President Barack Obama’s Libyan strategy is imploding, just in time for the second anniversary of the Sept. 2012 Benghazi attack that killed four Americans.
The fast-growing crisis may force Obama to align the U.S. with an emerging semi-secular, mostly-Arab coalition that includes military officers formerly loyal to the dictator he ousted in 2011.
That coalition is rallying Arab clans against an aggressive al-Qaida style jihadi army that includes many ethnic groups in Libya, including Berbers and the descendants of a Turkish occupation starting in the 1500s.
“It is creeping up on us… It is going to be like a new Afghanistan,” said Ibrahim Omar, one of the semi-secular leaders form Libya’s western region, said an Aug. 24 report by the New York Times.
“Tripoli, the capital and the main prize, has become a battleground,” said the NYT.
“The fighting has destroyed the airport, and on Saturday night [the jihadi army] finally captured the remaining rubble… Constant shelling between rival militias has leveled blocks, emptied neighborhoods and killed hundreds of people… Jagged black clouds shadow the city, with daily blackouts sometimes lasting more than 12 hours,” said the report.
The crisis several is one of many plaguing Obama’s presidency.
They include the jihadi advance into Syria and Iraq, China’s grab for maritime territory between Vietnam and the Philippines, Iran’s rush to develop nuclear weapons, Russia’s slow-motion invasion of Ukraine, and the migration of at least 200,000 Central Americans into Texas.
The Libyan meltdown came after Obama intervened in a 2010 Libyan rebellion that began in the country’s east, which includes many jihadi sympathizers.
Obama used U.S. airpower to help the rebels — including Al Qaeda sympathizers — remove the resident dictator, Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Obama joined the rebellion even though Gadhafi had kept a lid on the country’s financial, clan and Islamic rivalries for decades. Gadhafi had also given up a nuclear-development program, and quietly aided U.S. anti-jihad efforts since 2003.
Obama expected the Libyan branch of the multinational Muslim Brotherhood group to establish a stable government and to absorb the al-Qaida style jihadis.
Obama adopted the same strategy in Egypt, starting with his “New Beginning” speech in Cairo in 2009. That country’s Brotherhood movement quickly gained power, but was deposed in a 2012 military coup.
In Libya, after Obama’s military intervention, the Brotherhood could not establish a stable government.
In 2012, it also did not stop the jihadis’ successful September 11, 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi. That attack killed four Americans in an largely unprotected facility, prompted Obama to withdraw most U.S. officials from Libya, and damaged his 2012 election campaign and the reputation of his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Since then, the Brotherhood has been sidelined, although its leaders indicate sympathy with the jihadi groups, said the New York Times report.
Also, jihadi groups used weapons captured from Gadhafi’s Libyan army to supply militants in Syria and Gaza, and in several African countries, such as Algeria, Mali, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, which also have been torn apart by a Muslim-initiated civil war.
Obama has already admitted that he bungled the 2011 Libyan intervention, despite the lessons learned from President George W. Bush’s Iraq campaign.
“I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this,” Obama told Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times, on Aug. 8.
“So that’s a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question, ‘Should we intervene, militarily? Do we have an answer [for] the day after?’” Obama stated. (RELATED: Obama Admits Error in Libya, Denies Same Error In Iraq)
Shortly after the Benghazi attack, officials already knew Obama’s strategy of relying on the Brotherhood had failed in Libya, Egypt and other countries.
The conclusion was revealed in an e-mail conversation among White House officials, who wrote they should publicly downplay a “broader failure of policy” and instead blame the Benghazi attack on an anti-Islam video produced by a California-based Egyptian.
The message will “convey that the United States is doing everything that we can to protect our people and facilities abroad; [and] to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, not a broader failure of policy,” said one top official. (RELATED: Email Show White House Planned Benghazi Video Deception)
In the days after the attack, Obama told the United Nations Generaly Assembly that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
“This is a war, and a lot of innocent people are dying,” said Hisham Krekshi, a former Brotherhood politician told the NYT.
“Libyans have become monsters,” said Amr el-Taher el-Sayed, one of the fighters in the war said in the NYT article, which does not mention the role played by Barack Obama.