Post-Intervention Libya: A Militia State

12 Oct


            Two apparently related and revealing incidents have turned public attention briefly back to Libya just after the second anniversary of the NATO intervention that helped anti-Qaddafi rebel forces overthrow his regime. The first incident involved the infringement of Libyan sovereignty by an American special forces operation that seized the alleged al Qaeda operative, Abu Anas al-Libi (also known as Nizah Abdul Hamed al-Ruqai), on October 5, supposedly with the knowledge and consent of the Libyan government. The second incident, evidently a response to the first seizure, was the kidnapping a few days later of the country’s prime minister, Ali Zeidan, while he lay asleep in his hotel lodgings in the center of Tripoli. He was easily captured by a squadron of 20 militia gunmen who arrived at the hotel around 6:00 am and proceeded without resistance from security guards to carry off the head of the Libyan state. Such a bold assault on the state’s essential character as the sole purveyor of legitimate violence (according to the famous conception of Max Weber) is a telltale sign of a political system of shadow governance, that is, without security.


            The capture of Ali Zeidan was reportedly prompted both by anger at the government’s impotence in the face of such an overt violation of Libyan sovereignty by the United States, as well as serving to warn the political leadership of the country that any further effort to disarm militias would be resisted. Ali Zeidan seizure was largely symbolic. He was held by his captors for only a few hours before being released. Nevertheless, the ease of the kidnapping sent shivers down the spine of the Western countries that had been so proud two years ago of their regime-changing intervention under NATO auspices. The incident also reinforced the impression in the West that prospects for lucrative foreign investment and substantial oil flows would have to be put on hold for the indefinite future.


            According to journalistic accounts, which should perhaps be discounted as unreliable rumors, the militia responsible for this daring challenge to governmental authority in Libya, seems to have recently formed, and is headed by Nuri Abusahmen, who is the speaker of the General National Assembly. RMr. Abusahmen sat serenely besides the prime minister as he addressed the nation shortly after regaining his freedom, but there are reasons to doubt the veracity of this account.  For those conscious of Libyan realities, if such a juxtaposition were accurate it would be a further indication that the capabilities of the elected government in Tripoli are modest as compared to that of the militias, and can be overridden at will by recalcitrant civil society forces. Perhaps, more to the point, there appears to be a seamless web in Libya between the government and the militias, between what is de jure and what is de facto, and between what is lawful and what is criminal. Of course, it was also highly disturbing that a prominent al Qaeda operative was roaming freely in Libya, and seemingly enjoying some level of national support.


            There is no doubt that Libya is so pervasively armed that even the National Rifle Association might find excessive. Supposedly, every household is in possession of weapons either distributed to Libyans supportive of the Qaddafi government during its struggle to survive or acquired from NATO benefactors. Unlike several of the other countries experiencing a troubled aftermath to the Arab Upheavals, Libya is a rich economic prize, with the world’s fifth largest oil reserves generating a cash flow that could be a boon to the troubled economies of Europe that carried out the intervention, and have acted subsequently as if they have an entitlement to a fair market share of the economic opportunities for trade and investment.


            Two years ago the concerns that prompted NATO to act were overtly associated with Qaddafi’s bloody crimes against his own people. The use of force was authorized in a circumscribed March 17, 2011 Security Council Resolution 1973 premised on protecting the entrapped civilian population of Benghazi against imminent attacks by the regime primarily through the establishment of a no-fly zone. The non-Western members of the UNSC were skeptical and suspicious at the time of the debate about authorizing military action fearing that more would be done than claimed, but agreed to abstain when it came to a vote, relying with reluctance on reassurances from pro-interventionist members of the Security Council that the undertaking was of a purely ‘humanitarian’ rather than what it became, a political initiative with a ‘regime-changing’ character.


            As it turned out, almost from day one of the intervention it became clear that NATO was interpreting the UN mandate in the broadest possible way, engaging in military operations obviously intended to cause the collapse of the Qaddafi government in Tripoli, and only incidentally focused on protecting the people of Benghazi from immediate danger. This maneuver was understandably interpreted as a betrayal of trust by those Security Council members who had been persuaded to abstain, especially Russia and China. One effect of such an action was to weaken, at least in the short run, the capacity of the UN to form a consensus in responses to humanitarian crises, as in Syria, and may also have undermined prospects for stable governance in Libya for many years to come.


