“Libya is just another one of those countries with too much interference from outside sources. In my opinion, Gaddafi should have remained in power, because he was some kind of a stabilizing force,” retired US Army General Paul Vallely told RT in October 2016.
“It was Obama and the State Department that created the weapon sale over there, basically arming the Muslim Brotherhood, backed Al-Qaeda radical Islamic elements over there – that created the problem in the first place,” he added.
Six years after Obama and Clinton supported a wave of violent and non-violent protests dubbed the Arab Spring engulfed the Middle East and North Africa, Libya, which once found itself in the middle of this revolutionary tide, still struggles with chaos and violence.
Obama’s policy failed
Gaddafi’s home city, Sirte, is still controlled by Islamic State which seized the area in 2015. IS has been expanding into Libya over the past two years. According to the UN data, between 2000 to 3000 IS fighters are operating in Libya, including 1500 in Sirte, in 2015.
The West which once supported ‘freedom fighters’ (ISIS) battling the ‘dictator Gaddafi,’ are also slowly realizing that the 2011 intervention in Libya was a mistake.
The North African country is divided between two major forces – a Tobruk-based parliament and the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli (GNA)– and is being further ripped apart by numerous militant groups, including Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) and other extremist groups vying for control of the war-torn country.
Before the 2011 turmoil, Libya had a prospering economy, which used its vast oil revenues to create jobs for hundreds of thousands of guest workers. Gaddafi also cracked down on people smugglers, effectively turning his country into a migration buffer zone for Europe.
Now, various clan-based militias have seized the opportunities in both human trafficking and oil smuggling created by the post-Gaddafi chaos. According to Italian journalist Frecesca Mannocchi, the western coastal strip of Libya running from Zawya to Sabratha has turned into smuggler’s paradise, with the local police and the coast guard complicit in lucrative oil smuggling activities.
The number of migrant deaths on the Libya-to-Italy Mediterranean Sea smuggling route has also risen to record highs, AP reported on Wednesday, citing the European Union’s border and coast guard chief.
Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said the recorded number of migrant drowning deaths on the route in 2016 stood at 4,579, but that figure might be much lower than the actual loss of life. The central Mediterranean route saw 2,869 deaths in 2015 and 3,161 in 2014, according to AP.
Militants are also fighting over the country’s oil infrastructure, and those in control of some facilities sometimes attempt to seize or bomb other sites controlled by their rivals.
This smuggled oil is making its way into Europe as these clans, locals claim, are working with the Sicilian Mafia, and ‘authorities’ say it has cost the state $360 million so far.