LIBYA: QADHAFI'S POLITICAL POSITION SINCE THE AIRSTRIKE

Created: 5/17/1986

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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Ollice ol Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis Directorate ol Intelligence

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Captain James Stark Director

Political-Military Affairs National Security council

Dear Captain'

I thought ydd would be interested in the attached assessment of Libyan leader Oadhafl's domestic position since the US airstrlltes in April. The mt-noiartdjm addresses the Internal political situation as well as the Libyan terrorist threat. As always, your cceanents are

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LIBYA: Qadhafi's Political Position Since the Airstrike

Summary

The US strike last April has aggravated Libyan leader Qadhafi's political problems by humiliating the Libyan armed forces and indirectly stimulating closer cooperation between Washington and West European countries. In response, Qadhafi is tightening his personal security, seeking Soviet assistance in strengthening Libyan defense capabilities, promoting diplomatic initiatives to ease Libya's international isolation, and restructuring his terrorist support apparatus to achieve greater deniability. j^pfJj

None of these measures are likely to significantly improve his prospects for surviving in power. Increased international pressure would further reduce his chances for political survival, which we believe are only slightly better than even through the end of the year. Only in the unlikely event Qadhafi adjusted his radical social and economic policies would he restore confidence in his leadership, even among his closest associates. Any breakdown in the morale and efficiency of the internal securitycurrently protect him from all but the best-organi2ed and skillfully implementedwould indicate that his demise is near. ^mmmmma

Domestic reactions to the US strike confirm the extent to which Qadhafi's political position has eroded over the past

procession in Tripoli for tnosetlTTTecJ^TTitne US strike attracted only several thousand marchers outocal population of about

demonstrations since theuDT^ci^ea by the Libyanonly been stage-managed by his radical supporters and have lacked the spontaneity and enthusiasm of previous ones. H

popular discontent withn ign^nasDecoine more open since the US strike.

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accusing Qadhafi of wasting scarce financial resources on ineffective weaponry. This is in contrast to reporting last year indicating that Qadhafi's pervasive security measures hadense of fear among Libyans that permitted political discussions only with their must trusted confidants. Vanti-Qadhaf leaflets and graffiti recently appea:nd Benghazi for the first time this year. The leafletsQadhafi for Libya's economic difficulties and for pursuing aggressive foreign policies (see

Libyans are publicly blaming Qadhafi and his aggressive policies for causing the deaths of fellow countrymen during the Gulf of Sidra confrontation last March and the US airstrike last April.many Libyans hopeventualiy^esu^tin Qadhafi's removal.

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The Revolutionary Committees' campaign of back-stabbing and political intrigue against military officers hasrincipal source of military discontent for several years. everal senior officers were detained but subsequently released, in part because revolutionary committee members blamed them for lax security arrangements which permitted the sabotage of an ammunition depot near Benghazi. Qadhafi's continuing emphasis onopularled by the Revolutionarya counterweight to the regular armed forces confirms, in our judgment, the expanded influence of the Revolutionary Committees at the expense of professional officers.

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Qadhafi's Response

The bombing of Qadhafi's residence almost certainly has convinced Qadhafi that Washington will stop at nothing to oust him. esult, Qadhafi has strengthened his already tight personal security.

scheduled public appearanceational holiday commemorating the departure of US forces from Libya infavorelevised speech, almosi certainly because he feared assassination.

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Qadhafi's renewed approaches to theby Jallud's visit toare intended in part to help shore up his domestic position. In our view, the Libyan leader may regard increased Soviet military assistance as essential for undercutting dissent in the officer corps and rebuilding his International prestige. Qadhafi may also believe that giving the appearance of closer ties to Moscow would revive traditional West

European concerns that increased pressure on Libya only serves Soviet regional interests by making Tripoli even more dependent on Moscow.

addition to personal securityAllied cooperation onpress is going out of its way towith West European governmentsback on track. Qadhafi alreadyrepresentatives of an Italian leftist ["

ie subsequently emphasizea theeleasing an Italian fishing boat seized for fishing. At the same time, Qadhafi's carrot includes public threats to withhold potentla commercial contracts unless West European go cooperation with Washington on policy toward

primary concern Is his regime. The mizen effort toeceived part

e Italian visit by alleged illegal and stick approach lly lucrative vernments curtail Libya.

may also be trying to undermine .Arab reluctance to support Libya in its dispute with Washington. Tripoli has renewed its call to Arab leaders for "practical* steps toward unity. Jallud's recent remarks inemphasized the need to work for Libyan-Algerianthat his visit there may have been intendedirst step toward easing Libya's isolation in the Arab world. Unity probably also is behind Qadhafi's willingness toecent reconciliation effort involving leaders of North and South Yemen.

some decisions

are now made in the name of the "revolutionaryownplaying Qadhafi's role. The regime is also allowing Free Officers Deputy Chief of staff Khuwaylidi Al-Humaydl, inspector General Mustafa Kharubi, and Armed Forces Commander Abu Bakrreater public role. For example, Al-Humaydi gave the keynote speech at the funeral for those Libyans killed in the US strike. In addition, the Libyan press publicized Kharubi as the presiding officer at the commissioning ceremonyew naval vessel recently delivered by the Soviets. Increased press play, however, has not translated into more political clout for the pragmatists, in our view.

Qadhafi's concerns about the loyalty of the pragmatists pxobably in part is behind several limited changes in policy, including his decision to temporarily supplement intimidationonciliatory approach to weaken Libyan dissidents in

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Qadhafi's new emphasis on Islam may also- reflect in part an attempt to appease the officers. Kharubi, in particular, is highly respected in Libya as an especially devout Muslim,

Qadhafi may also hope

reinvigoratmg support Cor Islam will diffuse lingering popular resentment over the public hanging of students during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, two years ago. Tripoli reportedlyncreased food imports in late May, apparently to coincide with Ramadan.

