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Why Europe Took 8 Years to Realize Libya Civil War Needs Attention?

A breeding ground to multiple Arab superpowers who had been exploiting resources in the name of peace, Libya’s definition has been reduced to a mere irony today. Eight years on since the caliphate began, the European Union has out of nowhere realized that it is time to act.

As a playground that hosts multiple parties and factions, Libya might be more than just willing to seek what Europe has in offer, but would also be interested in finding out what it seeks to derive from it. As for now, Russia and Turkey have shown signs of raising insurgency in the nation, a connection more than viable to jolt Europe and comment on its standing in the nation.

On Sunday in Berlin, after months of efforts, Germany and the United Nations will gather most of the key players to try and at least reach truce for as long as possible, giving Libya the power to politically reconcile its position in the region.

The idea implies giving Libya the greater autonomy in operations that it must have as a nation. Yet it will not be easy, as potential oil and gas reserves might maneuver parties not to second their thought, especially because of the monetary advantages. Moreover, with only Libyan authorities involved, the fate of United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) of Fayez al-Sarraj, could also fall out of line and lead to even direr consequences.

“There has been a major reawakening of geopolitical interest in Libya,” said Ian Lesser, director of the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund and an expert on Turkey and the Mediterranean. “That begins with issues of migration, energy, security and counterterrorism. But it is just as much about the geopolitics of relations with Russia and Turkey. If they had not been so assertive, Libya civil war would not have attracted such attention now,” he added.

The attention towards Libya civil war might be disguised as positive, but the retaliatory spree in the nation has done nothing positive in its stride. The fragility continues, people still die for no reason and economy continues to fall as inflation soars new highs.

Can EU Protect Libya?

The new European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, in an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel said, the bloc could even send troops to safeguard the potential cease-fire, an idea that has already been backed by Italy and Greece.

“If there is a cease-fire in Libya, then the E.U. must be prepared to help implement and monitor this cease-fire — possibly also with soldiers, for example as part of an E.U. mission,” he said.

However, Europe looks weak, especially because of its timing and Russia’s hold on operations at this time. The wobbly decision made out of hast hasn’t granted Europe the influence it seeks as a unit, which Russia as an old player, has pretty heavily up its ranks.

Libya came under seize after the fall of their dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, and has been an utter mess since. But to Europe, it was barely a nation sending in chunks of migrants who were fleeing the regional conflict.

But as Russian mercenaries entered the frame last year, and Turkey more recently committed troops to support the GNA, Europe could no longer sit back and relax.

As it stands, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, France and now Russia, support the Libyan military, i.e., the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar. While on the other hand, Qatar, Italy and now Turkey support the GNA.

The support for warring parties implies that France and Italy are already internally divided in the European Union. The situation that further hollows the EU’s process of achieving peace in Libya.

“We Europeans, since we don’t want to participate in a military solution, we barricade ourselves in the belief there is no military solution,” Borrell Fontelles told the European Parliament this week. “Nobody will be very happy if, on the Libyan coast, there is a ring of military bases from the Russian and Turkish navies in front of the Italian coast,” he added as criticism on getting involved with the conflict.

The fact is, only last week Russia and Turkey brought both Haftar and Sarraj to Moscow to sign a permanent cease-fire agreement, which the former refused. The ideology clearly states that the military commander is in no mood of dropping the idea to capture Tripoli.

And even if Haftar signs an agreement on Sunday in Berlin, it would not be taken as the final ailment required to heal the broken Libyan diplomacy. Yet on the European front, it would mark the implementation of their plan, but with a window of disruption expected from Italy, whose energy giant, Eni, stands to benefit largely from Libya. Can Europe help? Of course it can, but will it actually deliver what is expected of it, or sow wider conflicts internally, leaving behind a penultimate question to be answered.

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