How can peace be established in Libya?
At the Libya conference in Vienna more than 20 states have approved plans for the Libyan unity government to be trained and armed. In the fight against the IS terrorists the UN weapons embargo is to be eased. But these measures won't come close to solving the country's problems, commentators warn.
Involve commanders and tribal leaders
The resolutions passed at the Vienna conference stand little chance of having an effect, taz criticises:
“The hope that the Libyans will take joint action against the extremists is naive - especially when Europe is openly siding with a faction that on top of everything else has no interest in building up a neutral army and police force. ... Unlike the diplomats, the conflicting parties do not see the IS as their major enemy, but rather as a chance to keep the opposing factions at a distance. Hence they will only oppose the IS when it's already too late. If the peace process is to have any chance of success at all, the army and tribal structures that are still functioning must be involved. ... In addition, the commanders of both sides - and not the powerless politicians - must be brought to the negotiating table as a precondition for any military aid from the West.”
Don't leave the Libyans in the lurch
The West must not make the same mistake it did after the military intervention of 2011 that toppled Gaddafi and leave the country to its own devices, The Evening Stanard warns:
“If any country should have made a success of the Arab Spring, it was surely Libya. With a small population, a tradition of religious moderation, an absence of sectarian division and generous energy resources, it had - and still has - the potential to be a Mediterranean Dubai. The international community now needs to stand by Libya in its time of greatest need, not walk away as it did after 2011. And Libyan politicians need to learn the art of political compromise. The most baleful legacy of the Gaddafi regime is the implosion of national unity.”
US and EU facing a dilemma
The international community is facing an old dilemma in Libya, Der Standard explains:
“Once Muammar al-Gaddafi had been toppled the international community withdrew relatively quickly to make it clear that the management of the political transition was a purely Libyan affair. The disastrous results are well known. … Today the initial situation is very similar: the new government negotiated by Nato must avoid giving the impression that it is a Trojan horse for foreign investments. Without at least indirect intervention from abroad, however, it won't be possible to drive back IS. Moreover, in order to strengthen the new government the US and EU are threatening to punish those players they don't recognise, but some of these players possess a high degree of legitimacy, for instance General Khalifa Haftar, who has blocked the progress of the IS. How much can he be weakened without strengthening the IS?”
Proxy war like in Syria
Libya's real problem is the power struggle between its head of government Fayez al-Serraj and General Khalifa Haftar and the corresponding proxy war, business paper Il Sole 24 Ore warns:
“General Haftar, who boycotted Tripoli, is receiving open support from Egypt, France and the United Arab Emirates. Just as the other factions in Tripoli and Misrata have their official sponsors in Turkey and Qatar. As was the case in Syria, a hidden proxy war is now being fought in Libya. The fight here is against the caliphate. This fight was neglected for a year, is vital for the stability of the country and has become a crucial struggle for both blocs. By securing a military victory against the IS these blocs hope to increase their chances of eliminating each other. A direct confrontation between the two factions, however, would mean not only an end to the UN-backed peace process but would also carry the great risk of triggering another civil war. ”