ABU DHABI, 21st December, 2015 (WAM) — Libya has faced a dizzying number of challenges since former dictator Muammar Qaddafi was thrown out of office and killed during the wave of protests that swept the region in 2011. Chief among the current challenges is ending the fighting between warring factions that has ripped the country apart and created fertile ground for Daesh extremists looking to establish a base in North Africa. As has been seen in neighbouring Tunisia, honest reconciliation is a necessary and unavoidable part of peace.
An editorial in today’s edition of the National says that this is why the announcement of a unity government, however flawed, is good news. “The perilous situation on the ground is clearly underlined by the nature of this latest attempt at unity. Given the unstable security situation, the new government will have to be set up outside Libya. Morocco, Tunisia and Malta have been proposed as a possible base.”
Urging caution, the editorial continued, “We welcome the announcement but the unity deal is far from perfect. The question is whether a weak deal is better than no deal at all. Given Daesh’s growing reach and Libya’s pivotal position as a transit point for migrants and munitions, an accord of any kind is surely a checkpoint on the path towards stability. At the minimum, delegates of the rival factions have demonstrated that they can achieve a degree of compromise to start the difficult process of reconciliation.
“Nevertheless, deep structural problems remain. The United Nations has hitherto failed to get Libya’s two warring parliaments, the elected house of representatives in Tobruk and the rebel general national congress in Tripoli, to work together on any issue aside from the unintended consequence of their mutual rejection of the UN-backed unity government.
“Western governments are pinning their hopes on the fact that the new government will provide a partner to help get Libya’s oil resources under control and, more importantly, an element of strategic certainty to allow air strikes against Daesh assets in Libya.”
It concludes, “While removing Daesh should be a priority for all the factions in Libya, it remains unclear whether the new government will be able to cobble together a coalition of fighters to remove the extremists. We are under no illusion that stability will miraculously materialise on the back of this deal, but it is a start and, given the depth of Libya’s problems, any signs of hope have to be encouraged.”