Libyan Prime Minister Abducted, released by Armed Group

Early morning on Thursday, today, the news came of the abduction of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from a hotel in the capital, Tripoli.

He was released Thursday afternoon.

It is not clear which armed group took him captive.

On Monday, armed troops demanding back pay occupied the Prime Minister’s office.

Zeidan broke with Gaddafi in 1980 and helped found a leftist opposition group. He lived in exile in Switzerland as a human rights activist for decades. He was elected prime minister after the relatively successful parliamentary elections of summer, 2012.

Also on Monday, US special ops forces managed to track down and arrest Abu Anas al-Libi, one of the masterminds of the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Al-Libi was spirited away to a US vessel in the Mediterranean and is now being interrogated. Most Libyans oppose al-Qaeda, but many were upset by this affront to their national sovereighty.

CTTV has a video report:

Libyan radicals, a small fringe, pledged to make take revenge on Zeidan, assuming that behind the scenes he must have consulted with Washington on the taking of al-Libi.

Update: This alleged collaboration with the US was apparently the motive given for the abduction. But we should be suspicious of stated motives. This militia may just want a different prime minister who would pay them better. If they had been al-Qaeda-linked they wouldn’t have released him. He says he won’t resign, despite the incident. I’d say hd needs an army.

My twitter feed alleges that Zeidan ordered his bodyguard detail not to open fire on the armed men, and that 2 of his bodyguards were also taken into custody by the militiamen. The bodyguards were reportedly beaten and then released.

Libya had been ruled for 42 years by Muammar Gaddafi through STASI-like ‘revlolutionary committees’ and military units loyal to the president. In the aftermath of the 2011 overthrow of Gaddafi, these forces collapsed and left behind a vacuum of power. The government did not move fast enough to train a new nationalist military. Oddly, it seemed to get little help with training from the US and Western Europe.

Libya has been dominated by the militias thrown up during the revolution of 2011. It has also suffered from a concerted campaign of terrorism by shadowy terrorist groups, especially in the eastern city of Benghazi. This summer, striking oil workers, militiamen and eastern autonomists have cut in half Libya’s annual oil production by taking over the petroleum facilities. These actions may have weakened the government further by bringing into question its ability to pay government workers.

44 Responses

  1. I don’t understand how the Libyans could be upset… When you allow to have your country bombed – for whatever reason – by foreign powers, you surely know it is never for your lovely face or for free. Same lesson should be learnt by the Syrian opposition. Cannot have it both ways.

  2. Two interesting notions: “The government did not move fast enough to train a new nationalist military.” And, “Oddly, it seemed to get little help with training from the US and Western Europe.”

    First, re the “it” called Libya, “WHAT government?” Following that, are there examples of “nationalist militaries” in other itNations that have ‘brought (or imposed) calm and order’ to those places (absent a basic underlying comity and stability and functioning set of economic relationships?) The Neocon (or Soviet?) notion is that you smash the existing order (or insert “US Interests” into one that’s already inchoate or shattered, bring in Halliburton and Erik Prince and the Spooks, and voila! after a few trillion dollars, you have a “trustworthy, loyal, [omit "helpful, friendly, courteous and kind"] obedient, cheerful, [omit "thrifty"] brave, clean and reverent” ‘national’ military and ‘national’ police. Where has that happened? It’s a persistent policy Pollyanna-ism, or maybe just propaganda smokescreen to keep the Game going… [long, with disturbing images] link to youtube.com

    “Nationalist militaries” seems a bit of an oxymoron, since large militaries have their own dynamics and interests (see, e.g., Egypt, Japan, the US, even Canada) and are built on obedience to a strong authoritarian structure. The chimaerical, miasmic, phantasmagorical “goal” is “democracy,” but what possible model is there for “imposing democracy” by “encouraging a nationalist or even national military?” And modern “national police forces” are long on force and pseudo-militarianism, short on protecting any “rights” other than the Sacred Right to Property (of the Owners, that is.)

