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NATO's role in the events of the Arab spring 2011-2013
Material posted: Publication date: 11-07-2013

The event, which the press called "Arab spring", led to a massive popular movements in the Middle East, the overthrow of several dictatorial regimes and bloody civil wars in Libya and Syria. There is no doubt that the protests in Arab countries had deep internal reasons, the enumeration and the analysis of which would require a large separate article.

At the same time military intervention has exacerbated internal political struggle in Syria and Libya, contributed to the fact that peaceful protests in these countries escalated into a bloody armed conflict that contributed to the growth of tension not only in these countries, but in the Middle East region in General.

First of all, it is advisable to cover the reasons for the hostility of NATO against the regimes of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Bashar Assad in Syria, which bears geopolitical and economic in nature. It appears that the main reasons for the armed intervention of the West in the inter-Libyan conflict are economic and political presence in Libya Africa and an independent financial policy of the government of Gaddafi.

In the last two decades Libya had an impact on the situation in African countries in both economic and political point of view, achieving significant success. Speaking about the economic presence of Libya in Africa, we should mention, above all, Tripoli investments in the economy of thirty African countries, numbering at the most modest estimate of about $ 5 billion. We have taken account only of the investment program, passed through the Libyan state oil company Tamoil, the Libyan Arab African investment company (LAAICO) and the Libyan Arab foreign Bank (LAFB). Meanwhile, a significant Libyan investments could go on and through the Western banks and companies[1].

The greatest formal economic projects Tripoli in Africa have been investing in the Zambian telecommunication company Zamtel ($364 million.) and oil terminal and oil pipeline in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($300 million). In the Central African Republic (CAR), the Libyans had actually purchased from the government diamond mines. The Libyan leadership was widely practiced and the distribution of loans to allied regimes. For example, the government of Zimbabwe was given a loan in the amount of $ 500 million. for the purchase of Libyan oil[2].

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was directly involved in political life on the continent. Libya paid 15% of the budget of the African Union, in fact, covering a fraction of the cost of many poor African States. Gaddafi was actively involved in mediation by the pacification of intra-African conflicts and civil wars. This was clearly demonstrated in Sudan where Libyans maintained equally good relations with the government of Omar al-Bashir and the rebels of Darfur. The government Gaddafi was also carried out mediation to reconcile the government and rebels in the Central African Republic. In Chad, where the Libyans in 1987 suffered a military defeat, they managed to catch up in the 90-ies of the last century by political means, bringing to power its ally I. déby[3]. Great job with the Libyans was carried out with the rebellious Tuareg in Mali and Niger. Gaddafi also arranged and charity events, providing the Tuareg food. As a result he enjoyed among the natives of the Sahara a higher authority than their own rulers. In fact, at the summits of African States, the leader of the Libyan revolution received the honorary title of "king of kings" (king of kings).

This activity could not fail to cause dissatisfaction among major French and British companies, continued active work on the African continent, despite the reduced political presence in their countries. In the nineties and in the beginning they even put up with a flurry of activity from Gaddafi. However, in 2005-2010 competition for Africa was heightened. Full swing Chinese expansion on the Black continent, to Africa again began to show interest Americans. Apparently, the bosses of large multinational companies based in Europe, decided that in Africa someone superfluous and unnecessary it was Gaddafi.

Of more concern in Europe and in the US caused the financial plans of the Libyan leader. Based on the significant revenue from oil production (50 billion dollars a year), Libya became the owner of major financial capital. About 200 billion dollars were posted on the Libyan accounts in Western banks. Canadian Professor Peter Dale Scott believes that the cause of the determination of France, the UK and the USA to overthrow Gaddafi could serve the plans of the leader of the Libyan revolution on the transition in payments for oil with its Western partners, with the dollar and the Euro to a new currency, the gold Dinar. These plans do not seem so fantastic, if we consider that their implementation Muammar Gaddafi would have been able to attract African countries. In that case, the financial market of the new currency would encompass the entire continent.

