last update July 22
So here we are in mid-July, with the Libyan Civil War / NATO's war for Libya on the verge of five months old. Even France and the US are backing down from their broadest swipe at Libya's system, narrowing the focus back to the rule of Muammar Gaddafi. Negotiations with the sitting government are now being considered, based on whispers that the strongman might consider leaving power, if not Libya. His sons, not so central. This might be the talk of the tired.
And discussions on the future shape of the country, as seen on the map, are opening up. I've been meaning to explain my proposed two-state solution, but it took being annoyed by an article to finally spur this attempt. Matt Gregory wrote about - and panned - such a solution the other day.
Many have suggested that a two state solution, in which two seperate entities, East and West Libya, were created; the Western state would be controlled by Gadhafi and have a capital in Tripoli, and the Eastern state would be governed, like in South Sudan, by a new government with its base in Benghazi. The border would be located in the area outside the rebel-held Misrata. And, like in Sudan, everyone would be satisfied. Right?No, that's ridiculous. See the map below, where red is areas solidly held by rebels (it's a bit simplified, and doesn't show the implied southern desert control). The loyal people of the Sirte basin would not be happy to be swallowed under traitor control by the Misrata rebel's intransigence and ability to barely hold on.
Hell, there's a rebel toehold in Az Zintan, and other rebel holdings that come and go in the surrounding Nafusah mountains, west even of Tripoli. Do the rebels get the mountains and everything east of there now? That's the whole country! If the rebels keep Misrata at all (and despite the unfair cost to real Libya, it'll be hard to avoid), it'll be as a discontiguous exclave, and under military quarantine. Misrata cannot be the threat to Tripoli the rebels want it for.
Reality is what it is - real. No one among the great powers will now sanction a re-conquest of all Cyrenaica by Gaddafi's forces. The two sides are not likely to peacefully re-integrate any time soon after what's happened. The border should be just southwest of Ajdabiya. The cease-fire would leave the Nafusah mountain rebels frozen out of control, and quite possibly Misrata, besides the aspirants in other cities. They would be allowed to leave for the east. In fact, all people who feel displaced must be free to migrate.
It should be noted my east Libya is not really large (nor all that small), and pretty coastal. No one needs the desert south of there except for the oil in it. And this was never about stealing Libya's oil, only about freedom. There - two million people, hundreds of miles, beautiful cities, the second largest among them - coastal Cyrenaica, under rebel control and recognized, in peace, with elections, and endowed with offshore oil (north and slightly west) that's not bad.
I recommend also a cut off the top of all onshore and offshore oil under Tripoli's control, as these are still (some of) the peopl of Libya. But the management of that, via terminals in Brega and westward, should stay under Tripoli. Whatever else they've done, Gaddafi and his government have shown an ability to manage the oil wealth for the peoples' benefit, as opposed to Wall Street's. Benghazi should have a small share (reduced for extreme intransigence and sedition), but not be allowed to control and sell it out.
And then, maybe that could just be nullified in trade for continued access to the Great Manmade River, built by the government the rebels reject, but relied on by all Libyans... they could call it even Steven there, and have a small start towards re-discovering what they have in common. The truth and reconciliation will take a while to even broach, it's been so horrific since the rebels started the war in February.
Anyway, that's my proposal. It's much too fair to Tripoli for most peoples' liking. Just about anything is, it sometimes seems. For his part, Mr. Gergory in his article was pessimistic even about his narrow Western slice of Libya being acceptable.
Unfortunately, this plan would not work for several reasons. First of all, Muhammar Gadhafi is a war criminal. Retired British army Brigadier Ben Barry, who served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia, stated that should a two-state solution be implemented and Gadhafi remain in power, he would, "behave like an intransigent Bosnian warlord...controlling energy resources and then reverting to previous bad behavior."That Gaddafi is a war criminal is undeniable on paper, but reality is another story. I'm not impressed with the opinion of a crusading war-crimes-empowered, war-crimes-believing, British general. There's been serious disinformation about a certain class of NATO target governments like Yugoslavia and Libya.
Indeed, should Gadhafi, to whom an arrest warrant has already been issued by the International Criminal Court, be allowed to remain in power, he would be able to revert to his ruthless, tyrannical ways and virtually enslave all the people unfortunate enough to live west of rebel-held Misrata. Gadhafi has already been accused of human rights violations, such as the use of cluster bombs, which are extremely dangerous to civilians, and the location of military personell and weaponry in close proximity to buildings such as mosques, schools, and hospitals. If democracy is the object of NATO's mission in Libya, such a solution would not work.
