Libya after the overthrow of Gaddafi

Rebels in Libya have literally taken over Tripoli. Major powers except Russia and China have recognized the transitional government. Gaddafi and the senior leaders are in hiding . What next in Libya?

Col Gaddafi along with young officers overthrew the monarchy in 1968. After the independence British and U.S interests ruled the country indirectly through the monarchy. British and U.S controlled the entire oil industry. In addition they also had large military bases which were used to assist Israel during the 1956 and  1967 wars . These bases were used for counter revolutionary activities against Egypt's Nasser.

After the 1968 revolution Gaddafi removed all the foreign bases . In addition he nationalized the oil industry. In addition Gaddafi's government carried out far reaching social reform initiatives in subsidies, education, health and agriculture. Gaddafi's government was not socialist. However like any national bourgeoisie carried out social reform to strengthen it's base against imperialism and colonialism. U.S and western countries applied sanctions against the Libyan government. In addition CIA  and other foreign intelligence started plotting against the government. Monarchists in exile were recruited and trained to carry out counter revolutionary activities.

Internally Gaddafi nationized the oil and other industries owned by the western multinationals. Libya consists of many tribes and ethnic groups. In addition Libya consist of Arabs in the North, Berbers in the middle and black Africans including Touregs and other groups in the deep south. Libya like Sudan is a myriad of ethnic groups. By redistributing the wealth Gaddafi was able to bring cohesion between tribes and ethnic groups. Gaddafi also brought ethnic groups including black Libyans into national forces and state structures.

In the foreign arena Gaddafi supported Palestinian , African liberation movements against colonialism and various organizations in Europe and Latin America. He supported Sandinista struggle against dictatorship in Nicaragua and  IRA in Ireland. He helped liberation movements in Africa such PAIGC in Guinea, MPLA in Angola , Zanu PF in Zimbabwe, Frelimo in Mozambique, Swapo in Namibia and ANC in South Africa. Imperialist nations never forgave Gaddafi for this role.

In 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Gaddafi lost an important external support. By 2000 Gaddafi's government started adopting neo liberal policies. It started cutting down subsidies and opened up the economy to multinationals. In addition it was cooperating with west on it's war on Al Qaeda. Thousands of islamist extremists were arrested and tortured. By reducing subsidies and state employment unemployment among the youth reached major proportions. Just like any initial nascent national bourgeoisie it reached a stage where collaboration with multinationals became the natural progression. U.S and western countries lifted the sanctions and the collaboration accelerated. Gaddafi also dismantled it's chemical and nuclear weapons programs.

Although Gaddafi was cooperating with the west , West never trusted Gaddafi. U.S carried on with it's program of counter revolution. Gaddafi only wanted to be a partner not a puppet of the west. He was not prepared to sell the country. He was also not prepared to roll back many of the reforms carried out. In the meantime the former national bourgeoisie which has become comprador was prepared to sell the country. In addition unemployment within youth and torture of Islamists made him unpopular.
In addition his dictatorship from being benevolent, became intolerable dictatorship.

When Arab uprising started in Tunisia and Egypt , Libyan youth  too revolted against Gaddafi. These youth which were petty bourgeois in character were carried away with bourgeoisie democratic slogans. Brutal methods of Gaddafi regime led to the youth being manipulated by counter revolutionary leaders which consist of ex monarchists, Neoliberals from Gaddafi's regime, and other CIA trained exiles. Muslim brotherhood too played a leading role. Behind the rebel leadership was western countries. Even though the rank and file are not reactionary the leadership is reactionary. It doesn't matter what the rank and file thinks . What is important is what leadership thinks and does . Rebel leadership is controlled by the west and that is what matters.

When Gaddafi used massive force to crush the rebellion, west and NATO intervened to support the rebels and overthrow the government. NATO bombing in the last six months was even more than U.S bombing during the Iraq campaign. Gaddafi's conventional military withdrew and rebels have now captured Tripoli.

Gaddafi knows that he cannot win a conventional war against NATO and it's foot soldiers. He had only one option which is to withdraw. Question is whether Libya is going to become Iraq or Afghanistan. In Afghanistan Talaban carried out a successful withdrawal and is fighting after 10 years on the basis of national liberation. Talaban which was very unpopular during it's tenure is able to fight a  national liberation struggle against NATO and U.S .

On the other hand in Iraq Saddam and Baathist party withdrew after the U.S invasion. However Saddam got caught and Baathist struggle against U.S occupation has degenerated into an Al qaeda operation.

Next few months are critical if Gaddafi or the senior leadership survives time will be on their side as in Afghanistan. New leadership in Libya will have to accelerate the neo liberal policies of the former national bourgeoisie.  Subsidies will be completely removed and all national interests will be sold to the west. Unemployment will accelerate. Any vision of the youth to be a Dubai or Qatar will shatter. Although the Islamists within the rebels will resist some these efforts, they cannot fight NATO or it's local stooges.

If Gaddafi carries out successful withdrawal, Gaddafi and his supporters will carryout a low intensity asymmetric warfare against western backed reactionary government for a long time similar to Afghanistan. West will have to intervene directly to support their puppets and their interests. War in Afghanistan lasted for more than 10 years. Another analogy will be Algerian war of liberation against French. Terrain is similar and the conditions are same.

In order to carryout a successful withdrawal , Gaddafi's forces have to fight a successful rearguard action. I think Gaddafi started withdrawal weeks ago when he realized that governing under NATO bombardment is untenable. What is going on in Tripoli now is successful rearguard actions. Southern part of Libya could be rear base for the future operations. Southern part of Libya consist of black Libyans who are Africans rather than Arabs and contributed significantly to Gaddafi's forces. Currently revenge massacres by rebels on black Libyans who are called conveniently as mercenaries by rebels and western media will mean that Southern population will support Gaddafi. In addition there are tens of thousands of migrant African workers living in Libya who have been mistreated by rebels as mercenaries. Libya has a potential of becoming another Sudan. Tuaregs in Libya and their brothers in Niger and Mali have been financed and supported by Gaddafi for decades. What is clear is that if Gaddafi wants to survive in Libya , he has sufficient support and rear bases in Southern Libya.

However his arrest and death means that Gaddafi's resistance will be be led by his colleagues than his family

Libyan rebels consist of  secular opposition and Islamic opposition. Secularist consist of pro western exiles financed and backed by western intelligence agencies, ex Gaddafi loyalists and leftists including Nasserists. Once should not forget that Gaddafi with Sadat were responsible for the crushing and massacre of Sudanese communist party (the largest in Africa). Islamist opposition consist of Muslim brotherhood , Salafists and Libyan Islamic fighting group(Lifg) which was aligned to Al Qaeda and fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ex Lifg leader Belhaj is the head of Tripoli military council.

At one point this coalition is going to unravel and ideological differences will come to fore.

Currently Libya has no external debt . It has $150 billions in frozen assets and 144 tonnes of gold. It is expected that the new leadership will squander the wealth and the country will become another exploited African country.

20th November 2011

In 2016, Libya has two governments. One based in Tobruk  which consists of "moderate" elements and other based in Tripoli which consist of islamist mainly muslim brotherhood elements. In between ISIL occupies large areas including Sirte which was the birth place of Gaddafi. As in Iraq , Gaddafi loyalists are with ISIL.  West considers ISIL in Libya as a major threat and has embarked on aerial bombardment to destroy it's camps. It is also trying to bring together both governments to form a unitary government to fight ISIL.

25th February 2016