Libya impasse: urgent measures needed (by Ambassador Yakovenko, for Russia Today)

Critical situation unfolding in Libya remains a matter of serious concern. The level of violence has dramatically increased recently, especially in the east and south of the country; explosions, kidnappings, assassinations, sectarian and tribal clashes have become an ordinary thing. Militants are running the show across the country, taking advantage of the Government’s lack of effective security forces. All of these “revolutionaries” being well armed and not even planning to disarm any time soon. Political and ideological polarization of the society is under way approaching a critical point. Situation with human rights is in a sorry state. The political process has stalled: the work on a draft new constitution has not started yet.

Given all this, it seems that even the once bravura optimism of the Western community has vanished – everyone understands the severity and unpredictability of what is occurring in Libya. Interestingly, commentators in the West try not to mention the root causes of the current situation in Libya.

Although it is worth noting that we anticipated such a development in 2011, when we attempted to convince our partners to refrain from a military operation, and to use political and diplomatic means to settle the crisis through a nationwide dialogue in the interests of all in this country.

Back then it all started with a call to protect civilians from the “tyranny of Gaddafi”. Adepts of the concept of “responsibility to protect” through coercive methods have called the Libyan scenario almost the model example of effective crisis response. Time has shown that the crisis does not end where disliked governments are overthrown with outside help. The crisis just starts there and can turn the country into a failed state.

It is evident that in these conditions achievement of any sustainable normalization will be utterly difficult. Nevertheless, in order to normalise the situation, both robust efforts by the Libyan Government and large-scale assistance from the international community, oriented towards the achievement of practical results, will be required.

Organizing a nationwide dialogue with the participation of all strata of the society, political, regional and ethnic groups should be an imperative for the Libyan authorities. Its agenda should include all the main domestic issues.

The international community should focus its efforts on promoting political reforms, including development and adoption of a constitution, setting up a national dialogue and building security, including border protection. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya must play a coordinating role.

In parallel with the political process, it is important to promote programmes to disarm former rebel groups, to reintegrate “revolutionaries” into the Army and security forces. This is a hard yet manageable task that requires political will and collective action. Success of these efforts would hugely contribute to stabilising the MENA region, which is experiencing its times of trouble.