Libya Intervention Exacerbated Suffering. Syria Would Be Worse.

This UN report assessing the impact of “the Libyan crisis” is worth a note. Apparently, the U.S.-led intervention exacerbated various problems in the region.

A summary:

While the impact of the crisis reverberated across the world, such neighbouring countries as Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger and Tunisia bore the brunt of the challenges that emerged as a result of the crisis. In a relatively short period of time, the Governments of these countries, especially those in the Sahel region, had to contend with the influx of hundreds of thousands of traumatized and impoverished returnees as well as the inflow of unspecified and unquantifiable numbers of arms and ammunition from the Libyan arsenal. Although the volume and the impact of the returnee population differs from one country to the other, the influx clearly has the potential to further exacerbate an already precarious and tenuous situation. In addition, these countries are directly threatened by an impending food security and nutrition crisis that could further exacerbate and negatively affect the political, social and economic situation in the region.

Good thing America came to the rescue with their “responsibility to protect” civilian populations.

The report doesn’t cover the impact that the Western-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) and their disparate militias have had on Libyan society. The people the U.S. intervention supported committed serious war crimes during and immediately following the actual conflict. Subsequently, we’ve seen rival militias battling each other in a latent civil war. Civilian residents in towns essentially occupied by these militias have complained about militia men breaking into homes, looting their possessions, abusing their families, and detaining and torturing scores for suspicion of being loyal to Gadhafi. The NTC and its fighters are imposing a harsh brand of fundamentalist Islam which is helping to impoverish and subjugate the Libyan people by attacking shop owners who sell alcohol and demolishing religious structures they disapprove of. Massive numbers of detainees are being held without trial in Libya, being subjected to widespread torture which has even killed numerous prisoners. Yet the narrative on all this remains largely what it was when Gadhafi was killed and Obama declared Libya the new shining city on a hill.

By any measure, the effects of any sort of “humanitarian intervention” in Syria would be an order of magnitude worse. This ominous prospect does not go away just because a Libya-style intervention is unlikely compared to (the now more likely) protracted proxy war, either.

(h/t Micah Zenko)