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Civil war, foreign intervention in Libya

Posted By Tori Yee On April 15, 2011 @ 1:29 am In Global Education | Comments Disabled

On September 1, 1969, Muammar Gaddafi and a cabal of young Libyan Army officers carried out a bloodless coup d’etat that overthrew the monarchy. Gaddafi quickly became the most powerful actor in the new government, and has ruled the country for the 42 years since.
Isolated incidents of dissent and resistance have punctuated his rule, and members of the Army attempted to assassinate Gaddafi in 1993. But the crisis he faces now is more dangerous to his rule than any crisis before.
Protests in Libya started in February, spurred by the turmoil spreading throughout the region, as well as complaints about high unemployment and demands for freedom and democracy.
A month later, unrest grew when police detained relatives of those killed in a 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison.
“He totally abandoned civilizing Libya. He neglected education and development projects. He left the majority of his people in the dark ages and built his might on fear through torturing and killing political dissidents in public,” Omar Amer, a member of a Libyan protest group, said.
By late February, Gaddafi’s control appeared to be slipping as Libyan government ministers defected in droves, and Benghazi and many other cities fell to anti-government control.
Rebel forces rapidly advanced west and took the majority of the crucial coastal cities, as well as Ra’s Lanuf, the largest oil refinery in the country.
Initial government counterattacks proved unsuccessful, but on March 6 the rebel advance was halted at Bin Jawad, about halfway to Tripoli.
Gaddafi’s forces then took the offensive, reversing the rebel advance and driving to the outskirts of Benghazi’s, the most important rebel-held city.
As governmental forces appeared poised to destroy the rebellion, the United Nations passed a resolution on March 17 that authorized foreign nations to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilian lives until both sides agreed to a ceasefire.
Gaddafi’s government quickly accepted the ceasefire, but it soon became clear that its forces were not abiding by it. French, American, and British aircraft and missile ships attacked Gaddafi’s army, sending it into retreat.
Once again, the rebels seemed to be on the verge of victory. However, as government troops switched easily targeted military vehicles for armed civilian ones and American command of the intervention was transferred to NATO, Gaddafi’s forces were able to halt the rebel counterattack at Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirt.
The tide once again turned, and Gaddafi’s forces began pushing the rebels back again. They currently hold slightly over one-third of the nation’s coastline.
On Monday, March 28, President Obama addressed the nation, explaining that although a no-fly zone has been established and bombs are being dropped, the US is not at war with Libya. Obama has made it clear that the U.S. is merely one participant in an international coalition operating under a United Nations resolution.
However, he has also indicated that Gaddafi’s removal is a goal of the U.S. This is contradictory to the UN resolution, which only called for a ceasefire and action necessary to enforce one.
If Gaddafi were to fall, it is unclear who would replace him. The most likely candidates are the Libyan tribes due to a long tradition of tribal loyalty equaling or trumping national loyalty.
Considered the most tribal nation in the Arab world, Libya has over 140 tribal groups. As opposed to Egypt and other Arab states, politics have a great deal to do with tribal alliances. One of Gaddafi’s most significant accomplishments is his stripping the tribes of their political power.
Currently, the majority of Libya’s 6.4 million people live in the capital Tripoli and other major cities, especially rebel-held Benghazi. The current uprising has provided the tribes with the opportunity to reassert their importance.
If Gaddafi does step down, the tribes could very well take power into their old hands. Many believe the tribes can help guarantee cohesiveness in a society where any form of organization, whether political or social, was discouraged for more than forty years.
Perhaps mindful of this, the rebel Libyan National Council has been careful to include figures from several important tribes, especially those concentrated in the west, among its members.
Though some tribes have remained loyal to Gaddafi, especially his own tribe, many others have thrown their lot in with the rebels.
Akram al-Warfalli, a leader of the powerful Warfalla tribe said in an interview, “We tell the brother Gadhafi, well, he is no longer a brother,” Mr. Warfalli said. ”We tell him to leave the country.”

