Libya. Improvements were evident during Libya’s relations with the US and the UK during the year. Mike O’Brien, Minister of the Middle East, became the highest British official to visit Libya since 1983. Talks with Libyan leader Muammar al-Khadaffi touched on the Lockerbie bombing and condemnation of terrorism.
According to Countryaah website, national day of Libya is every December 24. Five judges in an appeal court ruled on March 14 that former Libyan agent Abd al-Basit al-Magrahi was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. He was taken to a prison in Glasgow where he will serve at least 20 years. Libya criticized the ruling and demonstrations took place. On September 12, al-Magrahi asked the European Court of Human Rights to try the case. The issue of compensation to the 270 Lockerbie victims’ relatives was still unresolved.
Al-Khadaffi announced on September 1 that a number of Islamists suspected of conspiring with the al-Qaeda terror network have been arrested. He said that Libya should not be described as a “rogue state” and that in the future, international law should be strictly applied. The speech was held on the 33rd anniversary of the revolution that brought him to power.
At the end of October, al-Khadaffi announced that Libya would leave the Arab League, which he often criticized, but remained intensive after mediation. Africa is becoming increasingly important for Libya’s leaders, not least the African Union (AU) formed in July 2001.
In mid-September, it was announced that Libya has been granted the exclusive right to extract oil and minerals in the Central African Republic for 99 years. Libya has supported President Ange-Félix Patassé since May 2001. Libyan fighter jet was reported in October to have bombarded supporters of Patassé’s rival, former Army Chief François Bozize in Bangui capital.
In September, Libya was reported to have extended an oil supply agreement with Zimbabwe worth $ 360 million and entered into economic agreements with Mozambique, Namibia and Malawi.
al-Khadaffi received Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on October 28 for talks on economic cooperation. Libya, a former Italian colony, is Italy’s leading oil supplier.
On the 24th, the easternmost major city, Tobruk, was conquered by the rebels, and most of the country was now in revolt. The Gadaffi regime emerged in disintegration. The EU called for suspending Libya from the UN Human Rights Council and for the UN Security Council to investigate “the serious human rights violations of the Libyan authorities” – but not the rebels. Despite opposition from Gadaffi’s closest EU ally, Berlusconi, the EU had chosen sides in the conflict and stood on the side of the rebels. In Switzerland, the authorities froze all Libyan values.
On 26, a “transitional government” was established under the leadership of former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil. Libya’s former US ambassador, Ali Suleiman Aujali, became the first to recognize the new “government”. US President Barack Obama for the first time called on Gadaffi to resign to avoid further violence.
On the 27th, the UN Security Council adopted a arms embargo on Libya and to freeze the country’s values abroad. Abdul Jalil’s “transitional government” collapsed and was replaced by a “National Transitional Council”.
Developments in Libya revealed a number of fissures among Western leaders. While US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the war rhetoric and called for immediate “removal” of Gadaffi, President Obama was more subdued. British Prime Minister David Cameron joined the war chorus and called for the introduction of a “flight ban zone” to protect the rebels. The momentum of the uprising had a few days earlier seemed to wane. Former Interior Minister Abdul Fatah Younis acknowledged that it would be difficult for the rebels to remove Gadaffi alone and therefore called for Western aircraft attacks on Gadaffi’s forces, but refused an actual invasion of the country.
On March 3, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tabled a peace proposal on behalf of Latin American ALBA cooperation. The proposal was accepted by the Arab League, the African Union and the Gadaffi regime, but was opposed by the colonial powers – the US and the EU – and by the Libyan rebels.
In the first half of March, fighting back and forth in the eastern part of the country wavered in what was now an actual – and brutal – civil war. But the rebels were predominantly on retreat. Despite desertions by Gadaffi’s forces, the rebels were predominantly big boys and young men without military training, and they could not cope with the Libyan army. The EU responded by more clearly choosing sides for the rebels. On March 9, the European Parliament called on EU Member States to recognize the Transitional Council, and it was recognized by France and Portugal on the 10th.
It now urged Western support for the uprising. The West had finally dropped its former ally, Colonel Gadaffi. In order to get the United Nations Security Council to stamp out a war on Libya, the EU and the US put pressure on the Arab countries and Africa to support them in a “no-fly zone”. On March 12, the Arab League decided to support such a zone, but out of the league’s 22 countries, only 11 participated in the Cairo vote. Libya itself was prevented from participating. Eight of the 11 countries – predominantly western allies, the dictatorships around the Gulf – voted in favor, while 3 voted against. In return, the African Union refused to support the West’s war plans and instead called for peace talks between the civil war parties.
Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen now also clearly stated in support of the rebels – contrary to §114b which prohibits support for popular uprisings (the terror clause). Among the western countries, the rhetoric of war was strongest in Denmark, where the Danish government declared itself willing to go to war with Libya, regardless of whether the UN Security Council introduced a “ban on aircraft”. The rhetoric was based in particular on the claim that Gadaffi was planning a genocide on the Libyan people. There was as little evidence of the allegation as the government’s claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction in 2003. By the way, Denmark was the only western country where the genocide discourse was used as an argument for war. North American military analysts later stated that they had trouble holding back the war-enthusiastic Danes.