The Libyan puzzle

The militant groups that were primarily a bunch of thugs and plunderers are now in cahoots with terror groups such as Daesh and Al Qaeda.

Faced with the onslaught of Daesh, Libya is not sure what it is asking for! Its thrust at the United Nations Security Council to lift an arms embargo is fraught with concerns. The ban on supply of armament to the strife-torn North African country since 2011 was meant to deter militant groups from overrunning the fragile state. Irrespective of international vigilance, Libya today is truncated and has two governments calling the shots from Tripoli and Tobruk, respectively. Moreover, the militant groups that were primarily a bunch of thugs and plunderers are now in cahoots with terror groups such as Daesh and Al Qaeda. In such a scenario, it would be too compounding an equation for the world body to consider the request for lifting of an arms embargo over the embattled state, and its beleaguered government.

This call from the internationally recognised government in Tobruk was necessitated as Daesh over the weekend slaughtered 21 Egyptian workers after abducting them, and has unleashed a reign of terror. Thus Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Dairi’s concern was lawful as to how to protect the marginalised state and nation as Daesh threatens to jolt its geopolitics. Dairi said that failing to provide arms to Libya would “play into the hands of extremists”. But the question is what are the guarantees that arms shipped to Tobruk will not end up in the hands of terror outfits, as was the case in Afghanistan. As the emergent session of the Security Council ponders over the Libyan request, Egypt has supported the move as it endeavours to stem the free flow of Daesh into its territory. In an extension of that fear Cairo also called for a naval blockade on arms heading to areas of Libya that were not in the control of Tobruk government.

Surprisingly enough, the new resolution is a negation of an earlier plea from both the countries that called for an international force to fight militancy on the pattern of airstrikes underway in Syria and Iraq. This mellowing down approach could be seen as the biggest weakness of Tobruk authorities. Its sceptical second-thought, however, at foreign intervention in a country whose major chunk of landmass is beyond its writ is understandable. Thus what Libya needs at this point of time is neither an end to arms embargo nor international intervention but a passive political solution to lawlessness and bad governance. Then only can the terror outfits and mafias ruling the roost be dealt in an effective manner. The authorities in Tobruk have to lead from the front in finding a holistic solution to its state-centric conundrums.

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