The Libyan Pandora’s Box

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The death of Muammar Gadhafi may have signaled the official end to his regime but the sad reality is that President Obama’s Libyan intervention has simply traded one problem for a far more dangerous one. That danger was underscored by the recent announcement by Libya’s de facto leader that the new Libya would be an Islamist state.

In a ceremony in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi marking the death of Gadhafi, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, chairman of Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), put to rest any doubts the direction of the new Libya by declaring, “We take the Islamic religion as the core of our new government. The constitution will be based on our Islamic religion.”

The new Libyan constitution, according to Jalil, will also include the establishment of Islamic banks and the lifting of restrictions on the number of women Libyan men can marry.

While no one mourns the death of Muammar Gadhafi, the triumphant notes emanating from the Obama administration ignore the fact, as evidenced by Jalil’s comments, that toppling a tyrant remains the easiest part of the regime change equation. One need only look at US forces taking 60 days to topple the Afghan Taliban in 2001 and 30 days to oust Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in 2003.

It was only in the aftermath of those early successes in which sectarian civil unrest reared its head and engulfed both countries. For Libya, Gadhafi’s removal from the scene has now given rise to competing Islamist, secularist and tribal factions that threatens to throw Libya into a similar morass of sectarian violence.

Of course, such an outcome should produce little surprise given that the Obama administration threw its support behind a Libyan rebel force that included a collection of al-Qaeda insurgents, Islamist militants, criminals and former Gadhafi loyalists.

Not surprisingly, rifts within the ranks of the rebels’ ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) have only deepened since the fall of Tripoli in August 2011, with secularists and radical Islamists accusing each other of hijacking the Libyan revolution.

The Islamists have vehemently objected to efforts by secularist leaders within the NTC, led by current interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, to install a secular, pro-Western government staffed with holdovers of the Gadhafi regime.

Yet, despite the efforts to marginalize them, the early signs appear to indicate that the Islamists, including members of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaeda terrorists, have emerged as the frontrunners to fill the vacuum left from the death of Gadhafi and the fall of his regime.

The Islamists are led by Abdel Hakim Belhaj, commander of the Tripoli Military Council and former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an Islamist movement with close ties to al-Qaeda.

Belhaj, who first left Libya in the 1980s to wage jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan and then later US coalition forces, has subsequently called for the NTC to purge itself of former Gadhafi loyalists and base the new Libyan government squarely on Sharia law.

Belhaj’s call for an Islamic state has been echoed by Ali al-Sallabi, a prominent Libyan Islamist cleric recently returned from exile in Qatar. While al-Sallabi has no formal political role, he enjoys great influence due to his close association with Belhaj.

In addition to the return of Islamists like al-Sallabi come exiled members of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, banned by Gadhafi and now returning back to Libya to flex its newfound political muscle. According to one Libyan Brotherhood member, the group still has thousands of members scattered across Libya, with chapters in almost every single town, adding, “We’ve been working secretly till this moment.”

So, fully cognizant of the dangers these militant Islamic groups pose, Prime Minister Jibril has said any scheduling of constitutional and presidential elections can’t possibly be held until all the various armed rebel militias and brigades voluntarily disarm themselves.

Yet no group seems willing to heed Jibril’s call, among them most of Libya’s approximately 140 disparate tribes. Many of the tribes in Libya’s central and western regions chafed at the dominant role the eastern-based Benghazi tribes played in the NTC and either stayed out of the conflict or took the side of pro-Gadhafi forces.

One of these tribes included the Warfallah, the largest Libyan tribe, with more than one million people, who were counted as among the strongest of the Gadhafi regime’s loyalists during the conflict. So while Gadhafi and his regime may be gone, left behind are hosts of these loyalists, many of whom profited mightily from his years in power and who may be reluctant to lay down their arms and face retribution from Libyan rebels bent on settling scores.

Ironically, the fear of retribution from Libyan rebels has served to undermine the entire Responsibility to Protect premise upon which Obama used to justify intervention in Libya, namely to provide humanitarian assistance to Libyan civilians purportedly under assault by pro-Gadhafi forces.

Instead, Libyan rebels have engaged in their own, and some say even more brutal, atrocities. These human rights abuses include, according to a report by Amnesty International, massacres of Libyan civilians in pro-Gadhafi neighborhoods as well as a pogrom launched against dark-skinned Libyan civilians and African migrant workers.

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  • Larry

    Where did they go? Over the eastern border, through Egypt, to Gaza. Where else would they go.

  • Robert A. Hall

    Obama’s “humanitarian” intervention in a country that posed no threat to American interests now creates a threat to thousands of innocent lives. I hope I’m wrong, but I expect Americans to die by the weapons cheerfully supplied to terrorists through Obama’s actions in Libya. Or maybe the idea was they would sell them to Mexican drug lords, thus saving ATF the trouble? I will link to this from my Old Jarhead blog.

    Robert A. Hall
    Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
    (All royalties go to a charity to help wounded veterans)
    For a free PDF of the book, write tartanmarine(at)

    • Larry C.

      Mr. Robert Hall I know of no other greater way to say this than to say if we as citizens of this nation stand around, and take all of this "BULL" from this man about this illegal war. Then we are just as bad–"GUILTY" as he is. He never went to Congress to discuss with them about the war effort, or our part in it. It has cost tax-paying citizens of this nation well over "ONE-TRILLION" dollars to depose of a dictator that had no ill will for us until we started to do harm to him, and his family. Did he hold some kind of secrets about OBAMMY?? If this had been the former President–(THE DEMO-"RATS")–In Congress would be screaming for his head, but this one is getting away Scot free—WHY?? We all will see very soon why. After that time America will never be the same again, and it might even not be safe from it's own self. The scary thing now for all of Libya, and for the "
      FOOL" of this nation–(AMERICA)–Is this so-called President that we have just allowed a sharia law form of Gov. to come into formation in the nation of Libya—-"WAY TO GO EL-DUMBO" OBAMMY.