            The Libyan future remains highly uncertain at present with several scenarios plausible: partition based on fundamental ethnic and regional enmities, essentially creating two polities, one centered in Benghazi, the other in Tripoli; a perpetuation of tribal rivalries taking the form of cantonization of the country with governing authority appropriated by various militia, and likely producing a type of low-intensity warfare that creates chaos and precludes both meaningful democracy and successful programs of economic development; ‘a failed state’ that becomes a sanctuary for transnational extremist violence, and then becomes a counter-terrorist battlefield in the manner of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, the scene of deadly drone attacks and covert operations by special forces. There is even talk of the return to power of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, who might indeed provide the only road back to political stability. The seizure of al-Libi and the subsequent kidnapping of the prime minister may be metaphors of what ‘governance’ in Libya has come to signify.


            The European media and political leaders worry aloud once more about these disturbing scenarios, but rarely hearken back to reassess the imperial moves of 2011 that were at least partly designed to restore European influence and create economic opportunities. It is one more instance of post-colonial unwillingness to respect the sovereign autonomy of states, or at least to limit their interference to operational undertakings in genuine emergency actions strictly within the scope of a UN mandate and truly restricted to the prevention and mitigation of humanitarian catastrophes. The dynamics of self-determination may produce ugly strife and terrible human tragedy, but nothing can be much worse than what Western intervention produces. The logic of state-centric world order needs to be complemented by regional and world community institutions and procedures that can address the internal failures of sovereign states and the machinations of global private sector manipulations of domestic tensions that has contributed so insidiously to massive bloodshed to sub-Saharan Africa. [See Noam Chomsky & Andre Vltchek, On Western Terrorism from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare (2013) for convincing elaboration of this latter contention]


            There are obviously no easy answers, but there is no shortage of  obscurantist commentary. For instance, there is an image of a ‘failed state’ as one that poses a threat to Western interests or fails to govern in a manner that precludes its territory from being used to mount hostile violence directed at the West or its property. But is not Egypt as much, or more, of a failed state than Libya, and yet it not so regarded? A strong and oppressive state, especially if not anti-Western, is seen as compatible with geostrategic interests even if it commits terrible crimes against humanity against its domestic opponents as has been the case with the al-Sisi led coup in Egypt.


            We can only wonder whether Libya as of 2013 is not better understood as a ‘militia state’ rather than a ‘failed state,’ which seems like an emerging pattern for societies that endure Western military intervention. The parallels of Libya with Iraq and Afghanistan are uncomfortably suggestive.

24 Responses to “Post-Intervention Libya: A Militia State”

  1. Gene Schulman October 12, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    Thanks, Richard, for this interesting diversion from your usual subject, i.e., Israel. I have long argued that the US is itself a failed state (it certainly is failing its people). But I think your definition is more accurate: a militia state. And of course, the US would like all of its puppets to emulate it.

  2. truthaholics October 12, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    Great analysis Richard.

    By disrespecting sovereignty, regime-change brings not just its perpetrators but the entire system of International Law into disrepute – this radical departure from the norm caused by the American military-industrial complex: politics EXCEPTIONALLY being triangulated by neo-cons, banksters and zionists, is invariably cheerled by Israel and its Jewish lobby as a perfect front to continue land-thievery unabated..

  3. truthaholics October 12, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics.

  4. Sergey October 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    I absolutely agree with your observations on the alarming events that transpired in Libya this week. One can only hope that the policy makers will take note of the record of failure that unfolded in Afghanistan, Iraq and now in Libya following the foreign interventions in these countries.

