The deadlock in Libya can’t be solved by military means alone and this reality requires Gulf countries to exert unified influence on the ground to end the ongoingcivil war. These sentiments were expressed by Barack Obama last week ahead of a planned GCC summit in the United States next month. While Mr Obama’s words reflect a desire for unity from the Arab world in confronting Libya’s turmoil, the president shouldn’t be so quick to deflect western responsibility for the crisis. Perhaps Mr Obama should employ the same rhetoric of influence with western allies.
It was the West that tacitly allowed Muammar Qaddafi to hollow out his country’s institutions through a long standing campaign of isolation. It was also Nato that led bombing campaigns that laid the groundwork for Qaddafi’s downfall in 2011 without any workable plan to mend the broken country. Any solution for Libya’s systemic problems demands broad international cooperation, not just leadership and unity from the GCC.
The president’s remarks appear to be driven by the GCC’s perceived influence over some of the factions fighting in Libya. It is noteworthy that Turkey wasn’t included in the list of countries that must exert influence to find an equitable solution. Given Turkey’s firm support of the General National Congress and the Omar Al Hassi government, Ankara must also play a role in fixing Libya.
As division deepens on the ground, militant groups like ISIL are using the chaos to entrench their foothold in North Africa. This is exacerbated by the thousands of migrants that flow through Libya on their way to Europe. Yesterday, hundreds of migrants died when a single boat carrying more than 650 people capsized shortly after leaving the Libyan coast. The Libya conflict now extends far beyond its own borders. There is plenty of blame to go around for this sad situation. But the fact of the matter is that no single country or set of countries bears ultimate responsibility for the present chaos. The only way out of this morass is through unity and recognition of collective responsibility.