Was NATO responsible for bombing Libya’s Great Man-Made River water infrastructure in 2011? Or did Gaddafi’s propaganda machine spreading unfounded rumors to demonize the West?
When news emerges from a volatile region such as Libya, blaming NATO for destroying pipelines in their water infrastructure, understandably, one is horrified. Imagining innocent Libyans caught up in the chaos of a seemingly endless war between the disparate rebel factions, and the remaining Gaddafi loyalists, is disturbing.
The thought of the West meddling and destroying crucial infrastructure makes the situation seem extra horrifying. And what makes it worse is that the volatility makes it difficult for any clear information to make it to the West. How can one possibly draw any definite conclusions about the situation?
In any argument or disagreement, each party believes that they are right and that only they encapsulate the truth
Even if they permit themselves to tell lies, which both sides might do, they still make internal justifications for doing so. Consequently, it is essential for any third outside party to keep a level head and remain rational in order not to take sides. Theoretically, this should be the ethics held by all journalists. But sadly one rarely sees this in the press – both mainstream and alternative.
When seeking to understand the side of Gaddafi, and then also the side of the rebels, you have to figure out how to not get lost down the rabbit hole. A rabbit hole of illusions, deceptions, misinformation, and half-truths. It takes talent to sidestep these obstacles to read through the lines. In light of this, in the endeavor to ascertain whether or not NATO bombed essential water infrastructure in Libya, one must approach all the information carefully.
Many alternative news sites have made claims that NATO bombed critical Libyan infrastructure, essentially committing war crimes
According to one particular alternative news site, GlobalResearch.ca, NATO destroyed Gaddafi’s famed “Great Man-Made River” (GMMR). And they are not the only non-mainstream media outlet making this claim. Furthermore, in mainstream media, there is little to no mention of the topic.
One of Gaddafi’s legacies from his rule was the creation of the Great Man-Made River. It was not a real river; it was the name Gaddafi gave to his extravagant plan to create water infrastructure that stretched from deep within the far reaches of Libya, all the way back to the primary cities on the coast: Tobruk, Benghazi, Sirte and Tripoli/Jeffara.
Gaddafi sought to take advantage of the underground water reserves found in the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS)
The NSAS holds the record for being the largest known fossil water aquifer system. It also happens to be conveniently located at the bottom tip of Libya. Idealistic leader Gaddafi decided to tap into this giant resource in order to provide water to his country. His grand dream was to improve the standard of living in Libya and also to become independent from the rest of the world.
However, it was no small undertaking. In 2001, Gaddafi’s regime began awarding contracts to international design and engineering firms so to start construction of what he began describing as the “eighth wonder of the world.” According to the website water-technology.net, Libya laid 1,200km of pipelines. Consequently, this increased the daily water supply to the coast to 3.68 cubic meters. Contracters completed phase III of the GMMR in 2009, just a two years before Gaddafi would meet his demise.
During the chaos of the rebellion against Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, rumors began surfacing that NATO had attacked a pipeline along the GMMR.
Reuters even alluded to confirming that this had indeed taken place, releasing a report on Jully 22, 2011. The news agency claimed that an airstrike on the pipeline production plant in Brega had killed six guards. The source they obtained this information from was allegedly the managing director of Libya’s state al-Nahr company, Abdul Hakim el-Shwehdi. Notably, the Gadaffi regime ultimately employed El-Shwedhi; his firm responsible for running Libya’s irrigation project.
Later, on July 26, NATO also alluded to the possibility that their airstrikes may have affected the GMMR infrastructure. However, during the press conference, NATO’s military spokesperson Colonel Roland Lavoie emphasized how the damage had been superficial. At no stage did he describe any burst pipelines. Instead, he alleged that Gaddafi’s fighters were shooting rockets from civilian areas. He also added that the fighers were using factories such as the Brega pipeline plant.
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NATO accused of war crimes – but what is the truth?
Lavoie then displayed to the press a set of photographs. These photographs proved NATO had made airstrikes upon the Brega factory. Additionally, he pointed out a zoomed-in photograph of a rocket launcher. Fighters had placed the rocket launcher amongst pipes at the factory. According to Lavoie, Geneva would not interpret NATO’s alleged counterstrikes as a war crime. This was because, according to him, Gaddafists used the location as a military zone.
However, WikiLeak’s revelations about Hilary Clinton’s emails were extremely shocking. Consequently, it is hard to believe that anyone should automatically consider NATO to be the good guys. Indeed, France had clearly delineated their ulterior motives. Selfish motives to ride the civil rebellion for personal gain. In fact, Lavoie himself is French. The clues, retrospectively, all seem to add up.
Ultimately, it is not simple to produce proof of what really transpired.
The alleged evidence available contains no quality sources. In some cases, the “sources” appear to blatant propaganda. On the website, humanrightsinvestigations.org, the author of the article also claims that NATO had destroyed the water infrastructure. But as “evidience,” they use an unverified, and possibly fake, twitter account. Consequently, it hard to take the article seriously when it contains such apparent , flaws as this.
Embedded in the article is a supposed tweet from Air Commodore Ian Wood, claiming “RAF jets hit six ammunition storage facilities near Zlitan & a building being used as a base for rocket launchers threatening Misratah.” However, there is no evidence or sources attached to the tweet, and no evidence that it is in fact really Wood who made the tweet. His final tweets occurred in 2012, quite conveniently.
It is near impossible for the layperson at home to draw conclusions about whether or not NATO bombed essential water infrastructure in Libya.
The volatility in the region makes it nearly impossible even for the most diligent and unbiased journalist. Those who are interested in the genuine truth are wiser to keep asking questions, than settle for any of the supposed answers that are found anywhere in the press, whether that news is derived from mainstream or even alternative media.