Outsourcing Libya to the Qataris

5 Jan

The Flags of Qatar, Egypt, and Tunisia in LibyaThe good news is, that Libya will not be Iraq redux. But, a post-Gaddafi regime could become Somalia.

Of course, the U.S. and our European allies washed our hands of post-war Libya well before Gaddafi’s regime collapsed. No one wanted the responsibility to rebuild then, and no one is going to want it in the future. Interventionists worried that there might be a Somalia on the Mediterranean, and then proceeded to bring about that outcome.

The agent of civil war in Libya might be Qatar.

Qatar has emerged as a major player in the Arab Awakening, not least in Libya where it provided anti-Gadhafi rebels with arms, supplies, training, a satellite TV channel, diplomatic backing and at least $100 million in financial assistance.

Well-crafted financial assistance, like that of Qatar to groups in Libya, or indeed China in Africa generally, can more directly buy loyalty,” says John Chipman, head of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. The tiny Gulf state is an exemplar of political power in a ‘non-polar’ world, he writes:

But many Libyans believe that the emirate’s “aid has come at a price…[and] say Qatar provided a narrow clique of Islamists with arms and money, giving them great leverage over the political process,” Time magazine reports.

“I think what they have done is basically support the Muslim Brotherhood,” says former NTC Deputy Prime Minister Ali Tarhoun. “They have brought armaments and they have given them to people that we don’t know.”

“Qatar is weakening Libya,” says an NTC member. “In funding the Islamists, they are upsetting the balance of politics and making it difficult for us to move forward. They need to stop their meddling.”

The controversy has emerged at a delicate stage in Libya’s transition, with this week’s publication of a draft electoral law sparking debate over a range of issues, from women’s representation to ensuring the appropriate balance between retribution and reconciliation.

Construing goals so tightly – protecting civilians against reprisal – leads to a situation where others can intervene for maximal goals, like insuring the right government for their business interests.

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