    As to the “failure” of the West to bring “training” to somehow meld or weld the disparate and often warring bits of an itNation (“Libya does or thinks this,” “Israel does or thinks that,” “the US is behind the other thing,) where is the exemplar of Western involvement or intervention that’s led to the presumed functioning of a “nationalist military” in anything other than the worst ways? Egypt? Iraq? Afghanistan? Yemen? The Phillipines? Argentina? Costa Rica? Seems to me the model itself is just smoke and mirrors to distract from the shall we say downsides of global militarization, where the rest of us are cannon fodder, “bugsplats,” or “guest workers” in our own itNations, just working to support and feed and grow the military culture? Like this? “Herding Aphids: How ‘Farmer’ Ants Keep Control Of Their Food” link to sciencedaily.com

    • >“WHAT government?”

      The one that was voted in by the libyan people after the overthrow of gaddafi.

      >nationalist militaries” in other itNations that have ‘brought (or imposed) calm and order’ to those places (absent a basic underlying comity and stability and functioning set of economic relationships?

      It almost seems that your position is that if no efforts were made to improve the security forces of an nation, that nations security would remain the same or improve?

      That making efforts to do such a thing, strengthening those tasked with providing security, wields no positive result.

      This is unlikely for countries with strong economies partially owe this to their states security apparatus which helps to keep the environment safe for trade and to do business.

      >you have a “trustworthy, loyal, [omit "helpful, friendly, courteous and kind"] obedient, cheerful, [omit "thrifty"] brave, clean and reverent” ‘national’ military and ‘national’ police. Where has that happened?

      It would be foolish to claim such efforts always bring positive awards, but you are equally wrong to imply that it is always negative. The us has working relationships with many militaries which they helped to develop, germanys, koreas and japans.

      Such nations even go on exercises together.

      >“Nationalist militaries” seems a bit of an oxymoron

      Hardly, there merely an armed force which serves the national state. Hench the name.

      >“failure”

      Are you implying that this is no failure, that this was planned by the us admin?

      If so where is the evidence.

      >Costa Rica?

      Why are you bringing up costa rica exactly?

      Costa rica doesnt have an army.

      As a side note my posts arent exactly going to win any writing awards any time soon but could you at least try to present your view-point in a less long winded poorly structured way.

      It takes away from your point when one finds it painful to even read your posts.

      • It almost seems that your position is that if no efforts were made to improve the security forces of an nation, that nations security would remain the same or improve?

        It’s a tricky spot he’s in. On the one hand, the United States must be to blame for not stabilizing Libya. On the other hand, he has to opposed to any American stability assistance.

      • Nobody makes you read, DMOL. I just write what seems correct to me. Everyone has an opinion, and that other thing too (unless one has had an ostomy.)

        Costa Rica is in there purely because the country supported a very decent, socially kind, well educated culture (with the usual but sparse warts) without a standing army or “national” police force from 1948 after yet another coup. Until, of course, the US Marines, with its proud history of defending corporatokleptocracy (“War is nothing but a racket,” again) in Those Little Countries, once again landed an “anti-drug” Expeditionary Force of 7,000 troops and 40-plus “littoral combat vessels,” supposedly “at the invitation of” a government and population that HAS no army and does not see the utility in one, and where an opposition party that will kick the US out if they are voted in.

        Here’s a nice little explanation, with a lot of reasons and history and context, just WHY Costa Rica does not have a standing army, and spends its “national security” dollars on stuff like EDUCATION and health care. link to coha.org

        Of course, the True Believer/Apologist response is that they HAVE an army — the US, which supposedly supplies “security umbrellas” to countries all over the place, whether they like it or not, the opening of which releases all kinds of “anti-democratic” lightning and rain … all part of MAKING the world a place that is dangerous and drug-threatened and therefore “needs” a Kelley-Bloomberg-thinking “policeman”… talk about deals with the Devil…

      • DMOL, you win an award from me my friend ;)
        The “democracy” is coming to Libya, it is just on a very, very, very slow almost a dead horse ;)

        There is no other way to structure a point of view, if one is of a believe that Libya was/is the America’s success story, so don’t expect miracles my friend.

