A complicating factor in Libya: Libyans.

This little snippet from Stars and Stripes magazine, on ‘what went wrong’ in post-regime change Libya:

While the U.S. was eager to hand off much of the post-intervention responsibility to the Europeans — France was a prime advocate for the intervention — the Libyans themselves were a complicating factor, resisting ideas of international support or a stabilizing force, experts say.

(Emphasis mine)

Admiral James Stavridis, who commanded the war in Libya, also explicitly compares NATO’s support for Libyan rebel groups with the U.S. and U.K’s support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s (while not repudiating the war):

Retired Adm. James Stavridis, NATO’s former supreme allied commander, who led the military operation, said at the time of the intervention that it wasn’t clear who all the rebels were that aimed to overthrow Gadhafi. “In those pre-Arab Spring days, there was not serious intelligence or analysis to Islamic radicalism,” Stavridis said. “If we recall the U.S. experiences in Afghanistan, where we backed what evolved into the Taliban, it is not dissimilar. When you are undertaking complex operations, the natural tendency is to focus on the mission at hand — such was the case in Libya”.

At the time, anyone who suggested that some of the rebel groups might not be the democracy loving, human rights promoting freedom fighters of NATO/NTC propaganda was shouted down as a Gadaffi apologist and/or useful idiot.

Still, no regrets eh? Because as ever, they meant well:

For its part, NATO still argues the military mission in Libya was a success, though officials acknowledge more should have been done by the United Nations and European Union to stabilize Libya and rebuild its political institutions in the wake of Gadhafi’s 42-year-long dictatorship. “It was about protecting civilians against attacks from the regime; NATO fulfilled that (U.N.) mandate with unprecedented precision,” a NATO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment, said on Wednesday. “There should have been more follow-up, more presence of the international community after the military operations ended in 2011. However, ultimately it is up to the people of Libya to build a new Libya”.

http://www.stripes.com/news/nato-role-in-2011-gadhafi-ouster-may-have-given-rise-to-islamic-state-presence-in-libya-1.341580

Image: what the town of Tawergha looked like after NATO and the rebel

militias they were supporting had finished ‘protecting’ it, August 2011

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