Deep State is an anglicized term from Turkish politics and society, which refers to the network that truly runs a nation and makes things happen. The Deep State is the true holder of power within the society. This term was first discussed in relation to Turkish society, but has since spread to describe other nations’ systems. Part of the Deep State’s success and power is secrecy.
Why would a Deep State announce itself as true and operational?
This is an important question because Libya’s supposed Deep State has announced its re-assembly. The Buzzfeed interview (Buzzfeed!) and profile discusses the mukhabarat, which was an intelligence agency that performed many functions in Libya after World War II. They describe themselves as the “long-term security apparatus” that answers to the government, but care about the direction of Libya, unlike the myriad of militias and warlords in Libya currently.
This essay reads with rich detail and interesting claims by the men interviewed. The opening to the essay portrays a grandfatherly-looking man and other apparently regular men just gathering for a simple meeting.
“Extremists are extremists,” said the man in the sweater vest, a senior ranking official of the agency’s counter-terrorism division. “It doesn’t matter if they’re government militias, ISIS, or Qaddafi loyalists. In my focus, I target them all. Political extremists are all the same. And I want stability.”
Faced with the rising threat of ISIS, authorities in Tripoli have allowed the country’s dilapidated professional spy service to reassemble. In the last 18 months, the mukhabarat has begun to tighten its grip on security matters across much of the country. It has grown to much of its capacity under Qaddafi and is conducting investigations, running operations, and re-establishing ties with foreign intelligence agencies, including those of the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Italy, France, Malta, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, Austria, Serbia, Jordan, and Morocco.
“The old channels are still there,” said the senior mukhabarat official. “Some embassy types are still in Tripoli. The French, Americans — all have assets in the city. We even give them permits to carry guns and have nondiplomatic license plates. The guys who deal with us are Americans.”
You see the pitch now? The pitch starts with words that could be spoken by any Western politician; extremists are bad, I want stability. This intelligence agency is already working with Americans (how else did Buzzfeed get this interview, ctrl+F “sit-down”), but the work is all friendly favors by the mukhabarat. Their pitch is: we are your friendly neighborhood secret police.
Why would they need such a pitch? Libya is a destroyed nation in anarchy run by warlords, but it sits atop so much oil that it is an important little piece of the Middle East-North Africa puzzle. It also is a major embarkation point for migrants from Africa seeking Europe. What could be in it for these gentlemen?
The men insisted their hands were clean, and said they agreed to speak to BuzzFeed News because they were worried that Western powers seeking partners in the fight against ISIS were cultivating the wrong interlocutors, including militia groups and Haftar, whom they despise as another incarnation of Qaddafi. The three spies decided to step out of the shadows in an effort to promote themselves as key players in the ongoing global war against ISIS.
“[The West] is working with everybody,” said the balding former official. “They’re using everybody as a source of information. The problem is, sometimes it’s misinformation.”
Purely altruistic motivations on part of Libya’s Deep State. They want nothing except for the West to stop working with the wrong people, who are leading them astray. Nothing in it for them. The name Haftar is repeated; he’s a boogeyman for these Deep State players.
General Haftar is the same general who runs the current government military forces. He is always described as a former Gaddafi officer, but it is more complicated. Yes, he was an officer under Gaddafi, but changed his feelings as a prisoner of war in Libya’s war with Chad. As written here previously, Haftar or Hifter depending on spelling, was a general who wanted to overthrow Gaddafi, but eventually made his way to live in Virginia for two decades. If the CIA has a man in Libya, it is Haftar, who is strategically placed and says he will only back a government formed by the Libya House of Representatives.
How convenient for democracy exporters!
Later in the article, an American commander from Africom mentions the U.S. military is cultivating relationships with players all over Libya. America is sending in more forces to Libya, but the media can hide that to make the Nobel Peace Prize winner appear peaceful. That is slipped in between the Libyan Deep State trio describing how they tried to prevent the recent terror attacks in Europe (but no one listened), and how they are already helping the fight against ISIS.
This article is not a scoop or a profile. It’s an advertisement. This trio represents what they call the Deep State to add some mystery, sex appeal, and panache to their intelligence agency. They explicitly state they want nothing to do with extremists of the Islamist sort, nor of the old regime. They have wins, insight, and could already have helped, if only you would just partner with them.
These men know that the American Empire means that he who has the American’s wallet ear has control of his little province.
But it’s Haftar who receives the money and support that these men wish to have to secure their place in Libya.
If Libya is a quagmire and Haftar is to blame, then maybe the CIA needs a new man or men in Libya. If these Libyans profiled in BuzzFeed are truly a Deep State with all the connotations and power it brings, then maybe the Africom brass should talk to the Pentagon about forming an alliance. They can be far more effective than CIA’s Hafter.
Even if only the Defense Department talks to this Deep State and works with them, objectives to take out ISIS could be met. But, of course, if the situation spun out of control and they ended up fighting Haftar’s men, it would just be another CIA/State vs. DOD firefight in the desert.