Yesterday the US Department of Homeland Security declared that Libya (as well as Yemen and Somali) was included on the list of countries which caused concerns. The Department restricted the right to visa-free entrance to the US of citizens who have visited these countries after March 1st 2011.
Commenting on the situation in Libya, Boris Dolgov, Senior Fellow at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, calls it “a special part of the Arab Spring.” “The Arab Spring, as it is known, began in Tunisia, in Egypt, then countries such as Bahrain were covered by it, on the territory of Saudi Arabia, there were speeches in the Emirates, Syria, Libya. In Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, there was a clear internal factor: the socio-economic crises in these countries. Unemployment among young people Tunisia, Egypt, had reached 50%. There was corruption in the higher echelons of power, there was a facade of democracy. These internal factors led to a massive social protest, which was the Arab Spring in these countries in its initial stages. At the same time, in Libya and in Syria, there were external factors. There was no socio-economic crisis. Libya was a prosperous state of 6 million inhabitants, an oil-producing country with a high standard of living. Approximately one million Egyptians arrived in Libya annually to work and earn high salaries,” Dolgov recalls.
According to him, the first speeches and protests in Libya were very local – in Benghazi, in a number of populated areas: “Among the three regions of Libya (Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, Fezzan) Cyrenaica is different because of the fact that historically it has been quite oppositional to the central authority. Cyrenaica started these protests, and there were some Palestinian laborers' protests, there were groups of young people who were dissatisfied with some specific events, they were Islamists.”
The expert said that Muammar Gaddafi rigidly fought against radical Islamism: “Up to 800 Islamists, accused of terrorist activity, were in Gaddafi's prisons. After the overthrow of Gaddafi, all of them, of course, were released. An armed Libyan group operated on the territory of Libya, radical Islamists who had connections with Algerian Islamists carried out terrorist activities on the territory of Libya. Gaddafi fought against it. Moreover, he fought against radical Islamists in collaboration with Western intelligence agencies. There are reports, confirmed by documents, interrogations of captured Islamists by CIA officers and Libyan intelligence services were carried out in conjunction on the territory of Libya. But the moment came when the West decided it was a convenient time to remove the unwanted, uncontrollable leader.”