jun 2012)
- Libya’s Missteps Threaten Descent into Federalism (14 Jun 2012)
- Stand-off in Northern Mali (14 Jun 2012)
- Such a Quiet Libyan Stock Exchange (14 Jun 2012)
- Bernard-Henri Levy and the West’s Intervention in Libya: A Discussion with Experts (11 Jun 2012)
- Libya Splits into Disparate Militia Zones (10 Jun 2012)
- Libya Takes Baby Steps Toward Democracy (8 Jun 2012)
- Armed Salafist Protest in Benghazi (7 Jun 2012)
- Bomb Targets U.S. Mission in Libya’s Benghazi (6 Jun 2012)
- Uncertainty Abounds Around Elections and Federalism (6 Jun 2012)
- Elections To Be Delayed (3 Jun 2012)
- Libya: Open for Business? (1 Jun 2012)
- Libya Oil Output Almost Back to Prewar Level (29 May 2012)
- Libyan Rebels Head to Cannes Film Fest (25 May 2012)
- Megrahi’s Death—An End to a Century of Mistrust? (23 May 2012)
- Review of Del Boca’s Mohamed Fekini and the Fight to Free (15 May 2012)
- Libya: NTC Must Assert Itself And Consign Federalism To The Dustbin Of History (24 Apr 2012)
- Federalism in Libya: Tried and Failed (20 Apr 2012)
- Libya Violence Puts Poll Timing at Risk (10 Apr 2012)
- Jason on Press TV’s Double Standards (31 Mar 2012)
- Economists Interpretation of Van Creveld and Pack’s Thoughts on Iran (26 Mar 2012)
- Solve Syria, Leave Iran Alone (20 Mar 2012)
- Preliminary Details of Book (18 Mar 2012)
- Hands On Syria, Hands Off Iran (14 Mar 2012)
- Libya: NTC Must Exercise Authority And Tackle Militias (26 Feb 2012)
- Summary of my Monograph Translated into Arabic (23 Feb 2012)
- In War’s Wake: The Struggle for Post-Qadhafi Libya (23 Feb 2012)
- U.S. Needs A Grand Strategy in Its Relationship with China (7 Feb 2012)
- Qatar: Kingmakers in Syria? (18 Jan 2012)
- NYT Article: In the Arab Spring, Watch Turkey (5 Jan 2012)
- Kurds Look to Old Enemies for Survival (27 Dec 2011)
- Beauty Meets the Beast—Nancy Ajram Encounters Kurdistan (22 Dec 2011)
- Libya in Transition: Implications and Opportunities for Britain (12 Dec 2011)
- Evidence Submitted to Foreign Affairs Select Committee (7 Dec 2011)
- Libya Must Bring Militias into the Fold (23 Nov 2011)
- The Zintan Rebels Strike Back (22 Nov 2011)
- Capturing the Qaddafis (21 Nov 2011)
- Review of Baldinetti’s The Origins of the Libyan Nation (20 Nov 2011)
- Post-Gaddafi Libya Should Think Local (23 Oct 2011)
- Libya After Gaddafi: Experts Fear Chaos, See Opportunity (23 Oct 2011)
- Young Qaddafi and King Idris (22 Oct 2011)
- RIP Qaddafi (21 Oct 2011)
- Libya Must Repay its Backers with a ‘Peace Dividend’ (20 Oct 2011)
- Qaddafi’s Legacy (20 Oct 2011)
- Saddam and Qaddafi (20 Oct 2011)
- How Libya’s Archives Survived the War (4 Oct 2011)
- Winning The Peace in Libya Collectively (1 Oct 2011)
- Crossing Into Libya (30 Sep 2011)
- First Revolution, Now Democracy (30 Sep 2011)
- Bullets in the Air (20 Sep 2011)
- Birth of a Modern Islamist Ideology? (19 Sep 2011)
- Tunisia (16 Sep 2011)
- Economist Letter to the Editor on Tribes (8 Sep 2011)
- Pack BBC Piece on Libya in the 1940s (1 Sep 2011)
- The Seif Paradox (24 Aug 2011)
- The Liberation of Tripoli (23 Aug 2011)
- Review of Vandewalle’s Libya since 1969 (15 Jun 2011)
- Jason on Riz Khan with Dirk Vandewalle (19 Apr 2011)
- The Two Faces of Libya’s Rebels (5 Apr 2011)
- The Case for Intervention on Strategic Grounds (17 Mar 2011)
- Abdullah Sanussi and Qaddafi’s Inner Circle (23 Feb 2011)