The Watchman On The Wall

The Watchman On The Wall
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Verse 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Why Did NATO and Obama Destroy Libya Part 1

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Bas Spliet, Newsbud  Analyst,  is a bachelor’s student History and Arabic at the University of Ghent, Belgium. He is interested in geopolitics, focusing most of his time in getting a better understanding of wars in the Middle East. His analyses can be found He can be reached at

This article is part of a three-part series called “The ‘humanitarian’ destruction of Libya” that analyses the 2011 war in Libya and the motives behind it. The first article contrasts the invented war crime allegations against the Libyan government to the very real underreported war crimes by the insurgents; the second exposes a history of deceptive terrorist attacks on European soil wrongly attributed to Gaddafi and the role of NATO in the war; and the third discusses Gaddafi’s plan at creating a pan-African currency as one of the central motives lurking behind the mainstream explanation of the intervention as a just one that sought to “protect civilians” from a ruthless dictator.

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On 21 February 2011, a week into the Libyan uprising, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR), two main sources for the claim that Gaddafi was killing his own people, called for the immediate suspension of Libya from the UN Human Rights Council and urged the UN Security Council to “review the situation and consider its referral to the ICC [International Criminal Court].”  According to the two NGOs, “the crackdown has killed at least 300 to 400 people since February 15” and “the Libyan regime is apparently using mercenaries from Chad, Niger [and] Zimbabwe.”[1] Later that day, UN Watch, a pro-Israel NGO, initiated a letter signed by 70 other NGOs in collaboration with the LLHR and the National Endowment for Democracy, infamous for its involvement in manipulating elections and instigating “colour revolutions” around the world, in which it too echoed the need to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council, in addition to urging the Security Council to invoke the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) principle to protect the Libyan people.[2] On 25 February, the Human Rights Council followed the recommendation, thereby preventing the Libyan government from countering the undocumented allegations, let alone demanding that proof be submitted. Three weeks later, the Security Council adopted resolutions 1970 and 1973, authorising a no-fly zone on Libyan military aviation. Although article 2 of resolution 1973 stressed the need to use diplomacy to find a peaceful solution,[3] the bombing began two days later.
The public was told that NATO went into Libya because the American, British and French officials felt the dire need to protect civilians from a brutal dictator. They sought legitimisation for their modern version of the “just war” theory in the “responsibility to protect” doctrine. Philosophers and political thinkers had been debating if and when war is morally justifiable for centuries, but it was only in recent times that the idea gained a modern legal dimension above that of the sovereign nation-state. A commission set up under the auspices of the Canadian government in 2001 postulated that if a state is unable to halt or avert serious harm to its population, the international community has a “responsibility to protect.” Just like the “just war” theoreticians, the commission argued that military intervention is justified if a strict set of criteria - having the right intention, military measures being the last resort and the principle of proportionality, among others - are applicable, adding that “there is no better or more appropriate body than the United Nations Security Council to authorize military intervention for human protection purposes.”[4] In 2004, a panel set up by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan confirmed that there is a collective international responsibility to protect “exercisable by the Security Council authorizing military intervention as a last resort, in the event of genocide and other large-scale killing, ethnic cleansing and other serious violations of humanitarian law which sovereign governments have proved powerless or unwilling to prevent.”[5] From 2005 onwards, the “responsibility to protect” doctrine was up and running, as it was endorsed by all member states of the General Assembly at that year’s UN World Summit.[6]

