Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept & Spencer Ackerman / The Guardian & Chris Stephen / The Guardian – 2016-01-29 00:06:43
The US Intervention in Libya Was Such a Smashing Success That a Sequel Is Coming
Glenn Greenwald / The Intercept
(January 27 2016) — The immediate aftermath of the NATO bombing of Libya was a time of high gloating. Just as Iraq War advocates pointed to the capture and killing of Saddam Hussein as proof that their war was a success, Libya war advocates pointed to the capture and brutal killing of Muammar el-Qaddafi as proof of their vindication.
War advocates such as Anne-Marie Slaughter and Nicholas Kristof were writing columns celebrating their prescience and mocking war opponents as discredited, and the New York Times published a front-page article declaring: “US Tactics in Libya May be a Model for Other Efforts.”
It was widely expected that Hillary Clinton, one of the leading advocates for and architects of the bombing campaign, would be regarded as a Foreign Policy Visionary for the grand Libya success: “We came, we saw, he died,” Clinton sociopathically boasted about the mob rape and murder of Qaddafi while guffawing on 60 Minutes.
Since then, Libya — so predictably — has all but completely collapsed, spending years now drowning in instability, anarchy, fractured militia rule, sectarian conflict, and violent extremism. The execution of Saddam Hussein was no vindication of that war nor a sign of improved lives for Iraqis, and the same was true for the mob killing of Qaddafi.
As I wrote the day after Qaddafi fled Tripoli and Democratic Party loyalists were prancing around in war victory dances:
“I’m genuinely astounded at the pervasive willingness to view what has happened in Libya as some sort of grand triumph even though virtually none of the information needed to make that assessment is known yet, including: how many civilians have died, how much more bloodshed will there be, what will be needed to stabilize that country, and, most of all, what type of regime will replace Qaddafi? . . .
When foreign powers use military force to help remove a tyrannical regime that has ruled for decades, all sorts of chaos, violence, instability, and suffering — along with a slew of unpredictable outcomes — are inevitable.”
But the much bigger question was when (not if, but when) the instability and extremism that predictably followed the NATO bombing would be used to justify a new US-led war — also exactly as happened in Iraq. Back in 2012, I asked the question this way:
How much longer will it be before we hear that military intervention in Libya is (again) necessary, this time to control the anti-US extremists who are now armed and empowered by virtue of the first intervention? US military interventions are most adept at ensuring that future US military interventions will always be necessary.
We now have our answer, from the New York Times:
Worried about a growing threat from the Islamic State in Libya, the United States and its allies are increasing reconnaissance flights and intelligence collecting there and preparing for possible airstrikes and commando raids, senior American policy makers, commanders and intelligence officials said this week. . . .
“It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military action against ISIL in conjunction with the political process” in Libya, [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph] Dunford said. “The president has made clear that we have the authority to use military force.”
Just as there was no al Qaeda or ISIS to attack in Iraq until the US bombed its government, there was no ISIS in Libya until NATO bombed it. Now the US is about to seize on the effects of its own bombing campaign in Libya to justify an entirely new bombing campaign in that same country.
The New York Times editorial page, which supported the original bombing of Libya, yesterday labeled plans for the new bombing campaign “deeply troubling,” explaining:
“A new military intervention in Libya would represent a significant progression of a war that could easily spread to other countries on the continent.”
In particular, “this significant escalation is being planned without a meaningful debate in Congress about the merits and risks of a military campaign that is expected to include airstrikes and raids by elite American troops” (the original Libya bombing not only took place without Congressional approval, but was ordered by Obama after Congress rejected such authorization).
This was supposed to be the supreme model of Humanitarian Intervention. It achieved vanishingly few humanitarian benefits, while causing massive humanitarian suffering, because — as usual — the people who executed the “humanitarian” war (and most who cheer-led for it) were interested only when the glories of bombing and killing were flourishing but cared little for actual humanitarianism (as evidenced by their almost complete indifference to the aftermath of their bombing).
As it turns out, one of the few benefits of the NATO bombing of Libya will redound to the permanent winners in the private-public axis that constitutes the machine of Endless Militarism: It provided a pretext for another new war.
The Pentagon Is Considering Fresh Military Action in Libya over ISIS Threat
Spencer Ackerman / The Guardian
(January 27, 2016) — The Pentagon is considering fresh military action in Libya more than four years after conducting an air campaign that helped topple dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
Officials are currently “looking at military options” to stop the Islamic State militant group from gaining ground in another oil-rich Mideast nation, said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.
At present, US efforts in Libya are focussed on identifying local allies to work with, for what a senior military officer has envisioned as a “decisive” confrontation with Isis.
US warplanes ceased operations after rebels killed Gaddafi in Sirte in October 2011, and since then a security vacuum has persisted in the country, prompting lingering questions about the wisdom of the US intervention.
Those questions intensified after four Americans, including a US ambassador, were killed in Benghazi the following year.
They have persisted as one of the intervention’s advocates within the Obama administration, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, campaigns for the presidency. Senator Ted Cruz, a leading contender for Republican candidacy, has said the Libya war made “no sense”.