  5. john francis lee October 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    ” Nevertheless, the ease of the kidnapping sent shivers down the spine of the Western countries that had been so proud two years ago of their regime-changing intervention under NATO auspices. ”

    Looking at the results of the US, now US/Nato, invasions and occupations … Iraq, for instance … you must consider that the end result … a country in chaos, and all its institutions destroyed … was in fact the real aim to begin with. That the USSA is trying to replicate the conditions that obtained after WW II at the ‘highpoint’ of the Old American Century.

    USrael is delighted at the utter destruction of Islamic countries … Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya … Shock and Awe or no, Syria is already very nearly destroyed … and Iran is crippled economically.

    People who decry the ‘mistakes’ made based on the incongurence of the actual results of the US/Israeli/NATO nation-breaking and the lying, rhetorical propaganda stating US/Israeli/NATO aims seem to me to be missing the point, and I’m very surprised to see yourself among their number.

    These countries are in the state they are in … on purpose. There have been no ‘mistakes’ made. The US/Israel/NATO set out to destroy them and they have destroyed them. That result that obtains is the desired result from their point of view.

    After Iran comes Russia. After Russia, China. All reduced to rubble and chaos. The New American (Israeli/NATO) Century.

    Then after China comes Germany …

    • monalisa October 13, 2013 at 3:42 am #

      to John Francis Lee:

      I don’t think that Germany comes after China: in my opinion (living in the Middle of Europe and follow-up how the EU reacts to US political agenda) the EU was going to be too strong for US political and mostly monetary purposes.
      Germany is already very much in the “US red list” of states who have to be “watched closely”. This because Germany is still very strong in its economy as well as in too many fields of science (in the eyes of USA).

      As with Russia and China: It is obvious and cannot overlooked neither by Russia nor China that USA is encircling both states by military strategic “points”.

      What I still wonder: with this “exceptionalistic” US way of thinking doesn’t it ever occure to the US military scientists that both states will maybe overwork in order to cross US military agendas ?

      Both states have no interest in widen/crossing their military borders – but are eager on a very peaceful way to widen their econominal influence and – still in its infant stage – monetary basic outlook.

      Quite in contrast to USA: indoctrinate monetary purposes/business by military interventions.

      Do you think that USA (naturally with its puppet NATO members) will dare to start a direct war with boths countries ? Its way of “exceptionalistic thinking” points somehow to this.
      This could lead to a nuclear fallout fatality for us all on a total globe scale.

      We shall see what will be the outcome.


  6. monalisa October 13, 2013 at 3:15 am #

    Dear Richard,

    thank you for this fine and complete essay of your oberservations.

    However, I think you still wear one shoe of the mainsteams’ political message: “failed state”.
    This is a Western term for those states which have/had political turmoils mostly instigated by foreign secret services in order to destabilize certain states in certain areas.
    And it fits perfectly into the political agenda of USA.

    Concerning Libya and other states – the political outlined “Moslem states are evil” have to be put onto front pages.
    In order to fulfil political propaganda.
    Since the fall of the former Communist state it cannot longer be used as a “peg to hang something on” a new one had to be created for political purposes.

    In my opinion to bomb a small state together with other NATO members shows that we are again in the Second Cold War era.

    Take care of yourself,


    • Richard Falk October 14, 2013 at 3:11 am #

      Of course, monalisa, as always you are right. Living in these waters has certain
      liabilities when it comes to finding an independent path. Your comments on the
      discourse surrounding ‘failed state’ are completely on point. Thanks, as always,
      for your vigilance presence!

      Warm best wishes from a chilly London.

  7. alfatah69 October 13, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Very good analysis but if you can allow me to correct you on one thing about “in possession of weapons either acquired by raids on Qaddafi arsenals” It was Qaddafi’s regime who gave them to each family, I should know because I was there. So no Libyan at that time stole anything it was given to us with the best wishes to fight the insurgents ie the rebels. Secondly it was not at 2 am that they kidnapped Zeidan but around 6:00 am plus its still not proven that it was ” Nuri Abusahmen” rumors has it that it was a group which is out of the control of the government (otherwise they would not have stolen his underwear and private things) please check my blog.

    • Richard Falk October 14, 2013 at 3:17 am #

      Thanks so much for clarifying and correcting my text. I have made the changes in the post. Best wishes.