    • About all I got is “education.” We are taught to believe incredible BS by a steady diet of propaganda, funded by people who profit from the incipient and current degradation of society and planet. link to tradicionclasica.blogspot.com

      Until and unless enough of the people who pay for all this start to get it, that they are being “had,” once again, by would-be and actual feudal monarchs and barons who take full advantage of the weaknesses of our emotions and motivations, until we learn some healthier ways to accumulate and direct and discharge the “power” that inheres in any system, maybe just by institutionalizing the Golden Rule (and I have no idea how humans will do that, since the “religious” powers qnd “economists” have so corrupted the moral impulses of so many), it’s going to be More Of The Same. How do we de-fund and de-fang the Beast, when it controls the channels of commerce and uses our deep, ordinary-person need for “law and order” against us?

      Not many people want to see how their hamburger is butchered, or step out of Plato’s Cave, or peer into the darkness of the East and West Wings of the Oval Office Theatre and its equivalents. What’s the old verse? “Getting and spending we lay waste our powers/Little we see in nature that is ours./We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.”

      There is a voice from the grave, one Joe tried to hijack not so long ago, Wilfred Owen, the Brit poet who died in the effing trenches of WW I:

      If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
      Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
      Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
      Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
      My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
      To children ardent for some desperate glory,
      The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
      Pro patria mori.

      [It is sweet and fitting to die for the Homeland.]

  3. Libya has been dominated by the militias thrown up during the revolution of 2011.

    That would be the uprising which succeeded because of armed interventions by foreigners. The one you supported. Since then you’ve been glossing over the country’s slide into being a failed state.

    • Well, the opponents of that intervention gloss over Gaddafi’s crimes and blame all the recent violence in Mali and Algeria on Gaddafi’s overthrow, and thereby lose their credibility.

    • I don’t feel Dr. Cole has anything to apologize for regarding support of the uprising. The only alternative you seem to offer is to let dictatorial regimes exist interminably. We can’t let the issues that arise after the fall of an unjust order be an excuse to never resolve the unjust order.

    • Since then you’ve been glossing over the country’s slide into being a failed state.

      The same amount of time after the beginning of the American Revolution, it was a still a shooting war. It would be more than a decade before a stable constitutional order was achieved.

      But you just keep rooting for the failure of Arab Spring, if that’s what matters most to you.

      • To explain the “disorder” (and that’s a polite phrase to describe the utter failure to govern in Libya), and to serve as an apologist for said chaos, by using the analogy of the American Revolution demonstrates a lack of knowledge of both the American Revolution and what’s occurring in Libya. The American Revolution was fought to throw off British rule. Neither during the Revolution nor after was there the utter chaos of militias within the American populace fighting, and succeeding to thwart the attempt to establish a unified government, initially under the Articles of Confederation and then under the Federal Constitution. There was disagreement concerning State’s vs. Federal rights and responsibilities, but they were hammered out in conference.

        There is absolutely no comparison between the establishment of the American Republic by those individuals deeply steeped in the Magna Carta, the philosophy of John Locke, and the Enlightenment; and those who are attempting to establish a government in Libya (and their opponents) whose legacy includes none of the above. I have argued from the beginning that it was pure naivete to even refer to something called the “Arab Spring.” From the beginning it seemed more appropriate to refer to an “Arab Transition,” and as events progress I am even more convinced of that.

        • You’ve never heard of Shay’s Rebellion?

          You’ve never heard of the Whiskey Rebellion?

          There was disagreement concerning State’s vs. Federal rights and responsibilities, but they were hammered out in conference.

          You’ve never heard of, oh yeah, the Civil War?

          There is absolutely no comparison between the establishment of the American Republic by those individuals deeply steeped in the Magna Carta, the philosophy of John Locke, and the Enlightenment; and those who are attempting to establish a government in Libya (and their opponents) whose legacy includes none of the above.

