Bloomberg News

Libyan Army May Stay Post-Qaddafi as Allies Cite Iraq Lesson

June 30, 2011

(Updates with State Department reaction in 12th paragraph.)

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The soldiers and police under Muammar Qaddafi’s command can take comfort in knowing that they may keep their jobs even after the Libyan dictator has been deposed.

“One of the first things that should happen, once Tripoli falls, is that someone should get on the phone to the former Tripoli chief of police and tell him he’s got a job,” Britain’s secretary of state for international development, Andrew Mitchell, told reporters in London, previewing a 50-page report that maps out a contingency plan for a post-Qaddafi Libya.

NATO allies taking part in United Nations-sanctioned military operations say they have drawn lessons from Iraq. In 2003, the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein and dissolved his military, a move that left about 350,000 Iraqis without work and contributed to a protracted insurgency.

“Completely disbanding the army would be a mistake, as you don’t want to suddenly put lots of young men, especially armed ones, on the streets,” said Dan Byman, director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University in Washington. “However, some of the special units designed for regime protection will at least need their officers removed.”

A U.K.-led team returned from eastern Libya to compile their findings on what they anticipate will be the country’s most basic needs, such as food and water, once a cease-fire is in place and a transition is under way. The group of experts, which included Turkish and Italian experts, looked at infrastructure, welfare, security, politics and the economy.

Accusations Against Qaddafi

It’s not clear how the rebel leadership will choose to deal with Qaddafi’s forces in light of the allegations of rape, abduction, torture and targeting of civilians cited this week by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

“It’s obvious we want to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself,” said Maurizio Massari, a top adviser to Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. “It’s also crucial to respect Libyan ownership of the process and to share with the rebels from the beginning how to tackle the post-Qaddafi period.”

Still, the report is vague about the outlook for getting oil production back on stream, given the difficulties in gauging the damage to western oil fields still controlled by Qaddafi, Massari said.

Oil Contracts

Libya’s rebels, who control the oil-rich eastern part of the country, plan to review all contracts in the event of a victory over Qaddafi to make sure that no corruption was involved in their awarding, Mahmoud Shammam, head of media relations for the rebels’ National Transitional Council, told reporters yesterday in Paris.

The findings have been circulated to the council, based in Benghazi, and to the New York-based United Nations, which may be asked to send observers to oversee the cease-fire and, at a later stage, to deploy peacekeepers, Massari said.

A U.S. team led by Gene Cretz, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, is examining the different post-conflict scenarios and helped write certain excerpts of the assessment, according to State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner.

“It is a useful document to help us plan,” Toner told reporters in Washington today. “This is an important document,” he said, adding that “I am not going to put the cart before the horse” given that Qaddafi has not been overthrown yet.

Arrest Warrants

Adding urgency to the planning is the indictment of Qaddafi on charges of crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court on June 27 issued arrest warrants for the Libyan leader, his son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and military intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, accusing them of killing, injuring, arresting and imprisoning hundreds of civilians.

The court, in The Hague, Netherlands, does not have police powers. Arrests would have to be made by the rebels or by another nation’s police if any of those indicted leaves Libya.

Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, said yesterday that the arrest warrant for the Libyan leader will “complicate” the situation in the North African nation. A move by France’s air force to send arms to the rebels will increase instability in the country, he told reporters in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea’s capital.

The U.S. and its European allies say Qaddafi’s grip on the country that holds Africa’s biggest oil reserves is nearing its end as economic pressure and more intense NATO-led strikes erode his ability resist the spreading insurgency.

“The Libyan regime’s capacity has been greatly reduced as a consequence of our operation,” U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday at a White House news conference. “That’s already been successful. What we’ve seen both in the east and in the west is that opposition forces have been able to mobilize themselves and start getting organized and people are starting to see the possibility of a more peaceful future on the horizon.”

--With assistance from Caroline Alexander in London, Bill Varner in New York and Franz Wild in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Editors: Terry Atlas, Steven Komarow

To contact the reporter on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in Washington at fjackson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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