Cook acknowledged that the “metastasis” of Isis beyond its primary base in Iraq and Syria has prompted the Pentagon to revisit the question of a renewed war in Libya.
A “small group” of US forces had made contact with Libyan militiamen, “simply to get a sense of who the players are”, Cook said, amid a fractured security landscape with multiple and overlapping combatants.
Although the US personnel are likely to be special operations forces, Cook did not specify how many of them had taken part in the mission, nor if they were still operating in Libya. Cook portrayed the contact as closer to a broad assessment mission than the so-called “shaping operations” that precede imminent combat.
“We are extremely worried about the metastasis of Isil in a number of locations, Libya being just one of those locations,” Cook said.
In recent weeks, the Pentagon has forecasted an expanded effort worldwide against a jihadist army whose persistence and reach have taken the world by surprise. Defense secretary Ashton Carter said in a speech that beyond Iraq and Syria, the US would launch a “flexible and nimble response” against Isis in its north African strongholds and elsewhere, citing a November strike in Libya that killed an accused Isis leader.
Last week, the senior US military officer, joint chiefs of staff chairman General Joseph Dunford, said he and his French counterpart were preparing for “decisive military action” against Isis in Libya. Dunford said he desired nesting a military campaign within a political settlement that has eluded Libya and its foreign allies since the downfall of Gaddafi.
In December, the presence of a US special forces unit in Libya was revealed after photographs of the troops were posted on a Libyan military Facebook page. The incident was preceded by an attempt at making contact with potential allies amongst Libyan forces. Cook did not clarify whether the December foray was the only one, but occasionally used the present tense to refer to the outreach.
“They’re trying to get a clearer picture of what’s happening there, and they’ve made contact with people on the ground to try and get a better sense not only of the threat that [Isis] poses there but the dynamic on the ground in terms of the security situation,” Cook said.
“We’re looking for partners who can give us a better sense of the security situation, and it’s not just the United States that has a keen interest here, it is our foreign partners as well.”
Secret US Mission in Libya Revealed after Air Force Posted Pictures on Facebook
Chris Stephen / The Guardian
A secret US commando mission to Libya has been revealed after photographs of a special forces unit were posted on the Facebook page of the country’s air force.
TUNIS (December 17, 2015) — A secret US commando mission to Libya has been revealed after photographs of a special forces unit were posted on the Facebook page of the country’s air force.
Libya’s air force said 20 US soldiers arrived at Libya’s Wattiya airbase on Monday, but left soon after local commanders asked them to go because they had no permission to be at the base. It was unclear if another branch of the Libyan military had authorized the mission.
Pentagon sources confirmed to US media that the special forces unit was part of a mission sent this week, but it was unclear if the soldiers had left the country.
The Facebook post that revealed the unit’s presence said the 20 soldiers had disembarked “in combat readiness wearing bullet proof jackets, advanced weapons”.
The photographs show the Americans — three with assault rifles slung over their shoulders — posing in the sunshine with Libyan soldiers. Other photographs show the US troops boarding a blue and white-striped passenger plane and driving a yellow dune buggy.
Wattiya’s proximity to Sabratha, site of the Islamic State’s western Libya base, has heightened speculation that the US is poised to launch strikes on the terror group.
The incident marks the first confirmed deployment of American special forces to Libya since July last year, when Delta Force commandos seized Ahmed Abu Khattala, now on trial in New York accused of the 2012 killing US ambassador Chris Stevens.
“They were there, [local commanders] said they were on a training mission,” said one source in the nearby mountain town of Zintan. “Nobody knows details. They are gone now.”
Wattiya is one of the largest air bases in Libya, dating from the era of Muammar Gaddafi who was deposed in the 2011 revolution.
Only open desert separates it from the Isis base at Ajaylat, outside Sabratha, the base that Tunisia says trained Sousse beach gunman Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi.
Libya has been split between two rival governments since Libya Dawn, a coalition of Islamist and Misratan forces, seized Tripoli, and the elected government fled to the eastern city of Tobruk.
The US’s deployment to Wattiya may affect the civil war, because the base is the hub for operations by the recognised government, based in Tobruk, against forces of rival Libya Dawn, which holds Tripoli.
Libyan jets based there have staged airstrikes against Dawn forces, who have launched unsuccessful offensives to capture the sprawling base.
In recent weeks, French and US reconnaissance flights have flown over Sabratha and Isis bases further east at Sirte, Benghazi and Derna.
Western diplomats are concerned that while Libya’s rival governments fighting each other, Isis is advancing without serious opposition. This week Isis units briefly occupied Sabratha itself, triggering fears the town’s noted Roman ruins would be targeted. In eastern Libya, the group is closing in on the country’s key oil ports.
A new UN-brokered unity government, announced on Thursday, is expected to issue a formal invitation for British, French and US forces to strike Isis in the coming days.
A Pentagon statement confirmed US forces were at the base. A spokeswoman said: “With the concurrence of Libyan officials, US military personnel traveled to Libya on 14 December to engage in a dialogue with â€Žrepresentatives of the Libyan National Army. While in Libya, members of a local militia demanded that the US personnel depart. In an effort to avoid conflict, they did leave, without incident.”
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