          I guess you’ve also never heard of the NTC, or read the Interim Constitution:

          link to portal.clinecenter.illinois.edu

          It is as admirable a declaration of Enlightenment values as one could ask for, but oh noes, it includes references to Islam!

  4. Prime Minister Zeidan has been freed: link to aljazeera.com

    Armed extremism in Libya seems to be extremely polite. He ordered his guards not to open fire, his captors made him comfortable in a hotel, and the “rescue” doesn’t seem to have involved any gunfire, either.

  5. Wow, lots of closet authoritarians showing their true colors on this thread.

    Apparently, it is the height of leftist liberationist principle to insist that order under a dictator, in superior to revolutionary uprisings, because there might be disorder for a little while after the overthrow of the ancien regime.

    Henry Kissinger approves.

    • “because there might be disorder for a little while after the overthrow of the ancien regime. Henry Kissinger approves.”

      Actually, Joe, there is no evidence that the disordor in Libya will last, or that initiated by Morsi’s Islamist authoritarian tendencies in Egypt would have lasted (without military intervention), “for a little while.” There is an equally good chance the disorder would have lasted, and will last, for a long while and get worse. Remember the “Terror” after the French Revolution? It was not “disorder” that “lasted for a little while.”

      But then, to paraphrase you, “Robespierre would approve.”

    • well, if Dr. K approves, then it must be good for business — transnational, loyal-to-none very big business.
      Perhaps he will get his slice of baksheesh.

      • Indeed, Brian, multinationals were making a fortune under the iron grip of the Gadhaffi regime. Halliburton was in, the big oil companies were in, John McCain was meeting with Gadhaffi and tweeting about what an “interesting man” he was.

        And now we see the people who opposed the revolution in Libya crying fat, salty ham tears about oil production being down. If only we’d politely averted our eyes as the psychotic dictator was mowing down the protesters, the country would still be open for business, as it was under George Bush.

        I came up with a slogan for the people who didn’t support the Libyan revolution:

        No-war, for oil!

  6. “Most Libyans oppose al-Qaeda, but many were upset by this affront to their national sovereighty.”

    Hard to sympathize with their sense of an “affront to their national sovereignty” when the terrorist Al-Libi was living openly in their midst and no one was doing anything about it. This is on par in principle with Pakistanis considering it an “affront” to their national sovereignty when the US seals took down Bin-Laden who had been living right in their midst. If you are allowing these terrorist leaders and operatives to live among you with impunity and do nothing about it, you cannot expect sympathy when someone else violates your sovereignty in order to do what you yourself should have done in order to stem terrorism and bring perpetrators the justice they deserve.

    • What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, rightght? I look forward to everyone having no problem with other nations snatching war criminals and terrorists from the streets of America.

      • “I look forward to everyone having no problem with other nations snatching war criminals and terrorists from the streets of America.”

        They won’t have to because, unlike Libya and Pakistan, America captures and prosecutes known war criminals and terrorists operating on American soil.

        • Cubana de Aviación Flight 455 was bought down in October 6, 1976 causing the death of all 78 on board. Luis Posada Carriles was convicted by a Venezuelan court of planting bombs on a civilian airliner but fled to the United States. Both Cuba and Venezuela have sought Posada’s extradition under the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation but the US refuses to extradite a self-confessed and convicted terrorist.

          America protects war criminals and terrorists on American soil if they have killed civilians in a deemed enemy nation, Not so different from after all.

        • Luis Posada Carriles has always denied involvement in the Cubana Airlines bombing. The United States refused to extradite him to Venezuela and Cuba because of the likelihood that he would be tortured.

          Sound familiar? You no doubt would agree that the US should not send someone (such as Al-Qaeda an terrorist) to a country where he is likely to be tortured. You no doubt will equally appreciate the US government’s refusal to send Carriles to Venezuela or Cuba for the same reason.

        • Re:Cubana Airlines bombing

          Luis Posada Carriles was acquitted of charges in Venezuela and escaped after being held for years in detention while the prosecution appealed. He had worked for Venezuelan intelligence services and acquired citizenship in that nation.

