Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment it is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.
First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a different realm, where only the few live.
In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the third in a series of articles that will provide the background to what led up to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
My last blog referred to the gold and assets that Qaddafi owned and the world’s concerns of him creating a gold-backed currency. How did the world get to UN Resolution 1973? Let me explain.
On February 21, 2011, Libyan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, went before the council and requested a no-fly zone to keep supplies and mercenaries from joining Qaddafi regime’s military fighting and killing Libyan citizens. Remember, Qaddafi had fought his own citizens for years—killing anyone or any group he remotely believed could attempt to overthrow him.
Then two days later, French President Sarkozy went to the European Union, expressing his concerns regarding Qaddafi, and stating they must stop the attacks on his citizens, which got sanctions passed to freeze Qaddafi’s assets abroad.
On February 26, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1970, which referred the current Libyan government to the International Criminal Court for gross human rights violations. The UN also called for an arms embargo. Remember this fact. Then they agreed to freeze Qaddafi’s—and several other government officials’—assets outside of Libya.
On the last day of February, British Prime Minister David Cameron also proposed a no-fly zone so Qaddafi could not use the Libyan Air Force against his own citizens.
Surprisingly, without any explanation to the press from either the President or the Secretary of State, on March 1, the United State Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution urging the UN Security Council to impose a Libyan no-fly zone. Plus, they called for Qaddafi to step down as leader of the country. At the time, the U.S. had naval assets sitting near the Libyan coast, including the USS Enterprise. Canada joined the stakes the next day. Oh, by the way, they, too, coincidentally already had naval assets near Libya. They upped the threat, saying NATO was looking at this as well. To set this straight, NATO’s charter was established to defend NATO countries from aggressors, more particularly, the Soviet Union, now Russia. Was Libya threatening the citizens within any NATO country? This seemed like a stretch.
The next week, this worldwide movement against the pariah of the earth, Qaddafi, increased, beginning with NATO announcing twenty-four-hour a day AWACS flights. Britain and France increased their refining of the no-fly zone resolution to be brought before the UN Security Council. To keep the momentum going, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab equivalent to the European Union, of which, coincidentally enough, Libya was not a member, called for the establishment of a no-fly zone to protect Libyan citizens.
The Libyan National Transition Council, based in Benghazi, pleaded for the international community to impose the no-fly zone immediately, fearful that if Qaddafi’s forces reached Benghazi, they would kill “a half-million people.” For the record, the last available (2006) census of Benghazi placed its population at 670,797. According to Wikipedia, which is not a reliable reference but the only one with figures, the city’s population was 631,555 in 2011, while the greater metropolitan area held a population of 1,110,000. So, the National Transition Council believed that half of the population would be killed off? Seems like a stretch to me.
Then, on March 10, after a meeting with Sarkozy, France recognized the Libyan National Transition Council as the legitimate government.
The big development came on March 14, just before the G8 meeting in Paris. Sarkozy and the French Foreign Minister met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push her to lead the U.S.’s intervention in Libya.
After you have read about how the elites and diplomats brought drama to this bad situation, here are some of the facts, which may not be a complete list of the actual on-the-ground situation.
Let’s look back at the beginning.
On February 16, 2011, Libyan anti-government protestors, inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (you will remember the Arab Spring Movement), clashed with police. These protests continued for five days, spreading from Tripoli to Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of a least five hundred Libyan citizens, while hundreds—perhaps as many as a thousand—were injured. By February 23, the eastern cities, including Benghazi, had fallen to the control of the “Arab Spring Movement”—or the rebels—or what was now pegged as the “good guys.” As violence continued throughout the country, it was estimated that more than 100,000 citizens had fled to surrounding countries.
Two weeks after the beginning of the uprising, it was estimated six thousand citizens had died, both pro-Qaddafi and anti-Qaddafi. Qaddafi loyalists had lost control of much of the country, except Tripoli. By the time the UN Security Council brought Resolution 1973 to a vote, the resolution stated: “Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute “crimes against humanity”, the Security Council this evening imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace — a no-fly zone — and tightened sanctions on the Qaddafi regime and its supporters.” civil unrest had tumbled the entire country into turmoil. Just before the UN no-fly zone was to go into effect, the Libyan government called for negotiations with the opposition—but Qaddafi’s forces attacked rebels in the city of Misrata, which unraveled any glimpse of hope Qaddafi had of his government withstanding what was about to be unleashed.
The first forces to intervene in Libya were the French on March 19, just two days after the resolution. Then on March 24, the French government agreed to let NATO take over all military operations, no later than March 29. NATO was empowered with enforcing the no-fly zone and the arms embargo (not to the rebels, of course, but only for the loyalists of Qaddafi). Only Turkey wanted to veto the forthcoming air strikes, but it never came to an official vote. The NATO operation began with the defense of Benghazi, the new capital of the Libyan Coalition Government.
On March 27, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was provided an intelligence briefing by one of her intelligence gatherers that the NATO-backed rebels were also committing war crimes. So, both Qaddafi fighters and the rebels were committing war crimes against one another. Additionally, it was reported from other sources that the rebels suddenly had a large number of AK-47s, which they had not had just days earlier. So, despite the arms embargo, the rebels were provided weapons.
On March 28, the day before NATO was to take over operations, President Obama addressed the American people on the Libyan situation. . He explained why it was the responsible thing to stop “violence on a horrific scale,” keeping Qaddafi from slaughtering thousands of Libyans, acting with a mandate from the UN, and being a part of a coalition force. Obama discussed that intervention was important to the peaceful transition of power in both Egypt and Tunisia, due to Libyan refugees pouring into those countries. It is important remember, as mentioned above, these two countries overthrew their dictators as a part of the Arab Spring Movement. President Obama claimed it was the right, albeit belated, decision to join with allies.
Was President Obama too slow to explain that decision or his long-term strategy to Congress and the American people?