Haftar's iron fist.

Author:Versi, Anver
Position:Libya - Khalifa Haftar - Cover story

Eight years ago, a wave of popular opposition similar to the current one in Sudan and Algeria toppled Muammar Gaddafi but unleashed death and destruction in its wake. The leaderless mobs splintered into warring factions. Now, as Anver Versi writes, a new strongman is preparing to take over the country. Is this the end of the dream of the Libyan uprising?

In hindsight, the 40-odd years during which Muammar Gaddafi was the leader or this oil-rich North African country appear to be a period of blissful serenity compared to the total dystopia it has descended into since his callous murder, in 2011, at the hands of rampaging mobs egged on by the US, UK and French-led NATO military forces.

Contemplating the chaos that followed the NATO airstrikes and Gaddafi's murder, then US President Barack Obama said in an interview in Atlantic magazine that this was the "worst mistake of my life".

Obama, it later transpired, had been very reluctant to go along with his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton's obsession with a military strike against Gaddafi, especially as there had been no clear plan for the aftermath.

The decision to intervene militarily on the side of the insurgents who had used the cover of the Arab Spring to settle age-old scores and were seeking to oust Gaddafi, now has an honoured place on the infamous list of disastrous Western interventions in the affairs of foreign countries.

Despite unleashing chaos and violence, not only in Libya itself but also in its neighbouring countries and opening the space for the dreaded ISIS to establish camp and ironically, plan and execute a series of terrorist attacks in European cities, Western countries seem to have learnt nothing.

Instead of nursing their burnt fingers and making a pledge not to stomp with their big boots into territory that is complex and fragile, they are at it again in Libya --just when it seemed that the hard work by the UN Special Envoy, Ghassan Salame, was bearing fruit.

Allying his enormous diplomatic skills with an innate and deep knowledge of the people, he had somehow managed to get the myriad warring factions in Libya to agree to work out a plan of reconciliation and national unity. The talks were scheduled to take place in mid-April.

Salame said he had finally negotiated a deal that would have seen a reunification of Haftar's forces in the east with the government in the west. The conference, he expected, would outline a single set of economic and political institutions...

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