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 Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid