22 February 2013, 13:42

How to save Libya from ‘Somalization’?

How to save Libya from ‘Somalization’?
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In January 2013, France sold 50 patrol boats to Libya in a move followed by Italy donating 20 armed personnel carriers to its former colony. In another development, a UK warship is due to enter waters off Libya in April 2013. Destroying the Jamahiriya, the EU began to arm the legally incompetent government of the country that is already on the verge of fragmentation that may occur in line with the Somali scenario.

Actually, the government, the power bodies and the army act as nominal structures in modern-day Libya. In reality, the territory of the country is divided between a whole array of groups formed in accordance with territorial, tribal, religious and other aspects. The new regime, endorsed by the West’s military efforts, is unable to keep the country from being disintegrated, says Rifayat Sayyed Ahmed of the Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo.

"As a matter of fact, the country is now being ruled by 45,000 well-armed and well-trained volunteers, who only report to al-Qaeda and The Justice and Construction Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party in Libya. Western commentators prefer to call these volunteers militiamen, while those who were known as revolutionaries disappeared and dissolved into militiamen’s ranks. Their ideology boils down to the lust for power and distribution of oil resources. We got an extremely militarized and bellicose community of potential terrorists in Northern Africa, something that adds significantly to the collapse of Libya’s statehood."

The simplified variant of the current state of affairs in Libya is as following. In Benghazi, the capital of the oil-rich Cyrenaica region, local elites act on an autonomous basis, while the town of Bani Walid is ruled by Gaddafi supporters. The industrial district of Misrata seeks to obtain the status of an independent enclave, with tribes from western Libya’s Tripolitania region sitting on a political fence. As for the government, it is based in the capital Tripoli. There are smaller powerhouses with well-armed volunteers in each and every region of Libya.

Many analysts liken the current situation in Libya to the latest events in Somalia, where a civil war between the dictatorial regime of Mohammed Siad Barre and the opposition started in 1988. Shortly after, this revolution was transformed into a full-fledged inter-tribal war that is still under way. The scenario of Libya being turned into a second Somalia is rather likely, Sergei Seryogichev of the Moscow-based Middle East Institute told the Voice of Russia on Friday.

"Generally speaking, the main problem in Libya is the absence of a single centralized power, Seryogichev said. In other words, a new dictator is needed so that he can replace the late Gaddafi, Seryogichev added, citing the West’s failed attempts to transfer its democratic model to Libya. Meanwhile, various political and tribal groups in Libya continue to capitalize on this model, pursuing their own selfish interests."

According to Seryogichev, speaking of democracy in Libya is irrelevant because the level of the country’s socio-economic development is on a par with the level related to medieval Europe’s feudal fragmentation period. Theoretically, Libya could be turned into a federate nation, a scenario that Seryogichev says will almost certainly see the continuation of a tribal war there. In the end, all this may lead to the international community losing Libya as a unified state.

Another option is to send occupation troops to Libya, a scenario that will never see the light of day. The West is unwilling to dispatch troops to Libya, where they desperately tried to retain power, suffering huge losses in the course of a guerrilla war. This means that only two variants may sadly be in place in Libya in the near future, namely, a dictatorship or the Somali scenario.

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