Les auteurs :
La Chambre des communes (House of Commons) est la chambre basse du Parlement du Royaume Uni. Ses membres sont des députés élus au suffrage universel direct. Le gouvernement est responsable devant cette Chambre et en tire sa légitimité. Dans la tradition parlementaire britannique, le Premier ministre et la majorité des membres du gouvernement sont aussi des députés de la Chambre des communes. La commission des Affaires étrangères (Foreign Affairs Committee) est chargée au sein de la Chambre des communes d’examiner la gestion, les décisions et les politiques mises en oeuvre par le ministère des Affaires étrangères (Foreign and Commonwealth Office).
Excerpts below are taken from the following pages: 5,8,9,10,11,12,13,17,18,19,20, 39, 40, 41.
Libya in 2010
The Libyan economy generated some $75 billion of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. This economy produced an average annual per capita income of approximately $12,250, which was comparable to the average income in some European countries. Libyan Government revenue greatly exceeded expenditure in the 2000s. This surplus revenue was invested in a sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), which was conservatively valued at $53 billion in June 2010. The United Nations Human Development Report 2010 — a United Nations aggregate measure of health, education and income —ranked Libya as the 53rd most advanced country in the world for human development and as the most advanced country in Africa. Human rights remained limited by state repression of civil society and restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.
Civil war and military intervention
Beginning in Tunisia in December 2010, a series of protests against repressive regimes broke out across the Middle East and North Africa. Demonstrations began in Libya on 15 February 2011, when anti-Gaddafi protests erupted in Benghazi. By the end of February 2011, the Gaddafi regime had lost control of a significant part of Libya, including the major cities of Misrata and Benghazi.
Demonstrations began in Libya on 15 February 2011, when anti-Gaddafi protests erupted in Benghazi. By the end of February 2011, the Gaddafi regime had lost control of a significant part of Libya, including the major cities of Misrata and Benghazi
In March 2011, pro-Gaddafi forces launched a counter-offensive against the rebels that reached the outskirts of Benghazi. On 12 March, the Arab League called on the United Nations Security Council to take the necessary measures to “impose immediately a no-fly zone” over Libya. In response, the United Nations Security Council agreed Resolution 1973 on 17 March, which authorised member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and to use “all necessary measures” to prevent attacks on civilians. A coalition of nations including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, United Arab Emirates, UK and USA contributed military assets to enforce Resolution 1973. Parliament approved the UK’s participation in the military intervention following a debate on 21 March 2011 by a vote of 557 to 13.
Muammar Gaddafi was killed after being captured on 20 October 2011, and the NTC declared the liberation of Libya and the official end of the war on 23 October 2011
Military action commenced on 19 March 2011, when the coalition targeted Libyan air defences and military targets with aircraft and missiles. NATO assumed command of all coalition military operations in relation to Libya as part of NATO Operation Unified Protector on 31 March 2011. Between March and October 2011, regime loyalists fought militias aligned with the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) in a civil war which extended across Libya. The NTC forces were supported by NATO air power, which facilitated their combat performance. By the end of August 2011, NTC affiliated forces were largely in control of Tripoli and other cities. The United Nations recognised the NTC as Libya’s governing authority on 16 September 2011. Muammar Gaddafi was killed after being captured on 20 October 2011, and the NTC declared the liberation of Libya and the official end of the war on 23 October 2011. NATO Operation Unified Protector ended on 31 October 2011.
Libya in 2016
In 2014, the most recent year for which reliable figures are available, Libya generated $41.14 billion of gross domestic product and the average Libyan’s annual income had decreased from $12,250 in 2010 to $7,820.28 Since 2014, Libya’s economic predicament has reportedly deteriorated. Libya is likely to experience a budget deficit of some 60% of GDP in 2016. The requirement to finance that deficit is rapidly depleting net foreign reserves, which halved from $107 billion in 2013 to $56.8 billion by the end of 2015.