In favor of this hypothesis is demonstrated by the activity of the Libyan financial institutions on the African continent. According to the information given Scott $ 130 billion of Libyan assets frozen in American banks, had to go to the implementation of the three African continental projects: the establishment of the African Investment Bank in Sirte (Libya); the African Monetary Fund with its headquarters in yaoundé (Cameroon) with a Charter Fund of 42 million dollars already allocated by the Libyans, and African Central Bank in Abuja (Nigeria)[4].

The implementation of this project would be the death for the CFA franc, the currency of former French colonies fully independent from France. Given this fact, it becomes clear particularly active in France in the organization of missile and bomb strikes on Libyan territory. 18 March 2011 the UN security Council at the initiative of France and great Britain adopted resolution 1973 establishing a no-flight zone over the territory controlled by the rebels. March 19, air force great Britain and France launched operation "Odyssey. Dawn" on the implementation of the UN mandate. It should be noted that from the beginning of the operation NATO allies have abused the trust of the international community, exceeding their powers. A no-fly zone involves fighting aircraft country of peacekeepers against the government's air force, intruding in the airspace of the rebels. In fact, the operation of NATO aviation from the very beginning resulted in the first bombing of Libyan military facilities, and then centers and lifelines (power, channels, ports, etc.). April 5, 2011 the air strike was destroyed the residence of Libyan leader – barracks Bab al-Aziziya.

Meanwhile, the time worked on allies. In September 2011 ended the period of validity of the UN resolution. The delay of the military operation objectively played into the hands of Gaddafi, who not only rallied around itself the population of Tripolitania and the Fezzan (as evidenced by the constant rallies of his supporters in Tripoli), but also could lead to spalling from the rebels part of the tribes in Cyrenaica. In order to accelerate the defeat of the rebellious Colonel 22-25 August 2011 was carried out the operation "Siren" to seize Tripoli. In these circumstances, the large role played by the intensive bombing of Tripoli, causing large-scale destruction and casualties in the city. The powers of the Anglo-French allies were unable to such fire training, the crucial role played by U.S. assistance, involving the aircraft carrier "George Herbert Walter Bush" (George Herbert Walter Bush) (STS-77), built in 1998. The ultra-modern ship with 90 combat aircraft on Board, equipped with 14 observation radars and two batteries of missiles "Ground-air", played a major role in the destruction of the Libyan capital[5]. Special cynicism of this operation is attached that it was conducted in the period of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan, when residents of the Libyan capital gathered in the evening for relaxation and a night of breaking the fast (iftar).

It should be noted that NATO coordinated its actions in Libya with the National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi, despite the presence in rebel ranks of radical Islamists from Fighting Islamic Group (GIA). At the same time with the establishment of this organization in 1993, observers and experts have noted its terrorist nature. After the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in 1996, VIG built two of training camp 30 km North of Kabul, one of which was commanded by the leader of this organization Abdelhakim Belhaj. After September 11, 2001. Belhaj has established personal contact with Ayman al-Zawahiri. At the end of 2003. he was arrested by CIA agents in Malaysia and, according to American journalist Pepe Escobar, taken to a secret prison of the American special services about Bangkok[6]. In 2004 in the framework of the American-Libyan agreements on fighting terrorism the CIA issued belhadj of the Libyan security services. In 2010, he together with his associates and Srifa Saadi was released from prison in Libya in the framework of the campaign "combating terrorism through dialogue and reintegration". In exchange for the release of extremists "repented" in its activities, and wrote a confession volume of 417 pages[7]. Currently Abdelhakim Belhadj is the military Governor of the Libyan capital Tripoli and commanded by one of the numerous illegal armed groups, divided the power in this country.