By Tori YeeOn September 1, 1969, Muammar Gaddafi and a cabal of young Libyan Army officers carried out a bloodless coup d’etat that overthrew the monarchy. Gaddafi quickly became the most powerful actor in the new government, and has ruled the country for the 42 years since.Isolated incidents of dissent and resistance have punctuated his rule, and members of the Army attempted to assassinate Gaddafi in 1993. But the crisis he faces now is more dangerous to his rule than any crisis before.Protests in Libya started in February, spurred by the turmoil spreading throughout the region, as well as complaints about high unemployment and demands for freedom and democracy. A month later, unrest grew when police detained relatives of those killed in a 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison. ”He totally abandoned civilizing Libya. He neglected education and development projects. He left the majority of his people in the dark ages and built his might on fear through torturing and killing political dissidents in public,” Omar Amer, a member of a Libyan protest group, said.By late February, Gaddafi’s control appeared to be slipping as Libyan government ministers defected in droves, and Benghazi and many other cities fell to anti-government control. Rebel forces rapidly advanced west and took the majority of the crucial coastal cities, as well as Ra’s Lanuf, the largest oil refinery in the country.Initial government counterattacks proved unsuccessful, but on March 6 the rebel advance was halted at Bin Jawad, about halfway to Tripoli. Gaddafi’s forces then took the offensive, reversing the rebel advance and driving to the outskirts of Benghazi’s, the most important rebel-held city.As governmental forces appeared poised to destroy the rebellion, the United Nations passed a resolution on March 17 that authorized foreign nations to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilian lives until both sides agreed to a ceasefire. Gaddafi’s government quickly accepted the ceasefire, but it soon became clear that its forces were not abiding by it. French, American, and British aircraft and missile ships attacked Gaddafi’s army, sending it into retreat.Once again, the rebels seemed to be on the verge of victory. However, as government troops switched easily targeted military vehicles for armed civilian ones and American command of the intervention was transferred to NATO, Gaddafi’s forces were able to halt the rebel counterattack at Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirt.The tide once again turned, and Gaddafi’s forces began pushing the rebels back again. They currently hold slightly over one-third of the nation’s coastline.On Monday, March 28, President Obama addressed the nation, explaining that although a no-fly zone has been established and bombs are being dropped, the US is not at war with Libya. Obama has made it clear that the U.S. is merely one participant in an international coalition operating under a United Nations resolution. However, he has also indicated that Gaddafi’s removal is a goal of the U.S. This is contradictory to the UN resolution, which only called for a ceasefire and action necessary to enforce one. If Gaddafi were to fall, it is unclear who would replace him. The most likely candidates are the Libyan tribes due to a long tradition of tribal loyalty equaling or trumping national loyalty.    Considered the most tribal nation in the Arab world, Libya has over 140 tribal groups. As opposed to Egypt and other Arab states, politics have a great deal to do with tribal alliances. One of Gaddafi’s most significant accomplishments is his stripping the tribes of their political power.Currently, the majority of Libya’s 6.4 million people live in the capital Tripoli and other major cities, especially rebel-held Benghazi. The current uprising has provided the tribes with the opportunity to reassert their importance.If Gaddafi does step down, the tribes could very well take power into their old hands. Many believe the tribes can help guarantee cohesiveness in a society where any form of organization, whether political or social, was discouraged for more than forty years. Perhaps mindful of this, the rebel Libyan National Council has been careful to include figures from several important tribes, especially those concentrated in the west, among its members.Though some tribes have remained loyal to Gaddafi, especially his own tribe, many others have thrown their lot in with the rebels.Akram al-Warfalli, a leader of the powerful Warfalla tribe said in an interview, “We tell the brother Gadhafi, well, he is no longer a brother,” Mr. Warfalli said. ”We tell him to leave the country.”

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/civil-war-foreign-intervention-in-libya/

URLs in this post:

[1] Protests, bloodshed, and hope in the Middle East: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/bloodshed-hope/

[2] Libya and England divided by protest seperated in response: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/04/15/libya-and-england-divided-by-protest-seperated-in-response/

[3] War torn country, war town lives: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/11/21/war-torn-country-war-town-lives/

[4] UK Foreign Minister Lectures at MIT: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/03/24/uk-foreign-minister-lectures-at-mit/

[5] Fighting ensues in Congo, but help is on the way: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/11/26/fighting-ensues-in-congo-but-help-is-on-the-way/

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