The United Nations ranked Libya as the world’s 94th most advanced country in its 2015 index of human development, a decline from 53rd place in 2010
Production of crude oil fell to its lowest recorded level in 2015, while oil prices collapsed in the second half of 2014. Inflation increased to 9.2% driven by a 13.7% increase in food prices including a fivefold increase in the price of flour. The United Nations ranked Libya as the world’s 94th most advanced country in its 2015 index of human development, a decline from 53rd place in 2010.
People-trafficking gangs exploited the lack of effective government after 2011, making Libya a key transit route for illegal migration into Europe and the location of a migrant crisis. In addition to other extremist militant groups, ISIL emerged in Libya in 2014, seizing control of territory around Sirte and setting up terrorist training centres. Human Rights Watch documented unlawful executions by ISIL in Sirte of at least 49 people by methods including decapitation and shooting. The civil war between west and east has waxed and waned with sporadic outbreaks of violence since 2014. In April 2016, United States President Barack Obama described post-intervention Libya as a “shit show”. It is difficult to disagree with this pithy assessment.
Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry
We launched our inquiry, “Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the United Kingdom’s future policy options”, with a call for written evidence in July 2015. We conducted eight oral evidence sessions between October 2015 and February 2016. We heard from former Prime Minister right hon. Tony Blair, former Foreign Secretary right hon. Lord Hague of Richmond, former Defence Secretary right hon. Dr Liam Fox MP, former Department for International Development Minister right hon.
ISIL emerged in Libya in 2014, seizing control of territory around Sirte and setting up terrorist training centres
Sir Alan Duncan MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Tobias Ellwood MP, former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, UK Special Envoy to Libya Jonathan Powell, HM Ambassador to Libya Mr Peter Millett, former HM Ambassador to Libya Sir Dominic Asquith, civil servants, academics, analysts and journalists. We also met a range of Libyan politicians and civil servants. We are grateful to everyone who took the time to provide evidence to our inquiry.
The Foreign Affairs Committee appointed Professor Toby Dodge, London School of Economics, as a Specialist Adviser at the start of the 2015 Parliament to provide ongoing advice on events in the Middle East. In addition, we engaged Joseph Walker-Cousins, the former Head of the British Embassy Office in Benghazi, to act as Specialist Adviser for this particular inquiry. We thank both Specialist Advisers for their input.
We heard from all but one of the key British protagonists involved in the decision to intervene in Libya in 2011. We invited the then Prime Minister right hon. David Cameron MP to provide oral evidence to our inquiry in March 2016. He declined this invitation citing “the pressures on his diary”. He pointed out that “the Foreign Secretary and other relevant parts of Government have provided the Committee with a good deal of written and oral evidence”.
In April 2016, United States President Barack Obama described post-intervention Libya as a “shit show”
We visited North Africa in March 2016, when we met Libyan politicians and technocrats, many of whom were temporarily based in Tunis, along with Egyptian and Tunisian politicians and policymakers. We wanted to visit Libya to assess the situation for ourselves and to hear from ordinary Libyans. However, we were unable to visit Tripoli, Benghazi, Tobruk or anywhere else in Libya due to the collapse of internal security and the rule of law. We would like to thank HM Ambassador to Egypt John Casson, HM Ambassador to Tunisia Hamish Cowell, HM Ambassador to Libya Peter Millett and their respective teams for taking the time to facilitate our visit.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
France, Lebanon and the UK proposed Resolution 1973 in the United Nations Security Council with the support of the United States. On 17 March 2011, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa and permanent Security Council members France, the UK and the United States voted in favour of the resolution. Brazil, Germany, India and permanent Security Council members China and Russia abstained. No Security Council member state opposed the resolution. Resolution 1973 authorised member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and to use “all necessary measures” to prevent attacks on civilians. It neither explicitly authorised the deployment of ground forces nor addressed the questions of regime change and of post-conflict reconstruction.
We were told that the political momentum to propose Resolution 1973 began in France. France sustained its push for international action in relation to Libya throughout February and March 2011. For example, former Defence Secretary Dr Fox MP explained how France accelerated progress towards Resolution 1973 by recognising the National Transitional Council as the legitimate Government of Libya in March 2011.
