Forging a Libyan Anti-IS Coalition Should Trump a Unity Government
As so much is not being reported in the Western press about the gains that are being made against the jihadis in Benghazi and Ajdabiyya, I felt a need to wade into the debate with an article in Middle East Eye by declaring international attempts to force the GNA on the unwilling Libyans as tangential to the real priority: forging an anti-ISIS coalition.
Dramatic gains for anti-IS forces
As the longed-for anti-jihadi coalition seems to be materialising underfoot, the UN and the international media remain focused on the fictitious role of French Special Forces, remaining wilfully oblivious to the gains made by the Libyans themselves. The UN as of 25 February has failed to acknowledge the defeat of IS and Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi and Ajdabiya by the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the jubilation of returning displaced families to their homes. Yet placing Western actions centre stage is likely to inhibit the Libyans from taking the initiative. Conversely, lauding Libyan progress, and offering to support, not impose, solutions, will reward those flexible actors who banded together….
Moving beyond Haftar can create a real Libyan national army
General Haftar has long promised victory in Benghazi and his record thus far has been abysmal. By all accounts, he is a megalomaniac, senile, and lacking in diplomatic tact. He was discarded first by the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and then by the CIA for his lack of results. His spring 2014 coup against the Libyan government failed. His ensuing Operation Dignity contested the same strategic Benghazi neighbourhoods for almost two years with little-to-no progress made. He frequently cried wolf – declaring Benghazi liberated. These false pronouncements were broadcast and then repudiated by the international media, destroying his credibility. He has remained a polarizing figure and it will be difficult for unity to be achieved with him as the figurehead of the army.
And yet, his movement is now finally transcending him and achieving something. Why then is the world not paying attention and lauding this achievement? Doing so could be the key to bringing new stakeholders on board. Western diplomacy could be useful in easing Haftar out of power and letting his movement be led by a compromise candidate able to unify, rather than divide, Libya’s factions.
Read the full article here.