After the Bonn Agreement, Afghanistan shortly lived in peace knowing its Russian occupiers retreated back into the Soviet Union. That sense of freedom only lasted a short period of time. Internal tribal fighting, an increase in radical Islamic extremism, and failure in international assistance induced an environment of civil unrest which later harbored Al Qaeda. With the death of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya very well could be the next Afghanistan.
It is known that within the Libyan National Transition Council, a severe magnitude of internal fighting exists. Multiple factions comprising of Islamists, Socialists, Liberals, and even Conservatives exist throughout Libya. The nation is incredibly tribal in nature, which could also fuel additional complexities.
Muammar Qaddafi had an unprecedented amount of weapons stockpiled. To date, it is known that Libya has approximately 20,000 Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS); only 500 are accounted for. Chemical and biological weapons have been hidden in underground weapon storage facilities, none of which have been seized and destroyed by the international community.
Qaddafi is dead, yet the threat of further unrest is more alive today than ever. The domestic threat in Libya has international byproducts which could eventually make the state a new Afghanistan. If the United States had not learned its lesson after Charlie Wilson’s Afghan endeavors, we will soon be faced with an incredibly austere Libya.
The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee acknowledges the situation in Libya. The State Department seeks initiatives through the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) and the Nonproliferation Disarmament Fund (NDF) to seize Libyan weapons of concern–all pending Senate approval.
The United States cannot take too much time in funding these initiatives. Time is of the essence in Libya. If we learned anything from Afghanistan, delaying initiatives in newly freed nation states can eventually come back to haunt us–Afghanistan being the case in point.
Kerry Patton is a Senior Analyst for WIKISTRAT. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of “Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies” and the children’s book “American Patriotism.” You can follow him on Facebook.