Resolution 1973 authorised member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and to use “all necessary measures” to prevent attacks on civilians
Former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who introduced Resolution 1973, asserted in his speech to the Security Council that “the situation on the ground is more alarming than ever, marked by the violent re-conquest of cities”. He stressed the urgency of the situation, arguing that “We have very little time left—perhaps only a matter of hours.” Subsequent analysis suggested that the immediate threat to civilians was being publicly overstated and that the reconquest of cities had not resulted in mass civilian casualties [see paragraphs 31 to 37].
Looking beyond the arguments advanced in the United Nations Security Council, other factors in addition to civilian protection appeared to influence French policy. Libyan exiles based in France were influential in raising fears about a possible massacre in Benghazi. Visiting Professor at King’s College London, Professor George Joffé, told us that “the decisions of President Sarkozy and his Administration were driven by Libyan exiles getting allies within the French intellectual establishment who were anxious to push for a real change in Libya.”
We were told that the political momentum to propose Resolution 1973 began in France
A further insight into French motivations was provided in a freedom of information disclosure by the United States State Department in December 2015. On 2 April 2011, Sidney Blumenthal, adviser and unofficial intelligence analyst to the then United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reported this conversation with French intelligence officers to the Secretary of State:
According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues:
a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
b. Increase French influence in North Africa,
c. Improve his internal political situation in France,
d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.
The sum of four of the five factors identified by Sidney Blumenthal equated to the French national interest. The fifth factor was President Sarkozy’s political self-interest.
Former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who introduced Resolution 1973, asserted in his speech to the Security Council that “the situation on the ground is more alarming than ever, marked by the violent re-conquest of cities”
Intervention in Libya was initially popular in France. A poll by IFOP reported that 66% of the French public approved of the intervention in April 2011. Commentators have speculated about the extent to which possible electoral gains influenced decisions taken by the former French President in the year before his failed re-election campaign. One commentator argued that “Sarkozy’s main rival is not Gaddafi, but rather Marine Le Pen”. Another observed that President Sarkozy was eager to present himself as proactive in the Mediterranean and in addressing French concerns over illegal immigration to Europe from North Africa.
The UK was the second country after France to call on the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians. Former Foreign Secretary Lord Hague of Richmond observed that “President Sarkozy and his Government were very determined about this from the outset”. Lord Hague confirmed that the new British strategy in relation to Libya was formulated as events developed “from the beginning of the fighting in Libya.”
France led the international community in advancing the case for military intervention in Libya in February and March 2011. UK policy followed decisions taken in France.
Commentators have speculated about the extent to which possible electoral gains influenced decisions taken by the former French President in the year before his failed re-election campaign
Dr Fox told us that “the US were quite reticent about getting involved militarily and tying up assets in a Libyan campaign.” Lord Hague added that “there were divisions in the American Government” and that the UK and France influenced the United States to support Resolution 1973. Before the United States joined the coalition of nations willing to intervene in Libya, France and the UK argued that the international community should simply impose a no-fly zone. Former US Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, pointed out:
Cameron and Sarkozy were the undisputed leaders, in terms of doing something. The problem was that it wasn’t really clear what that something was going to be. Cameron was pushing for a no-fly zone, but in the US there was great scepticism. A no-fly zone wasn’t effective in Bosnia, it wasn’t effective in Iraq, and probably wasn’t going to be effective in Libya. When President Obama was confronted with the argument for a no-fly zone, he asked how this was going to be effective. Gaddafi was attacking people. A no-fly zone wasn’t going to stop him. Instead, to stop him we would need to bomb his forces attacking people.
The UK was the second country after France to call on the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians
The United States was instrumental in extending the terms of Resolution 1973 beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone to include the authorisation of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. In practice, this led to the imposition of a ‘no-drive zone’ and the assumed authority to attack the entire Libyan Government command and communications network..
