In a recently held supposedly important meeting in Rome with regard to “peace” in Libya, the Western powers were once again seen as pushing themselves to shove by attempting to pave the way for imposing a so-called UN backed “peace accord”—an accord that would (supposedly only) end internal fighting, unite the warring factions and thereby pre-empt the emergence of ISIS in Libya. However, an important aspect that has been largely ignored in this debate is that the Western powers are not pushing for signing the peace accord to merely pre-empt the emergence of ISIS in Libya—from where it can have access to Europe—but to place themselves as the final arbiter—a demy god so to say— in Libya to consolidate their otherwise shaky position in global geo-politics in the wake of Russian resurgence.
While the West continues to systematically construct a discourse on Libya in a typical fashion, couched in “terrorism” terms as it is, the reality is far from it. For instance, by building such a discourse, the West is trying to instil the fear of the rise of Islamic State in Libya, and by doing so, it is only trying to present un-representative factions as representative of the Libyans—a typical Western tactic to install a “proxy regime” in a war-torn society, essentially a victim of Western geo-politics and “engaged” in fighting a war that neither had simple indigenous origin nor was simply fought by the Libyans themselves.
According to the carefully prepared news headlines appearing in the Western mainstream media, representatives from Libya’s two rival parliaments – Salah Makhzoum of the General National Congress (GNC) based in Tripoli, and Mohammed Shoaib from the Tobruk-based House of Representatives – announced recently in Tunis they will sign a deal to create a ‘national unity government.’ In other words, the announcement resounds something the West has been trying to achieve in Syria in the name of the so-called “political transition.”
What according to Italian Foreign Minister is not a “perfect” agreement is, according to Martin Kobler, the UN envoy to Libya, being construed and pushed forward amid hostile disunity and fragmentation within Libya. According to certain credible reports, Salah Makhzoum of GNC does no longer represent it and has already been sacked. General National Congress is being backed by a power armed group called, Libyan Dawn. That GNC and Libya Dawn are not fully on-board is quite evident from that fact that a group of lawmakers from Tripoli’s GNC and the House of Representatives over the weekend announced in Tunisia a separate deal without U.N. involvement and said they would put that to vote in each parliament. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the Western backed and internationally ‘recognized’ government in Tobruk is unconditionally backing the agreement.
The key question that must be asked is what would happen if the accord is not signed and unity government not established? Even if the accord is signed, will the thus formed national unity government be able to stem the rising tide of Islamic State in Libya? Will this (obvious) failure lead to another full-scale Western military intervention in Libya in the name of preserving “democracy?”
The US is already reported to have carried out a few air strikes against ISIL in Libya, but the West hasn’t ruled out concerted military action. “That is Plan B,” Gentiloni, Italy’s Foreign Minister, was reported to have said. “For now, we will concentrate on the diplomatic efforts, which is the only way to stabilise Libya”, he further added. The plan to send boots to Libya is, therefore, not only fully prepared but also being set to get fully operational sooner than later. As a matter of fact, the so-called UN-backed accord itself has sown the seeds for such an intervention. Under the deal the new Libyan government would be able to request international military assistance to help fight Islamic State.
The key question here is if the West is, after all, going to militarily intervene in Libya, why does it need to install a national unity government in the first place? The answer lies in their Syria experience. As opposed to the West’s way of making illegitimate interventions across the world, the Russian military campaign against Islamist forces in Syria is fully legitimate in that it started only after Russia was invited by the Syrian authorities.
Having miserably failed to achieve their cardinal objectives in Syria, the West seems to have learnt a crucial lesson and, as such, is now paving the way for acquiring a legitimate cover for yet another military intervention to place itself there for a longer period of time.
According to some credible sources, once the inclusive government is confirmed, the P3+5 will seek a UN Security Council resolution to authorise intervention in Libya to “train” the local police, army and coastguard. Special Forces from Britain, France and the US will also conduct counter-terrorism operations against the Libyan branch of ISIS and other Islamist groups. As part of the military operations, American and French airstrikes will be required, with British jets unlikely to participate because of the commitment to fight ISIS in Iraq (and now is Syria too), a Whitehall source was reported to have stated.
The largest contingent of personnel is expected to come from Italy, which has a long-standing history with Libya dating back to the beginning of the last century. Some details of the mission were confirmed by an EU official and a Libyan government source, according to The Times. “Some friendly countries have informed us there will be training of Libya security forces to combat Isis,” the Libyan source said.
It is quite clear that the way for a fresh western military intervention is being prepared in Libya—a country that was thrown in ruins in 2011 during the so-called wave of “Arab Spring.” Since then Libya has stumbled from crisis to crisis, with rival governments now ruling from the east and west of the country. The mantra of National Unity Government is only a farce and a cover being used to create legitimacy for the US led another “humanitarian” intervention in the name of ousting terrorists. “We refuse to stand by and watch a vacuum filled by terrorists”, said John Kerry on the occasion of Rome “peace conference.”
The West’s “stability” mantra, based as it is on the vague notion of National Unity Government” is not only internally hollow and a piece of cake for public consumption, but also clearly disputed by hard facts. It is quite obvious to all actors that Libya does not have a functional armed force, capable of defending its people and Government. Western intervention and long term military presence are, therefore, necessary evils that will be imposed upon the Libyans. It is not something new. As a matter of fact, the idea that the West would contribute to Libya’s “security” once a unity government is formed was first proposed officially by the summit of Europe’s foreign ministers in February. It has been clear to all parties since that time that once and if a unity government is created, this would make much easier for the West to re-establish itself there militarily and acquire a much necessary geo-strategic leverage.
Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.