It should be noted that the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya has led to extremely dangerous consequences for the entire region of North Africa. First, the NATO campaign in 2011 caused the actual disintegration of the Libyan state. Despite conducted in the summer of 2012 parliamentary elections, control over various regions of Libya is carried out by various armed groups. So, control Benghazi militia of the various tribes of Cyrenaica, and the dominion of Tripoli divide the armed groups of tribes of Misrata and Zintan and the militia of "al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb". In the enclave of Beni Walid still dominated by the warfalla tribe militia loyal to Gaddafi[8]. The lack of unified leadership and constant clashes between different armed groups lead to chaos and instability that make it impossible for normal socio-economic development of Libya. Thirdly, the lack of a unified government in Libya has led to the spread of religious extremism and terrorism throughout the region. This circumstance is aggravated by the uncontrolled spread of weapons from warehouses of the Libyan army of Gaddafi. A striking example of the destabilization of the situation in North Africa is the events in Mali in 2012-2013, in which the active participation of such organizations as "al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-DIN". Fourthly, the fall of the Libyan regime poses a direct threat of uncontrolled migration into Europe from Africa South of the Sahara. Affected by this, first of all, the southern NATO countries: Italy and Spain.

Member States of NATO played a significant role in the escalation of the Syrian domestic conflict. In Libya, members of the Alliance, interested in the overthrow of Gaddafi was made by France and Britain. At the same time, the main initiators of the anti-Syrian campaign NATO made the US and Turkey.

The main reason of dissatisfaction of the U.S. and its allies the regime of Bashar al-Assad were certainly not systematic human rights violations in Syria, and an independent foreign policy of Damascus. This policy is expressed primarily in support of the national liberation struggle of the Palestinians under the leadership of Hamas, the Lebanese movement "Hezbollah" and the strategic partnership with Iran, which is the main geopolitical opponent of the USA in the Middle East region.

Concerns about the Iranian-Syrian strategic partnership and development of measures for their confrontation contained, in particular, the article of George Friedman, "Syria, Iran and the balance of power in the middle East", published in early 2012. Given that Friedman headed the organization is often called STRATFOR a "shadow CIA" this article is not the opinion of the expert. The article predicts "a massive shift in the balance of power in the region after the withdrawal of American troops, resulting in the Iran transformed from a marginal country into a superpower". The article analyzed the causes of the Iranian-Syrian strategic partnership: "the Iranian Islamic regime gave the Syrian secular regime immunity against Shiite fundamentalism in Lebanon. More importantly, he provided him support in his Lebanese adventures and protection from possible protests by the Sunni majority in Syria"[9]. The article emphasizes that the Iranian-Syrian Alliance has acquired a long-term, stable for the foreseeable future outlines. Hence it is concluded that in the case of political survival, Assad (the article was written when the protests in Syria were in full swing), Iran will benefit from this the most. Friedman wrote: "If Iraq falls under the long-term Iranian influence, and the regime of al-Assad, isolated from the rest of the world, but supported by Iran, will survive, it will allow Tehran to acquire yourself a sphere of influence stretching from Western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean sea (through Syria and possession of Hezbollah). This perspective is ability to deploy the Iranian armed forces in the West and has far-reaching implications". According to Friedman in this case the Iranian sphere of influence will affect the Northern border of Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the southern borders of Turkey. The Iranian ability to lead in this region a considerable force particularly increases the risks for Saudi Arabia. This, according to Friedman, that the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel must do everything possible to prevent such a development[10].

To similar conclusions came from the leading U.S. experts on the Middle East, James Rubin. According to Rubin, the Israeli elite is not afraid that the Iranian leadership may order the use of nuclear weapons against Israel. In tel Aviv know all the rationality of Iranian foreign policy doctrine. The main concern of Israel is the prospect of loss of military-strategic superiority. The possession of nuclear weapons is still a deterrent, as the regional enemies of Israel, in particular Hezbollah's decisive actions. In case of loss of Israel's nuclear monopoly is quite possible the outbreak of the Arab opponents of the war against Israel. As the main regional enemy Israel, Hezbollah, and strategic support of Hezbollah — Syria, the destruction of the Syrian military power and political subjectivity in my opinion is vital to ensure Israel's security. Hezbollah, deprived of a Syrian "strategic depth", will be forced to defend themselves from their many enemies in Lebanon and will not be able to present a tangible threat to Israel[11]. It remains to add that Syria along with Libya and Lebanon was one of the three Mediterranean countries associated with the NATO partnership agreement.

