The Role Of Al Qaeda And The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)
In Libya's 2011 Civil War

NATO began its involvement in Libya's civil war in 2011 by backing anti-Gaddafi rebels. But these include members of Al Qaeda and the associated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group who hope to gain greater influence over the country as a result of the war. Compared to Gaddafi's attitude since the rapprochement brokered by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2003, these groups are much more hostile towards the west. And it is on the west they are likely to turn if they remain in place and the country becomes a percieved western protectorate. Gaddafi had been a resolute opponent of these groups and his removal potentially represents a great opportunity for them. Just as western forces opened up Iraq to Al Qaeda, there is a real prospect of the same happening in Libya. However, NATO is prepared to take almost any action to try and regain access to Libya's oil fields.

"As one report put it, 'On a per capita basis, though, twice as many foreign fighters came to Iraq from Libya -- and specifically eastern Libya -- than from any other country in the Arabic-speaking world. Libyans were apparently more fired up to travel to Iraq to kill Americans than anyone else in the Middle East. And 84.1% of the 88 Libyan fighters in the Sinjar documents who listed their hometowns came from either Benghazi or Darnah in Libya's east.'"
David Frum - Does Obama really want Gadhafi to go?
CNN, 14 March 2011

"The resignation of Libya’s Interior Minister Col. Mohammad al-Sheikh on Aug.18 after less than two months in office revealed the size of the political turmoil in Libya. A group calling itself the Barqa Youth Movement has declared the eastern area to be an autonomous federal province within the framework of the Libyan state. The movement’s statement said that Islamic Sharia 'is the source of legislation in the province,' declared the appointment of a temporary president for the province, and declared the establishment of a defense force that would protect the province and maintain security.... However, the recent announcement by the Barqa Youth Movement is different because of the figures who stand behind it. Most of those figures are leaders of armed groups that have demonstrated their ability to control the ground. The figures include Al-Saddiq al-Ghaithi, the former proxy assistant secretary to the Libyan defense minister who was in charge of securing the country’s borders and its oil installations. Those in Libya who know Ghaithi assert that he used to be an activist in the Islamic jihadist movement years ago and that he was imprisoned by the former regime. He was also a close associate to Abdul Hakim Belhadj, a leader in the Mujahideen Brigades, which belong to the Islamic Fighting Group. After Gadhafi’s fall, Ghaithi found himself at the top of the country’s military leadership. But Libya’s Islamist current had a quarrel with the country’s new leadership. The Islamists saw that some were attempting to 'secularize the state.'
Libya Losing Control of Oil Fields  To Jihadist Groups
Al-Monitor, August 2013

"Libyan rebel forces may have been infiltrated by al-Qaeda fighters, a senior American military commander has warned. Admiral James Stavridis, Nato's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, said that American intelligence had picked up 'flickers' of terrorist activity among the rebel groups. Senior British government figures described the comment as 'very alarming'. The admission came as the American, Qatari and British Governments indicated that they were considering arming rebel groups.... the emerging plan being discussed for the political future of Libya was undermined by the growing military doubts over the make-up of the rebel groups. 'We are examining very closely the content, composition, the personalities, who are the leaders of these opposition forces,' Admiral Stavridis said in testimony yesterday to the US Senate. While the opposition's leadership appeared to be 'responsible men and women' fighting the Gaddafi regime, Admiral Stavridis said, 'we have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hizbollah, we've seen different things.'....The remarks are likely to be seized on by Col Gaddafi who has repeatedly claimed that the uprising is being driven by terrorists.... Last night, Baroness Warsi, the Muslim cabinet minister and co-chairman of the Conservatives, said the comments about the composition of the rebel force were 'very concerning'.... Mr Hague said: 'We can never be complacent about the way events like this could turn out … Of course, there is a danger, if things go wrong in the region on a sustained basis, there could be opportunities for terrorism.'"
Libya: al-Qaeda among Libya rebels, Nato chief fears
Telegraph, 31 March 2011

"Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said he welcomed the progress made at the London conference but asked Mr Hague to clarify the Government's position when it came to arming rebel forces. There was evidence al Qaida has potentially attached itself to some rebel groups, he said, and this should make the Government very cautious about arming them. Labour also wanted to know whether Gaddafi would be allowed to flee Libya and escape prosecution if it meant there was not further bloodshed, Mr Alexander added. The shadow foreign secretary questioned how much support military action had among Arab League countries as Saudi Arabia did not send a representative to yesterday's conference, which was not attended by a member of the African Union. He also asked whether rebel troops in eastern Libya had been involved in fighting against British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr Alexander asked the Foreign Secretary in the Commons: 'Of course we would all prefer Libya without Gaddafi but given our lack of knowledge about some elements of the rebel forces, would you agree we must proceed with very real caution on the question of armaments?'..... John Baron (Basildon and Billericay), the only Conservative MP to vote against the resolution, asked whether Gaddafi's ground forces were a target. 'Some of us remain of the view that Western intervention is as much about regime change as it is about humanitarian aid,' he said. Labour veteran Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) warned that giving arms to groups in Libya could backfire on Britain. 'Why can't the Government be quite clear about not re-arming the resurgent groups in Libya, now that the Nato commander has testified to the US Senate he cannot rule out infiltration by al Qaida or other terrorist groups?' he asked. 'As a historian, you know that in the 1980s another ally, America, decided to arm Osama bin Laden to get the Soviets out of Afghanistan. 'And now British troops are dying on the mountains of Afghanistan because of that error. Don't repeat it.'.... Senior Tory Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) urged 'extreme caution' on arming Libyan groups. 'Would it not be a double win for al Qaida and would we not start to lose support in the Arab world if we were seen to impose a solution on Libya, and the same time to give arms to what could prove to be Islamist insurgents in the future?'"
Five Libyan diplomats expelled over Gaddafi links
Independent, 30 March 2011

"A U.S. NATO commander does not rule out an Al Qaeda presence in the Libya opposition against Muammar al-Qaddafi. Adm. James Stavridis says that intelligence has shown 'flickers' of potential Al Qaeda in opposition groups but that there is still no detailed picture of rebel groups."
U.S. NATO Commander Doesn't Rule Out Al Qaeda Presence in Libyan Rebels
Fox News, 29 March 2011

"Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi's regime. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited 'around 25' men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are 'today are on the front lines in Adjabiya'. Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters 'are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,' but added that the 'members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader'.  His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad's president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, 'including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries'. Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against 'the foreign invasion' in Afghanistan, before being 'captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan'. He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008. US and British government sources said Mr al-Hasidi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which killed dozens of Libyan troops in guerrilla attacks around Derna and Benghazi in 1995 and 1996. Even though the LIFG is not part of the al-Qaeda organisation, the United States military's West Point academy has said the two share an 'increasingly co-operative relationship'. In 2007, documents captured by allied forces from the town of Sinjar, showed LIFG emmbers made up the second-largest cohort of foreign fighters in Iraq, after Saudi Arabia. Earlier this month, al-Qaeda issued a call for supporters to back the Libyan rebellion, which it said would lead to the imposition of 'the stage of Islam' in the country. British Islamists have also backed the rebellion, with the former head of the banned al-Muhajiroun proclaiming that the call for 'Islam, the Shariah and jihad from Libya' had 'shaken the enemies of Islam and the Muslims more than the tsunami that Allah sent against their friends, the Japanese".
Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links
Telegraph, 27 March 2011

