NEW INTERVENTIONS CANNOT SOLVE THE DILEMMA IN LIBYA
Libya – a country where the kidnapping and release of the Prime Minister is considered normal, a nation where the Prime Minister is not allowed onto an airplane in the capital to travel to another city.
The above sentence neatly summarizes the situation in the country.
There is a serious problem of governance in Libya, where it has become all but impossible to ensure stability after the fall of the previous ruler, Muammar Gaddafi. The governments established in the last three years have failed to make any progress in providing security and making progress on the economy and building democracy. The country possesses some of the world’s most important energy fields, but it is struggling in economic terms. There are significant problems with oil production.
The problem that governments face in the country is the militias. These forces that once fought against Gaddafi were not brought under control after his downfall. The increasing radicalization of some of these militias and the power struggles between them and the government have led to constant conflict. The strengthening of al-Qaeda affiliated radical militias has led to forces holding different views, such as former Lieutenant General Halifa Haftar.
After the 1969 coup, the 71-year-old Haftar was always at Gaddafi’s side but fled to the USA in 1987, remaining there until 2011, when he returned to Libya and joined the revolutionaries.
Haftar had previously taken part in a number of unsuccessful coups; the most recent was an attempted coup in May, on the grounds that the government had lost control. The ‘Libyan National Army,’ with no links to the General Staff of Libya, has come to dominate the east of the country in particular.
Some radical groups claim that Haftar’s latest initiative was targeted as much at the government itself as it was at government supporters. The al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Shariah and Muslim Brotherhood in Libya are among Haftar’s targets. The groups targeted by Haftar raise the suspicion that his ultimate aim is not the struggle against radicalism: While it is true that acts of violence by radical groups in Libya threaten the country and the region, it is questionable that the operation initiated by Haftar under the name of a ‘War of Honor’ will lead to peace.
The turmoil in Libya is also alarming neighboring countries, particularly Egypt and Algeria. Egypt is currently remaining silent in the face of calls for help and support from Haftar supporters. Algeria is trying to establish a buffer zone by sending reinforcements to the border so that Algerians living along the border would not be affected in the event of an outbreak of civil war in Libya. The aim is to prevent armed militias from entering Algeria.
The question on which everyone is agreed in Libya, whether foreign or local, is that of security. There are indeed large numbers of weapons in Libya, and these being handed out to the people is a major problem.
The Libyan people wish to live in security and freedom in their country. They do not want armed groups running amok nor to live in the fear and disorder they spread; most are weary of the lack of security in the country. The Libyan people also do not want coups in the name of the restoration of security or democratic paths forward to be closed off and they are genuinely alarmed that the country is gradually being dragged into a civil war.
The greatest fear of the Western powers is that Libya’s energy resources will fall into the hands of radical groups. That concern is strengthened by the sale of oil to North Korea from the Sidra refinery, which is under the control of radicals. They are therefore engaging in fresh interventions and putting new plans into operation.
Alarmed that radicalism will grow even stronger, the West sometimes regards encouraging internal conflict as a solution, rather than taking appropriate socio-cultural measures against that risk yet all these antidemocratic measures ultimately fuel radicalism still further. The West finds itself trapped in a cul-de-sac of its own making; those who supported despotic regimes ‘against the people’ in the last century apparently now want to spend this century ignoring antidemocratic measures because of the threat of radicalism. Such a strategy is clearly a doomed from the outset.
What the Libyan people, who were oppressed for decades by Gaddafi’s Arab socialism, really need is not some new repressive system, but a prosperous Libya in which they can live together in peace and brotherhood. The way to build that Libya is not with some militaristic junta, but lies in strengthening democracy. The Qur’an will show them the way forward in the struggle against fanaticism and radicals.
The failure of those who came to power after Gaddafi to build a healthily functioning system is the primary reason behind the current state of affairs in Libya; however, it should go without saying that a civil war would ultimately lead to the fragmentation of the country, ensuring little else but the dire outcome for its people. The Libyan nation must preserve its unity no matter what: It must approach issues in the spirit of the Qur’an and resolve problems on the basis of love and understanding; when that perspective is set in motion a new Libya, democratic, free and prosperous, can be built.