News / Africa

Experts: Plan Now for Post-Gadhafi Libya to Avoid Chaos

A rebel fighter stands on the back of a pick-up truck mounted with a rocket launcher at a staging post on the road between Ajdabiyah and Brega in Libya, April 9, 2011
A rebel fighter stands on the back of a pick-up truck mounted with a rocket launcher at a staging post on the road between Ajdabiyah and Brega in Libya, April 9, 2011
Al Pessin

The United States and its European allies have called for the removal of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and are conducting daily airstrikes to protect civilians that ultimately are helping the rebels trying to oust him.  If their efforts succeed, experts say Libya faces an uncertain future, with many of the same ingredients that led to long conflicts after the fall of the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our correspondent reports from the Pentagon on lessons learned from those conflicts and the type of planning experts say should be done now for a post-Gadhafi Libya.

After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, American officials found they did not have enough troops to prevent widespread looting and lawlessness, and they did not have a detailed enough plan to establish government services and avoid the creation of the insurgency that plunged the country into years of war.

"Somebody needs to be doing the sort of planning that really had not been done in advance of the United States going into Iraq," said John Pike.

John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org, says many of the same factors are in place in Libya that led to the instability in Iraq - including tribal rivalries, the widespread presence of weapons, the likelihood of creating a disaffected group of former troops and regime supporters, and the decades-long reliance on one man to lead the country.

"Moammar Gadhafi has so dominated that country for so long that there really are not effective institutions which could run the country in his absence," he said. "And there’s going to have to be some sort of post-Gadhafi international stabilization effort or the whole thing’s going to fly apart the way Iraq did when the [Saddam Hussein] statue went down."

The NATO operational commander, U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, acknowledged the likely need for some sort of international presence in a post-Gadhafi Libya during testimony before a U.S. Senate committee two weeks ago.

"When you look at the history of NATO, having gone through this, as many on this committee have, with Bosnia and Kosovo, it's quite clear that the possibility of [the need for] a stabilization regime exists," said Admiral Stavridis.

The admiral’s counterpart at U.S. Africa Command, General Carter Ham, had this exchange with Senator Jim Webb the following week.

WEBB:  "I would assume that planners are considering the prospect that there might be an international force on the ground in Libya in the future if Gadhafi leaves.  Is that in the cards?"

HAM:  "Sir, I think that is certainly one potential outcome of this - an international force of some composition intervening between the regime and the opposition forces."

General Ham said such a force could involve U.S. troops, but he said that would not be ideal because it would likely result in negative reactions from people in the region.  Explaining the initial phase of the Libya operation three weeks ago, President Barack Obama said he would not deploy U.S. ground troops.

Now, even with senior officers saying some sort of foreign force will be needed in Libya if Mr. Gadhafi is forced from power, Pentagon officials can not provide information about any planning effort.  They note that the NATO military mission in Libya is being led by European allies, who they presume would also lead any post-conflict stabilization effort.

Again, security analyst John Pike:

"I’m concerned that there’s really not any planning going on in the Defense Department or State Department here, that it’s going to be left up to Italy, France and Britain," said Pike. "And I’m not sure that those countries have the resources to successfully implement a stabilization operation."

At the congressionally funded research organization the United States Institute of Peace, stabilization expert Beth Cole is more optimistic.  She says the United States and its key allies in NATO have years of recent experience with such operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, and they do not want to repeat the mistakes they made in those places.

"I have some faith that we actually have learned something from the last decade and that maybe NATO, the U.S., the French, the Brits and others who also have traveled a similar path are coming at this one with a little bit more knowledge and a little bit more willingness to partner among agencies," said Cole.

Cole says there is Libya planning going on behind closed doors among key U.S. government agencies, including the State Department, the Defense Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.  But she says nearly four weeks after the U.N. Security Council vote to authorize the use of force, the planning is at a relatively early stage.  She says there still is no agreement on key goals and the division of responsibilities, or on whether to use the Guiding Principles for Stabilization and Reconstruction she developed with the U.S. Army in 2009.

Cole says situations like the one that can be expected in Libya if Moammar Gadhafi falls require international and inter-agency efforts aimed at promoting the rule of law, developing a stable economy and creating an effective government.  But she says it all depends on establishing security in what is likely to be a very difficult situation.

"Security is a pre-condition for doing anything else in these environments," she said. "There are a lot of security challenges and we have to really scope those very, very well in this planning process.  And it will require that you probably will need, in the beginning, a pretty robust stabilization force."

Cole adds that long-term stability will require not only a foreign security force, but also an effort to understand and address internal conflicts among Libyan tribes and interest groups - the kind of understanding and plan that did not exist in Iraq.

"If you don’t have a means to help resolve the differences among these entities, then you’re going to have a very insecure environment for a very long time," said Cole.

Cole says one reason that planning for a post-Gadhafi Libya is still in its early stages is that the attention of Western officials has been divided among so many urgent crises in recent months - from Tunisia and Egypt to Japan, Ivory Coast and now Syria, Yemen and Libya.  But Libya is the one crisis where Western military power has been brought to bear, and where NATO allies have declared regime change as their political goal.  Experts say a lot of preparation is needed, and quickly, so that success, if it comes, does not lead to the same problems the allies faced after they achieved their initial goals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More