Libya’s first Presidential election since the overthrow of its former leader Muammar Gaddafi, by NATO backed militias, seems unlikely to happen in a few days time as all sides prepare for a return to civil war.
Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, seems to be the Presidential favorite after being re-accepted as a candidate and has shaken up the entire race. Previously, in the non-official Presidential candidate list, warlord Khalifa Haftar and Libya’s Unity Government Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, were thought to be favorites in the elections scheduled for December 24.
Saif al-Islam, despite Western depictions of his fathers rule, is viewed by many Libyan’s as the shining hope that could take them back to the stability the country maintained under former President Muammar Gaddafi. Although NATO’s intervention was presented worldwide as a humanitarian war designed to back democracy seeking rebel groups, it became immediately apparent that the groups backed by the West were overwhelmingly head-chopping religious extremists and tribal gangsters. A great example of how savage the “rebels” were was their merciless execution of the former President, after sodomizing him with a sword.
What ensued after NATO’s “freedom bombs” stopped falling, and Gaddafi senior was dead, was the seizure of much of the country’s land and infrastructure by the likes of Daesh and al-Qaeda linked groups. This later gave rise to the need for the likes of warlord Khalifa Haftar, a former CIA puppet, to launch his own military campaign using what became known as the Libyan National Army (LNA). Haftar’s strongmen tactics succeeded in capturing a large portion of Libya’s East and led to a civil war (following a disputed 2014 election) with the Turkish backed government forces. These forces later became known as the Government of National Accord (GNA) and were recognized as the legitimate representatives of Libya by the United Nations.
Haftar’s men eventually led a 14-month long siege of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, which proved unsuccessful due to Ankara’s direct military intervention. After several unsuccessful bids to solve the Libyan crisis, all mediated by the UN, a new process was undertaken towards the end of 2020. This led to a ceasefire agreement in February and a new roadmap to national unity. The former GNA, was replaced by the Government of National Unity (GNU) in March. Since this time the LNA forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, aligned with the UAE, France and other foreign powers, have repeatedly violated the ceasefire agreement, yet the country has managed to steer away from all-out war.
Many believe that if Khalifa Haftar does not win the Presidential elections, he will direct his men to war and dispute the election process as rigged. However, the wild-card is now Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi. If the elections do go ahead, and Saif wins, there is a lower likelihood of Haftar’s men going to war and this is due to Russia. Haftar has received some support from Russia, which has always kept a close eye on the internal affairs of Libya. However, Russia now seems to be throwing its weight behind Saif al-Islam. This means a superpower, which had formerly worked with the LNA, can now potentially act as a buffer to prevent civil war.
However, for Turkey, their allies in Tripoli aren’t looking too likely to come out with any sort of victory. Perhaps the best bet for them is Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, but it seems that through their ally Salah Badi, who has long been based in and out of Istanbul, they may be attempting to stop the elections altogether, by force. Salah Badi is the leader of the Al-Samoud Brigades militia and it has been alleged that his forces are beginning to launch an offensive in Tripoli and will attempt to postpone the elections.
All this being said, one thing has to be understood well with this whole chaotic process. Libyans suffering as a direct result of the West’s regime change war are now apparently overwhelmingly in favor of a return to the time of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. It is not certain that this is the case, as there are no official polls to indicate as such, and this analysis comes from Libyan observers and social media enthusiasm towards Saif. But if this is true, what does it mean? It essentially flies in the face of Western imperialism.
Regardless of whether he will be a throwback to his father or not, Saif al-Islam’s popular support shows just how much of a failure NATO’s intervention was. If the elections do go ahead and he is crowned victorious, it is very likely that further Western antagonism in Libya will return. Furthermore, if the anti-war movement in the West acts as woefully as it did in the case of Syria, they will likely once again watch and even support more acts of mass murder against a population who did not ask for such an intervention.