Editorial

Libya betrayed

Libya's interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), is getting no international help over the enormous problems it faces. To start with, the NTC has failed to restrain the militias that hold several areas and have killed thousands of people in attacks on alleged or real former supporters of Muammar al-Qadhafi. Reliable Libyan observers have likened the arbitrary killings, arrests, and torture to the former regime's brutalities. There have also been racist lynchings of African migrant labourers mistaken for mercenaries. A recent United Nations report characterises the militias as a major challenge to the NTC; it points out that women whom they detain are at particular risk. The NTC also faces political problems with Libya's severely divided society; five Amazigh or Berber leaders boycotted the November 24 swearing-in of the cabinet, saying that their ethnic group had not got enough posts. Nato, which deployed U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 ostensibly to protect civilians but in reality to cause violent regime change, is making no attempt to intervene. The U.N. mandate ended on October 27, and the Atlantic alliance has rejected Tripoli's request that it protect Libyan frontiers against possible re-entry by Qadhafi loyalists who fled the country as the regime disintegrated.

Furthermore, the U.N. states that both rebel and government forces committed atrocities during the uprising. Serious issues, however, have arisen over the trials of office-holders in the old regime, with some western officials calling for them to be tried in Libyan courts rather than the International Criminal Court (ICC). That would be consistent with the ICC's statute, but would also conceal key problems. First, Libya's judicial system is not currently fit for such trials. Secondly, ICC trials would enable defendants to reveal evidence of western collusion with the Qadhafi regime over many years. As it is, the British security service MI6 faces a possible criminal investigation following the discovery of documents in a Libyan government office that show U.K. cooperation with Mr. Qadhafi over the forced deportation of a Libyan dissident, Sami al-Saadi, and his family, from Hong Kong in 2004. The whole family was imprisoned; Mr. al-Saadi was held for six years, and tortured. During that period, British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Tripoli and announced counter-terrorism cooperation, and the Shell company signed a £550-million deal with Libya. Interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim El Keib could well conclude that all Libyans have been betrayed by their so-called friends and helpers in Nato.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 7:26:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/libya-betrayed/article2701910.ece

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