  8. alfatah69 October 13, 2013 at 8:13 am #


  9. Odysseus October 14, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    Irresponsible analysis, as usual. The alternative to Western intervention in Libya would have been a massacre. This is not a supposition; it was Qaddafi’s declared intention: “there will be no mercy.” When a dictator has been in power for as long as Qaddafi, much domestic discontent builds up and the results are often explosive in one direction or the other. One can be cognizant of underlying conditions or one can have a psychological predisposition to blame the West for any and all outcomes.

    • monalisa October 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      to Odysseus:

      whatever Qaddafi was:
      he made schools, universities free for the public, illiteracy was within his lifetime almost eliminated;
      he achieved that the life expectancy of Libyans starting from the seventiees of last century until his death rose from 52 to 76 and older ….
      he provided free housing
      as well as free health care ….

      And most of all: he freed his country from the grip of the Italian colonialistic “style” (and some fearful and catastrophic concentration camps).

      At least, he achieved much for his country….

      these are the plusses ….. surely, everything has its minusses ….
      for example im my opinion he oversaw the time to change some political basics.

      But he freed his country and provided a lot to his people ….
      maybe too much …
      and tried to put the standing of the African continent into a better perspective ….
      and Libyans oil revenues were used too for Libyan citizen ….
      much to teh regret of big oil companies ….

      But because the African continent must be “free for exploitation by the West” this had to be crossed in its early stage … sure ….
      and oil, oil, oil ….. big oil companies are sometimes dictating …


      • Odysseus October 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

        To Monalisa:
        A lot of the positive things you are saying about Qaddafi (such as improvements in education, housing, etc.) could also be said about the Shah of Iran (as well as the negative things you don’t say (political prisoners, lack of political freedom) and yet I doubt you, or other readers of this blog would have much good to say about the Shah. Qaddafi’s end came when a majority of his own people rose up against him.

    • Kata Fisher October 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      @ Odysseus

      You sound as in performance of warfare-Psychological..

      Western intervention=Colonialisms/Robbing, killing, destroying (of devil) as was, is now…and will be subjection/abuse of ingenious (or resources grabbing…economy has no longer use of human capital/slaves…the resources natural are the next). What is next? What is left from Greco-Roman: unreasonable tinker-vicious oppressor in satanic confirmations/seals and Blasphemy of God’s Spirit?

      They are church-excommunicated in natural, and spiritual—they graft in not…they is in their cycling business. For generations now, the Western lands/governments do not behave in a human way…and now they have their works coming after them?

      One has no need to reflect on Church History, and will know that. In fact, you can pin-point their glad tidings to the world, all over (now, I am sarcastic).
      Fallen Rome/Greco-Roman and other wild tribes in its package contemporarily (just badly behaving spiritually excommunicated pagan-tribes, in fact). You really cannot describe it in objective accuracy…other than that.

      One must be really in a bad spirit—or personal ill-will, just in order to reason in the way you do…seriously. This is truth-objectiv.

      Now, I will be considered Charismatic Roman-Catholic-hateful? You see, I always give reference to my Faith…

      • Odysseus October 15, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

        To Kata Fisher:
        Let’s look at a major difference between West and East. When the Allies won World War II, the West (US-UK-France) occupied West Germany and the East (Soviet Union) occupied East Germany. The West (primarily with US money) helped West Germany get back on it’s feet and rebuild. The Soviet Union dismantled East German factories and carted the results back to Russia. The Soviet Union kept German prisoners as slave laborers for years. Of over 100,000 Germans captured at Stalingrad only 5,000 survived captivity. Look also at the difference between North Korea and South Korea. When Korea was divided, North Korea had a higher per capita income than South Korea. Now South Korea has a vastly higher living standard than North Korea. North Korea has concentration camps, starvation, lack of freedom, and when they wanted language instructors they kidnapped Japanese teenagers off a beach. In your hatred of the West, you are not only backing political repression but also impoverishment of the less developed part of the globe.

