Muammar Gaddafi may be dead and his regime removed from power, but reports out of Libya are that al-Qaeda’s flag is flying over the so-called birthplace of the recent uprising that removed the dictator from power:
The black flag of Al Qaeda was hoisted in Libya yesterday as Nato formally ended its military campaign.
The standard fluttered from the roof of the courthouse in Benghazi, where the country’s new rulers have imposed sharia law since seizing power.
Seen as the seat of the revolution, the judicial building was used by rebel forces to establish their provisional government and media centre.
The flag has been spotted on the courthouse several times, prompting denials from the National Transitional Council that it was responsible.
Complete with Arabic script declaring ‘there is no God but Allah’ and a full moon underneath, it was hoisted alongside the Libyan national flag.
There are reports that extremists have been seen on Benghazi’s streets at night, waving the Al Qaeda flag and shouting ‘Islamiya, Islamiya! No East, nor West.
Oh, that’s good. And while I’m not one to panic over Sharia Law coming to the United States, it does concern me that our overly aggressive foreign policy may very well lead to an Islamic government in Libya. Conor Friedersdorf also points to comments made recently John Burns, a foreign policy analyst, that leave a very bleak view of Iraq’s future:
Once U.S. troops leave Iraq, the country is likely to come under the control of a strongman who seizes power, according to John F. Burns, one of the most respected and knowledgeable foreign correspondents to cover the war and occupation. Interviewed this week on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, he predicted that sometime in the near future, perhaps two years from now, perhaps five, a theretofore unknown military officer “will one day take control and knock heads together. And we’ll just have to pray that it’s not Saddam 2.0, that whoever it is, it’s somebody who’s a benign dictator, and not a brutalist, tyrannical murderer.”
He felt less able to predict Iran’s behavior.
“I mean, here’s a country that had an eight year war with Iraq under Saddam Hussein. They lost a million men dead on the two sides of that war. All of a sudden, a situation develops where the Shiites take the reins, the political reins in Iraq for the first time in a thousand years. So Iran now has a Shiite-ruled, governed neighbor. Wouldn’t you think that they would want to play a stabilizing role?,” he said. “No, they didn’t play a stabilizing role, because they wanted to frustrate the Great Satan, the United States. So that was always a puzzle. They always seemed to be spiting their own face. What they’ll do now, who knows?”
If anything he is even more pessimistic about the endgame.
“I think that Americans have to brace themselves for the possibilities that the accomplishments that the United States will be leaving behind, which is a nascent constitutional system, may in time suffer the fate that, for example, the British did after their period in Iraq during and after the First World War,” he warned. “The sands of Iraq will simply blow over them, and the American presence in history will amount to have accomplished, sadly, rather little.”
Not all of this falls at the feet of Obama. Iraq was Bush’s war and it fell into Obama’s lap. We can’t stay there forever, despite what neoconservatives want. However, Libya is an affair that we never should’ve engaged in, and it may have serious consequences for the region if it becomes as Islamist state. If/When that happens, be sure to thank Obama, who has largely embraced the foreign policy views of his predecessor.