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Down the Rabbit Hole in Libya


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toot-tootThe American Interest:

Adam Garfinkle

September 2, 2014


ust a day or two ago came the news that the Libyan government, such as it is, has lost control of its own capital—Tripoli—not long after losing control of its airport there. The rump government is holed up in Tobruk now while Misuratan and Islamist rebels (Ansar al-Sharia and others) roam the capital’s desultory urban landscape. This is despite last week’s Egyptian-aided UAE airstrikes that were supposed to prevent exactly this outcome. There may be joy in Doha, for the Qatari Emir has long supported the presently winning clot of militias. But members of political elites in North Africa and the rest of the Arab world are by no means amused, and it is hard to imagine General al-Sisi tolerating such mayhem next door for long. Nor, chances are, do these elites look kindly on the Obama Administration and its clueless “humanitarian” war, without which the Libyan state would most likely not now be in an advanced stage of collapse.


Well, you might say, who knew? Who could possibly have foreseen such an outcome? Really want to know? Read the following excerpt from my essay, entitled “Down the Rabbit Hole”, published here on March 11, 2011:



It is unlikely that the Benghazi-based rebels could by themselves establish stable control over the whole country. It is almost as unlikely that the Tripolitanian tribes could re-establish firm control over Cyrenaica. . . . We are therefore looking into the maw of a Libya that may well be divided, in the throes of some kind of protracted, at least low-level civil war. . . . And in due course, if the fractious mess lasts long enough, there is a reasonable prospect that al-Qaeda will find a way to establish a foothold amid the mayhem. . . .(Snip)


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