During Israel’s onslaught on Gaza in 2008, in which hundreds of civilians were killed, or any of the subsequent attacks on the coastal enclave, the Security Council did not even think about the “responsibility to protect.” But when allegations that Gaddafi was killing his own people were floating in early 2011, the world body did not hesitate to invoke it. Although the necessity of seeking adequate verification of facts before authorizing military intervention resonated through all the above-mentioned documents, the UK, France and the US bombed Libya on the basis of undocumented allegations provided by NGOs in the first three months of NATO’s intervention, using only the Security Council resolutions as legal justification. It was only in late June that the ICC 
The public was told that NATO went into Libya because the American, British and French officials felt the dire need to protect civilians from a brutal dictator. They sought legitimization for their modern version of the “just war” theory in the “responsibility to protect” doctrine. Philosophers and political thinkers had been debating if and when war is morally justifiable for centuries, but it was only in recent times that the idea gained a modern legal dimension above thaof the sovereign nation-state. 
It was only in late June that the ICC issued a warrant for the arrest of Gaddafi, proclaiming the Libyan leader to be guilty of crimes against humanity. At the ICC’s press conference following the verdict, a reporter asked Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo for concrete evidence proving Gaddafi’s guilt, after which Moreno-Ocampo referred her to a document, “most of which is public.”[7] The document is indeed public; the whole section in which the “proof” is enumerated, comprising about two thirds of the document, however, is not.[8]
As Prof. Maximilian Forte concluded in his book Slouching towards Sirte, the justification for intervention was based on three main interlinked myths: 1) that “African mercenaries” were employed by Gaddafi; 2) that these “mercenaries” were flown in from other African countries by Gaddafi, which increased the cry for a no-fly zone; and 3) that only intervention could stop an imminent genocide.[9] Although these myths were invented by the rebels, it were the major Western news outlets, NGOs and politicians who spread them worldwide in their attempt to legitimise their “just war.” Amnesty International, for instance, played a leading role in propagating the “black mercenary” narrative. The president of the French branch of the organisation, Geneviève Garrigos, spoke to France 24 on 22 February 2011, saying that Amnesty had received information that the Libyan government had sent in “foreign mercenaries” to fight against the protestors in order to “accelerate the oppressive process.” Later, however, she admitted that “we have no evidence Gaddafi employed mercenary forces. [...] We have no sign nor evidence to corroborate these rumours.” She repeated that Amnesty investigators never found any “mercenaries,” agreeing with her interviewer’s characterisation of their existence as a legend spread by the mass media.[10] The British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in a 2016 report, too, found that the UK government “failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element:”[11]
“Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence. The Gaddafi regime had retaken towns from the rebels without attacking civilians in early February 2011. [...] The disparity between male and female casualties [known to UN investigators in late February] suggested that Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians. [Moreover,] an Amnesty International investigation in June 2011 could not corroborate allegations of mass human rights violations by Gaddafi regime troops. However, it uncovered evidence that rebels in Benghazi made false claims and manufactured evidence. [...] While Muammar Gaddafi certainly threatened violence against those who took up arms against his rule, this did not necessarily translate into a threat to everyone in Benghazi. In short, the scale of the threat to civilians was presented with unjustified certainty. [...] We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. [...] It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the terrorist Islamist extremist element in the rebellion. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of evidence.”[12]
There you have it from the horse’s mouth: Libya, just like Iraq in 2003, was invaded on false pretexts. This included the allegation that Gaddafi was bombing his own people, a myth that further stressed the need to implement a no-fly zone on Libyan military aircraft. On 21 February, the BBC claimed that “witnesses say warplanes have fired on protesters in the city [of Tripoli],”[13] echoing statements made by opposition activists and defected Libyan diplomats. Other mass media media outlets such as al-Jazeeraal-Arabiya, CNN and the Telegraph made similar accusations.[14] At a Department of Defense press conference on 1 March, however, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen were asked if they had independent confirmation that Gaddafi “actually has fired on his own people from the air?”, to which they both replied they had none.[15] An Amnesty International investigation from June 2011 corroborated that there is no evidence that Gaddafi used helicopters, aircraft or anti-aircraft machine guns against civilian protesters.[16]
Another pretext that triggered NATO operations was the alleged massacre Gaddafi forces were about to inflict on the people of Benghazi. The city had fallen to opposition fighters in February, but when the Security Council was set to vote on establishing a no-fly zone in mid-March, Gaddafi warned that an attack on the rebel stronghold was imminent. As acknowledged by the New York Times, he promised amnesty to those “who throw their weapons away” but “no mercy or compassion” for those who fight.[17] Obama, however, claimed later that month that “Qaddafi declared he would show ‘no mercy’ to his own people,” and that “if we waited one more day, Benghazi [...] could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained 
the conscience of the world.”[18] He repeated this rhetoric in a joint letter with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in April published in the New York Times, which proclaimed that “the bloodbath that he [Gaddafi] had promised to inflict on the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi has been prevented [because our countries] responded immediately. Tens of thousands of lives have been protected.”[19] To date, these heads of state are yet to provide evidence that would support the claim that Benghazi would have witnessed the loss of “tens of thousands of lives.” In fact, prior to the operation to retake Benghazi, Gaddafi recaptured a number of other cities either fully or partially without perpetrating genocide. In the case of Misrata, for instance, only three percent of the 257 deaths that were counted by April were women, which strongly suggests that most of the deceased were fighters, and that the killing was not of indiscriminate nature.[20] Even the Washington Post Company-owned Foreign Policy magazine, along with other mainstream analysts, scrutinized the notion that there was going to be a Benghazi massacre.[21]
In a conversation between radio hosts James Corbett of the Corbett Report and Lionel of Lionel Nation, the idea was put forward that regarding false media stories, the greater the horror, the easier to fake, because the public is reluctant to question horrific stories.[22] Such is the case for the most heinous allegation made against Libyan government troops. On 28 March, al-Jazeera launched the story that Gaddafi used rape “as a weapon of war” as he distributed Viagra to his soldiers.[23] The story was then picked up by the usual war hawks, from US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. The latter went even as far as to say that “we have information that there was a policy to rape in Libya those who were against the government”[24] and that “Viagra is a tool of massive rape.”[25] Eventually however, the same Amnesty International report that is quoted above did not find any victim of rape or doctor who knew about somebody being raped, let alone of a policy of mass rape.[26] Similarly, the Human Rights Council inquiry into war crimes in Libya, released in 2012, concluded that although sexual violence occurred in Libya, “the commission did not find evidence to substantiate claims of a widespread or a systematic attack, or any overall policy of sexual violence against a civilian population.”[27]

