The situation in Libya is truly alarming. The state has fallen into shambles and chaos roams everywhere. Many people miss the era of the dictator Kaddafi; they argue that, undoubtedly, he was ruthless but law and order reigned and Libya was respected and feared worldwide. Today, everyone pities the country and its people, and parliamentarians are praying for Western countries to come to their rescue. But so far, they have not obliged.
The picture is grim, the country is back in the Middle Ages, ruled by numerous heavily-armed warlords with different ideologies and approaches to ruling post-Kaddafi Libya, most of which uphold a Salafist form of Islam, in many ways close to Wahhabism. The secularists, though representing a sizeable portion of the population, like in many parts of the MENA region, avoid defying the religious zealots for fear to be considered infidels and, as a result, excommuned.
“The picture is grim, the country is back in the Middle Ages, ruled by numerous heavily-armed warlords”
Realizing that the country is sliding into chaos and falling into the grip of fierce religious extremists, the United States encouraged the retired General Khalifa Haftar to take on the Islamists. With the help of the air force, he launched a battle, which he dubbed karama (dignity), to regain control of the country. But his enterprise, hurriedly-designed and badly-coached, turned into a military disaster, and the Islamists emboldened by their success took control of Tripoli and Benghazi and gave the boot to both the paper government and the national assembly, which was obliged to move to Tobrouk in the east, a city close to Egypt – the anti-Islamist ally.
In view of this disastrous situation, the Western countries that helped defeat Kaddafi with deadly airstrikes, are seriously considering finishing the business they started a few years go by putting together an international task force that would have to fulfil the following objectives:
1. Disarm all militias, whatever or wherever they are;
2. Prop up the national assembly;
3. Help set up a legitimate government;
4. Help build a national army and a police force;
5. Help resume oil-exports to bolster the ailing Libyan economy.
So far, it seems that a potential international stabilization force would consist of the United States, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Australia. In order to make it acceptable to the local Muslim population, it would also comprise countries such as Morocco, Turkey, Jordan and probably Egypt, if it is not rejected by the Islamist Libyan militias for its repression of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
The stabilization force will, first, secure the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, then move on to other cities. The militias’ combatants, as incentive, will be offered to disarm and in return secure a position in the army and the security apparatus and their chiefs and key figures to form political parties and join the government. As for General Khalifa Haftar he will be asked to return to his retirement.
Hopefully this plan would save the face of all forces in presence and allow Libya to be reclaimed from chaos and failure, before it becomes another Somalia in North Africa, a situation that nobody wants.