Prospects

Qadhafi's extensive security precautions probably give himlightly better than even chance of staying in power through the end of this year. Increased international pressure would further reduce hischances for survival, in our view. ritical factor in our assessment is the reliability of Qadhafi's security forces. There Is no sign that the us strike has weakened the loyalty of the Jamaharlyahand-picked coup protectionother internal security elements. ^|

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There are several factors that would further weaken Qadhafi's hold on power. The one of most immediate concern would be his failure to recover fully from the shock of the US attack. Continuing international Isolation and constraints on his activity would further erode Qadhafi's already diminished sense of self-esteem since the strike.

military

action, particularly ir it tocused on'attacking Jamahiryah Guard facilities and other symbols of regime support, would encourage potential plotters to try to oust him, in our judgment.

Short of another militaryonviction that Qadhafi is losing control could prompt increased infighting among members of his inner circle. We anticipate that such activity would

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include tribal supporters of both Qadhafi and Jallud. In our view, Jallud, one of the leading beneficiaries of Qadhafi's radical political and economic policies, would have little interest in taking on Qadhafi directly unless he believed that his position-^orin danger* Moreover, Qadhafi probably realizes that removing Jallud could provoke reprisals byupporters, divide Libya's radical faction, andoiitical counterweight to the more pragmatic military officers*

we cannot rule out the possibility that Jallud's efforts toigh profile could result in additional instances where Qadhafi publicly humiliates his senior deputy. At some point, this may provoke jallud's supporters to use violence against Qadhafi's tribesmen* Qadhafi could respond by attempting to purge Jallud and his supporters, triggering additional tribal conflicts that would sap the already diminished strength of the regime. inimum, Jallud's otherthe pragmatic elements, in the armedbe encouraged to continue working against Jallud asuccessor * hhh

Qadhafi always has the option of throwing potential plotters off balance by adjusting the domestic political structure* Curtailing the heavyhanded and radical activities of the Revolutionary Committees to supplement the increased prominance he is giving pragmatic military officers exemplifies the type of action Qadhafi could take to buy time for his regime* He could support this reversal in policy by extending his apparent

ion of direct Libvan involvement in terrorist attacks.

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far, however, Qadhafi has found reasons to avoid making the substantive policy changes required to ensure his political survival over the long term, probably because he believes backtracking on two of his most cherisheda radical culture in Libya and achieving political predominance among Third Worlde

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adhafi's Economic Woes

Widespread dissatisfaction with the declining standard of living remains at the root of Qadhafi's diminished domestic

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are using various mean decline. Hoarding hasa

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evolved, despitemenT^fTor r. As an indication of the extent of Qadhafi is makingolit blame for economic problems and to "counterrevolutionary" elements in publicly claiming that hoarding by causing the shortages.

Libya's inability to recover from its economic downturn are constraints imposed by the continuing soft oil market. Crude oil earnings which provide virtually all of Libya's foreign exchange earnings are projected to total5 billion this year comparedighillion Although Libyan oil production increased during May and Juneillion barrels per day,

Leaving, exports

could drop otr by as mucharrels per day, while the Libyans make preparations to market the oil themselves. The financial benefits of Increased production, however, have been mitigated by discounts Tripoli has had to offer to obtain buyers. For example, Tripoli has had to discount its crude oil by as mucher barrel below soot priceser barrel to sustain increased exports.

These compelling constraints are ca increasingly harsh austerity measures-

to impose

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an aluminum smelter and stet most prestigious development projects.

Libyans are

of Qadhafi's

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rospect for Libyan Terrorism

has largely put terrorist operations on hold since the US airstrike* probably because of Tripoli's uncertainty over CIS and West European reactions to another Libyan-supported attack.

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has been further necessitated by to reduce its diplomatic and intelliaence save scarce foreign exchange.

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There are other reasons for the lull in Libyan terrorist activity- Heightened sensitivity to the Libyan terrorist threat among security forces worldwide has prompted increased vigilance and international cooperation in monitoring suspected Libyan ooeratives, oarticularly in We

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terrorist capabilities also have been diminished by intensified bureaucratic rivalries since the US strike.

Despite these temporary tactical difficulties, the underlying considerations motivating Qadhafi's commitment to terrorist violence have not changed. His speeches and actions indicate that he continues to regard himselfreeminent revolutionary

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whose mission includes using violence to subvert US and Moreover, Qadhafi's room to moderatetactics is constrained by his continuing dependencera^Tcalfaction as his most reliable source ofrecognizes that backtracking on

terrorist poiiciesTor lengthy periods would undermine the revolutionary fervor of these radicals and possibly even their commitment to the re<

Qadhafi may already be taking steps to reassure the radicals of his continuing commitment to terrorism. The recent killing by masked gunmenibyan exile in Paris linked to former King Xdris coincided with the revolutionary committee's symbolic burningouse in Tripoli formerly occupiedelative of the deposed monarch.

Libyan agents reportedly also continue to surveil and plan attacks on US and other targets. Nevertheless, we believe future terrorist attacks sponsored by Qadhafi against US targets will most likely be carried out by surrogate groups in order to disquise the Libyan hand. Tripoli's reliance on surrogate;

B^WWWW'greatly increases the cr.ar.ceden, successiu. atTacK in which the detection of Libyan involvement would be virtually impossible. Qadhafi will probably be less constrained with hiding Libyan involvement and more likely to sanction direct attacks on Libyan exiles and moderate Arab and African targets because of the diminished likehood of US and Western retaliation.

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