Libya is certainly one of, if not the least stable countries within the greater Middle East and North Africa. The formerly unified nation was under the dictatorial rule of Muammar Gaddafi for decades. After his regime was overthrown in the violent 2011 revolution and civil war, the country has seen alarming instability, spreading to a level of regional significance. The well-known events of 2011 resulted in new tensions; and the sole commonality between disparate rebel groups, being that they opposed Gadaffi’s regime, was not enough to keep them on the same political trajectory. The modern tensions facing the country were born out of hostility within the newly formed post-war government, the General National Congress (GNC). These tensions arose between the various islamist groups, and the moderates, most notably General Khalifa Haftar, who would spearhead Operation dignity, an assault on the political opponents of the moderate faction. Haftar’s enemies then went on to seize the Tripoli International Airport and forcing Haftar, HoR, and the LNA to relocate to the eastern city of Tobruk. An attempt at a second new unity government, the Government of National Accord (GNA), ultimately failed after Haftar’s faction withdrew support and resumed outright conflict. This is where Libya and the other involved nations have left off. The delegation of Japan understands this is more than just a conflict between opposing political factions. Japan sees the deepening humanitarian crisis that has emerged both directly out of the violence of the 2011 and 2014 conflicts respectively; but also, out of human trafficking groups and others who have taken advantage of the power vacuum, driving high numbers of refugees and migrants into neighboring countries, including those in Europe. In short, the delegation of Japan finds that this dynamic cannot last.
The current situation in Libya is so severe, that it comes as no surprise that little action has been done regarding this instability. Divisions are more than just political, they are cultural, tribal, and even involve differences in religious views. Libyans have now been left in a situation of little to no access to basic resources such as water and electricity. They fear for their lives due to the tumultuous state of things and are now fleeing in massive waves. The fractured state of Libya and its future is unsustainable due to its very nature and may not resolve if rivals are allowed to fight indefinitely. Despite this unfortunate image, some action has been carried out. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) for example, has made relatively large strides in that it has provided critical services to Migrants and internationally displaced persons (IDPs); and has stabilized communities in the aftermath of violence in ways such as rebuilding infrastructure and improving the ability of local organizations to sufficiently deal with humanitarian issues. The IOM has also kept record of the movements and locations of Migrants, IDPs, and returnees for evidence based future action. Other action such as that of the UNDP has been less successful. The UNDP endorsed both the transition to democracy and the GNC, concepts which although positive, have nonetheless failed and done little to keep Libya from entering chaos.
The delegation of Japan sees the potential for a future in what is now Libya despite its current state. Japan would suggest that more work such as the relatively successful efforts of the IOM are followed through with. Japan also sees the tensions in Libya as un-resolvable. Libya is a war-zone and has seen its opposing factions attempt to unify and govern the nation in some way twice with the GNC and GNA, both of which did not last. Japan believes that if the hostile nature of relations between factions endures, the best solution may be to facilitate a partition of the country into an eastern and western half, while a third region in the middle could remain to be secured by international troops and guarded in order to prevent the outbreak of a third major conflict. The middle, internationally secured region would serve to prevent conflict and provide area for displaced and suffering individuals to congregate. This territory would also function as a base of operations for continued UN and international work to ensure the creation and long-term endurance of stability and prevention of humanitarian issues. This entire proposal may come off as dire, however the Libyan crisis is nothing short of dire, and actions mean more than vague reaffirmations that the situation is critical, just for things to escalate and the international community to idly watch as a nation destroys itself.
- Ian Brown