"Al-Qaeda's offshoot in North Africa has snatched surface-to-air missiles from an arsenal in Libya during the civil strife there, Chad's president said in an interview to be published Monday. Idriss Deby Itno did not say how many were stolen, but told the African weekly Jeune Afrique that he was '100 per cent sure' of his assertion. 'The Islamists of Al Qaeda took advantage of the pillaging of arsenals in the rebel zone to acquire arms, including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries in Tenere,' a desert region of the Sahara that stretches from northeast Niger to western Chad, Deby said in the interview. 'This is very serious. AQIM  (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) is becoming a genuine army, the best equipped in the region,' he said. Elsewhere in the interview, Chad's president backed the assertion by his neighbour and erstwhile enemy Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi that the protests in Libya have been driven in part by Al Qaeda. 'There is a partial truth in what he says,' Deby said. 'Up to what point? I don't know. But I am certain that AQIM took an active part in the uprising.' After years of tension between the two nations, which were at war during part of the 1980s, Deby has more recently maintained good relations with Kadhafi. The Chadian leader described the international military intervention in Libya, launched a week ago by the United States, France and Britain, as a 'hasty decision.' 'It could have heavy consequences for the stability of the region and the spread of terrorism in Europe, the Mediterranean and the rest of Africa,' he cautioned."
Al Qaeda snatched missiles in Libya: Chad president
Agence France Presse, 25 March 2011

"America is now at war to protect a Libyan province that's been an epicenter of anti-American jihad. In recent years, at mosques throughout eastern Libya, radical imams have been 'urging worshippers to support jihad in Iraq and elsewhere,' according to WikiLeaked cables. More troubling: The city of Derna, east of Benghazi, was a 'wellspring' of suicide bombers that targeted U.S. troops in Iraq. By imposing a no-fly zone over Eastern Libya, the U.S. and its coalition partners have effectively embraced the breakaway republic of Cyrenaica..... A West Point analysis of a cache of al Qaeda records discovered that nearly 20 percent of foreign fighters in Iraq were Libyans, and that on a per-capita basis Libya nearly doubled Saudi Arabia as the top source of foreign fighters. The word 'fighter' here is misleading. For the most part, Libyans didn't go to Iraq to fight; they went to blow themselves up — along with American G.I.'s. (Among those whose 'work' was detailed in the al Qaeda records, 85 percent of the Libyans were listed as suicide bombers.) Overwhelmingly, these militants came 'from cities in North-East Libya, an area long known for Jihadi-linked militancy..... A WikiLeaked cable from 2008 explained that Cyrenaicans were waging jihad against U.S. troops as 'a last act of defiance against the Qadhafi regime.' After the U.S. normalized relations with Qaddaffi in 2006, Cyrenacians believed they no longer had any shot at toppling him.... The epicenter of Libyan jihadism is the city of Derna — the hometown of more than half of Libya's foreign fighters, according the West Point analysis. The city of 80,000 has a history of violent resistance to occupying powers — including Americans, who captured the city in the First Barbary War. A surprisingly readable cable titled 'Die Hard in Derna' makes clear that the city 'takes great pride' in having sent so many of its sons to kill American soldiers in Iraq, quoting one resident as saying: 'It's jihad — it's our duty, and you're talking about people who don't have much else to be proud of.'"
Tim Dikerson Blog - U.S. Bombs Libya, Helps... Jihadists?!
Rolling Stone, 21 March 2011

