What happened in Libya?

Colle-and-McQuinn-final-for-web I’ll write more about this new book on Libya, the ousting of Colonel Gaddafi and what came next once I have finished reading it. But for those of us who were there in 2011 and haven’t been back, it puts together a lot of the snippets of info, rumours and hints into a satisfying narrative, one that joins plenty of dots.

For example, it is revealing on just how the Nato aerial intervention worked. Commanders – with a mandate to protect civilian populations – were at pains to ensure that British, French and Emirati planes did not simply become the air arm of the rebel movement. The chapter by Frederic Wehrey quotes a senior Nato planner:

“We were prepared to strike anti-Gaddafi forces if they had targeted civilians. Toward the end of the war, in Sirte, we came very, very close.”

The air war was hailed as a huge success at the time. And it is clear that close co-operation between Libyan rebels, advisers on the ground and Nato nations was crucial to that. Much of the rest of the book explains why pretty much everything else has been a disaster.

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