The wave of revolutions and civil wars that has spread across the Arab world in the last decade has completely changed the geopolitical map of the region around Israel. Many countries have been transformed economically, politically, socially and militarily. Among these are the countries directly bordering Israel, the so-called “first circle” countries. Egypt has actually experienced two revolutions (Islamic and counter-Islamic), and now suffers from a weak civil war. Syria, on the other hand, has finally collapsed in its civil war and has not been able to recover. Over the past two years, Lebanon has been collapsing slowly but consistently into the condition which is similar to Syria with the worst economic crisis in its history. Similar processes, yet to a lesser extent, are evident in Jordan.
Among the “second circle” countries that once seriously threatened Israel but have now disintegrated or become extremely weak, the most striking are Iraq, Sudan, and Libya.
Iraq has been Israel’s greatest enemy for decades. Indeed, its huge army was one of the “pillars” of what Israeli intelligence used to call the “Eastern Front”. Now, the country has practically collapsed, initially as a result of the two Gulf wars (1991 and 2003) and then following a devastatingly deadly civil war involving ISIS. The Iraqi army, which lost 14 divisions fighting ISIS, has essentially become non-existent. In recent years, ISIS has been pushed out of most of the Iraqi territory which it occupies and does not constitute a regional strategic threat. However, the Iraqi army has still not been able to recover from the strike it suffered, and therefore it is no longer a threat to Israel.
In Sudan, where existed hostile to Israel military dictatorship that promoted the Muslim Brotherhood for about 30 years, a coup broke out about two and a half years ago. Then, as we all know, about six months ago the new government of that country signed a peace agreement with Israel.
In Libya, on the other hand, the civil war that broke out about ten years ago led to the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, but, fueled by external interests, continues in full force to this day.
Many people thought that the Gaddafi regime was “strange”, extravagant, radical, but still, and far from being a real threat to Israel, and because of the distance between our countries, incapable of doing us any serious damage. This is a colossal misunderstanding!
For decades, the Gaddafi regime in Libya constituted an enormous threat to Israeli national security, and even by some aspects, as will be shown later, remained one of the most serious threats.
The ultimate collapse of the Libyan regime happened just on Simchat Torah 5772 (2011), exactly ten years ago. So we have an excellent reason to remember the story of Libya’s main threat to Israel: its unconventional threat.
Libya develops nuclear weapons
The Libyan regime’s first attempt to develop nuclear weapons came with the help of the Soviet Union, which built a nuclear reactor near the town of Tajura and provided Libya with nuclear laboratories and other facilities, including advanced equipment. Construction of the reactor lasted about two years. In 1981 it was put into service. The reactor ran on nuclear fuel — uranium enriched to 80 percent — and provided a capacity of 10 megawatts.
Libya rapidly began to accumulate uranium in large quantities: thousands of tons were purchased from Niger. Moreover, Libya even occupied part of the territory of neighboring Chad, where uranium reserves supposedly were located. The Gaddafi regime also invested large sums in the training of qualified technical personnel to operate nuclear facilities, while at the same time attracting nuclear scientists and other experts from abroad.
However, the most important facility of the Libyan nuclear project was undoubtedly the uranium enrichment facility with centrifuges. In fact, the first steps in this direction were taken back in the 1980s. But they were never destined to develop into a real deal. The breakthrough happened in the mid-1990s.
Twenty complete (fully assembled) centrifuges were secretly purchased, although they were not the latest models. In addition, components of another 200 more modern centrifuges were delivered to Libya. All this was organized by one of Pakistan’s leading nuclear scientists, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Pakistan Offers Plan for Iraq to Build a Nuclear Bomb
Over the years, it has become known that Abdul Qadeer Khan ran a secret network to distribute nuclear technology and equipment. It was he who provided great assistance in this direction to the maniac regimes of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
After the end of the Second Gulf War, which ended with the fall of Saddam’s regime and the occupation of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, all Iraqi nuclear documents were confiscated by the Americans. From these materials, it became clear that Abdul Qadeer Khan, on the starting point of the first Gulf War, had proposed to Saddam a detailed plan to build a nuclear bomb, including all the necessary drawings and calculations!
This plan had the potential to move the Iraqi nuclear program far forward and quickly bring it to completion. Saddam Hussein’s secret order to Iraqi nuclear scientists was to assemble the first bomb by the beginning of the war, which Hussein himself was trying to delay as long as possible.