          The U.S. Department of Justice collaborated with the Cuban government to try Carriles in El Paso on federal immigration violation charges. He was also acquitted by a U.S. District Court jury on those charges a few years ago.

          Carriles is a former U.S. Army veteran and CIA officer that had involvement in the Bay of Pigs, Operation Mongoose, and the Contra War in Nicaragua. He currently resides in the Miami area where he is revered in the Cuban-American community as a leader in anti-Castro activism.

          Many Cubans who served in the CIA’s Operation Mongoose and related anti-Castro paramilitary activities have indicated they were trained, supplied, and otherwise supported by the U.S. government and should not be prosecuted for these activities – this was Carriles’ attorneys’ arguments at trial in El Paso in 2008 and apparently the jury agreed.

      • Under international law, they’re welcome to try.

        And under international law, the United States is welcome to defend its citizens.

        • ” Under international law, they’re welcome to try.”

          Might makes right, eh? If they can do it, then International Law may apply. If they don’t have the resources to enforce the law on their own then we are blameless for harboring and protecting the worst of the worst from justice.

      • not so much off the streets, Chris. They don’t often venture into town, let alone travel to countries that signed the Treaty of Rome.

        Daddy Warbucks Chaney lives in a gated community. Same with Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Barack Obama and many if not most of the reputed “terrorists” we harbor.

        After a reporter recently walked up and knocked on Don Rumsfeld’s door, I suspect he might invest some of his ill-gotten gains in more “local security.”

    • I don’t see this as equivalent to Abbottobad. Bin Laden was being actively protected by elements in the Pakistani government, which could have very easily squashed him and his entire operation if they’d felt like.

      As opposed to the Libyan government, which still needs to get permission from the local militia when it wants to turn on a water works. The Libyan government wasn’t protecting this guy.

      • “As opposed to the Libyan government, which still needs to get permission from the local militia when it wants to turn on a water works. The Libyan government wasn’t protecting this guy.”

        That the Libyan government is weak and ineffective, and wasn’t protecting Al-Libi is irrelevant when it comes to its condemnation of the US’s snatching of Al-Libi off the street in Tripoli as an “affront to its sovereignty.” It can hardly claim an “affront to its sovereignty” when there is hardly any “sovereignty” to which it can lay claim if it cannot even manage such security issues.

        • DMOL, there from two Authoritative Sources is the answer to your questioning the question I posed, “WHAT Libyan government?” Getting “elected” in some way or other, reported widely as signaling “democracy in action,” surprisingly often does not mean you actually get to run things. Opportunities for corruption and a nice retirement, and attention from Great Gamers, well, of course.

        • That may be true, Bill, but it doesn’t put the Libyan government on the same side as al Qaeda, the way the Pakistani government chose to be when it protected bin Laden.

  7. Does “armed extremism in Libya” include the “polite” attack on the CIA/Embassy persons in Benghazi?

    Glad Zeidan has “made bail,” or whatever the equivalent is. Here’s some context for Zeidan’s “arrest,” that seems related to having some US Special Ops or whoever ABDUCT a Libyan citizen (though US media are calling that an “arrest,” too, though by what “legal authority” is not clear — maybe “Might Makes Right?”):

    link to aljazeera.com

    As to other “politeness,” here are a few more bits of context:

    “Two years after Libya’s revolution, government struggles to control hundreds of armed militias”
    link to articles.washingtonpost.com

    and

    “Libya Since Gaddafi — Where Has It Been, Where Will It Go?”

    link to isn.ethz.ch

    And how many US-ans have any awareness, in a world pastiched with US “Areas of Operations” and “Commands” under the Global Interoperable Network-Centric Battlespace that covers all, and thousands of “bases” and “sites,” of places like Wheelus AFB near Tripoli, a nice place for Air Force Forces and their families from 1945 to 1969?

    “The Years of Wheelus
    By Walter J. Boyne
    Recent events spark memories of what had been USAF’s jewel in North Africa.”

    link to airforcemag.com

    Yes, it is surely multi-variate complicated. Some get dead, and some get rich…

    • if you consider it a bad thing that the name “Benghazi” has become shorthand for the killing of four people, instead of becoming the Libyan Hama or Sbrenca, you really need to take some time to look to the state of your soul.

