Libya Can’t Save Itself
In an article for Foreign Policy, Karim Mezran and Mattia Toaldo argue that as fighting heats up between rival armed groups and Russia increases its involvement, a power vacuum threatens to tear Libya apart and therefore the international community needs to be doing more to prevent this.
First, Libya needs a de-conflicting mechanism to avoid escalation. If the U.N. envoy cannot do it, someone else in the West should. What better opportunity for Britain to show its continued relevance after Brexit than this? Or why not the French foreign minister, who could beef up his legacy just weeks before leaving office? This should only be a temporary replacement for a fully functioning U.N. mission capable of working on reconciliation, local cease-fires, and monitoring human rights violations. Both a temporary negotiator and the U.N. could work on a number of confidence-building measures, such as establishing permanent channels of communication, liberating prisoners, reopening roads, and sharing humanitarian aid.
Second, the country needs what economist Hala Bugaighis calls a “Libyan Economic Agreement” on how to peacefully share its oil wealth. … Negotiating a new social contract may take some time, but in the meantime, two measures would represent a good start: The government in Tripoli should strengthen financial support for all of Libya’s municipalities, including areas controlled by Haftar, and oil installations should be placed under the control of the independent National Oil Corporation in Tripoli, with attempts to establish parallel economic institutions punished by international sanctions.
Finally, Tripoli must be the heart of international efforts. The most pressing need is a plan to free the city of all heavy weapons, pushing militias to stock them outside of civilian-populated areas. This is an important condition to allow the Libyan government to operate and to facilitate international assistance.
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