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Clan Warfare Over the Spoils of Power

Is Libya the Next Somalia?

by THOMAS C. MOUNTAIN

Libya seems well on its way to becoming the next Somalia, with much of the country already ruled by tribal/clan based armed militias. As was the case in Somalia, Libya is in the process of separation, with the eastern, oil rich, Cyrenica region having issued a de facto declaration of independence.

Tripoli, the capital of Libya, seems to be headed in the direction of where Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia was 20 years ago, with various well armed militias from outside the city taking up residence and clashing over territory and the spoils of power.

The only real modern national government Libya ever knew was under Gaddafi just as the only modern government Somalia ever knew was under Siad Barre.

Both countries were created by Italian colonialism, and became part of the Italian African Colonial Empire. Neither country had any historical unity. Before Italian colonialism Libya was a couple of city states and a whole lot of tribes, all most entirely nomadic.

Before Italian colonialism there never, ever seems to have been a King of Somalia, rather a Land of the Somalis, governed by tribal/clan councils, chiefs, high chiefs and councils of high chiefs.

It wasn’t like the people of either country created what they found themselves in, just the opposite. Still, for a period both countries did well, no matter how difficult this may be to believe when it comes to Somalia.

In 2011 Libya was destroyed by an almost unprecedented aerial bombardment, over 10,000 bombing runs with some 40,000 pieces of high explosive ordinance dropped on the country over a period of 8 months or so. 40,000 bombs, killing two people per bomb and you are talking about 80,000 Libyans killed by NATO in 2011? And all of this on a very small population of 6 million?

NATO’s destruction of Libya was the equivalent of almost 100,000 bombing runs on Britain, with some 400,000  bombs blasting the U.K. killing 800,000 people. 800,000 dead Brits in 8 months gives you an idea of the scale of the wrath NATO vented upon Libya.

Today Libya exports over 90% of its prewar oil and gas production, almost 2 million barrels a day of some of the best oil found on the planet. Where the almost $200 million a day, $6 billion a month, over $70 billion by the end of 2012 is going still remains mostly a mystery.

The Al Qaeda Godfather of the Libyan rebels who did the mopping up after the NATO bombardment is the infamous Belhaj, former Al Queda in Iraq commander and a capo in Al Queda in North Africa. Today he runs the biggest, most militarily proficient militia in Tripoli. Behind him are tribal militias of various size and abilities and include the Zintan militias presently holding Saif al Islam Gaddafi captive.

Amidst an uneasy peace with the militias is the National Transitional Council (NTC) headed in part by many of Gaddafi Sr.’s former top leaders.

Elections run by a “government” installed by NATO can only be a charade designed to provide a cover of legitimacy to the continuation of the present regime which is in charge of collecting Libya’s share of the $70 billion a year in oil revenue as well as the over $100 billion of Libyan sovereign wealth deposited in western banks.

On the other side of both Belhaj and the NTC and its offshoots is what is known as the Green Resistance, what the international media calls “pro Gaddafi loyalists”. They include much of the largest tribe in Libya, the Warfalla, from which Saif al Islam’s mother came from and seem to be slowly but steadily pulling together some sort of self defense forces to protect their communities from the militia based warlords.

Belhaj was once in a Libyan dungeon, tortured under the orders of people who are now NTC capos, thanks to the CIA’s rendition program, and only had his torture and mistreatment ended when Saif al Islam Gaddafi convinced his father to pardon Belhaj and his cohorts in exchange for a quickly broken promise of peaceful coexistence.

Belhaj is reported to feel some sort of benevolence towards Saif al Islam which may explain why Gaddafi jr. remains out of reach of both the NTC and the International Criminal Court, in the hands of Belhaj allies in Zintan.

It’s highly likely that Belhaj is keen to wrest control of the Oil $Billions away from the NATO backed regime as well as see the end of his former torture masters now running the NTC in Benghazi (when they are not outside the country).

To do this Belhaj could well try to secure a cease fire with the Green Resistance,  who would also like to see the end of NATO’s puppet NTC.  With the NTC out of the picture, maybe even a peace deal brokered with Belhaj and Saif al Islam to try and bring to an end all the fire and sword laying waste to the land?

This may all be wishful thinking and is dependent on NATO not intervening militarily on the side of the NTC, which may explain the patience being exhibited by Belhaj and his allies.

Who knows, truth is all to often stranger than fiction, today’s guess work can become tomorrows reality. But when it comes to Libya becoming the next Somalia, history seems to be pointing in that direction.

Thomas C. Mountain is the most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. His interviews can be seen on RT and PressTV. He can be reached at thomascmountain at yahoo dot com.