PROJECT TOPIC- THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATE’S GOVERNMENT IN REGIME CHANGE AND NEOLIBERAL REFORMS IN LIBYA
The study investigated the link between U.S AID and politics of regime change in Libya. It also explores the strategic interest of the west in Libya and its reliance on the instrumentality of NATO to drive the interest of US foreign policy. This study focused on the uprising that took place in Libya in 2011. In exploring the perimeters to which sovereignty can be exercised in interstate raised conflicts, the study also investigated how changing political realities and international norms enabled external interventions that were previously unthinkable. The methodology underpinning the research is essentially descriptive, thus, deductive logical content analysis is employed. The power theory was used as our framework of analyzing the championing of the NATO allied forces Aid interventionist mission in Libya. That to the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi under the aegis of responsibility to protect however the manner of the engagement by US and NATO led external forces in the fight for regime change in Libya leaves much to be desired. We argue that NATO’s military intervention in Libya occasioned specific violations of UN resolution 1973 in Libya, especially the “Responsibility to protect” mandate. NATO armed anti- Gaddafi rebels and conducted series of indiscrimate airstrikes which resulted the cataclysmic decimate of several lives and property. The study recommended that UN except in proven cases of genocide should avoid the employment of force in the settlement of internal dispute. This will encourage parties to the dispute to employ diplomacy and dialogue rather than violence with the hope of attracting humanitarian Aid intervention of powerful states. Also the United Nations should equally rise up to the challenges of international security so as not give room for some western countries who hide under the pretext of implementing UN resolutions, to pursue their private and most times selfish economic and political interests. Our conclusion was also anchored on the findings of the study.
1.1 Background of the study
After the end of the Cold War, which wretched serious damaged to humanities, there has been an increasing demand and justification for external military interventions in certain territories like Northern Iraq, East Timor, Burma. The rationale for the external military intervention was anchored on the need to protect citizens from the dictatorial tendencies of the government. Which exposed the former to mass death and untold sufferings. This idea necessitated military intervention in Burma, East Timor and Northern Iraq. There have also been situations in Rwanda and Bosnia, Ivory Coast and other part of Africa and world in which there were strong cases for such aid or humanitarian intervention, but either no actions followed or any action taken was too little and too late.
However the history of Libya under Gaddafi spanned a period of over four decades from 1969 to 2011. Gaddafi become the de facto leader of the country on 1st September 1969 after leading a group of Libyan military officers against king Idris in a bloodless coup d’état. After the king had fled the country, the Libyan revolutionary command council (RCC) headed by Gaddafi abolished the monarchy and the old constitution and proclaimed the new Libyan African Republic with motto freedom, socialism, and unity (Global, Edge, 2011).
With crude oil being the country’s primary export, Gaddafi sought to improve the position of the Libya oil sector. As we all know the history of oil is the history of struggle for power marked by conflicting relations between actors whose motivations are not strictly economic. Oil has been used as a weapon in international relation by both the producers and buyers this is the context for understanding the strained relationship between Libya and United State government, including the US strategic foreign policies interest in Libya before the Araba spring.
In October, 1969, Gaddafi proclaimed that the current trade terms on oil were unfair, which is only benefitting foreign oil corporations more than the Libyan state. In fact, since October, 1969, the formation/ establishment Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries of OPEC according to Soremekun (1990:295) owes a lot to the actions of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. On coming to power in 1969, he forced the oil companies to effect an upward revision of oil price at which they sold their country’s oil by threatening to reduce production.
This actions was unprecedented and it had far-reaching effect. According to Turner in Soremekeun (1990:295); Once Libya had broken the ice and shown that the international oil industry could be forced to concede prices in the posted prices of oil, it was as though the mystique of the companies which had served them for decades had gone, thus allowing much more limited and conservative regimes to join in the onslaught on the companies which had held then in a states of psychological dependency for so long.
After championing for the establishment of OPEC and forcing oil companies for upward review of oil price. United-States–Libya relations became increasingly strained when Gaddafi nationalized the oil industry and in 1972, the United States government recalled its ambassador (Mary, 2012). Export controls on military and civil aircraft were imposed during the 1970s and the United States embassy staff members were withdrawn from the embassy in December, 1979.
PROJECT TOPIC- THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATE’S GOVERNMENT IN REGIME CHANGE AND NEOLIBERAL REFORMS IN LIBYA
The United States’ government designated Libya a state’s sponsor of terrorism on December 29, 1979 (Mary, 2012). Relations between the U.S. and Libya got worse on August 19, 1981, after two Libya jets fired at U.S air craft participating in a routine naval exercise over international waters of the Mediterranean in the Gulf of Sidra. The U.S planes returned fire and shot down the attacking Libyan aircraft (Loschky, 2012). In December 1981, the State Department invalidated U.S passports for travel to Libya and for travel purposes of Safety, advised all U.S citizens in Libya to leave.
Furthermore when the Libyan government complicity was reported in the 1986, Berlin discotheque bombing which killed two American servicemen, the United States government responded by launching an aerial bombing attack against targets near Tripoli and Benghazi in April, 1986. At least 15 people died in the US air strikes in Libya’s including leader colonel Gaddafi’s adopted 15 months old daughter and more than 100 people were injured (Doug, 2011).
Subsequently, the United States’ government maintained its trade and travel embargoes and brought diplomatic and economic pressure to bear against Libya. In addition, economic sanctions against Libya were imposed, including a total ban on direct import and export trade, commercial contracts, and travel-related activities. Libyan government assets in the United States were also frozen (Doug, 2011).