"From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though, we have learnt that the real test of an intervention isn't the defeat of the regime it targets: it is what comes next. There is good reason to fear that the people's own government of which Col Gaddafi spoke won't be much better than the dystopia that preceded it. Power in Libya's rebel-held regions now lies with a disordered mosaic of tribal patriarchs and mid-ranking military officers who have abandoned the regime for more primordial allegiances. Eastern Libya's Zuwaya and Misratah tribal chieftains, who enjoyed great power before Col Gaddafi took over, sense an opportunity to seize control of oil revenues. In the west, the Warfala, under pressure from the regime since an abortive 1993 rebellion, see a chance to settle scores. For the most part, this leadership seems to have a moral compass that points in much the same direction as that of the regime. Tarek Saad Husain, a Benghazi-based rebel commander, warned the residents of Col Gaddafi's home town: 'Either you join us, or we will finish you.' Libya's tribes, moreover, aren't the only ones flying their flags on the streets. Fighters have established an Islamic emirate in Derna, 775 miles from Tripoli, while jihadists trained in Sudan and Afghanistan are said to be fighting alongside tribal rebels. To make sense of this exceptionally muddy landscape one needs an understanding of Libya's complex political history. Libya has been described as 'anti-state': deriving power not through taxation but rents from oil; through the provision of patronage, rather than real institutions; through terror rather than a functional military. .... Even as Col Gaddafi moved to suppress tribal tensions, though, a new threat was emerging. In the 1980s, he had encouraged thousands of Libyans to join the jihad in Afghanistan, as part of his desire to emerge as a leader of the Islamic world. But when they returned to Libya, they served a different god. In 1984, Libyan authorities hanged two students alleged to have been members of Islamist groups on the campus of the al-Fateh university in Tripoli; nine more were executed at Benghazi in 1987. Fighting between the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and regime forces in Benghazi claimed dozens of lives in 1995. In 1996, there was further fighting around Derna and Benghazi. Britain, according to David Shayler, a former MI5 officer, funded the LIFG, to punish Col Gaddafi's support of terrorists in the west. Even though the LIFG was eventually crushed, and, following the events of 9/11, internationally proscribed, the jihadists had gained political legitimacy. In May 2009, thousands attended the funeral of Ali Mohamed al-Fakheri, a high-ranking al-Qaeda member who died in a Tripoli prison. Libyan Islamists have, worryingly, been winning battles for the first time this year. Last month, jihadists led by rebel military officer Adnan al-Nawisri seized hundreds of weapons and vehicles from depots in Derna and proclaimed what they are calling the Islamic Emirate of Barqa, the ancient name for western Libya. Abdelkarim al-Hasadi, who fought with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, appears to have de facto control of the Derna Emirate. Men like al-Hasadi are certain to get what support al-Qaeda can muster. Osama bin Laden's inner circle includes Muhammad Hassan Qayid, known also as Abu Yahya al-Libi, the younger brother of the LIFG leader Abdul Wahhab Qayid Idris.... If the Libyan war drags on, warring tribal factions will seek support where they can find it – and the jihadists will be happy to oblige them."
Defeat the Libyan regime. And then?
Telegraph, 21 March 2011

"Leaked diplomatic cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph disclose fears that eastern Libya is being overrun by extremists intent on overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi's regime. Former jihadi fighters who underwent 'religious and ideological training' in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the West Bank in the 1980s have returned to eastern towns in Libya such as Benghazi and Derna to propagate their Islamist beliefs, the cables warn. Derna has become a particular stronghold for the former fighters and conservative imams who have shut down 'un-Islamic' social and cultural organisations such as sports leagues, theatres and youth clubs, the cables report. Local sources blame deliberate government efforts to 'keep the east poor' for growing extremism in towns such as Derna. One cable sent to Washington in February 2008 reports a conversation with a local businessman who described the increasingly incendiary rhetoric at backstreet mosques in Derna, where coded talk of 'martyrdom operations' had become commonplace.... Another confidential cable to Washington from the US embassy in Tripoli in June 2008 described Derna as a 'wellspring' of insurgent fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq. The cable quoted a resident as saying that while 'not everyone likes the bearded ones' (a reference to conservative imams), 'it's jihad – it's our duty, and you're talking about people who don't have much else to be proud of'. The cable continues: 'Referring to actor Bruce Willis' character in the action picture 'Die Hard', who stubbornly refused to die quietly, he said many young men in Derna viewed resistance against Qadhafi's regime and against coalition forces in Iraq as an important last act of defiance."
Libya: WikiLeaks cables warn of extremist beliefs
Telegraph, 19 March 2011

