Discussion on Libya with Radio France International
Attempts by the UN to broker agreement on a Libyan government of national unity are discussed in a new Radio France International podcast, featuring DLP Senior Research Fellow Alina Rocha Menocal as an expert commentator.
Alina was joined by Claudia Gazzini, lead Libya analyst at Crisis Group, in a discussion prompted by a report from the UN sanctions monitors last week that armed IS-led non-state groups have significantly expanded their influence and control in Libya in the past 12 months.
Comments on the chaos in Libya by US President Barak Obama were also widely reported last week. In an interview with The Atlantic, he criticised the lack of British and French ‘follow-up’ since launching bombing raids to hasten the fall of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has had rival parliaments since 2014 when an Islamist-led militia alliance took over the capital Tripoli and the internationally-recognised government fled to the city of Tobruk.
Alina told RFI that she did not believe that the UK, or France or the USA for that matter, could be individually blamed for the current fragility of Libya’s government and institutions – but that the Western allies should have done “much more collective thinking” to plan for a post-Gaddafi transition.
A potential list of members for a new national unity government was rejected by the Tobruk parliament in January. While many western countries agree that military action is needed to remove ISIS from Libya, they are unwilling to act unless they have the agreement and partnership of all the key government factions. The French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has announced that he will call for EU sanctions on any Libyan official who obstructs the formation of the unity government.
"In terms of the repertoire available to the international community and other outsiders who are trying entice the main figures and factions to sit together and agree on something, it’s not immediately obvious that there’s a lot that donors can do,” said Alina. “So something like the French proposal [of sanctions] is perhaps among the most useful. Though it’s not entirely clear how that will help, it will certainly influence [the incentives of respective actors].”
In addition, Gazzini called for more international focus on Libya’s worsening economic crisis, which she said risked making radical groups stronger.
The full podcast can be heard here.