Timing not yet right for Libya intervention, Italy says

The Washington Post reports: Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti, one of the central figures in allied deliberations on war-torn Libya, said Wednesday that the conditions are not yet right to launch a Western military operation to help stabilize that country.

The Italians have been among the most vocal European powers to insist that Libya’s shaky unity government must shore up domestic support — and then request international assistance — before any allied operation could unfold.

The new Libyan government, installed this past March and backed by the United Nations, is making strides, Pinotti said in an interview with The Washington Post. But she also warned of deepening complications.

The unity government not only is confronting a threat from Islamic State insurgents, but also a challenge from unruly militias and rival factions with which it still needs to build more support, she said. On Tuesday, for instance, factions in eastern Libya sought to block the unity government from exercising control over exports of oil produced in the country’s east. [Continue reading…]

Abdulrazag Elaradi writes: In Libya in 2011, an American-led coalition helped to topple Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s 42-year dictatorship. Unfortunately, the coalition’s lack of engagement with the country’s transition allowed a political void to form that a number of groups have since then fought to fill.

The ensuing mess has made parts of Libya a hotbed for militants inspired by the Islamic State. This in turn has worsened the country’s security crisis, as opposing groups have claimed the right to govern under a banner of secularism.

The truth is that Libya’s struggle is not between Islamists and secularists. This tedious framework for interpreting Arab politics hides the complexity of Libya’s situation. Almost all of the major competing factions in Libya include some number of Islamists, liberals and militia supporters.

The real division in the country is between those who want Libya to move forward via the newly installed unity government, and those like the strongman Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who took control of a large part of the east after the fall of Colonel Qaddafi and is loath to give up his one-man rule of his fief, based in the coastal city of Tobruk. [Continue reading…]

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