"Well known to the United States policymakers in Obama White House and Clinton State Department along with the National Security Council but not widely known to American mainstream media, the U.S. West Point Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center document reveals that Libya sent more fighters to Iraq’s Islamic militancy on a per-capita basis than any other Muslim country, including Saudi Arabia. Perhaps more alarmingly for Western policymakers, most of the fighters came from eastern Libya, the center of the current uprising against Muammar el-Qaddafi. The analysis of the Combating Terrorism Center of West Point was based on the records captured by coalition forces in October 2007 in a raid near Sinjar, along Iraq’s Syrian border....If the 2007 captured records revealed the Eastern Libyan participation in the anti-coalition forces militancy in Iraq one could imagine the Banghazi-Darnah export of Islamists since then. 'Libyans were more fired up to travel to Iraq to kill Americans than anyone else in the Arabic-speaking world,' Andrew Exum, a counterinsurgency specialist and former Army Ranger noted in a blog posting recently. 'This might explain why those rebels from Libya's eastern provinces are not too excited about U.S. military intervention. It might also give some pause to those in the United States so eager to arm Libya's rebels.' Despite this data and information available to the United Stated government Secretary of State Hilary Clinton met late Monday 14 with a leader of the Libyan rebel movement in Paris privately and without a public statement. Mrs. Clinton met the opposition rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril at her hotel in Paris after attending a dinner with foreign ministers of the countries of the Group 8 who discussed ways to increase pressure on Colonel Qaddafi’s Libyan regime. The West Point report said 'Both Darnah and Benghazi have long been associated with Islamic militancy in Libya.'.... If the rebellion succeeds in toppling the Qaddafi regime it will have direct access to the tens of billions of dollars that Qaddafi is believed to have squirreled away in overseas accounts during his four-decade rule. The once-secret Iraqi 'Sinjar documents' which is the basis of the West Point analytical document provide an additional reason for the Obama administration to take a cautious approach in its dealings with the rebels from both Darnah and Benghazi. The document noted that Islamist organizations in both cities led an earlier uprising against Qaddafi in the mid-1990s that was brutally put down by the Libyan dictator. Colonel Qaddafi renounced terrorism, paid billions of dollars to Lockerby-victim families, allowed the U.S. to remove nuclear facilities and established diplomatic relations with the United States. Qaddafi has continuously opposed the al-Qaeda operations in the Middle East and Northern Africa.... [According to the West Point report] 'The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al-Qaeda, which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al-Qaeda on November 3, 2007.... Like other governments in the region, Libya appears concerned about the possibility of jihadi violence within its borders. In May 2007, the Libyan government arrested several Libyans on the grounds that they were planning a car bomb attack similar to an April attack in Algeria.17 And in July 2007, a group calling itself al-Qaeda in Eastern Libya announced a suicide attack in Darnah. Libya’s leader Muammar Qaddafi has taken measures to mitigate the threat from such groups, and has reportedly released over 80 Muslim Brotherhood activists in the hope that they will moderate the views of more violent Islamist activists. If LIFG is funneling Libyans into Iraq, it may exacerbate rumored tensions between LIFG elements over whether or not to concentrate on militant activity within Libya’s borders. Such debates are common among national jihadi movements shifting focus to global issues. This sort of debate disrupted both Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Egyptian Islamic Group in the 1990s. Reports suggesting that LIFG’s decision to join al-Qaeda was controversial may be exaggerated, but they probably reflect a contentious debate over LIFG’s future. LIFG’s support for al-Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate has probably increased its stature in al-Qaeda’s leadership, but complicated its internal dynamics. Recent political developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the prevalence of Libyan fighters in Iraq, and evidence of a well-established smuggling route for Libyans through Egypt, suggests that Libyan factions (primarily the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) are increasingly important in al-Qaeda. The Sinjar Records offer some evidence that Libyans began surging into Iraq in larger numbers beginning in May 2007. Most of the Libyan recruits came from cities in North-East Libya, an area long known for jihadi-linked militancy. Libyan fighters were much more likely than other nationalities to be listed as suicide bombers (85% for Libyans, 56% for all others)."
Libyan rebellion has radical Islamist fervor: Benghazi link to Islamic militancy: U.S. Military Document Reveals
Asian Tribune, 17 March 2011