The evidence base: intelligence
We questioned whether the UK Government had reliable intelligence on what was happening on the ground in Libya in February 2011 to inform its new policy. Former Ambassador to Libya Sir Dominic Asquith told us that “the database of knowledge in terms of people, actors and the tribal structure—the modern database, not the inherited historical knowledge—might well have been less than ideal.” Professor Joffé noted “the relatively limited understanding of events” and that “people had not really bothered to monitor closely what was happening”.
Alison Pargeter, analyst and author, expressed her shock at the lack of awareness in Whitehall of the “history and regional complexities” of Libya. She argued that this lack of insight led to the failure to ask the key question why the rebellion was happening in Benghazi but not in Tripoli and to consider the significance of regional and tribal factors. For example, we noted that in a country with 6 million inhabitants, some 15,000 rebels were fighting around Benghazi and a similar number were engaged in the west. Our wider analysis and evidence gathering led us to conclude that the UK’s understanding of Libya before February 2011 was constrained by both resources and the lack of in-country networks for UK diplomats and others to draw on.
Cameron and Sarkozy were the undisputed leaders, in terms of doing something. The problem was that it wasn’t really clear what that something was going to be
The basis for intervention: did it change?
We questioned why NATO conducted air operations across Libya between April and October 2011 when it had secured the protection of civilians in Benghazi in March 2011. Lord Hague advanced the argument that “Gaddafi’s forces remained a clear danger to civilians. Having been beaten back, they were not then going to sit quietly and accept the situation”. Dr Fox stated that “the UN resolution said to take all possible measures to protect civilians, and that meant a constant degradation of command and control across the country. That meant not just in the east of the country, but in Tripoli.” Throughout their evidence, Lord Hague and Dr Fox stuck to the line that the military intervention in Libya was intended to protect civilians and was not designed to deliver regime change.
The basis for intervention: were political alternatives explored?
Lord Richards told us that the British campaign plan included a pause after Benghazi had been secured to allow the international community to explore political options. However, the French military had not built such a pause into its strategy. The lack of international co-ordination to develop an agreed strategy meant that any potential pause for politics became unachievable.
The United States was instrumental in extending the terms of Resolution 1973 beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone to include the authorisation of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians
Lord Hague told us that the Government initially followed its Labour predecessor’s policy of reconciliation with the Gaddafi regime when it assumed office in 2010. The Government rapidly developed a new policy of intervention to protect civilians as Muammar Gaddafi’s forces approached Benghazi in mid-February 2011. It did not explore alternatives to military intervention such as sanctions, negotiations or the application of diplomatic pressure.
In pursuing regime change, it abandoned a decade of foreign policy engagement, which had delivered some successes in relation to co-operation against Islamist extremism, improved British-Libyan relations, decommissioned weapons of mass destruction, collaboration on managing migration from North Africa and commercial opportunities for UK businesses. Bearing those points in mind, we examined whether it might have been possible to secure civilian protection and political reform through negotiation in early 2011.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair provided a further example of contact with the Gaddafi regime. He told us that he spoke to Muammar Gaddafi on the telephone in February 2011. Mr Blair subsequently provided us with the notes of those telephone calls, which we placed in the public domain for the first time. The notes showed that Mr Blair attempted to convince Muammar Gaddafi to stop the violence and stand aside.
Our wider analysis and evidence gathering led us to conclude that the UK’s understanding of Libya before February 2011 was constrained by both resources and the lack of in-country networks for UK diplomats and others to draw on
Muammar Gaddafi might have been seeking an exit from Libya in February and March 2011. On 21 February 2011, for example, Lord Hague told reporters that he had seen credible information that Muammar Gaddafi was on his way to exile in Venezuela. Concerted action after the telephone calls conducted by Mr Blair might have led to Muammar Gaddafi’s abdication and to a negotiated solution in Libya.
It was therefore important to keep the lines of communication open. However, we saw no evidence that the then Prime Minister David Cameron attempted to exploit Mr Blair’s contacts. Mr Blair explained that both Mr Cameron and former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were aware that he was communicating with Muammar Gaddafi. We asked Mr Blair to describe Mr Cameron’s reaction to his conversations with Muammar Gaddafi. He told us that Mr Cameron “was merely listening”.