      • Kata Fisher October 15, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

        @ Odysseus
        Hatred of the West is irrelevant, what is relevant is the works of evil on which Western world was sustained—sustained by what? We see it sustainable in this point in time, as they never stop their robbery in the same ways that they always have done. It is easy to get rich on labor of others/resources of others, by cheat. The hog remains the hog, and the dog remains the dog (I am using two Scriptural terms for obnoxious people, and that is in spiritual appearance of an irrevocable sin; I can see devils in people). Now I am Charismatic, ordained by accident of Church disorder—just if you wonder about background of the argument. There was a point in time when I was traumatism by the world I observed that I could not lift my head up—all around me made me sick as dog…today; I accept that there are accursed people. I just speak in simple terms that are easy understandable. Church doctrine of judgment by Spirit of God can be unbearable! It is perceptions by which Church oversee…

        As Church-Charismatic in God’s Spirit, you see them accursed, and not grafted in (entire history of the Church—they just get bigger and bigger in the Beast, corporately).

        When you look between East and West, based on a Historical Time-Line you will understand how difficult these tribes were, consistently and corporately they practiced the guilt of blood, and greed that is devil-directed. I can explain this point by point by the History of the Church (natural/spiritual), but me really have things to do.

        World War II was their consistent practice in contemporary package/times (in spiritual and natural). What do you think moved Crusades ever? (Satanic confirmation/seals, and Blasphemy of God’s Spirit…generational—or personal.)

        After WWII everyone experienced consequences and injustice…they have deserved it—or not. When there is a corporate sin, corporate consequence applies: US Church as Corporate was spiritually excommunicated; only prophets and Church Charismatic valid were well spiritually. We have no holy offspring in US as a Church corporate to foresee. His Righteousness in the Churches, I barely ever have seen…

        US referred to Russian as godless nation after WW II and under communism, while they them self were in Church of Satan, and practices segregation and population control—just as Russia did in another or similar way-diverse package.

        We say today”Russia has repented.”Just kidding! Russia repeated in the same way US did…They did not repent (Churches did not).

        About Asia…South and North Korea—they fall short of Laws that area appointed, as all other Lands are…some to very bad extends (like here in US), other less. On the standard base you have about same human rights violation here in US and North Korea. What is the standard by which you would measure US shortfall? Civil standard?

        I use Church-standard:

        I observed US Church (I accidentally became Holy See…how ironic) to observe for some years now US Church, as well as society, in general. Before I came to US I was fine as an individual, as soon as I moved to US I was beaten up like a dog—a fullness of Nazi spirit attack to experience is just awful. They are under satanic seals and Blasphemy of God’s Spirit (generationally and personally); as Christianity—they is devil-directed (one can actually see seals of devils in them)they have no order what so ever!

        US Christianity is very wicked to the Church-valid. They are Anti-Semitic and are Anti-spirit of God. I did study protestant Theology in Evangelical collage—that all is witchcraft—all one does in those colleges is discerning of witchcraft. It is all satanic demons inspired.

        Before you get out one of those you are bewitched…but that is their Church-faith, as corporate. They are excommunicated in spiritual and natural. One should not be in any of that subject without full Baptism in Spirit; under prophetic anointing…you can’t read any of that without being catatonic. It is all witchcraft and heresy. All their Christianity is on their lips, according to the spirit in which they are in. They are in Nazi-spirit (and in principality of that).

        There are only few pastors that are the valid among US Evangelicals; mainly, those who are under prophetic anointing and are valid Church Charismatic.

        I do not deny good what came out of Western world, but you cannot deny that their goodies came by robbing, killing, and destroying. Prosperity of US is built on the back of the slaves…one cannot deny that. Look at imbalance between continents that were stripped off and those who were doing stripping off of the continents. Why is China well off…relatively well off? They experienced no significant robbery…any other land that was not stripped of her human capital?

        Do you really think that I am anti-Western? I lack ability to smash a flea! I am not a savage like Nero was who prosecuted Christians (Jews and non-Jews) that were in Spirit of God.