The Iraqi bomb was supposed to be assembled using enriched uranium from the Soviet-built research reactor in Iraq, as well as uranium from the “Osirak” reactor (been once successfully bombed by Israel) and the tiny French “Osiris” research reactor (which Israel had not bombed). Iraq was using 50 centrifuges at that time. They were supposed to enrich the uranium taken from these reactors, already enriched to 80 percent, increasing its enrichment to 90 percent.
But as we know, by the miracles and grace of the Almighty the first Gulf war broke out earlier than Saddam had planned. So Iraq did not have time to use its uranium with all the Pakistani knowledge, and didn`t assemble its nuclear bomb.
The rapid and hidden development of the Libyan nuclear project
We should all remember that Pakistan is one of the world’s nuclear powers, possessing a large number of nuclear weapons and an arsenal that has developed and accumulated over many decades. In turn, Abdul Qadeer Khan is considered the "father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb. It was he, who personally collected, or rather deceptively obtained, all the knowledge needed to produce centrifuges in the Netherlands. It was he who created the nuclear laboratories, leading Pakistan’s “nuclear machinery”.
According to the information available today, Abdul Qadeer Khan was in close contact with Libya authorities and gave them the extensive knowledge needed to produce centrifuges, nuclear technology, and various materials and components for the nuclear weapons production in return for huge sums of money, worth tens of millions of dollars. All this lasted for seven or eight years, until 2003, when his activities were finally uncovered and Libya had to admit that it had created and developed a significant nuclear project.
During the years before the project was declassified, Libya managed to assemble hundreds of centrifuges, some even quite advanced models (P-1). Moreover, Lybia ordered another 10,000 centrifuges from Abdul Qadir Khan’s secret network and secretly opened special workshops to assemble them.
The Libyan nuclear project was rapidly developing. Israel, however, seemed to have concentrated mainly on the threats from Iran and Iraq, and, not paying serious and sufficient attention to the systematic and accurate collection of information from Libya, as well as to its study and actually overlooked this danger.
In 2003, the U.S. and Britain captured a ship with thousands of parts for assembling centrifuges in Libya. The captured cargo shocked the world. Gaddafi, however, decided shortly after the aftermath of the Second Gulf War, that ended with the overthrow of Saddam’s regime in Iraq, to appeal to Western countries, revealing most of his illicit weapons, out of fear that he might be attacked by the United States as well. Then additional details became known. So step by step, the real truth of how close Libya came to possessing nuclear weapons gradually emerged.
It turned out that Libya was much closer than Israel and the intelligence community in the West believed.
In Israel, in light of this outrageous miscalculation by the intelligence services, an internal investigation commission was even established to examine the mismanagement of the Mossad and Military Intelligence, which were unable to warn the government about the dangerous and rapid development of the Libyan nuclear program, and so no effort was made to stop it.
In other words, the end the Libyan nuclear race was an obvious and undeniable miracle from Heaven.
By the grace and miracles of the Almighty, Libya exposed most of its nuclear project, leading to the dismantling of at least some of its activities in those years. The complete and final liquidation of all this threat became possible only after the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, during the so-called Arab Spring.
With the fall of his regime and the conquest of Libya by rebels supported by the international coalition that used naval and air power, all the centrifuges that Libya used to enrich uranium right in front of the Israeli intelligence service were captured.
Libyan chemical weapons and long-range missiles
The nuclear threat, however, was not the only danger to Israel from the Libyan regime. Gadhafi also had an arsenal of chemical weapons and long-range missiles.
It had been known for years that Libya had been producing chemical weapons at the “Pharma 150” plants in the city of Rabta, about 40 km south of the capital Tripoli. As mentioned above, after the Second Gulf War and the defeat of Saddam, Gaddafi, afraid of repeating a similar scenario in his own country, admitted that he possessed a large arsenal of chemical weapons, including 3,500 chemical bombs, as well as tens of thousands of kilograms of chemical warfare agents — mustard gas ( yperite) and nerve gases.
Terrified by the fate of Saddam, Gaddafi even allowed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to begin neutralizing the contents of these declassified warehouses. However, he did not reveal the true extent of his chemical weapons arsenal. It was only after the fall of the regime as a result of the revolution in the country that all the chemical weapons storages and facilities were finally neutralized — their complete neutralization ended four years ago.