For one, Libya never blew up Pan Am flight 103 in 1988; this much is known by the best minds on the issue, although on paper they're still guilty by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's preposterous 2001 conviction. Likewise, the supposed crimes of this war have a legal reality in the ICC arrest warrants - but these are based on what could best be understood as unverified rumors, as the 1991 indictments over Lockerbie were based on dubious stories from a paid and coerced informant. This time, by and large, it's unconfirmed and unlikely "tweets" from self-described rebels.
The cluster bombing - which has been questioned but might still be true (I need to update that issue) - is the least of it. The Gaddafi regime has been accused of using black foreign mercenaries to commit a range of atrocities against innocents. Hundreds or thousands have been arrested for the crime, hundreds others killed, but all expert analysis [see "refutations"] of these claimed foreign fighters shows they're foreigners but just workers, or fighters but Libyans and serving their country. Tripoli has been acused of bombing protesters with fighter jets, ordering them shot and ordering soldiers who refuse shot, bombing mosques and shooting worshippers for no good reason ("God vs. Gaddafi," he's secretly a Jew, etc.), ordering mass rape, again and again in different sadistic ways, having young children shot by snipers, planning various genocide and preparing for chemical warfare, and much more, all with no credible evidence. This will be the subject soon of a mega-post to keep score of how these have all panned out under scrutiny.
If a lying campaign like we're seeing emerge is pervasive and audacious enough that the world has called it true, should we, in the interests of skepticism, presume it must be mostly true?
Furthermore, a peace deal at this time in which the civil war was halted in order to create a division between Gadhafi's Libya and the rebel-held East would negate any of the positive progress that the rebel forces have made over the last few days. Slowly but surely, rebels have crept through the desert towards Tripoli, overtaking supply routes and weapons depots as they move forward. While no major victories have been won in the recent past, this new progress offers hope that rebel forces will eventually be able to eliminate Gadhafi and his forces for good, negating the need for any two-state solution. Should such a deal be signed, any momentum accumulated will be lost and Libyans will only be able to dream of what could have been a unified state under a democratic government.Ask the people of conquered Qawalish (aka Gualish) how positive this progress is. They fled the rebel conquest, and if they ever return, it'll be to burnt homes, looted stores, dead livestock, and a drained gas station. At least six defending soldiers were brutally killed and dumped outside Qawalish. Civilians were beaten and homes burnt in other towns in the area, to punish them for siding with the government. [see here for explanation]
Whatever the nature of it, this progress towards Gharyan and then Tripoli came only after relentless and costly outside bombing, destroying perhaps half Libya's real army, stealing a huge chunk of its money, refusing compromise, punishing peace initiatives, and finally air-dropping weapons for weeks in violation of the arms embargo. Only then this army of a thousand Islamist mountain punks made some gains towards what? Imposing their will on the million in Tripoli itself? Imagine David Koresh's group, twenty times larger and better armed. Should the Russians be holding out for a takeover of Texas? Or the whole US?
Again, the People there DO NOT WANT IT. The people west of Ajdabiya are already "enslaved" under Gaddafi and most seem fine enough with it, for now, if the world would just let them run their country, buy gasoline, work, and get paid, ever again. That's great that so many talking heads and world leaders and crusading journalists want rebel control over the green-washed masses to start re-programming them. So long as the free market people currently heading the rebel TNC stay in charge, the West is happy, confident they'll get those spoils coming in to satiate the masses at home who complain about the cost - as if they don't know a burglary takes a few bucks to set up.
The only fair solution to the reality on the ground is a (temporary) two-state solution. Anything else puts a lot of people under the rule of others they consider traitors and butchers. It's that simple.
I can see why putting the whole back together under Tripoli's rule will be unacceptable to everyon that matters. But I cannot support the opposite either. Perhaps Mr. Gregory - or Secretary Clinton? - will want to go to Tripoli and Brega, to the besieged loyalists still alive inside rebel-held Misrata and the threatened blacks of Tawergha that they just have to get used to the new order. A nasty coalition of the Lynch mob people who now say "Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata," Islamist radicals returned from Gitmo and Iraq, monarchists who just suck, and TNC sell-outs who eye kickbacks upon helping NATO's economies finally crack open Africa's largest oil reserves for real.
This seems to have been the aim of the rebel-NATO alliance, but that doesn't make it a just one, one that progress towards should be called "positive." People need to notice how fuzzy their understanding of this whole issue - starting with the geography of it - really is. Lives are at stake here.