On 10 September, unprecedented Storm Daniel struck the eastern coast of Libya, producing waves as high as a two-story house, which overwhelmed two dams and, sweeping away houses, bridges, cars and people in its path, flooded the city of Derna with a population of 100,000 people. According to experts, such downpours only happen once every 100 years. As of 11 October 4,333 people were reported dead and approximately 8,000 others missing. 70 per cent of civilian infrastructure was destroyed, including 95 per cent of educational institutions. 42 thousand residents of this region were displaced after losing their homes. In total, this flood caused more than two billion dollars in damage.
As for the causes and grave consequences of this great human tragedy, the Western media attribute it mainly to environmental reasons and the environmental impacts due to climate change associated with widespread increases in temperature, accompanied by heavy rains and severe floods.
Bloomberg, an American news agency, abstracting itself from reality, considers extreme heat to be the main reason for this tragedy of the Libyan people, which caused a terrible flood and covered the planet from New York to Libya. And here the Americans actually stand in solidarity with those sceptics who believe that this is an evil fate, the providence of God, and avoid discussing the unresolved problems that have downgraded this country to a “failed” state and this particular situation has led to a huge number of human casualties.
But the crux of the matter is that the catastrophic nature of this flood, in addition to the mentioned climatic factors (and their impact cannot be denied), is a consequence of the NATO-led military intervention in Libya in 2011, which had extremely adverse consequences for the entire region. Firstly, the defeat of the Libyan Jamahiriya led to the rapid growth of Islamic terrorist organizations in the Sahel zone, large flows of irregular migrants from Africa to Europe, human trafficking, and in recent years, a series of military coups. Secondly, the country descended into a ten-year civil war, which is still ongoing in the background and which has completely brought the country’s logistics infrastructure into disrepair. It began to collapse as a result of the NATO intervention. During the intervention, NATO made over 9,600 airstrikes on military and civilian infrastructure. In this case, civilian facilities were disabled to worsen the living conditions of civilians, create resentment and direct the population to fight the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.
One of the most active promoters and organizers of this intervention was Nicolas Sarkozy’s government. France was the first country in the Western coalition to send its armed forces there, launching a powerful airstrike against an armoured column of the Libyan army near the city of Benghazi. But Paris was unable to predict all the possible consequences of Muammar Gaddafi’s removal from power, including the consequences for France itself, and today France is fully experiencing the catastrophic consequences of its participation in it.
Due to the strengthening of anti-French sentiment caused by the failure of the former colonial power to stop the growth of jihadism in the Sahel zone, Macron, at the request of the military leaders of Mali and Burkina Faso, had to withdraw his troops from these countries in disgrace. The Nigerian military, which seized power in a coup in July, also demanded that the French President remove the French military contingent from their country.
The conclusion made by French expert Renaud Girard in December 2015 that France’s participation in this reckless scheme “would remain in its history as the most serious strategic mistake in the foreign policy of the 5th Republic” was, in fact, prophetic. “Gaddafi was not a pretty nice person or a rational ruler, but he was not our enemy either… He rejected terrorism… he renounced nuclear weapons… he resolutely persecuted the Islamists… he blocked the channels for transporting people from Central Africa to the Mediterranean,” said the astute analyst.
It is noteworthy that UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in assessing what had happened to Libya, said in his characteristic manner, bypassing acute angles, that the Libyans had for years been victims of conflicts, climate chaos, and the policies of distant and close leaders who could not find a path to peace”. At the same time, the head of the UN avoids reminding that the basis of the political chaos in Libya is the military intervention of NATO countries, whose leaders agreed to carry it out in violation of resolutions adopted by the UN, thereby whitewashing Western politicians. First of all, French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, as the main instigator of this reckless scheme, and American President Barack Obama as the main organizer.
Unlike Bloomberg, a magazine of the Tricontinental, Institute for Social Research, in its article with the remarkable title “NATO Destroyed Libya, and Storm Daniel Tried to Wash Away What Was Left of It” indicates that the catastrophic flooding in Libya is a direct consequence of the Western military intervention, which led to the failure of most of the logistics infrastructure facilities, which could not have been maintained, much less restored, during the ten-year civil war after the elimination of Gaddafi. Under Gaddafi’s rule in 2010, the Libyan government allocated the necessary financial resources for the planned repair of two dams in the city of Derna, entrusting the work to one of the Turkish firms, which left Libya with the start of the military campaign in 2011. The project remained unfinished, and the money allocated for its implementation disappeared without a trace.
The tragedy that occurred in the eastern part of the country extremely negatively affected the Libyan population. If before the catastrophic flood in devastated Libya, about 300,000 Libyans received humanitarian aid through the UN, after Storm Daniel, according to experts from this institute, their number could increase to 1.8 million people out of a total population of eight million. And this is happening in a country that, under the overthrown Gaddafi, was considered a prosperous state by African standards. Suffice it to recall that in 2010 Libya ranked 53rd out of 169 countries on the Human Development Index, which is the highest ranking on the African continent.
But the USA and their accomplices who participated in the defeat of the Libyan Jamahiriya simply don’t care. The current development of relations between Russia and Libya is of greatest concern to Washington. According to Al Hadath, the United States warned the Supreme Commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, and other Libyan leaders that rapprochement with Russia was undesirable after his trip on September 26 to Moscow, where he met President V. V. Putin and the Minister of Defense S. Shoigu.
This US attack against Russia is nothing more than direct interference in the affairs of a sovereign state, and as recent events show, such actions are strongly rejected by the countries of the Global South, which, incidentally, is increasingly gravitating towards Russia. But White House officials do not seem to have made any conclusions either from Emmanuel Macron’s failed policy in Africa, who is their closest ally on the continent, or from Barack Obama’s admission in a 2016 Fox News interview that the intervention in Libya was his biggest foreign policy mistake. This is also the opinion of his former Secretary of State John Kerry.
And they are quite unable to agree with the conclusions of their opponents on this problem due to inter-party struggle, and not state interests. Donald Trump told CNN during his first election campaign that the overthrow of the Iraqi and Libyan regimes did more harm to the United States than good. Mr. Trump said that if Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi remained in power in their countries, the world would be less divided and the situation in the Middle East would be more stable. Today, these words are especially relevant for us against the backdrop of the escalating Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Viktor Goncharov, Expert in African studies, Candidate of Economic Science, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.