"Despite what you may be hearing from critics of March 17's U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a no-fly zone and 'all necessary measures' to protect civilians from harm, Libya is not peripheral to the world system. It is at its very core. Libya possesses 1,800 kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. The country produces 2 percent of the world's oil, with 85 percent of exports going to Europe. Libyan nationals have been prominent jihadists in Iraq. Since the beginning of the Great Recession and the slump in global demand in 2008, Libya has allocated $200 billion toward new infrastructure spending.... a brief review of Libya's history demonstrates that Britain, France, Italy, Russia, the United Nations, and the United States have long had a great deal at stake in Libya, even before oil was discovered in 1959. Today, it is a paramount American interest that Libya not return to being a rogue state or descend into civil war. If Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi reasserts control over the east or even if he fails and the country is cleaved in two, U.S. interests in the region would suffer a major setback. What makes Libya so important? Any real estate agent could tell you: location, location, location. Control of the country has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into Egypt, the Mediterranean, and beyond. Similarly, denying a hostile power (be it the Soviet Union, Muammar al-Qaddafi, or terrorists) the ability to destabilize surrounding countries from Libyan territory has been a consistent thread in U.S. policy since the end of World War II. Seventy years ago, the Axis powers used Libya to launch daring tank offensives aimed at the Suez Canal. With the British victory at El Alamein in late 1942 and the ensuing conquest of northern Libya, British strategic planners decided that Cyrenaica (eastern Libya) was the only part of conquered Italian colonial territory that was essential for Britain's strategic position in the Middle East. In 1945, the Soviet Union's foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, pushed for a Soviet trusteeship over Tripolitania (northwest Libya). The Soviet bid backfired. It forced American statesmen to put aside their distaste for extending the British Empire as they realized that denying the Soviets a naval base on the Mediterranean was a core U.S. interest. France and Italy, as pretenders to world-power status and interested parties in North Africa, also wanted to have their spheres of influence in Libya. Because the 'Libya question' was so rancorously contested by all parties, it was deemed unsolvable by traditional great-power diplomacy. In 1948, it was passed onto the nascent United Nations. By the late 1940s, U.S. President Harry Truman and British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin concluded that Libyan airfields were essential for Cold War defense. After Libyan independence in 1951, U.S. and British payments for basing rights formed the single-largest element of Libyan GDP until oil exports began in 1961. Even with the decline in importance of the fighter-bomber as a nuclear delivery vehicle, and thus the need for the bases, Libya's strategic importance did not wane. Accordingly, U.S. and British diplomats attempted to court Colonel Qaddafi's favor when he came to power in 1969. They acquiesced to his demand to abandon their air bases, supposing that eager compliance would encourage Libya's new leadership from drifting into the anti-Western camp. They were wrong. As Libya intensified its support for militant revolutionary causes -- ranging from the Irish Republican Army to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to various unsavory terrorist groups -- throughout the 1970s, Western policymakers avoided reprisals against Libyan interests. Amazingly, from 1972 to 1977, U.S. imports of Libyan oil increased tenfold, and U.S. exports to Libya trebled. Qaddafi gratefully used the influx of dollars to undermine American interests in Africa and the Middle East..... Libya sits atop the strategic intersection of the Mediterranean, African, and Arab worlds, and its ability and track record in destabilizing those three areas is well documented. It is laudable that the international community has combined humanitarian and geostrategic rationales to unite under a banner of multilateral airborne intervention. This intervention must balance two equally important aims: to unseat Qaddafi and to ensure that the Libyan people have agency over their lives and political system. Hopefully, the West will play a supportive, yet decisive role in the ongoing conflict. Were Qaddafi to remain in power returning to his rogue-state glory days, it is unlikely that renewed U.N. sanctions could ever weaken his grip on power. The world needs Libya, but Qaddafi has become an expert at thumbing his nose at world opinion. Much as we might pretend otherwise, oil is unquestionably part of the equation here. In the words of Armand Hammer, the late founder of Occidental Petroleum, Libya's oil is 'the world's only irreplaceable oil.' What makes Libyan oil irreplaceable is its proximity to Europe, the ease of its extraction, and the sweetness of its crude. Because many refineries in Italy and elsewhere are built to deal with sweet Libyan crude, they cannot easily process the heavier Saudi crude that would inevitably replace a Libyan production shortfall. Since détente with Libya began in 2003, Western companies in the form of Repsol, Wintershall, Total, Eni, OMV, Shell, the Oasis Group, Chevron, Marathon, ExxonMobil, and BP have either rushed into Libya or intensified their existing operations. Those with political connections to the Libyan regime that predate sanctions have tended to fare better than others. All have an enormous stake in not losing their vast investments and being replaced by the Chinese, Indians, and Russians, were Libya to become a pariah state. Most crucially, though Europe would be hit hardest if Libyan production were to vastly diminish due to ongoing unrest or stagnate due to a lack of future investment, low production totals would have sustained negative effects on both the fragile world economy and the Libyan people. ... Terrorism is a real concern. Although Qaddafi's rhetoric that the rebels consist of 'jihadists on drugs' is funny enough to be a big hit on YouTube, Cyrenaica has long been a productive recruiting ground for global jihadi causes. If the West abandons the Cyrenaican rebels, it will not be a surprise to see more Cyrenaican fighters returning to Iraq by 2012. In fact, Libyans formed the third-largest fighting contingent in Iraq until U.S. counterterrorism cooperation with Qaddafi began to stem the flow in 2006. Similarly, during his détente with the West from 2003 until 2010, Qaddafi proved himself a reliable ally against the trans-Saharan networks of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Were the retro-rogue Qaddafi to remain in power post-2011 or should Libya become a failed state where nonstate actors could find easy cash and safe havens, the grave consequences would resonate from North Africa to the African Sahel region and the larger Islamic world. The United States and especially Europe cannot afford a protracted Libyan civil war, a Libya ruled by a spurned Qaddafi, or a return to the 1990s situation in which multilateral sanctions largely removed Libya from the world economy, making it a breeding ground for dysfunctional governance and Islamic extremism. Libya is simply too big to be allowed to fail."
Jason Pack, researcher of Libya at Oxford University's St. Antony's College
Libya Is Too Big to Fail
Foreign Policy, 18 March 2011

