NATO abstains from democratizing Libya?

While none of the parties involved in the conflict in Libya can definitely forecast the future, speculation on the topic continues. It is widely assumed that sooner or later Colonel Gaddafi will have to step down. But what’s next remains a mystery for everybody.

On Tuesday, at a press conference in St. Petersburg, a day after the meeting of the Russia – NATO Council in Sochi, the head of the North Atlantic alliance Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that NATO’s not seeking “a leading NATO role in a post-Gaddafi period.” According to the Secretary General, this leading role should be taken by the UN so as to avoid a power vacuum in Libya.

Definitely this is a kind of acknowledgement of the futility of all NATO efforts that have now lasted for more than three and a half months. The war against Gaddafi has been going at full scale, but with little effect. The Colonel is still in power in Tripoli; he controls most of the western part of the country and shows no signs of being ready to step down although reports pointing to this appear now and then.

The rebels, even assisted by massive NATO airstrikes that cause more casualties among civilians than among Gaddafi troops, do not seem to have made any significant advance towards Tripoli. More so, the sense of frustration with the NATO’s so called assistance is growing among the rebels. If early in March – April the overwhelming feeling was that of gratitude to NATO, this feeling is fading now.

But Mr. Rasmussen’s words indeed signal much more than a pure acknowledgement of NATO’s and the rebels’ impotence.

First of all, they clearly demonstrate the division of duties in the modern world as envisioned by NATO and primarily by the US. A similar situation has been created in Iraq and Afghanistan and now its third edition is being prepared in Libya.

In all cases, NATO created a havoc by overthrowing the existing regimes, then the alliance brought to power some puppets unable to cope with the situation, but withdrew itself from solving further problems, putting the burden on somebody else’s shoulders.

Thus the destructive role of NATO is further demonstrated by its actions in Libya. There can be no doubt that the post-Gaddafi Libya will be much weaker than it was under his dictatorship. The whole infrastructure will have been ruined by military activity on the ground and especially by the airstrikes. It will take years and billions of dollars to compensate for the devastation caused by NATO operations. And there definitely is no guarantee that the new government, whoever heads it, will be much more democratic than the Gaddafi regime.

So, it is only wise for NATO to wash its hand after the primary aim of the operation is achieved and Gaddafi steps down. NATO’s chief probably thinks that the Alliance’s airstrikes have already done enough to promote democracy in Libya. The rest – and that involves a lot of dirty work at the grass-root level – should be borne by somebody else.

Après nous le déluge- Let there be a flood after us - is the old motto of all irresponsible leaders and Anders Fogh Rasmussen is not the first and definitely not the last one to follow it.

But what the whole wording of his statement suggests has been recently revealed by Tom Dale in The Guardian. Based on numerous facts and observations, his conclusion is clear and unequivocal: in fact, NATO does not really want the rebels to succeed because their victory could lead to a period of a long-lasting instability. Therefore, the Alliance is waiting for Gaddafi’s inner circle to revolt against the Colonel. That would mean that the new regime would be formed by the ex-regime figures – some of them now being located in Tripoli, others are among the rebels. And that would mean that NATO will still have the levers that would enable it to manipulate the new regime in Libya.

This may be the ultimate NATO aim – not just removing Gaddafi, but replacing him with an obedient figure. But one should know – history teaches that puppet regimes ARE obedient, but usually don’t last long.

[Source: The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 06Jul11]

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