Security vacuum’s making Libya a Failed Economy

“The question is to know how, after an intervention that took place 3 ½ years ago, there has been no thinking about what would occur after that,” said French President François Hollande on April 23, 2015 on the margins of a European Union (EU) emergency meeting on the issue of mass migrations across the Mediterranean sea. Why would one quote the French leader when tackling the situation of Libya today? Because Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French military have been at the initiative – Operation Harmattan – in the controversial context of the Arab Springs of the ousting of former – finally killed – Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Now Libya’s situation has worsened to the point that it has two governments waging a war against each other. One Benghazi-based is internationally recognized and the other one that recently conquered the capital city Tripoli is made of militias that count jihadists in their ranks, who mostly belong to groups like ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia.

Already a failed state, there is concern that the country may also be turning into a failed economy. Of course, combats have been growingly disrupting Libya’s oil production for months, but now they may be jeopardizing the facilities which are essential to such production. Several days ago, Benhazi’s government loyalists have launched an air raid against an oil tanker. If troops took care of striking the transportation means rather than production facilities, there is higher risk the latter will be damaged as combats become more violent. “Libya is on the verge of economic and financial collapse. It is facing huge security threats because of the civil war but also (…) because of the Daesh (ISIS) threat,” said United Nations (UN) special envoy Bernardino Leon who has tried since August 2014 to reach an agreement between the two opposing factions. Without political and security stability, “Libya’s economic collapse is (thus) a real possibility, (…) the situation is very difficult in terms of Libyan finances,” Leon stressed. The uninterrupted flows of refugees fleeing the conflict-ridden region should grow accordingly as well as the pressure on the EU to rescue them.