  8. The taking of al-Libi sends a message to terrorists everywhere that you should never ever never stop being a terrorist.

  9. the video opens with a fella being bundled off of a Ro-Pax ferry into a police car. That was NOT the USS San Antonio.

    What’s that got to do with this sotry ?

    Neither al-Libi nor Zeidan was captured on a ferry, were they ?

  10. -
    I hope that one part of this report is in error — the part that says that US Special Opns Forces tracked the kidnapee al-Libi down.

    It may be accurate.
    Last year, or two years ago, US SOCOM asked for money to stand up its own private DIA/CIA, internal to the command.
    That way, they wouldn’t get bogged down by having to coordinate or collaborate with the real DIA or real CIA, which they seemed to imply was hoding them back.
    I think it was under Stan the Man McChrystal that SOCOM wanted to add their own Intel capability, and even – IIRC – wanted to report directly to the National Security Advisor, bypassing the SecDef.

    I just assumed that would be quashed. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe US SOCOM is now an independent agency, on par with the CIA. If so, I say that’s not an improvement.

    ………..

    Of course it was SOF who snatched the guy. I realize that.
    I’m asking if it’s good for SOCOM to be able to operate so independently, a law unto themselves.
    .

    • SOCOM is not an independent agency, Brian. It still reports to SECDEF. It is not unusual for a command to want its own INTEL capability. That does not mean it has gone off the reservation.

      • Once again, some informed people might disagree with that claim of subservience of SOCOM — maybe that’s just a definition thing again, though, if the claim is limited only to the lines on the organizational chart.

        link to books.google.com with attention to Chapter 4.

        It’s nothing but a pretext to claim that all the stuff the Gamers do, ours and theirs and the other guys over there, behind a shallow screen of “legality” and “good sense,” and consistency with the surficial notions of “patriotic and constitutional rightness,” or just because Power, is “under control.”

  11. During the Libyan conflict the anti-Gaddafi forces were referred to as the Free Libyan Army or the Free Libya armed forces. This terminology is very similar to the Free Syrian Army which is now claimed to be the opposition to Assad.

    The Free Libyan Forces always sounded like a real army with leaders and a chain of command. The present instability of Libya seems to reflect the Free Libya armed forces may have been a collection of militias, each with different aims, and there will be a power struggle for years to come. That may result in a national army and unified state after crushing the militias, a patchwork of warlords, or a negotiated single or multiple states.

    That does not bode well for the Free Syrian Army, as Syria is far more religiously divided than Libya. Has a complex situation been oversimplified again?

    • The Free Syrian Army was founded by former Syrian Army officers who refused to fire on demonstrators. It has a supreme council and has a hierarchy of leadership. There has been a recent polarization in Syria between certain Islamic-oriented armed resistance groups and the Syrian National Coalition – who has the allegiance of the Free Syrian Army. There are reputedly non-public peace negotiations between the Free Syrian Army and the Assad regime that may have resulted in a lessening of armed conflict betwen these two forces.

      The Libyan anti-Gaddafi resistance was largely formed by civilian who later had significant numbers army officers and soldiers defect to their cause.

      During the Libyan civil war, it was impossible for observers to pinpoint a “political center” of the Libyan resistance and many feared that it was being influenced by al-Qaeda sympathizers. These fears were largely unfounded.

      It appears that the prime minister’s abductors represent a disgruntled fringe element and the incident was quickly defused.

      In Libya, if this article is correct, the protests against the government are largely economic-based rather than motivated by sectarian or ideological differences – although such differences surely exist and are contributing to the collective national unrest.

      Given the general unrest in nations where the Arab Spring demonstrations uprooted the established governments in power – such unrest is to be expected and common.

      Generally, Libya is doing satisfactorily in establishing a post-Gaddafi government. Don’t expect perfection.

Comments are closed.