In addition, Libya also had a substantial and well-equipped missile force, including dozens of “Scud” (Soviet one-stage liquid-fueled ballistic missile) launchers, which in case of war with Israel it could transfer to its neighbor Egypt, as well as Soviet tactical missile systems with the short-range unguided ballistic missile “Frog” (Luna-M).
Finally, Libya also spent 15 years intensively developing the “Al-Fatah” missile, which could give the regime the ability to hit Israel directly, and tried to buy “Nodong” medium-range ballistic missiles from North Korea.
By the grace and miracles of the Almighty, all these plans did not materialize in reality — the Gaddafi regime collapsed, followed by the collapse of Libyan statehood itself in the civil war that continues to this day. Since then, the country has no longer present any serious military threat to Israel.
All of Libya’s chemical weapon storages, missiles and the entire nuclear infrastructure have been completely dismantled and neutralized by the Western countries and international organizations involved in eliminating these weapons.
The Beginning of Redemption.
It is, in fact, astonishing that the final overthrow of the Libyan regime took place on exactly the same day on which the people of Israel celebrated Simchat Torah exactly ten years ago.
On that holy day, when the power of the Holy Torah is revealed in its radiance, the Libyan regime, which was secretly developing terrible weapons and therefore one of the most serious threats to the people of Israel at the time, collapsed and disappeared.
The Chassidim say that Simchat Torah is “the day of the Rebbe. This is because, as we know, on every day of Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret, along with the traditional guests (“ushpizin”) who visit every sukkah of the people of Israel: Abraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and David, the Chassidic leaders also come: Yisrael Baal-Shem-Tov, the founder of Hasidism; Rabbi Dov-Ber of Mezhirich (the Great Magid), the successor of Baal-Shem-Tov and the second leader of the Hasidic movement; Rabbi Schneur-Zalman of Liad (the Alter Rebbe), the head of the Chabad movement and author of the fundamental book Tanya; Miteler Rebbe (Rabbi Dov-Ber Schneuri), son of Rabbi Schneur-Zalman of Liad and the second leader of the Chabad movement; Tzemach Tzedek (Rabbi Menachem-Mendel Schneerson), the 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe; Rebbe MAARASH (Rabbi Shmuel Schneerson), son of Tzemach Tzedek, the 4th Lubavitcher Rebbe; Rebbe RASHAB (Rabbi Sholom Dov-Ber Schneerson), son of MAARASH, the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe. And every day one of them comes as the main guest, and the rest follow him.
So, on the very last day of the holiday, on Simchat Torah, the Lubavitcher Rebbe King Moshiach SHLITA himself arrives leading this delegation, along with all of his guests. Therefore, this day is called “the day of the Rebbe”. And it was on this day, as has already been said, that the tyrannical and dangerous Gaddafi regime fell.
Moreover, the hostilities that led to the overthrow of the evil regime and are still taking place in full force in Libya today actually fulfill again the miracle of “I will smite the Egyptians with their first born” that took place on the night before the Exodus, when the Egyptian first born, frightened by the last tenth execution, the “execution of first born”, revolted against the army and Pharaoh himself, who was not willing to let the people of Israel go.
According to our Sages, 600,000 Egyptians died in this civil war.
According to the Midrash, the inner meaning of the line from David’s Psalm (136:10) “[Offer thanks to G‑d,] who smote the Egyptians with their first born”, is precisely that the Almighty smote the Egyptians with their own firstborn!
During the First Gulf War, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, King Moshiach SHLITA, explained that the war of the nations of the world against the Iraqi oppressor was a new fulfillment of this miracle, and as it is written in the sources, on the day before the Redemption, the miracles of the Exodus will occur again (Micha 7:15): “As in the days of your exodus from the land of Egypt, I will show him wonders.”
By the mercy and miracles of the Almighty, this sign of the Redemption has been fulfilled in recent years in the many revolutions that have taken place in the Arab world, usually beginning with popular protest, sometimes even supported by the army (whose job is, contrary, to protect the regime), when they themselves rise against their regimes and overthrow them!
The fulfillment of the miracle of “I will smite Egypt with its own first born” and the great miracles of recent years teach us that we are living in the age of the “Great Shabbat” — the coming of true and complete Redemption, and we must continue learning the Torah and keeping the commandments and turning our thanks to the Almighty, blessed He be for His miracles, and proclaiming His great miracles and mercy. This is how we will be honored with Redemption in the very near future in joy and goodness.