  10. monalisa October 16, 2013 at 12:25 am #

    to Odysseus:

    Sorry, you are wrong in your statements.
    These positive implementations created under Qaddafi’s rule I wrote have been verified by foreign institutions as well as foreigners who were working there.

    Concerning the former Shah of Iran: this individual had been “put onto the Throne” by USA/Great Britain as CIA together with MI 6 (operation “Ajax”) did everything to “remove” Mossadegh (democratic elected, later murdered by foreign secret services). This too has been brought into the open by declassified US documents (the Iranians knew this always).
    The “Shah” did nothing for Iranians and – as an US/British “implementation” – created secret political prisons all over Iran as well as corruption spread and foreign oil company/ies started to exploit – not for the benefit of the Iranian population.

    The Islamic Revolution there (whether I like that or not) brought especially for women a lot of good things (except the other side of strict clothing etc.) insofar that in rural areas the illiteracy by female farmers could effectively reduced so that illiteracy in rural areas went down and literacy rose up to a level between 85 to 95 % (considering such a short time since the revolution is very remarkable). Remark: almost never mentioned in Western mainstream media. Also women in general were and are supported to study.

    In my opinion to free any country of foreign grip and exploitation (secret services are working “hard” to instigate turmoils in foreign countries of “strategic” and/or big companies interest and foreign countries hand over weapons) is the difficultest thing to do (especially when it was during the 20th century as well as today) and a good leader (whether despotic or democratic that doesn’t count at all) is this one who could make its country free of foreign rule. What counts is the fact what has been achieved for the country and its population.

    Concerning Libya it is well known that foreign “installed turmoils” were placed in Libya.
    And some NATO members “pressured by USA” started an “humanitarian war” which is contradict in itself. So the agenda why and for what was clear (as I already wrote in my former post).
    Remark: it will be helpful for your information to look when Qaddafi ‘nationalized’ the oil and how was the reaction of foreign oil company/ies “depicted” in Western mainsteam media.


  11. monalisa October 16, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    comment to Odysseus concerning his post to Kata Fisher on 15th 6:36 p.m.:

    Sorry, your comment is loopsided.

    Read about US concentration camps concerning Germans, Japanese and Italians in USA.
    Read about prisoners of WWII in USA, Britain, France.
    You will get a much better picture what were its facts.

    When the UNO was implemented and shortly afterwards some Western “winner countries” realized that they themselves didn’t follow some stipulations written therein.

    Too much rose-colored glasses in favor of “the soo good Western countries” after WWII will never give you a proper picture what in reality took place.


  12. anonymous October 16, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Mr Falk, do you know that a new book on 9/11 is out?

    Dimitri Khalezov has spent 10 years researching and writing a book on what happened during 9/11. The book is now available on the internet. Download links:

    Or read at:

    In a 2010 interview, Khalezov explained that you can’t build a skyscraper in NYC without an approved demolition plan. On 9/11, the WTC’s demolition plan was put into action to demolish the complex.

    Khalezov learned of this demolition plan from his job in the Soviet Union. He had worked in the nuclear intelligence unit and under an agreement between the Soviet Union and the USA, each country was obliged to inform the other of peaceful uses of nuclear explosions. The WTC was constructed with 3 thermo-nuclear charges deep in its foundations.

    Note: underground nuclear explosions do not produce mushroom clouds. This is only ever seen when the explosion takes place above ground. On 9/11, the explosions were deep underground.

    More info (with links to 2010 interview):
    Video # 4 – WTC’s demolition plan
    Video # 14 – WTC 7 (which fell ½ hour AFTER the BBC announced its collapse).
    Videos # 24/25 – chronic radiation sickness of WTC responders
    The videos of this interview can be downloaded from Khalezov’s website:

    Khalezov was interviewed on 4 Sept 2013:


  1. Richard Falk: Post-Intervention Libya—A Militia State - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics - October 17, 2013

    […] By Richard Falk By arrangement with Richard Falk […]

  2. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Post-Intervention Libya: A Militia State - May 6, 2015

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  3. Post-Intervention Libya—A Militia State – Guernica - February 7, 2017

    […] By arrangement with Richard Falk […]

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