To beat ISIS in Libya, the West must help build unity from the bottom up
In Newsweek, Jason Pack and Andrea Brody-Barre argued that an exclusively militaristic approach to weaken the Islamic State’s Libyan stronghold will ultimately prove futile. Instead of glossing over the country’s political complexities, international actors should engage the different factions and support a cooperative, Libyan-led, collaborative approach:
Unilaterally bombing ISIS commanders inhibits this process as it exacerbates tensions between pro-Western and anti-Western factions and divorces them both of the responsibility of addressing Libya’s problems. Despite the knee-jerk reaction in the White House and at the Élysée Palace to hunt down ISIS in Libya, Western actors need to pay attention to indigenous political processes in the wake of the U.N.’s failure and questionable neutrality. If anything resembling stability in Libya is the goal, we must not only facilitate cooperation through carrots but also deploy sticks, such as sanctions and denying sovereignty to all Libyan entities, until a genuine unity government emerges.
Read it in full here.
And yet, according to Reuters, Hollande and Renzi met on Nov 26 to discuss both extending Syria-style airstrikes to Libya, while also “prioritizing” the formation of a National Unity Government. And yet, neither man has taken any action to try to incentivize the various factions to fight ISIS. This shortsightness mirrors that of the UN and shows that only a Libyan-led solution beginning with the rumoured meeting of Saleh Aqela and Nuri Abu Sahmain is likely to get the ball rolling in earnest.