Libya: “David Cameron Ultimately Responsible For Failures,” Says U.K. Govt Report

cameron-sarkozy-benghazi

On Tuesday September 13th 2016, the British ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron, resigned his position as a member of the British Parliament and left politics completely. He cited his reason as not wishing to be “a distraction” to the government’s forthcoming agenda.

On Wednesday September 14th 2016, another much more far-reaching reason became apparent when a parliamentary foreign affairs committee report was published on the intervention in Libya by Britain and France in 2011. It’s conclusions were damning:

In March 2011, the United Kingdom and France, with the support of the United States, led the international community to support an intervention in Libya to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

This policy was not informed by accurate intelligence. In particular, the Government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element.

By the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya. The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.

Through his decision making in the National Security Council, former Prime Minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy. [1]

That was merely the opening summary of the report, which goes to on to lay much of the blame for the present situation in Libya on Cameron, and the French president of the time, Nicolas Sarkozy:

On 2 April 2011, Sidney Blumenthal, adviser and unofficial intelligence analyst to the then United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reported this conversation with French intelligence officers to the Secretary of State:

According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following
issues:

a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
b. Increase French influence in North Africa,
c. Improve his internal political situation in France,
d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.

The sum of four of the five factors identified by Sidney Blumenthal equated to the French national interest. The fifth factor was President Sarkozy’s political self-interest.

The story of intervention in Libya is a repeat of the intervention in Iraq in 2002-2003.

Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate. Former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Richards of Herstmonceux confirmed that intelligence on the composition of the rebel militias was not “as good as one would wish.” He observed that “We found it quite difficult to get the sort of information you would expect us to get.” We asked Lord Richards whether he knew that Abdelhakim Belhadj and other members of the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were participating in the rebellion in March 2011. He replied that that “was a grey area”. He added that “a quorum of respectable Libyans were assuring the Foreign Office” that militant Islamist militias would not benefit from the rebellion. He acknowledged that “with the benefit of hindsight, that was wishful thinking at best.”

The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda.

Bad intelligence, lies perpetrated by “a quorum of respectable Libyans” for their own ends (remember Chalabi & Co of Iraq?), no taking account of religious extremism, are all too reminiscent of the Iraq debacle. Only this time Britain and France were the instigators, although the U.S. fully supported the actions and, indeed, were instrumental in expanding the terms of U.N. Resolution 1973 from just a ‘no-fly zone’ to “all necessary measures” to prevent attacks on civilians.

In fact, the supposed attacks on civilians were never going to materialize. Although Gaddafi made terrible threats against those civilians in rebel-held areas, all the evidence suggests it was no more than Gaddafi-bluster:

Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence…Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year record of appalling human rights abuses did not include large-scale attacks on Libyan civilians.

On 17 March 2011, Muammar Gaddafi announced to the rebels in Benghazi, “Throw away your weapons, exactly like your brothers in Ajdabiya and other places did. They laid down their arms and they are safe. We never pursued them at all.” Subsequent investigation revealed that when Gaddafi regime forces retook Ajdabiya in February 2011, they did not attack civilians. Muammar Gaddafi also attempted to appease protesters in Benghazi with an offer of development aid before finally deploying troops.

As in Syria, the so-called ‘rebels’ in Libya were composed of many factions, including large numbers of Islamic extremists with their own agenda. Rebel factions fed western media lies and fabrications that governments appeared only too happy to believe. This is almost certainly true of the civil war in Syria, also.

An Amnesty International investigation in June 2011 could not corroborate allegations of mass human rights violations by Gaddafi regime troops. However, it uncovered evidence that rebels in Benghazi made false claims and manufactured evidence. The investigation concluded that “…much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge.”

Regime change was definitely not part of U.N. Resolution 1973, but “one thing morphed almost ineluctably into the other” as the campaign developed its own momentum, said one of the committee’s expert witnesses, Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Richards:

He expressed his concern about the strategic direction of the campaign in March 2011:
During Benghazi, an increasingly influential set of people started saying, “If we’re really going to protect civilians, you’ve got to get rid of Gaddafi.” That is when I said, “Well, is that really sensible? What are we going to do if he goes?” and all the things that I had learned through bitter experience. That was rather ignored in the majority view, which was, “We need to get rid of him, simply to make sure we meet the political aim of preventing large-scale civilian loss of life.

When the then Prime Minister David Cameron sought and received parliamentary approval for military intervention in Libya on 21 March 2011, he assured the House of Commons that the object of the intervention was not regime change. In April 2011, however, he signed a joint letter with United States President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy setting out their collective pursuit of “a future without Gaddafi”.

All told, this report is a damning indictment of former Prime Minister David Cameron. In many ways he was as much at fault in his decision making over Libya as was ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair over Iraq.

Interventionism in the Middle East and Africa has been western (U.S.) policy for the last five decades. It has produced nothing but suffering and death for innocent people, numerous failed states, and the rise of Islamic extremism determined to hit back at Western nations it sees as invading infidels.

If Western leaders feel it necessary to intervene in civil wars within other countries they should, as a matter of necessity, formulate strict guidelines for rebuilding and restructuring as per the culture of the country and not, in their own cultural image. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and now Libya, neither of these factors was even considered.

Colin Powell once quoted a saying known as the Pottery Rule: “If you break it – you own it.” It was a reference to the Iraq War. Powell was wrong. You can’t own a country that wasn’t yours to start with, you can only subjugate it. The rule should be: “If you break it – you MEND it.”

David Cameron and other Western leaders have proved themselves expert at nation breaking, then walking away and leaving a mess behind in the vain hope that someone else might come along and fix it.

Invariably, those who do come along afterwards are only intent on rape, pillage, enslavement, and slaughter.

NOTE: All quotes in this article are from the recent U.K. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report: “Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options.” The report runs to forty-nine pages and should be read in full for a complete understanding of the factors (including deceptions) that led up to the intervention in Libya in 2011 and its resulting failures. A link to the report is provided below.

[1] “Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options” House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, September 2016.