Libya’s warring governments and the West

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 16, 2023
Eight years on from the grand bargain, Libya's situation is even more woeful
A T-shirt in Tripoli offers some sense of the way the whole of Libya has been for years. Photo: Zayn Khalifa on Unsplash

In the tragic aftermath of the deluge that has engulfed Derna in eastern Libya, it’s worth thinking back to how far back its misfortune goes.

Back in December 2015, when the Americans and Italians tried to corral Libya’s fractious parties into a deal, it was meant to end the absurdity of the country’s situation, ie. that it had two govern­ments but not enough govern­ance.

The UN and the West came up with Faiez Al-Serraj. Even as he was being magicked into office, I remember standing in a well-appointed living room in Tunisia, discussing the whole situation with diplomats from various countries. They expressed remarkable optimism despite the dismal reality, which was apparent to pretty much everyone.

It was as follows: That heads had been unceremoniously banged together to achieve this particular outcome. That the leaders of the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli and the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk had been forced into agreeing to something they had al­ready rejected. And lastly, that the UN and Western powers had dismissed the alternative peace plan proposed by delegates of both bodies.

So it worked out the way it did, but nothing worked really. Eight years on from the grand bargain dreamed up in Western corridors of power, Libya’s situation is even more woeful.

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