Consensus Will Then Come Naturally…………
Libya is one of the most critically important countries on the African continent. It possesses significant natural gas, oil and underground water reserves. It is also in the middle of the continent’s trade routes. When conflict began in 2011 the country had no foreign debts and enjoyed a decent economic state of affairs.
Libya, which gained importance due to its tribes, is now endangered by the same tribalism. Tribes on the African continent extend right down as far as the South African border: Tribal conflicts therefore affect a large number of countries, from Senegal to Chad and Sudan. The overthrow of Gaddafi triggered an eruption of tribalism and regionalism in the country. Several countries that share borders and interact with Libya are today looking at Libya with grave concern.
The UN played an important role in the birth of the Libyan problem in 2011. Although the Arab Spring might appear to be the reason for the current state of affairs, the truly significant date for Libya was March 18th, 2011. It was on that day that the UN Security Council approved a no-fly zone over Libya and agreed to permit military operations against the country. The UN intervention brought about the end of Gaddafi’s regime and led to a bloody domestic conflict between the tribes that would persist for years.
Libya today is wracked by civil war, conflict, radicalism, political instability, inter-tribal fighting and economic problems. No healthy government has been established since Gaddafi, and the governments that have been formed have existed largely on paper, contributing nothing to the country.
A violent civil war is today raging in the country. There is one administration in Tobruk and another in Tripoli, while numerous independent forces such as ISIL, Fajr Libya and the Misrata Military Council act as local authorities in Benghazi and the surrounding area.
Two main blocs emerged from the June 2014 elections in Libya, where political and military turmoil are a part of daily life. These have their own parliaments, governments, armies and economic forces. The balance of power and positions within the country of both sides are essentially equivalent to one another. A more detailed examination, however, shows that no one can win this struggle and that it will ultimately be Libyan society that loses and of course, the ISIL factor must also be added to the two forces striving for supremacy in Libya.
The continuing instability, conflict and political infighting in Libya have strengthened those who draw power from war as well as radicalism. With the addition of warlords and radical groups, the situation in Libya, already difficult to solve, has become even more intractable.
The groups supposedly fighting on behalf of the country routinely target Libya’s strategically important oil pipelines, airports, roads and ports. Through their attacks on town centers they are also destroying infrastructure such as water and sewage disposal, of vital importance to the people. Civilian deaths have begun rising as a result of ongoing armed fighting in the city centers.
Sad to say, oil and natural gas production in the country, which is in fact quite resource-rich, is almost at a standstill. Despite their resources and wealth, some regions have even had to begin importing oil and natural gas.
It was the UN decision to intervene in 2011 that has brought Libya to the position in which it is today. The UN has now bestirred itself and is trying to unite the different sides because the surrounding countries are now being affected, and particularly Europe owing to the impact of a wave of migration, the biggest mass movement of people since the Second World War. But how successful can it be in doing that?
The UN wishes to bring together the two main powers in the country, the House of Representatives in Tobruk and the General National Congress in Tripoli; these two are the most settled of the various administrations in the country. However, since they lack full authority, even in the areas which they control, their impact on the local tribes and militias is minimal at best. That raises the question of what the other groups will do even if these two come to an agreement.
The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya held a series of meetings between the sides in Skhirat, Morocco, as a result of which 18 of the 22 groups in Libya signed a political agreement on July 11th, 2015. Although the Tobruk House of Representatives signed this agreement, the General National Congress did not. However, the fact that it comprised 18 of the 22 represented a ray of hope for the UN.
The people of Libya cannot see a way ahead now. They possess some of the richest resources in the world, yet they face widespread poverty and hunger. Ordinary people trapped in a conflict between the 22 groups are risking death to flee to neighboring countries, and particularly to Europe.
Another noteworthy factor in Libya is that radical Islamists are going stronger by the day, especially in Benghazi.
The UN hopes that the talks it initiated in Morocco will bear fruit by October. Yet it is questionable how permanent any result achieved by the UN will be.
Peace has never come to any country in which the UN has supposedly brought about a cessation of conflict. No country in which peace is only established on paper can grow and develop unless peace is also established in people’s hearts. The clearest example of this is Bosnia during the disintegration of Yugoslavia. We cannot forget the role of the UN in what happened in the past in Bosnia and in its current troubles.
The UN’s endeavors to bring peace to the country are supremely well-intentioned, and for that, they should be praised; but the failure to produce any ideas or projects for a lasting peace remains a glaring deficiency. Bringing representatives of different tribes and different authorities together by giving them rank and titles and positions will do nothing for the country, as we saw in the example of Bosnia, and will simply make the running of the country impossible.
If peace and tranquility are to be established in Libya, it is essential for the different sides to relinquish their desire for authority and hegemony, and to think of the country and the people instead. Instead of thinking “I must not lose what I have got,” they must start thinking along the lines of “We can live much better together if we do this or that.”
If the tribes, who lived for so long devoid of love during the Gaddafi era are to blend, then a concept of mutual love and affection must first be constructed in the country. Written agreements will be useful only when mutual understanding and friendship is built among the tribes.
The UN’s priority in Libya must therefore be to build love and affection among the blocs. The rest will follow naturally.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Diplomacy Pakistan: