Only an international force can save Libya

Libya disintegration

By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

Libya’s lackadaisical prime minister is inching towards reality, but his awakening is too slow and is perhaps too late to prevent the country from slipping into the abyss.

Speaking at an investment conference in London, Ali Zidan appealed to the outside world to help restore security as Libya rapidly slides into chaos thanks to the criminal negligence of his “government”, which has allowed criminal and Islamist armed groups to paralyse the country.

A spineless whimp

“If the international community does not help in the collection of arms and ammunition, if we don’t get help in forming the army and the police, things are going to take very long,” Zidan bleated.

“The situation is not going to improve unless we get real and practical assistance,” he whinged, without explaining what is stopping him from getting help – it is not that Libya is short of money.

However, true to form, he nullified his apparent new-found realism, insisting that he still wanted to solve the crisis through dialogue rather than force.

“We are going to work on solving this problem,” he crowed, adding: “When blood is shed, the loss will be greater”.

How much more blood must Libyans shed before Zidan and his likes realize two inescapable facts: first, the problem of the criminal and Islamist armed groups masquerading as “revolutionaries” can be solved only by brute force and, second, Libyans are incapable of solving this problem – or any problem – on their own.

Predictable catastrophe

Almost a year ago we predicted that the violence and anarchy afflicting Libya will not only continue but will get much worse:

Libya will continue its inexorable descent into chaos and violence, unless the international community – the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the United Nations or even the devil himself, it no longer matters – acknowledge our lamentable reality and dispatch a sizable peacekeeping force to establish law and order, disarm the militias – by force if necessary – and give the nascent Libyan authorities a chance to grow up, look in the mirror and live up to their responsibilities. The post-Gaddafi Libyan authorities, from the National Transitional Council to the recently formed government of Prime Minister Ali Zidan, have a uniquely idiotic security concept: building an army composed of a coalition of “approved militias”. This will not work. WIth 1,700 militias plaguing the country and respecting no one, it is a recipe for endemic violence and a complete breakdown of society.

If Libya is to survive as a state, then steps must be taken right now to mobilize an international peacekeeping force and authorize it to intervene to disarm the militias, bring about security and train an army and police force. It is better to bite the bullet, swallow our pride as Libyans and do this now before it is too late.

It is a warning we repeated last May as we reminded the world that Libya was headed for self-destruction. Since then matters have gone from bad to worse, and today the country is completely out of control with the authorities not even able to control the oilfields and oil refineries.

If the world does not care about what Libyans do to themselves, then surely the world must be concerned about the consequences of the disintegration of Libya for its neighbours far and close…

Time for intervention

As we have stated repeatedly, it is in nobody’s interest for Libya to disintegrate, Somalia-like. What passes for a “government” in Libya has proved beyond any doubt that it is incapable of providing security for Libyans.

If the world does not care about what Libyans do to themselves, then surely the world must be concerned about the consequences of the disintegration of Libya for its neighbours far and close – not just in North and sub-Saharan Africa, but also in Europe.

European countries, acting through the United Nations, at least have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from the poisonous cauldron that is brewing and overflowing in Libya.

There is absolutely no point wasting time waiting for the likes of Zidan – or any other Libyan who might replace him – bring about law and order to the country. He will not, and his half-hearted bleating for help in London underlines that. It is time for the UN Security Council to bite the bullet, invoke Chapter VII of the UN Charter and immediately dispatch a stabilization force to Libya with a mandate to crush the armed militias by force.

There is no point consulting or seeking the permission of the Libyan government. It does not exist.

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