Following strategic military victories of Libya’s legitimate United Nations-backed government against an armed uprising led by pro-Russian warlord Khalifa Hifter, calls for political solution echoed through out the Libyan desert. The United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, became the latest international figure to suggest political solution to Libyan conflict. But an attempt of political dialogue could turn oil-rich Libya into a new Syria, experts warn.
In December 2015, The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved resolution 2254 which called for political settlement in Syria. The resolution set a timetable of six months to create a transitional, united Syrian government and 18 months for a new constitution and democratic elections. Then-US Secretary of State, John Kerry, chairing the security council session, said the resolution sent a clear message that it was time to stop the killing in Syria. Syrian civil war casualty was estimated to be 250 thousand at the time. 5 years on, the cost of human lives passed 1 million, according to local sources and nearly 6 million people have fled the country.
5 years after the world experienced Syrian failure, international community once again lauding political dialogue calls to an internal conflict, this time in Libya, which could have similar never-ending destructive outcomes. “This is the same rhetoric we heard from the US five years ago when resolution 2254 was adapted,” said Syrian journalist Obaida Hitto, referring to the secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s tweet which called for political solution to Libyan conflict. Hitto who comes from a prominent Syrian opposition family warns that a UN resolution forcing internationally recognized Libyan government to sit down with Khalifa Hifter would turn Libya into another Syria.
If the US and UN forces legitimate Libyan government to sit down with a coupist vogue general, it could send a message to all countries with internal conflicts that being recognized by the United Nations does not form an international united front against any uprising attempt towards a legitimate state. That would most certainly bring the functionality of the UN into question in the minds of malicious fractions in certain parts of the world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been campaigning against the structure of United Nations Security Council for years by his self-invented motto of “the world is bigger than five,” criticizing the fact that the fate of the world matters are in the hands of 5 permanent members of the council. The UN currently has an arms embargo imposed on Libya but has failed to implement it as security council permeant members France and Russia are backing the warlord Hifter.
The international community including the United States, the UK and the EU recognized the opposition Syrian National Council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people early in the conflict. However, failure in backing up the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, the course of the war has changed and the world has witnessed one of the bloodiest internal conflicts ever. Russian intervention in Syria has been one of the main reasons why the international community deserted the SNC. Nearly a decade later, the world faces a similar challenge again in Libya. This time Russia is overtly on the illegitimate side. Turkey provided very effective military muscle to advance the UN-backed government on the ground. Obaida Hittio says the Libyan government should aim all the way to Benghazi. “Otherwise it would have to negotiate with warlords, militias which would turn GNA’s existence into a living hell,” he says.