The interests of Turkey are, apparently, in the enlargement of its zone of influence at the expense of the Northern provinces of Syria and the establishment in Damascus of power of the movement "Muslim brotherhood" conducting a policy that is close to the model of the Turkish governing party AKP[12]. Despite the fact that for almost ten years, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has positioned his country as an ally of Syria and even went to the conclusion of an agreement on free trade with Damascus, geopolitical considerations of "neo-Ottomanism" took precedence over politics of realism in Turkey's relations with its southern neighbor.

Due to the fact that the resistance of supporters of Bashar al-Assad armed rebels were unexpectedly strong, and that the Syrian government has shown the intention to go to the end in maintaining his power, in the intentions of a number of NATO countries viewed the variant of a partition of Syria into several enclaves. Syria, perhaps, suffered the most in the twentieth century from the policy of the Western powers. The agreement Sykes-Picot 1916 shattered in a single historical, political and cultural space for a few countries: Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, on part of the territory which later became Israel. A statement of this fact was recorded in the statement by Syrian foreign Minister Farouk al-sharaa at the session of the League of Arab States in Algiers (June 7-10, 1988.), who said in particular: "History tells us "to Bilad al-sham" (the country of sham). Since the era of the Umayyad this geographical area comprising Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon is the political unity, whose heart beats in Damascus. This is the historical truth. The agreement Sykes-Picot, who appeared the most brutal violence carried out on the history, split this unity in the various States. However, the Treaty of Sykes-Picot, bearing the character section of the Middle East in English and French spheres of influence, cannot change the reality. The inhabitants of this region are one people. Naturally, the interest of Syria in the Palestinian case differs from the attitudes to the Palestinian problem other Arab States"[13]. Now even reduced the political space, the remainder of "greater Syria" external actors are trying to break up into powerless mini-States. With the just struggle of the Syrian people for democracy, external actors try to translate in the direction of interfaith Sunni-Shiite conflict. This is very clearly evidenced by article American military analyst Brian Downing where seriously discussed the possibility of dividing Syria into two Sunni States (with centres in Damascus and Aleppo), the Druze state and the coastal state to the alawites, focused on Iran and Russia[14].

The difference between the Syrian situation from the Libyan is that NATO has not taken overt military intervention in the Syrian domestic conflict. Much of the credit for the prevention of "humanitarian intervention" in Syria belongs to Russia and China, three times impose the veto on the resolutions of the UN Security Council. The position of Russia remains unchanged throughout the conflict. The Russian Federation stands not on the continuation of the conservation authorities of Bashar al-Assad and halt the violence, prevent foreign armed intervention and the holding of free elections in Syria. This position was voiced by Minister of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov at the Geneva conference of 2012.

At the same time, despite the fact that the Libyan precedent of humanitarian intervention (right to protect) has not been used, States have NATO covert support to the armed groups of opponents of Bashar al-Assad. This is done despite the open nature of the terrorist struggle of the Syrian rebels, and a significant proportion in their ranks of the extremist military organization "Dzhabhat al-Nusra" (the local branch of al Qaeda). According to the Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, of Ammar al moosawi, terrorists from "Jabhat al-Nusra" be thirty percent of the Syrian rebels, while two-thirds of weapons to the Syrian opposition[15].

According to reports in several French, Turkish and American media, NATO countries beginning in November-December 2011 (that is, from the time when the internal political conflict in Syria began to acquire the features of the civil war) provide support to the armed Syrian opposition (free Syrian army). According to the newspaper Asia Times, instructors from the French secret service and British intelligence MI-6 since the end of 2011 carried out the training of FSA fighters in the Turkish province of Hatay and in the city of Tripoli in Northern Lebanon. With the Syrian guerrillas were trained in guerrilla warfare in urban environments[16]. According to the American journalist Philip Giraldi, NATO aircraft participated in the transfer of weapons from Libya to the FSA rebels, landing at a Turkish airport Iskenderun beginning fall 2011[17]. The same author wrote that the use of electronic intelligence, NATO provides the rebels from the FSA information about the movements of Syrian government forces.