While Obama and company were crying crocodile tears about alleged atrocities by Gaddafi forces, they failed to notice the very real war crimes perpetrated by the insurgents. The true nature of the rebels became especially clear after the Battle of Sirte, in which they killed Gaddafi and captured the last stronghold of the Libyan government. Not only did Reuters and Associated Press reporters witness looting and ransacking of houses[28] and did an Amnesty International report detail the widespread torture of (especially dark-skinned) ex-officials, soldiers and civilians, at least 12 of whom died in the process,[29] but in the aftermath of the “liberation” of Sirte it was also revealed that the insurgents had gone on a killing spree. Human Rights Watch investigators on the ground found 53 decomposing bodies, presumed to be Gaddafi supporters, at an abandoned hotel on 23 October. “The bloodstains on the grass directly below the bodies, bullet holes visible in the ground, [...] the spent cartridges of AK-47 and FN-1 rifles scattered around the site [and the fact that] some of the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs with plastic ties [...] strongly suggest that some, if not all of the people, were shot and killed in the location where they were discovered,” the report read. At another site, the investigators saw the badly decomposed bodies of 10 people who, too, had been executed and were dumped in a water reservoir. At a third site, the investigators found the remains of at least 95 people. Although the vast majority of them probably died in combat, at least six appeared to have been executed at the site with gunshot wounds to the head and body.[30] Two days later, CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reported that “nearly 300 bodies, many of them with their hands tied behind their backs and shot in the head, have been collected from across Sirte and buried in a mass grave. [...] There are no names in one graveyard, only numbers: 572 so far and counting. That’s because the graves hold the bodies of alleged mercenaries. Most were killed in the fighting, but local officials freely admit that some were summarily executed.”[31]
The insurgents’ brutal executions, however, were already documented by their own admissions from the very onset of the Libyan crisis. On 18 February, three days into the uprising, the Guardian quoted an al-Jazeera interview with “political activist” Amer Saad, who said:
“The protesters in al-Bayda have been able to seize control of the military airbase in the city and have executed 50 African mercenaries and two Libyan conspirators. Even in Derna today, a number of conspirators were executed. They were locked up in the holding cells of a police station because they resisted, and some died burning inside the building.”[32]
There has never been found any credible evidence of foreign African fighters employed by the Libyan government. These “African mercenaries” were thus killed merely for being sub-Saharan migrants or black Libyans who may or may not have served in the Libyan army. Compare this one event in which the “revolutionaries” by their own admission extrajudicially slaughtered more than 50 people to Human Rights Watch’s estimate of 84 people killed by government forces across the whole country from the day the protests erupted on 15 February until that same day of 18 February. While this latter number appears credible since it was based on telephone interviews with local hospital staff, the contention that they were all “peaceful protesters” killed “simply because they’re demanding change and accountability” relied solely on the claims made by unnamed protesters and eyewitnesses.[33] With the ruthlessness of the armed insurgency in mind, it is much more likely that at least some died in combat with government troops.

