Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Ongoing Division of Libya: Cyrenaica and Tripolitania Redux

Nearly four years ago the former Qaddafi regime of Libya was in the process of disintegrating as many internal  rebels, backed by foreigners mostly from European nations formerly implicated in colonial shenanigans, were on the rampage.  At the time there appeared to be a major split between the more pro-rebel eastern part, with its capital at the later more notorious for other reasons, Benghazi, and the more western and pro-Qaddafi part, with its leading city the official national capital, Tripoli.  In March of 2011 I posted on the situation, noting that this division reproduced a deep historical split between the ancient Roman provinces of Cyrenaica in the East and Tripolitania in the East, rarely politically united and having substantial ethnic and religious divisions (more Berbers in the West, with Qaddafi being mostly an "Arabized berber," followers of the Melki variety of the Shari'a Sunni code in the East, also a major home of the originally modernizing Salafist movement and close to Egypt).  I shall not repeat here all the historical stuff in the link.

So, I had not thought about this for awhile until I just read a month old The Economist from Jan. 7, which had a big and interesting story on Libya, plus some maps.  Even though I had predicted it, I had not realized it had returned, but there on p. 22 of this 1/7/15 issue, there it was, a map showing current reportedly "unraveling" Libya, split in half near the old boundary, with the article even raising this old issue of the deep historical differences between the two and how this is a factor in the ongoing falling apart of  Libya, ruled in the West by fragmented Islamist militias, while portions of the East are ruled by a remnant of the supposedly official government and remnant military, many of whose leaders originally came from there, with troubled Benghazi arguably the main point of  struggle between the two, with the local university substantially burned down and destroyed.

I realized that many Americans, including me, have not been on top of this sad situation and how it has fallen into this very old pattern.  As it is, we must realize how American discussion and policy have simply degenerated into rank silliness and stupidity.  I really must admit that I cannot blame the Obama administration for not publicly saying a word about what is going on there, although I suppose there are people in the US government paying attention while saying as little about it as possible.  Obviously the reason nobody says anything of any significance now about the place in the US is that all discussion of the place has been hijacked totally since late 2012 by Republicans ranting about the events that occurred on 9/11/12 in Benghazi, which particularly involved the murder of the then US Ambassador, Chris Stevens, whose family said his death should not become a political issue, but, hey, who gives a what about what the family of a dead ambassador says when there is a political hot dog to cook for years and years and...

Yes, it is still ongoing.  I am not sure exactly how many of these investigations have been carried out.  The most important recent one was done for two years by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Rogers.  While criticizing a failure to defend the facility where Stevens was located (and the nearby CIA facility), they essentially dismissed the numerous conspiracy theories involving Obama and Hillary Clinton somehow messing things up and causing the deaths, and then covering up all their awful and treasonous malfeasance.  But, that has not shut things down.  The Congressional GOP leadership quickly distanced itself from this study, and suported a new super committee by Rep. Trey Gowdy from South Carolina, providing him with an unilimited budget and no time limit.  Dems on the committee have complained that, contrary to previous practice on these committees, Gowdy has been interviewing witnesses without telling the Dem members at all.  Surely if they keep at this, they might find something, I mean something!!! with which to blame Hillary for the death of Amb. Stevens.

(I cannot resist adding a small point I have posted here on numerous occasions, which the committee partially reinforced.  They admitted that the "lies" Susan Rice supposedly told about the events that evening being triggered by a riot over a video was what she was told by CIA and not some coverup (although charges of that led to her stepping back from becoming Sec. of State).  What the committee still could not quite come to accept is that in fact while the local Islamist rads had been plotting for some time to attack the CIA facility, it was indeed the infamous video and riots in Cairo that same evening that provided the immediate trigger as openly stated by figures who led what happened.  It remains a bit unclear whether they knew ahead  of time that Stevens was in the smaller facility, where he once headed the de facto US embassy in support of the rebel government prior to the fall of Qaddafi, but, heck, so what?  Clearly what matters is that Hillary and Rice and Obama... !!!)

In the meantime, who gives a whatever about what is going on in Libya right now, although I suppose it is comforting to  know that history repeats itself, and an old and familiar pattern is reappearing on the ground, if not fully recognized officially.

Barkley Rosser


Myrtle Blackwood said...

Re: " I am not sure exactly how many of these investigations have been carried out. .."

I've recently had a chance to put my feet up and read a good book: 'God is an Englishman' by Donald Horne in 1969.

Horne wrote that there were only 20 people in the entire nation employed full time to analyse Britain's economic problems. It wouldn't surprise me if a smaller number in America were focussed on Libya.

At the same time, there could be many, many thousands of pages of thoughtful text on the subject but are key people bothering to read them? said...


Well, mostly I am thinking of Congressional investigations, but a few others, at least one in the State Department. I think that I read that there have been 8 so far, not counting Gowdy's new one. The Rogers one was probably the most thorough and credible. Some have simply been witch hunts led by angry Republicans looking to get Hillary and get on TV, with one run by Darryl Issa of the House Oversight Committee probably the most notorious (not sure I got name of his committee, right, but he is out now as Chair).