Not satisfied hidden supply of weapons, a number of NATO member States put at the present time the question of open support of the Syrian rebels weapons. At the EU summit in Brussels, held on March 14, 2013, Britain and France raised the issue of whether to launch an official military assistance to the militants of the FSA. The French President Hollande and British Prime Minister Cameron reiterated that the weapons should be in good hands "right rebels", as if not knowing who is the most efficient detachment of the Syrian irreconcilable opposition. Their more prudent colleagues from Germany, Austria and Sweden managed to block the decision on military aid. It remains to add that such aid was, first, contributes to the escalation of violence in Syria, and, secondly, contributes to the strengthening of extremist and terrorist elements inside this country.

Summing up the analysis of the role of NATO in the events of the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, it is appropriate to draw some conclusions. First, NATO's actions in the Libyan conflict do not correspond to the role and purpose of the organization. Participation in humanitarian interventions is not included in the purview of NATO and is not stipulated by the Charter of this organization. Events in Libya did not create an immediate threat to any of NATO members. However the Alliance has interpreted resolution 1973 of the UN Security Council in the context of unjustified expansion.

Secondly, in the background of the decisions of the NATO intervention in domestic conflicts in Libya and in Syria, a key role is played not humanitarian but geopolitical and geo-economic considerations. In the case of Libya is the competition of Western European economic projects in Africa and alternative Finance projects proposed by the government of Gaddafi. In the case of Syria – an independent foreign policy of this country, its strategic partnership with Iran and support movements Hezbollah and Hamas.

Thirdly, the actions of NATO in the region lead to the destruction of existing national States, the destruction of their subjectivity and political chaos.

Fourthly, the support of terrorist and extremist movements, hiding behind Islamic slogans, is not consistent with the long-term national interests of the European members of NATO. The activity of radical extremist movements in Libya and Syria increases the potential for conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, leads to an increase in terrorism, the uncontrolled proliferation of arms, increasing the flow of illegal migration from these regions to Europe.


Alesandr Kuznetsov


The list of references

[1] STRATFOR Special report: Libyan involvement in Africa. N. Y., 2011

[2] STRATFOR Special report: Libyan involvement in Africa. N. Y., 2011

[3] Kutelev V. V. About the Libyan-Sudanese relations.

[4] Peter Dale Scott. La Guerra in Libia, potere degli Stati Uniti e il sistema degli decline del petrodollari. www. 13.05.2011

[5] René Naba. Libye: le drapeau vert ne flottera plus sur Tripoli.// 01.09.2011

[6] Scott Stewart. Jihadist opportunities in Libya. STRATFOR. Security weekly. 24.02.2011 R. 4

[7] Scott Stewart. Jihadist opportunities in Libya. STRATFOR. Security weekly. 24.02.2011 R. 6

[8] A. Bystrov, A. Libya: the strengthening of tribal clashes.//

[9] George Friedman. Syria, Iran and the Balance of Power in the Middle East.//Review 22.11.2011 STRATFOR George Friedman. Syria, Iran and the Balance of Power in the Middle East.//STRATFOR review 22.11.2011

[10] Ibid.

[11] James P. Rubin. The real reason to intervene in Syria.//,1

[12] Ibrahim al-Amin. Partitioning Syria at the Doha summit.//

[13] R. Naba Monstres sacrés monstres sacrés ou? Entre le Saladin babylonien et le syrien Bismarck, une détestation inexpiable.

[14] Downing, B. Syriana redux: The Middle East fragments.//

[15] Information from personal conversation with representatives of the movement "Hezbollah" 17.12.2012 year

[16] Pepe Escobar. The shadow war in Syria.//

[17] Philipp Giraldi. NATO against Syria: NATO's airplanes in Iskenderun.//American Conservative. 19.12.2011



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