Although a number of unsubstantiated war crime allegations targeting the Libyan government turned out to be completely made-up, they were nonetheless reported upon without much scrutiny and taken serious for several months by the Western and Gulf mass media. Mounting evidence of very real war crimes by the NATO-backed insurgents, on the other hand, did not receive saturation coverage and were downplayed and covered-up to the extent possible, only to receive proper investigation after the regime change mission was concluded. This ultra-biased reporting influenced both public opinion and international policy makers in favor of NATO’s “humanitarian” intervention, not only in the days surrounding the implementation of the no-fly zone but also during the subsequent crucial months of bombardments. Reminiscent of the mainstream coverage in the critical months leading up to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003, in addition to the blatant propaganda against the Syrian government today, this again shows how the mass media have become mouthpieces for the continuous cycle of war.
Since NATO declared Libya “liberated” after Gaddafi’s murder in October 2011, the country has plunged into chaos. Libya today is a hotbed for Islamist brigades including ISIS, rival governments and tribes are competing for power and migrants on their way to Europe are being sold at open slave markets.[34] As Libyan intelligence reports from 2011 obtained by the Washington Times found that NATO weapons being funneled to Libya ended up with al-Qaeda-linked terrorists,[35] a Libyan rebel commander in March 2011 admitted that his fighters had ties to al-Qaeda and the White House was well aware (though “concerned”) that Qatar was sending weapons to jihadis inside Libya from the beginning of the war onwards, Washington once again, just like in Syria today or Afghanistan in the 1980s, has clearly teamed up with the very same Islamist terrorist organisations against whom it is supposedly fighting a “war on terror.” Taking this into account, as well as the fact that there were significant rallies in favor of Gaddafi[36] and several reports revealed that civilians volunteered to take up arms to defend Sirte against the joint NATO-rebel operation against the city,[37] the question remains: was this a peaceful uprising for the ideals of democracy and human rights as the “humanitarian” interventionists would have us believe, or were the Arab Spring protests, just like in Syria, used as a pretext to enhance NATO imperialism?

