On October 27 the world press put an apparent end to fears of scattered Libyan WDMs stockpiles by sharing the National Transitional Council (NTC)’s announcement that it has found the entirety of Ghaddafi’s arsenal. The death of one of the world’s longest rulers came as both a relief in the context of the Arab Spring, and a cause for concerns over how to restore a semblance of stability in a now volatile region. The focus of the reform movement in Libya then officially shifted from achieving military stability to laying the foundations for a sustainable democratic regime but the NTC’s statement cannot be sufficient to permanently lay those fears to rest.
The second Libyan conflict (which should no longer be categorized as ‘civil war’ because of NATO-sponsored involvement) began on February 15 and ended with the capture and subsequent demise of Ghaddafi on October 20. The former dictator was never seen publicly during the eight months of intense fighting, rallying supporters and troops through televised speeches; so exactly what was he doing while his soldiers fought? Ghaddafi’s wealth, connections and extended network of heads of states, terrorist organizations worldwide has been well-documented; no one can confirm or dismiss rumors that he may have contacted potential buyers while in hiding. A desperate, rich man plotting for his post-conflict survival could have been involved in last-minute transactions of a lethal kind, though Libya was allegedly never able to produce large quantities of usable chemical agents –including tons of mustard gas- after 2000, according the Federation of American Scientists’ Report on Libya’s WMDs. Groups, individuals and worse yet, countries more than willing to acquire materials not available to them through normal channels may have jumped on an opportunity that hasn’t presented itself since the fall of the Soviet empire.
This may be highly speculative in nature yet it is impossible to determine whether or not the NTC had a full inventory of chemical weapons in Ghaddafi’s possession before February 2011. It makes it difficult to establish the accuracy of a report that states the stockpiles have been secured and all warheads are ready to be handed over to experts for completion of the disarmament process initiated in 2003.