In 1991, two Libyan intelligence agents were indicted by federal prosecutors in the U.S and Scotland for their involvement in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103. In January 1992, the United Nations (U.N) Security Council approved Resolution 731 demanding that Libya surrender the suspects, cooperate with investigators, pay compensations to the victims’ families, and cease all support for terrorism (Doug, 2011). Libya’s government refusal to comply led to the approval of UNSC Resolution 748 on March 31, 1992, imposing sanctions designed to bring about Libya’s compliance. Libyan government defiance led to passage of Security Council Resolution 883 – a limited assets freeze and an embargo on selected oil equipment in November 1993 (Loschky, 2012).
However the United States, guided by imperial security doctrines, put itself at the center-stage as the most powerful player in the Middle East (Marwan, 2012). Since the 9/11, the United State presence in the region reached a new summit, deepening regional divisions that threatened to further break up the Arab world and its states, as witnessed in the Sudan, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and Somalia. During this period, Washington toppled regimes, made destabilizing alliances with the worst human rights offenders, monopolized regional diplomatic process, intervened in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, and invaded unfriendly nations and deployed the world’s greatest military in the name of US national security. In return, Arab leaders were forced to devise polices that put US reaction first.
Historically, those who dared to oppose Washington’s dictates paid heavily for it, either directly or by proxy. From Egypt’s Nasser to Iraq’s Hussein through Arafat in Palestine, all were defeated, sanctioned, quarantined or isolated; and for tomorrow’s sake were simply placed on strategic surveillance.
Most other dictators courted the West and selectively adopted US’s neoliberal dictates while rejecting its democratic model (Marwan, 2012).
Under President George W Bush administration, relations between Libya and the United States improved with Libya announcing its intention to rid itself of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and end its nuclear missile programmes five days after Saddam Hussein was captured by
US. Since then, it has cooperated with the United States on diplomatic issues.
In 2008, both the United States’ and Libyan governments signed a bilateral agreement on science and technology cooperation (Dolan, 2012). U.N sanctions were lifted on September 12, 2003, after Libya fulfilled all remaining United Nations’ Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) requirements, including renunciation of terrorism, acceptance of responsibility for the actions of its officials, and payment of appropriate compensation to the victims’ families (Dolan, 2012). In recognition of these actions, the U.S government began the process of normalizing relations with Libya. The U.S government terminated the applicability of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act to Libya and the President signed an Executive Order on September 20, 2004, terminating the national emergency with respect to Libya and ending economic sanctions that had the effect of unblocking assets blocked under the Executive Order sanctions (Dolan, 2012).
Also, on May 15, 2006, the U.S state Department announced its intention to rescind Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism in recognition of the fact that Libya had met the statutory requirements for such a move. It had not provided any support for acts of international terrorism in the preceding six month period, and had not provided assurances that it would not do so in the future. On June 30, 2006, the U.S government rescinded Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Relations between Libya and the United States’ governments were again severely strained by the outbreak of the 2011 Libyan civil war, in which Gaddafi attempted to first crush protester and then an armed rebellion against his rule.
The U.S government cut ties with the Gaddafi regime, and imposed sanctions against senior regime members. The U.S government, along with several European and Arab nations, then began to call for the United Nations to authorize military intervention in the name of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in the conflict (Doug, 2011). The U.S military played an instrumental role in the initial stage of the intervention, suppressing Libyan air defenses and coordinating international forces in the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, before handing command responsibility to NATO and taking a supporting role in the campaign for air strikes against pro-Gaddafi’s forces (Knickerbocker, 2011).
The intervention severely weakened the Gaddafi’s regime and aided the Libyan rebels to victory with the fall of Tripoli in August 2011. With the fall of the Gaddafi regime, the United States’ government recognized Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) as Libya’s legitimate authority and led an effort at the United Nations to repeal parts of UNSCR 1970 in order to allow unfrozen Libyan assets to be transferred to the interim government (Knickerbocker, 2011). When the civil war came to an end in October 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to work with the new Libyan government as a partner, and stated that the United States was committed to the Libyan people.
The need to end Gaddafi’s tyrannical rule in Libya, and usher in democratic governance was used by the United States’ government to rationalize its support for the arming of Libyan rebels who overthrew the Gaddafi led government. Following the failure of the Arab league to address the democratic revolt in Libya that were claiming several civilian lives and properties.
This created a favorable opportunity for US to play their role as a police state in the Libyan conflict by their intervention and operations in the country with the sole motive of installing client regime, liberalize and to control all its military locations. The intervention was equally driven by
the western power’s quest to extend military hegemony in the country coupled with the need to reinforce their unbridled military presence and to continue their strategic policy of divide and rule in the Middle East.
It is important to know note that application of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to Libya crises has generated an unmatched spike in commentary. This is true even when compared to other cases of R2P such as Darfur or Russia’s intervention into Georgia. Much of this commentary has focused on the three pillar, coercive military aspects of R2P (Gifkins, 2011).
Humanitarian grounds were used by the United States and other western allies to justify intervention by pressurizing United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to pass a resolution imposing no-fly zone on a regime viewed by the United States as hostile to the West and inimical to American interest labeled as rouge state or the Axis of Evil (Okeke and Aniche, 2011).
The events in Libya raise serious questions about the legality, legitimacy, and feasibility of “pro7 Democratic” military interventions and the role of intervening states and the United Nations (particularly the Security Council) in regime change (Payandeh, 2012).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM