POL103-Benghazi-2-Gaddafi and the U.S.

In the previous episode, I talked about Gaddafi took the power. This bloodless revolution changes the direction of Libya — Gaddafi took back the Wheelus Air Base from the U.S. and soon gave them to the Soviet Union, later withdraw the treaties the former government signed with the U.S. Plus, the US believed a couple of terrorist attacks and plane crashes, then aim at the U.S., was supported by Gadaffi. Therefore Libya had been designated as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” (The U.S. State Department – Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, 2007) The US started to impose sanctions against it and carried out a series of air strikes on Libya in the 1980s. The relations had sunk to the lowest. In the Appendix, you can find pictures related to the Bombing of Tripoli in 1986, “Operation El Dorado Canyon.” Before long, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Libya was isolated.

After the Iraq War and the overthrow of the government of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi’s attitude towards the US had changed. Considering the huge economic cost of the petroleum industry of the sanction, it can be inferred that he started to negotiate with western countries since he no longer wanted to be isolated. Or, it may also because of the rise of the Islamic extremist groups in Libya, who “resulted in extremist attacks in Libya and against Gaddafi personally.” As a result, Gaddafi denounced the 9/11 attack in 2001. Afterward, in 2003, he admitted to his role in the bombing of 1988’s Pan Am Flight 103, which caused 270 people’s death, including 189 U.S. citizens, people suspected him as the planner of which long ago. He even agreed to “eliminate all materials, equipment, and programs aimed at the production of nuclear or other internationally proscribed weapons”. In 2006, the two countries re-established diplomatic relations. The new US embassy in Tripoli was also set up, J. Christopher Stevens, who died in the 2012 attack later, was the Deputy Principal Officer at that time.

The second low point between the US and Libya was caused by the “Arab Spring” in North Africa and the Middle East, which started with the Tunisian revolution in 2010. Remember how close Tunisia is to Libya? This revolutionary wave aimed to overthrow the authoritarian regime and was lead by civil rights movements calling for democracy. In Libya, a peace demonstration was suppressed by the government and eventually became a civil war. The United States showed their support to the rebels, and directly contacted with the anti-Gaddafi opposition — on March 14, 2011, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with National Transitional Council leader Mahmoud Jibril in Paris. After the approval of the UN, the NATO members, asset a “no-fly” zone over Libya and carried out a series military action, then an international military operation. There is a short video you can check in the Appendix made by the New York Times, describing the NATO’s operation, and talked about the important role that the US played then.

Mr. Steven, who went back to the US embassy in Libya in 2011, became the Obama administration’s main interlocutor to the rebels based in Benghazi and helped the NATO to overthrow the government — he liaised to the rebels from the beginning of the uprising. Eventually, on October 20, Gaddafi was killed by the rebels, and within a year, the General National Congress was established. However, because of lack of military power of the new government, the other “militias are power on the ground.” These militias, unlike the new government, hatred of the west. Steven’s job was as keeping the subtle balance between the government and the militias and collected the militia’s weapons which were assigned during the overturning of Gaddafi.

If Mr. Stevens was the person connected with the local militias, you may ask, why the militias would kill him? Well, in the next episode, we will focus on the attack.

Appendix for Episode 2

Libyan National Security Adviser Mutassim Gaddafi with Hillary Clinton in 2009
The Civil War in Libya, 2011

Libya Constitutional Declaration (2011-)
In February 2011, a popular uprising against the Col. Muammar Kadhafi regime broke out. It soon turned into a civil war and led to the fall of the Col. Muammar Kadhafi regime. The Transitional National Council established itself in March and was recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 16, 2011 as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people until a new government is formed.
On August 3, 2011, the Transitional National Council issued a Constitutional Declaration as the basis for its governance during Libya’s transitional stage until the adoption of a new constitution and the election of a new government.
The Constitutional Declaration provides for the legislative, executive and judiciary powers. Article (8) guarantees to every citizen the right to intellectual and private property. …


J. Christopher Stevens, then deputy ambassador during Colonel Gaddafi's rule, in Benghazi in April 2011.
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