There is another problem in ending the war. It has never been a straight trial of strength between two groups of Libyans because of the decisive role of NATO air strikes. The insurgents themselves admit that without the air war waged on their behalf – with 7,459 air strikes on pro-Qaddafi Targets – they would be dead or in flight. The question, therefore, remains open as to how the rebels can peaceably convert their foreign assisted victory on the battlefield into a stable peace acceptable to all parties in Libya.”
The fact of the matter is that the West is not interested in the post-Qaddafi era, beyond its economic interest. It has accomplished its objective of regime change and also ensured control over oil reserves of Libya. The TNC is beholden to the West for its victory. Not only would the West exploit the oil reserves from the new regime, but the enormous damage to the infrastructure would yield a bonanza in the form of contracts for major multinational companies in the name of reconstruction and rehabilitation involving billions of dollars.
The view has been succinctly expressed. “Some compare post-Qaddafi Libya with Post-Saddam Iraq”, wrote Bashir al-Bakr in the leftist Lebanese daily Al Akhbar. “The Libyans according to that view will not be in charge of their own decisions. They will find themselves shackled by heavy commitments and they will lack the ability to escape them at present.”
For many in the region, foreign intervention has deprived the Libyan revolt of the luster enjoyed by Egypt and Tunisia, inspiring suspicions as in Iraq that the West simply covets its oil. As Sateh Noureddine, a columnist, put it in another Lebanese daily Al Safir. Nation support “will not be for free and Libya will pay for it”.
About 95% of the Libyan exports is oil, its pre-war daily production being 1.6 million barrels. A recent research report by Wood Mackenzie, a consultancy firm, has predicted that it would take 36 months for Libya to recover its full pre-conflict production capacity once the fighting ends.
Clifford Krauss in a detailed commentary has cautioned that restarting oil wells and reopening pipelines will be a formidable and complex undertaking. Revolutionary changes in Iran and Iraq set back their oil industries for decades. President Chavez has struggled to stabilize oil production over the past decade of radical change in Venezuela. Even relatively peaceful democratic revolutions can cause great disruptions. The collapse of the Soviet Union sent Russian oil production crashing for years.
Libya’s oil production has been at a virtual standstill since the rebellion against the Qaddafi regime began in February, paralyzing an industry that produced 95 percent of the country export earnings last year. The country is pumping an estimated 60,000 barrels a day instead of its usual 1.6 million barrels. The rebels promise to restore full production within months, but most international experts say it will take a year.
Regardless of the odious character of the Qaddafi regime, the development is unfortunate and a dangerous one. It has legitimized that the end justifies the means. It has also sanctified the regime change concept of US neo-cons and disputed the principle sovereign equality of states. The deafening silence even acquiescence of Muslim states in the Libyan fall is yet another infamous event of contemporary Muslim history.