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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.