The uprising and revolt against authoritarian leaders in the Middle East and North Africa spearheaded and inspired protests among Libyans demanding for greater freedom which led to the collapse and overthrown of Gaddafi’s 42 year regime. The U.S. – NATO led military and humanitarian involvement and campaign gave much support to the rebel fighters and the NTC. This study x-rays the role(s) played by U.S in the Libyan revolution, and how it led to the demise of Gaddafi’s regime. To achieve the objective of this study, we raised the following research questions. Firstly, what motivated U.S. interest in the Libyan crisis. Secondly, to what extent did U.S involvement led to the collapse of Gaddafi’s regime? Finally, what has been the impact of the collapse of Gaddafi regime on the political economy of the Libyan state? This study will rely on qualitative method of data collection which involves the use of secondary sources of data, and adopts the political economy approach for its theoretical analysis. This gives primacy to material and economic condition as the main determinant of political and organizational process of a society. After much appraisal of the available data, the study reveals that; oil is the trophy of U.S – NATO led war on Libya, and that U.S involvement led to the ousting of Gaddafi’s regime. However, the regime change in Libya has brought participatory democracy and the end of authoritarian and tyrannical rule.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY On December 17, 2010 a disenfranchised 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire to protest the repression and corruption of the Tunisian government. This act of desperation cost the young man his life, ignited the passion and frustration of millions, and set into action a course of events that inevitably resulted in the overthrow of Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi. Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation inspired protests demanding greater freedom throughout the Middle East, which led many Libyans to organize and openly defy the iron fist of their despotic leader for the first time in 42 years. Over forty years ago, Muammar Gaddafi led a revolt against the Libyan monarchy in the name of nationalism, self-determination, and popular sovereignty. Blanchard (2011) argues that it was these same principles that led the Opposition group to revolt against Gaddafi to bring an end to the authoritarian political system he has controlled in Libya for the past four decades. For protesting 42 years of oppression endured under the boot of Gaddafi’s regime, the Libyan people were attacked with helicopter gunships and extrajudicial killings by Libyan military forces and African mercenaries. The crisis reached a flashpoint in February 2011 when military attempts to suppress protests turned violent and sparked open rebellion against the brutality of Gaddafi’s regime. The rebellion surged toward Libya’s capital city of Tripoli, only to be repulsed by military air strikes and superior firepower. The Libyan government’s use of force against civilians and opposition forces seeking Gaddafi’s overthrow sparked international outcry in February and early March 2011. By mid-March, the rebellion was on the brink of defeat and begged the U.N. to establish a “no fly zone” over Libya to prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians caught in the middle of what has become a civil war (Gannon, 2011). The military intervention in Libya is one of the most remarkable military undertakings of the last twenty years. It was sanctioned with unusual speed and a wide-ranging mandate by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in order to avoid the feared bloodshed of civilians and anti-government rebels by Libya’s embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces (Alcaro, 2011). In accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 the U.S., U.K., France, Qatar, U.A.E. and several other NATO partners began Operation Odyssey Dawn to enforce a “no fly zone” over Libyan airspace. Now the Libyan National Transitional Council is gaining international recognition as the sole legitimate authority of Libya while their rebellion is engaged in armed conflict to end Gaddafi’s 42-year rule and establish a democratic government in Libya.
International reactions, U.S., U.K., French, German, and Italian governments called for an end to Gaddafi’s regime as he indiscriminately murders Libyan civilians in the sole remaining western rebel city of Mistrata. According to Blanchard (2011), U.S president, Barack Obama joined some leaders in asserting that Muammar Gaddafi must ultimately give up power. Contributions of 30 “military advisors” from France, Britain, and Italy, as well as U.S. drones and CIA assistance helped the Libyan rebels organize and renew their momentum in what appeared to be a stalemate. This crisis presented an unprecedented opportunity for a massive shift in U.S.-Libyan relations, away from a violent antagonistic past to one of cooperation that could lead to more stability in North Africa and the Middle East. U.S. led NATO’s efforts in successfully deposing Gaddafi and establishing a democratic government in Libya will improve the United States relations in the Muslim world and a smile upon “The Obama Doctrine.”