[1] International Federation for Human Rights, “Massacres in Libya: the international community must respond urgently,” 21.02.2011,
[2] UN Watch, “Urgent appeal to end atrocities in Libya: sent by 70 NGOs to the US, EU, and the UN,” 21.02.2011,
[3] United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, article 2 (United Nations, 17.03.2011), 2.
[4] Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun, ed., The responsibility to protect: report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (Ottawa: International Development Research Center, 2001), XI-XIII,
[5] United Nations General Assembly, Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, A/59/565, (United Nations, 02.12.2004),
[6] United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/1, (United Nations, 16.09.2005), 20-2.
[7] Press Conference International Criminal Court, 28.06.2011, available in Julien Tiel, “Libya: the humanitarian war. There is no evidence,”
[8] The International Criminal Court, Situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, public redacted version, ICC-01/11, 16.05.2011,
[9] Maximilian Forte, Slouching towards Sirte: NATO’s war on Libya and Africa (Montreal: Baraka Books, 2012), 238.
[10] Forte, Slouching towards Sirte, 250.
[11] House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Libya: examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options (House of Commons, third report of session 2016-17, 14.09.2016), 3,
[12] House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Libya, 14-5.
[13] “Libya protests: Tripoli hit by renewed clashes,” BBC, 21.02.2011,
[14] “Libya protests spread and intensify,” Al-Jazeera, 22.02.2011,; “‘Massacre’ in Tripoli as jets strike civilians: witnesses,” Al-Arabiya, 21.02.2011,; “Report: helicopters fire on Libya protesters,” CNN, 19.02.2011,; Nick Meo, “Libya protests: 140 ‘massacred’ as Gaddafi sends in snipers to crush dissent, Telegraph, 20.02.2011,
[15] US Department of Defense, “DOD news briefing with Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen from the Pentagon,” Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, 01.03.2011,
[16] Patrick Cockburn, “Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as a weapon of war,” Independent, 24.06.2011,
[17] David Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim, “Qaddafi warns of assault on Benghazi as U.N. vote nears,” New York Times, 17.03.2011,
[18] Barack Obama, “Remarks by the president in address to the nation on Libya,” The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 28.03.2011,
[19] Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, “Libya’s pathway to peace, New York Times, 14.04.2011,
[20] Forte, Slouching towards Sirte, 244.
[21] David Bosco, “Was there going to be a Benghazi massacre?”, Foreign Policy, 07.04.2011,
[22] James Corbett, “Interview 973 - Lionel on media fakery and historical distortion,” Corbett Report, 12.05.2014,
[23] “Rape used ‘as a weapon’ in Libya,” Al-Jazeera, 28.03.2011,
[24] Cockburn, “Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war.”
[25] “ICC to investigate reports of Viagra-fueled gang-rapes in Libya,” CNN, 18.03.2011,
[26] Cockburn, “Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as weapon of war.”
[27] UN Human Rights Council, Report on the international commission of inquiry on Libya (United Nations, 02.03.2012), 14, article 70,
[28] “Libya fighters loot Qaddafi tribe, show divide,” Fox News, 05.10.2011,; “Bulldozers raze Gaddafi compound,” BBC, 16.10.2011,; Rania el Gamal, “In Gaddafi’s hometown, residents accuse NTC fighters of revenge,” Reuters, 16.10.2011,
[29] Amnesty International, Militias threaten hopes for new Libya (London: Amnesty International Publications, 2012), 14-25,
[30] Human Rights Watch, “Libya: apparent execution of 53 Gaddafi supporters,” 24.10.2011,
[31] Allen Pizzey, “Signs of ex-rebel atrocities in Libya grow,” CBS News, 25.10.2011,
[32] Ian Black and Owen Bowcott, “Libya protests: massacres reported as Gaddafi imposes news blackout,” Guardian, 18.02.2011,
[33] Human Rights Watch, “Libya: security forces kill 84 over three days,” 18.02.2011,
[34] Brandon Cole, “Migrants are being sold at open slave markets in Libya, International Business Times, 12.04.2017,
[35] Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, “Secret Benghazi report reveals Hillary’s Libya war push armed al Qaeda-tied terrorists,” Washington Times, 01.02.2015,
[36] “Thousands attend pro-Gaddafi rally,” BBC, 01.07.2011,; Mahdi Darius Nazmroaya, “Libya in pictures: what the mainstream media does not tell you,” Global Research, 16.07.2011,

[37] Ruth Sherlock, “Libya: exodus from Sirte as thousands flee rebel offensive,” Telegraph, 28.09.2011,; Hadeel al-Shalchi, “Fleeing Gadhafi bastion, bitter at the new Libya,”, 04.10.2011,; Rania El Gamal, “Sirte residents turn anger on Libya’s new rulers,” Reuters, 05.10.2011, reprinted on Eco Diario

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