EU Plans to Combat Trafficking ‘Moronic and Delusional’ say Government Advisers
Sometimes it is clear that policymakers craft suboptimal policies to appease various interest groups. Rarely is that response as flawed as the EU’s commitment to attack human smugglers boats in various Libya ports. This issue has been best encapsulated by a hard-hitting Newsweek report by Alastair Sloan highlighting the failings of the EU response to the migrant crisis in the Med.
“Libya is just the worst possible environment to carry out a foreign policing operation,” Oliver Miles, who previously served as Britain’s ambassador to Libya, told Newsweek. Miles said he feared that a host of independent and semi-independent militias, extremist Islamist militants and two factions competing for government authority would complicate the operation beyond repair.While most of the trafficking boats are based in west Libya, the government there is not recongised internationally.
“It’s the equivalent of bombing pick-up trucks in Mexico to stop Mexicans coming to California,” says Jason Pack, a defence and security adviser to the UK Foreign Office, and a specialist consultant on Libya, calling the EU plan “moronic and delusional.” Pack, who regularly provides detailed briefings to the Foreign Office and senior British politicians, including on the current crisis – says the traffickers boats would be easily confused with fishing boats, and said it was likely traffickers would turn to even more brutal tactics to ensure their business can continue. “It’s not inconceivable that they would literally start tying people to the deck to stop the EU military attacking their boats.” Pack also warned that normal maritime traffic including food imports to Libya, which is devastated by an ongoing civil war, would be disrupted. “Libyan harbours have enough problems getting in grain, rice and medicine let alone with EU forces blockading the port.” Both Miles and Pack believe the EU plan is being driven by domestic politics rather than strategic thinking. Pack pointed to the rise of far-right parties across Europe, particularly in France and Italy, and believes the move is designed to appease them.
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