In Libya, everything started in Benghazi.
When Khalifa Hafter returned to Libya in 2014, he first came to the eastern part of the country. His claim was that the extremists were based in Benghazi. He joined the self-styled Libyan National Army and the Battle of Benghazi, a battle of the Libyan Civil War of 2014 fought in May and July of 2014.
In 1951, King Idris I proclaimed Libya's independence in Benghazi. When Moammar Gaddafi led a military coup against King Idris, he was a young soldier in Benghazi. When the Arab Spring hit Libya in February 2011, the protests first began here. When the Western countries intervened in Libya in March, their first target was Benghazi. And on Sept. 11, 2012, the events that turned the Arab Spring into the Arab Winter and changed the course of history once again in Libya happened in Benghazi: The extremist attack on the U.S. Consulate that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher J. Stevenson, and three Americans in the city.
In fact, NATO's intervention in Libya did not begin well-planned. Gaddafi made his mercenaries attack the protesters and vowed to "clean Libya city by city, house by house," and then-President Barack Obama was reluctant to intervene. Later he went on to say that his "worst mistake" during his presidency was "probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya."
Even though the U.S. was reluctant, France and Britain had already made their decision.
In March of 2011, a controversial figure of the French intelligentsia, a philosopher and writer who has quite interesting political contacts around the world considering the fact that he is an intellectual, Bernard-Henri Lévy, went to Benghazi and met with Gaddafi opponents.
When he was asked why he had done that, he said: "It was human rights, for a massacre to be prevented, and blah blah blah – but I also wanted them to see a Jew defending the liberators against a dictatorship, to show fraternity. I wanted the Muslims to see that a Frenchman, a Westerner and a Jew, could be on their side."
When Bernard-Henri Lévy returned from Benghazi to Paris, he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy immediately and said that the overthrow of Gaddafi was the only solution in Libya. It was surprising that Sarkozy and Lévy, who had opposite views, agreed on that, and Lévy suddenly became Sarkozy's emissary. Lévy brought the Libyan opposition together with then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Obama was still hesitant, but Clinton quickly understood the situation.
When Gaddafi sent a big convoy over the opposition in Benghazi, French planes began their bombardment, with Britain and the U.S. following suit soon after. Some 112 Tomahawks were launched from the Mediterranean, and the coalition's campaign continued for seven months. Lévy was quite happy with the intervention, saying that "the NATO mission, as far as I am concerned, was as it had to be."
In his documentary "The Oath of Tobruk," he went into detail about how he persuaded a conservative president in his role in NATO intervention and the U.N. Security Council resolution of 1973 and as a leftist. Although everyone in France knows his game-changer role in the Libya intervention, the world was not and is still not aware of that.
On the other hand, Sarkozy was probably looking for a reason, a cover, an excuse to intervene in Libya, and Lévy as a "very famous intellectual" made his job easy. France recognized the National Transition Council (NTC) and convinced others to intervene in Libya to overthrow Gaddafi.
Until then, Lévy had played the role of human rights defender very well. However, in June 2011, when he went to Israel and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his intention behind the scenes was revealed. He made a promise to Netanyahu and announced it. The philosopher told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that, in a 90-minute meeting with Netanyahu, the new government of Libya would have a good relationship with Israel when Gaddafi was overthrown.
Although those words made Israel very happy, it caused great anger in Arab streets. Although the NTC denied it, Gaddafi used this claim until the end. This was also a unique opportunity for the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries to reverse the direction of the Arab Spring. Both started to work on Libya and Egypt by accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of cooperating with Israel. Although Mustafa Abdul Jelil, who was at the head of the NTC, made a victory speech after the overthrowing of Gaddafi in October 2011, promising a country with Islamic rules to reverse the false perception in the Arab world; this time, the situation became more complicated. He made the Western countries suspicious about the opposition.
François Hollande, who was elected as president of France in March 2012, would not listen to the militant writer, Lévy, like the previous president, but the legacy of Lévy made Western countries change their minds about Syria, and they disagreed on overthrowing Bashar Assad. He also made it easier for Russia to give open support to Assad.
After the "Innocence of Muslims" – a short film written and produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Copts born in Egypt and became a U.S. resident – was uploaded on YouTube in the summer of 2012, launching the entire Muslim world into a fury as it insulted the Prophet Mohammad, all hell broke loose. On the anniversary of 9/11, on Sept. 11, 2012, the Arab Winter was set to begin with the Benghazi attack. The seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi and the murder of the ambassador was the turning point where al-Qaida would also show its head. And then, the black propaganda toward the Muslim Brotherhood linking it with al-Qaida started. Of course, the rise of al-Qaida in Libya was planned and staged by some Gulf countries, but they were quick to set a trap for the Muslim Brotherhood and put the blame on Qatar. And Ansar al-Sharia, the al-Qaida in Libya, successfully completed its task as a catalyzer. The terrorist group infiltrated some opposition groups and cleared the way for Gaddafi opponents to start fighting each other.
This is the story that led Hafter to assign himself the "Libya's savior" mission that led him to Benghazi.
Lévy, a supporter of Emmanuel Macron, the current President of France, has left the scene, but history will never forget his role in the bloodshed in Libya.