Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Must Stand by Libya, Not Walk Away as We Did after 2011

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Must Stand by Libya, Not Walk Away as We Did after 2011

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Marozzi

AFTER five years of turmoil in Libya, there is a glimmer of hope. As the world's foreign ministers discovered at a summit in Vienna yesterday, the new, internationally recognised Government of National Accord is making tentative but important progress in Tripoli.

Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj has prioritised national security in an ambitious government agenda that includes national reconciliation, economic recovery and institutional reform. As the best chance of success the devastated country has had since Islamic State jihadists descended, Sarraj's administration should be supported at all costs.

When the West looks at Libya it sees two things: IS and people-trafficking. Both are cause for serious concern. If conversations with some Libyans suggest they are in denial about the extent of the terrorist problem and indifferent to the trafficking, it is probably because they have rather more on their plate.

Five years after the fall of Gaddafi, the country remains deeply divided. There are two central banks, two national oil companies, two parliaments and two investment authorities. Add to that a liquidity crisis, routine power shortages and high levels of youth unemployment and you see a country on its knees. Authority is fractured and rival organisations in Tripoli and Tobruk are unwilling or unable to compromise and honour international agreements. Opportunism, corruption and grandstanding, rather than statesmanship and public service are the order of the day.

Profiting from this turmoil, IS has set up headquarters in Gaddafi's former home town of Sirte and spread towards Misrata. Estimates vary on the numbers of IS in Libya. Last month, General David Rodriguez, the US commander for Africa, said the group had doubled in the past year to about 4,000-6,000. …

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