Vijay Prashad: 2011 NATO Bombing of Libya Led to Rise of Militias Now Fighting for Oil-Rich Land
Libya is experiencing its most intense fighting since the 2011NATO-backed campaign to remove Muammar Gaddafi. On Monday, the Libyan Parliament that was replaced in an election in June reconvened and chose an Islamist-backed deputy as the new prime minister. This now leaves Libya with two rival leaders and assemblies, each backed by armed factions. Meanwhile, The New York Times has revealed Egypt and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes twice in the last week against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli. Despite the strikes, the Islamist militants managed to solidify control of the capital of Tripoli by taking over the main airport. "[The U.S. andNATO] bombed the country and opened the door for the different militias to now compete against each other," says Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College. "So the day Gaddafi was killed, from then onwards, the militias have basically been at each other’s throats."
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AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Libya, which is experiencing its most intense fighting since the 2011 U.S.-backed campaign to remove Muammar Gaddafi. On Monday, The New York Timesrevealed Egypt and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes twice in the last week against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli.
On Monday, Democracy Now! spoke about the situation in Libya with Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College. He’s the author of several books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter and, most recently, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South. I began by asking him to explain what’s happening in Libya now.
VIJAY PRASHAD: Today in Cairo, ministers from North Africa are meeting, because the Libyan crisis has become so severe. I mean, Libya has a very long border with Egypt. It has a long border with Algeria. It has a border with Tunisia. These are the three countries that are most terrified about the spillover of the violence.
So, what is this violence? You know, it’s not that the violence began yesterday, so they have an emergency meeting. This violence has been ongoing since 2011. The way the war against Gaddafi had been prosecuted was that different—you know, firstly, I should explain something about Libya to understand the nature of the war. Libya is like Indonesia, except that in between the little island cities there is desert. There is very little countryside. You know, these are cities in an archipelago. So, what happened when Gaddafi, you know, felt the resistance against his rule in 2011 was that the archipelagos of Benghazi, of Ajdabiya, these cities immediately seceded. And what’s so interesting is that they seceded as cities, as Benghazi, not as a major Libyan uprising. You then saw uprising in Misurata, in Zintan. You know, each city had its own militia, and these urban militias had a certain political character. There was an attempt—brief attempt—byNATO to try to create a unified command, but they basically gave that up. They bombed the country and opened the door for the different militias to now compete against each other. So the day Gaddafi was killed, from then onwards, the militias have basically been at each other’s throats.
http://www.democracynow.org/2014/8/26/vijay_prashad_2011_nato_bombing_of#.U_0MQqBE6Sc.facebookAnd interestingly, the government in Tripoli, which to some extent, you know, dominates the oil revenues, has been paying each of these militias—you know, it’s amazing. The government in Tripoli is paying the militia in Zintan and the militia in Misurata, and they’ve been both attacking the government in Tripoli. It is a very weird and peculiar situation.