Political options were available if the UK Government had adhered to the spirit of Resolution 1973, implemented its original campaign plan and influenced its coalition allies to pause military action when Benghazi was secured in March 2011. Political engagement might have delivered civilian protection, regime change and reform at lesser cost to the UK and to Libya. If political engagement had been unsuccessful, the UK and its coalition allies would not have lost anything. Instead, the UK Government focused exclusively on military intervention. In particular, we saw no evidence that it tried to exploit former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s contacts and influence with the Gaddafi regime.
The National Security Council (NSC) is a Cabinet Committee that oversees national security, intelligence co-ordination and defence strategy. It is chaired by the Prime Minister. The NSC was established by David Cameron in May 2010. It was intended to provide a formal mechanism to shape high-level decision-making.
On 21 February 2011, for example, Lord Hague told reporters that he had seen credible information that Muammar Gaddafi was on his way to exile in Venezuela
Libya was the first test of the new NSC mechanism, which replaced the relatively informal process used during Tony Blair’s premiership. The Iraq Inquiry examined in detail the decision-making in government that led to the UK’s participation in the Iraq war in 2003. The inquiry, which was chaired by Sir John Chilcot, criticised the informal approach adopted by former Prime Minister Tony Blair:
Most decisions on Iraq pre-conflict were taken either bilaterally between Mr Blair and the relevant Secretary of State or in meetings between Mr Blair, Mr Straw [Foreign Secretary] and Mr Hoon [Defence Secretary], with No.10 officials and, as appropriate, Mr John Scarlett (Chairman of the JIC), Sir Richard Dearlove and Admiral Boyce. Some of those meetings were minuted; some were not.
Conclusions and recommendations
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
1. France led the international community in advancing the case for military intervention in Libya in February and March 2011. UK policy followed decisions taken in France.
The evidence base: intelligence
2. The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda.
The evidence base: our assessment
3. We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. It may be that the UK Government was unable to analyse the nature of the rebellion in Libya due to incomplete intelligence and insufficient institutional insight and that it was caught up in events as they developed. It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the militant Islamist extremist element in the rebellion. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.
The UK Government focused exclusively on military intervention. In particular, we saw no evidence that it tried to exploit former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s contacts and influence with the Gaddafi regime
The basis for intervention: did it change?
4. The UK’s intervention in Libya was reactive and did not comprise action in pursuit of a strategic objective. This meant that a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into a policy of regime change by military means.
The basis for intervention: were political alternatives explored?
5. Political options were available if the UK Government had adhered to the spirit of Resolution 1973, implemented its original campaign plan and influenced its coalition allies to pause military action when Benghazi was secured in March 2011. Political engagement might have delivered civilian protection, regime change and reform at lesser cost to the UK and to Libya. If political engagement had been unsuccessful, the UK and its coalition allies would not have lost anything. Instead, the UK Government focused exclusively on military intervention. In particular, we saw no evidence that it tried to exploit former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s contacts and influence with the Gaddafi regime.
6. We note former Prime Minister David Cameron’s decisive role when the National Security Council discussed intervention in Libya. We also note that Lord Richards implicitly dissociated himself from that decision in his oral evidence to this inquiry. The Government must commission an independent review of the operation of the NSC. This review should consider the merits of introducing a formal mechanism to allow non-ministerial NSC members to request prime ministerial direction to undertake actions agreed in the NSC. It should be informed by the conclusions of the Iraq Inquiry and examine whether the weaknesses in governmental decision making in relation to the Iraq intervention in 2003 have been addressed by the introduction of the NSC.
A failure of strategy
11. We recognise that the damaging experience of post-war intervention in Iraq engendered an understandable reluctance to impose solutions in Libya. However, because the UK along with France led the military intervention, it had a particular responsibility to support Libyan economic and political reconstruction, which became an impossible task because of the failure to establish security on the ground.