Archive: November, 2012

“Al Hayat” Posits Tacit Government Support for Assassinations

An article published in the Pan Arab “Al Hayat” Nov. 24 describes a view current in Libya that the months-long series of murders of senior security officials, most of which remain unsolved, is a part of a ‘planned’ conspiracy by elements within the Libyan transitional administration to eliminate potential rivals– individuals in senior security-related roles, who also had some influence in the previous regime.

The killing by three unknown gunman on Nov 20th of Faraj Ad-darsi, director of security for Benghazi region, was estimated to be the 20th such assassination since the killing of former Rebel commander Abdel Fattah Younes, in Benghazi, in late July, 2011. At the same time, the article supposes that there are still many elements within the East with strong sympathies to the previous regime, who are themselves working to undermine stability. Just as there are militias, secular and Islamic, who perceive their interests best served by staving off centralized control and extension of the influence of the Libyan police and army.

Nov. 10 News Roundup

Five nominees to Libyan PM Ali Zidan’s cabinet requested to withdraw their nominations, pending an expected decision on their cases by an Integrity Committee regarding possible corruption or human rights abuses committed during the Gaddafi years. The existence and ‘non-transparency’ of this unelected commission has been the subject of strong internal debate.

The new government has proposed a series of laws circumscribing the conditions under which popular protests may be held — which is understandably causing strong concern re: the limits to free speech in the New Libya (after a period in which, others counter, there has been a bit ‘too much’ free speech).

61 Libyan Parliamentarians have put forth a formal request for the GNC HQ to be transferred to Al Beida in the East, formally for ‘security’ reasons, after several militia attacks on the GNC compound, and in the midst of a week that saw the worst militia fighting in Tripoli in many months.

Abdallah Senusssi (former Libyan head of intelligence, extradited back to Libya by the Mauritanian government), recently provided Libyan authorities the location of a villa containing the remains of two individuals, including Mansour Al Kikhia, one of the most prominent anti-Gaddafi dissidents, kidnapped in 1993 in Cairo. Another high-profile ‘missing’ case is that of Lebanese Shiite Imam Musa Al Sadr, who disappeared during a visit to Tripoli in 1978. Senussi denies involvement in the deaths of either individual (Asharq Al Awsat). The NTC handed over a body to Lebanese authorities in early Summer, 2012, asserting it was that of al Sadr. Lebanese authorities say DNA tests proved otherwise (al Arabiya).

The formal inquest into the death of former Rebel Commander Abdelfattah Younes has been postponed until February, in part due to questions as to whether or not Mustafa Abdeljalil, former NTC head, would appear in person to testify.

Libyan President Mohammed Al Megaryaf, claimed in a late August interview on the Al Jazeera program ‘bi la hudud’ (without borders) that it was a Gaddafi policy to infect political prisoners with HIV, and that Gaddafi was responsible for a drastic rise in the number of HIV cases since the late 90s.

More on “Blowback”

One of the main arguments I make in my recent book, Exit the Colonel, is that US-Libya negotiations in the early 2000s led, both indirectly and directly, to the consummation of a series of significant arms deals, mostly between Libya and the EU, which strengthened Gaddafi’s counter-insurgency/revolutionary capabilities, and likely increased both the duration and bloodiness of the resulting conflict. The US-Libya ‘deal’ on WMD occurred in 2003, the same year the UN lifted its arms embargo on Libya. In 2004, the EU lifted its arms embargo on Libya.

Andrew Feinstein, in The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, reports that between 2005 and 2009, EU countries exported “just over 835 m Euro (well over 1 billion USD)” in arms to Libya, with Italy accounting for 276 m Euro between 2006 and 2009, including helicopters allegedly used to attack rebels. According to this survey, France exported 210m Euro in arms, and the UK 119.35 m Euro. Between 2005 and 2009, Libya imported at least 100 m Euro in small guns, 85 m Euro in electronic equipment from the EU. Just before the Libyan revolution, the US was poised to join in, notably, with the sale of 50 armored personnel carriers to Libya. Other deals were allegedly in the works. Feinstein and Tanguy both provide extensive lists of post-2004 weapons sales by EU countries to Libya. South Africa, Belarus, Croatia, the Ukraine, and other states contributed significantly to Libya’s munitions and technology arsenal, and resulting “blowback”. Another detail-rich source is Harmattan: Récits et révélations, by French military correspondent Jean-Marc Tanguy (Nimrod, 2012), in which Tanguy documents sales of weapons, jamming systems and surveillance technology to Libya during the rapprochement period by European companies such as Thales, Amesys. “France contributed to the restocking of Libya, once the new respectability of the colonel was assured.”

The French magazine Diplomatie (No. 58, September-October, 2012) contains several interesting, related articles, one of which repeats Human Rights Watch/ US Department of State and UN Security Council estimates that Gaddafi had some 5,000-10,000 Soviet and Bulgarian made SAM 7 ground-to-air missiles just prior to the revolution (I have read estimates of up to 20,000 surface-t0-air missiles, some of Belgian manufacture– but with a significant fraction either inoperable or missing critical parts); 80,000 AK 47 automatic weapons (in the Sahel generally); 700-800 Milan anti-tank missiles (in Libya, pre Revolution). Libyan munitions have been documented to have moved South/West into Sudan, Niger, Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, and East into Egypt and Syria– which appears to be the focus of increasing interest, to the extent the West may have been trying to get weapons out of the hands of Libyan rebels and into those of elements of the Syrian opposition.