  • Ageofreason

    The western allies have made a terrible mistake by helping the Libyan rebels overthrow Gadhafi. The results of the overthrow…the strenthening of Al Qaida, the missing weapons, the increased danger and threat to the west…were all preictable by anyone with an ounce of sense. Our leaders are vacuous, bubble-headed morons. Islam and constitutional democracy as we know it are incompatible, and obviously so to anyone who understands Islam. The implications of that knowledge are what our leaders refuse to face: in the end we will face a bloody and no-quarter fight to the death with Islam, and yes, it will involve enforced expulsions and/or conversions, outright bans on sharia law and perhaps on Islam itself, and death on a mass scale, them more than us if we choose to win. It is time to face what Islam is, and how to defeat it.

  • tanstaafl

    It does look very dire. The worse thing is that our liberal elites seem blind to the danger the world is in. This is a long war without an end in sight.

    …..but the last the last thing out of Pandora's box was hope.

  • LindaRivera

    In Libya, “The brigade for purging slaves, black skin”
    – slogan seen painted in rebel country.

    There is mostly silence about the horrors taking place against Libya’s blacks.
    STOP the GENOCIDE of Blacks by the U.S. backed cruel Libya rebels!

    The Obama-supported rebels left in charge are now conducting a “large scale cleaning in the areas under their control with the extermination of all blacks in the capital”, according to The Independent.

    Barbaric atrocities, kidnappings and ruthless genocide of blacks in Libya by US/France/NATO backed Al-Qaeda/Hezbollah rebels has been going on for months.

    US/NATO who have waged war for months for Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda
    who MURDER our troops in Iraq-are RESPONSIBLE for stopping the genocide.

    US/NATO are also responsible for rescuing the many terrified blacks kidnapped by the rebels, including the kidnapped black children who have been horrifically abused by the black-hater Muslim rebels.

    Blacks must have human rights!


  • LindaRivera

    United together in JIHAD, US/NATO, Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah triumph over Libya.

    Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and the commander of the U.S. European Command told the U.S. Senate that Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah fighters are among the Libyan rebels currently receiving support from the US and its NATO allies. This was confirmed by one of the Libyan rebel officers, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, who leads one of the Al-Qaeda units.

    U.S/NATO joined with Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists to wage war.
    Gadaffi did some terrible things. But US/NATO consider barbaric Al Qaeda and barbaric Hezbollah to be good guys to be placed in power in Libya? US/NATO have great guilt in making the world a far more dangerous place.

    • alphakilosingh

      Couldn't agree more.

  • LindaRivera

    Egypt’s Mubarak, and now Gaddafi, show it’s dangerous and even
    life-threatening to be an ally of America or seek to help America. Which
    country is targeted next?

    It’s extremely important to note that in his later years, Gaddafi
    cooperated with America. He gave up his nuclear and other weapons of
    mass destruction programs. Radically different from Iran who have vowed
    repeatedly to “WIPE Israel off the map” and, “DESTROY America.” Iran
    fully intends to carry out their murderous threats.

    U.S. and Western leaders owe the world an explanation as to why they
    waged relentless war for several months against Gadaffi who freely
    cooperated and was no longer a threat. And why GENOCIDAL Iran is given a
    free pass. Iran is allowed to become a nuclear power, hold the world
    hostage, and in the end, perpetrate a terrible nuclear Holocaust on

  • LindaRivera

    To Ageofreason,

    Obama and his administration know EXACTLY what they are doing. This is just one example:

    28 Jan 2011, Daily Telegraph: Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising

    The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

    America was behind the ouster of U.S. ally, moderate Mubarak, in order to bring to power the Muslim Brotherhood whose stated goal is the destruction of civilization.

    It is clear that the U.S. and other Western ruling elites are working to destabilize the Middle East and they don’t want moderates. They don’t want secular governments. They prefer the most radical elements of Islam.

  • Bamaguje

    "While no one mourns the death of Muammar Gadhafi…blah blah blah" – Frank Crimi

    Speak for yourself Mr Crimi.
    You can't eat your cake and have it.
    You lament the looming Al-Qaeda linked Islamist takeover in Libya, yet refuse to acknowledge that Gaddafi was keeping these Jihadist lunatics at bay, until the idiotic ill-thought Obama/Sarkozy intervention.

  • William Griffith

    BHO has enabled the Islamists and he full well knows what he is doing.. Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, etc – this so called "Arab Spring" is the Jihadist's wet dream. What we in the West will see is NOT an outbreak of liberty and Freedom but a multinational convulsion towards a 7th century death cult .
    The 100 % retreat from Iraq will be back to bite the next adult in the White House and this nation square in the butt.

  • alphakilosingh

    USA and the rest of the world have to answer this key question:
    Is a person or a group which wants to convert your country into an Islamic state is your enemy or not?
    And the supplementary question:
    Should you not crush your enemy totally?
    Arabian countries after they have been 'liberated' have reinstated their faith in Islam, and one of the key objectives of Islam is spreading Islam to far and wide corners of the world!
    The world would have been a better place with those dictators ruling the Arab world.

    • alphakilosingh

      To be able to answer the first question more objectively, try answering this one:
      Is a person or a group or a country that is trying to convert your country into a Jewish state your enemy?
      By simple logic, if the answer to this question is 'YES', the answer to the original question cannot be 'NO'.