"As one report put it, 'On a per capita basis, though, twice as many foreign fighters came to Iraq from Libya -- and specifically eastern Libya -- than from any other country in the Arabic-speaking world. Libyans were apparently more fired up to travel to Iraq to kill Americans than anyone else in the Middle East. And 84.1% of the 88 Libyan fighters in the Sinjar documents who listed their hometowns came from either Benghazi or Darnah in Libya's east.'"
David Frum - Does Obama really want Gadhafi to go?
CNN, 14 March 2011

"In Darnah, there is at least a passing resemblance to the aftermath of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Tribes and clerics emerged forcefully after authority collapsed, especially in more conservative regions. Here, leaders of tribes like the Obeidat, Zliten, Tajjoura and Misratah already exercise authority, along with judges and a three-member council: Mr. Abu Rashed, a judge and a former diplomat, all secular figures. Other than them, only the Muslim Brotherhood and more militant strands thought to number in the hundreds show signs of organization, many having forged bonds in prison or fighting the government in the 1990s. One of those men is Abdul-Hakim al-Hasidi, who fought for five years in Afghanistan, ended up in Colonel Qaddafi’s jails for four years and now, with hundreds of armed men, runs the defenses of Darnah and its hinterland.... Libya’s rebellion is young, and some residents warned that Islamists may grow more radical the longer it lasts. Some at the mosque warned that foreign intervention in the conflict would be resisted. But in the town, it was tribal divisions that seemed to frighten people more than the longstanding secular and religious divide."
Diverse Character in City Qaddafi Calls Islamist
New York Times, 7 March 2011

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