The chaos that the Obama-Clinton diplomacy unleashed in Libya continues to grow. It started when U.S.-French-NATO-led military intervention toppled Col. Moammar Qaddafi in 2011. After his government fell, Qaddafi was then beaten and sodomized with a bayonet by an irate mob of Libyans before being shot to death. This prompted our illustrious Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to show the class she is noted for by crowing, “We came, we saw, he died.”
Yes — Qaddafi, who was no threat to America, died. But so did any semblance of stability in Libya and the ensuing chaos still reverberates to this day. Due to the power vacuum created by Qaddafi’s abrupt removal, Libya has now become a battleground for proxies motivated by Libya’s oil wealth and fighting for geopolitical influence and over ideological differences. The country is a confusing mess. Here is a thumbnail sketch to sort out the parties currently involved.
Tripoli is the seat of the provisional government. It is backed by the United Nations and is supported by Turkey, which has over 1,000 troops there along with another 1,200 or so battle-hardened Syrian fighters.
On the other side is the warlord Khalifa Hifter, a former Libyan army general. He is backed by Russia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is reported that Russia has brought in about 1,500 mercenaries. These include skilled snipers and personnel to guide artillery and air support. This situation is dangerous and could lead to a direct conflict between Turkey and Russia.
Then there’s Europe. It has a lot at stake in Libya. Libya is a breeding ground for Islamic extremists. This, plus the fact that Libya’s long Mediterranean coastline lies in close proximity to Europe, makes Europe vulnerable to infiltration by terrorists. And if Libya descends into greater instability, untold numbers of refugees would head for Europe. That’s the last thing the Europeans need.
Despite having vital interests in Libya, Europe has more of less stood on the sidelines. Its greatest effort so far has been to hold an international conference sponsored by Germany last week to try and broker a ceasefire among the warring parties. This gabfest went nowhere with little if anything resolved.
It is not possible to predict how things will turn out in Libya except to say it can be nothing good. If there is a silver lining in this hot mess it’s that of all the players militarily involved, the United States is not one of them. The U.S. has been content to admonish Hifter, who, believe it or not, is an American citizen and former CIA asset, to play nice.
President Trump is currently struggling to disengage the U.S. military from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. This is not a simple matter. But he is wise enough to know that it is far easier not to get America involved in conflict in the first place than it is to extricate the country from one it’s already engaged in. And Donald Trump is acting accordingly. Not all presidents would be so restrained.
There are several takeaway points for the Libyan situation. First, it again shows the utter recklessness and incompetence of the Obama-Clinton team which President Obama continued when John Kerry became secretary of State. Everything the Obama administration touched turned out bad. Second, Europe is (and will be) paying a steep price for allowing itself to become militarily impotent. All it can do is watch events unfold and talk, talk, talk. Third, Donald Trump is demonstrating that he’s serious about no new wars without true provocation. This is an improvement. And fourth, those paying the highest price for this Obama-Clinton-induced mess are the Libyan people themselves.