We should remain concerned about Libya for a long time yet, and this after four years of riots that began a process of violence which, far from abating, seems to be getting even worse.
The revolts against Muammar Gaddafi were largely carried out by Islamists, exactly as he predicted. Many Westerners chose not to believe him, but today, although nobody wants to admit he was right, it appears that Libya has become a platform to export jihadi activism out of the country while this threat is quickly consuming the country from inside.
Beyond Libya’s borders, we should not only worry about instability and violence spreading to Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia, besides supplying jihadist groups operating in Syria or Iraq with men and arms. We should also worry about the feedback of violence in connection with turbulent Sahel, from and toward Mali.
It should not be forgotten that the destabilization of Libya generated, in turn, that of Mali, and now that the undefeated terrorists in this Sahelian country have just struck Bamako for the first time, we can see that the perpetrators of the attack have their sanctuary in Libya.
The Murabitun–result of the merger of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) and the Brigade ‘Those who Sign with Blood’ led by the veteran Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar–killed six persons in the centre of Bamako on March 6, in a bold move which put the hitherto ‘safe area’ of Mali in a very difficult position. It is known that the Murabitun, like AQIM or Ansar Eddine, are still alive and kicking in northern Mali and that is the result of the southwest of Libya being their sanctuary.
Not only the north of Libya should concern us, and a lot too, as even the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–DAESH in its acronym in Arabic–has established and consolidated provinces (wilayas) in the Libyan Mediterranean coast, in Darnah and Sirte, but the whole of this weak country, as it has plunged into a rapid process of disintegration.
The negotiating efforts led by Algeria or the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) led the Spaniard Bernardino León are indeed commendable, but they are still very limited. The enemies of any negotiation are many and powerful in Libya, starting with the EI/DAESH and many other groups, clans, and even tribes which interact with the cruel Salafi jihadist ideology.
While such negotiating amusements take place in the scenarios of Algeria, Switzerland or even Morocco, exercising direct or indirect dialogue with the complex and contradictory Libyan political class, the EI/DAESH continues to advance on Libyan soil beheading people, attacking energy plants and kidnapping their operators, Libyans and foreigners, and interacting with antennas of this extremely violent group in Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.
Even if we see increasingly more partners at the negotiating table, we will never see there the enemies of normalization in Libya. They will continue killing, kidnapping and, in short, coercing, and all this until mechanisms to effectively fight them and defeat them are put in place. There is no shortage of mechanisms, of all kinds too–Fighter planes from Egypt or the Arab Emirates (UAE) in the sky, or soldiers and members of clans, tribes and parties on land–but we will still be missing a single strategy convinced of the need to defeat and not only weakening terrorists.