Once Qadhafi’s Out, Then What?
An uprising in Libya began February 15, and Muammar Qadhafi responded with brutal force. His opponents, including troops who defected, quickly took control of the eastern part of Libya, effectively splitting the country in two. Following the success of rebels in taking several towns, Qadhafi struck back with force in early March, retaking the eastern oil city of Ras Lanuf and other towns. Qadhafi also reclaimed ground seized by rebels in the west.
On March 18, the United Nations approved a no-fly zone in the country as well as air strikes to halt Qadhafi’s assault on the rebels. Despite the European and American intervention, Qadhafi vowed not to surrender.
Some analysts warned the operation by Western forces may backfire, considering that eastern Libya, where rebel forces are based, is a hotbed of anti-Americanism and jihadist sentiment. There is considerable evidence that a Western-style democracy will not eventuate should Qadhafi be forced from office. A report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center revealed that in the past several years, more jihadists per capita have entered Iraq from Libya to fight American forces than from any other Muslim country, and that most of those fighters came from the area where the rebel forces are based. The head of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the head of Hezbollah both support the Libyan uprising.
Al Qaeda, in fact, has officially admitted to angling to gain a foothold in Libya. The terrorist group’s top-ranking Libyan member, Abu Yahya al-Libi, spoke out in early March, urging his fellow countrymen to overthrow and to kill Qadhafi and establish Islamic rule in the nation. Al-Libi, who is Osama bin Laden’s head of operations in Afghanistan, said such a toppling would aid al Qaeda’s efforts to harness the momentum from the waves of unrest sweeping through the region. He said Islamic law should be instated once Libya has toppled the Qadhafi regime, and that the destruction of Western-backed regimes was “a step to reach the goal of every Muslim, which is to make the word of Allah the highest.”
While notorious for wiping out opposition, Qadhafi’s four decades of tyranny did include suppressing al Qaeda and other Islamist insurgents. Many fear that, should Qadhafi fall, the resulting power vacuum will result in another Afghanistan or Somalia, with al Qaeda or other radical groups running rampant. Qadhafi has in fact used this prospect as a threat against the West. “If instead of a stable government which guarantees security, these bands linked to bin Laden take control, the Africans will move in a mass towards Europe, and the Mediterranean will become a sea of chaos,” he said on March 15 in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Giornale.
He even went so far as to threaten to ally his forces with al Qaeda and declare a “holy war” if Western powers invaded his country.
In our April edition, editor in chief Gerald Flurry pointed to prophecies in the book of Daniel and urged readers “to continue to watch for Libya … to make a severe and rapid turn into the radical Islamic camp.” Whether it is the result of Qadhafi’s rage against the West, or of his regime being replaced by Islamist leadership, the outcome will be the same: Libya will make a rapid turn toward the radical Islamic camp, and Europe may well see the Mediterranean become the “sea of chaos” that Qadhafi predicted.