Book Review: Unintended consequences

A new book explores the Libyan Civil War, the West’s intervention and how hope and promises turned to hellish conflict.

July 11, 2018 09:35
4 minute read.
Mummar Gaddafi

Muammar Gaddafi 1942 - 2011. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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In 2016, a Libyan general named Khalifa Haftar was trying to cleanse the eastern-Libyan city of Benghazi of jihadists and Islamist militias. He had them surrounded. One of his special forces commanders was caught on video executing some prisoners from the battle and an arrest warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court charging the commander with “unlawful deaths.” Several months later, in September 2017, two US B-2 bombers dropped 100 bombs on two Islamic State camps in eastern Libya, killing dozens. Unsurprisingly, the ICC asked no questions about who died in the US bombing.

The juxtaposition of the two incidents, both in Libya – one by a Western power, one by a local commander – are emblematic of the Libyan civil war that erupted after the fall of the brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Frederic Wehrey, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, with long experience in Libya working for the US government and doing research, provides an excellent and thought-provoking narrative of what happened in Libya after the fall of Ghadafi in 2011. Weaving together the personal stories of those like Salwa Bugaighis, an erudite activist and intellectual from Benghazi, as well as militia leaders, smugglers and migrants, The Burning Shores tries to provide a glimpse into all sides of the Libyan conflict.


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