The final two parts of my “Future’s Series” covers two neighbouring nations that have very much seen themselves in front of international attention not just in the last 12 months but for a very public number of years.

This, the penultimate part of the series looks at Libya. This nation has seen some of the most radical and dramatic conflict and change of any country in the world. The death of Colonel Gaddafi back in 2011 saw the end of a dark era for the Libyan people and the liberated citizens dared to dream of a greater nation.

However since then the harsh reality is that there has been no obvious change in national conflict. Furthermore the political disarray that now engulfs the nation has left the country in an even greater state of diplomatic confusion. The last few months has added to the national turmoil as parts of the nation are starting to stutter and fall under increasing power from the likes of Al-Qaeda operations and rebel forces.

Reports over the last couple of weeks have circulated about an oil tanker in Libyan waters that was launched from a rebel-held port. Libyan officials have increased tensions with North Korea (the destination of the tanker) who have accused the nation of helping rebel forces bypass naval blockades around the nation’s shores. Since then however officials in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang have moved quickly to insist they knew nothing of the incident and had no involvement in the tanker (named “Morning Glory”) getting around Libyan jurisdiction.

The incident has already cost the position of Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan after it was reported Libyan naval forces fired on the vessel but failed to stop it. At that time two other Eastern ports in Libya held by rebel forces had disobeyed orders not to allow oil tankers of the state-run National Oil Corporation to leave. Since the incident North Korea has revoked the registration of the ship “Morning Glory” after learning of the supposed purpose of its voyage. The purpose supposedly being rebel forces launching the oil tanker from the rebel-held port of Sidra in defiance against the government.

Meanwhile Ali Zeidan’s whereabouts are yet to be confirmed. However there are rumours that the ex-premier has fled to Germany via Malta. The news comes after Maltese officials were quoted in Reuters saying that the ex-premier had left Malta on a private-charter airline on his way to Germany. However at this time German authorities are yet to confirm these reports. The highly unstable nature of a country torn between government and rebel control has not only crippled national integrity in restoring a proper governing body but is allowing, what Libyan officials believe are “radical Islamists” to exploit the country’s vulnerability to strengthen their forces in the region.

Relations and negotiations between government and rebel forces are unlikely to improve given the situation that the city of Derna currently faces. Derna is another town currently under rebel control that is slowly crumbling under the influence of supposed Al-Qaeda operatives starting to dominate the area. According to information from sources close to the Derna Local Council say that voting in the elections in the Derna district has now been suspended after six polling stations in the area were struck with bombs a number of weeks ago.

As a result of this Derna, which is a city known for its proud fighting forces and tribes, has been told it will now have no say in national governance due to the highly volatile situation in the area. Furthermore an unnamed source close to the Derna Local Council told the Libyan Herald that the government has simply left Derna to crumble instead of looking to restore the city:-
“The government has failed in everything in Derna…Derna is captive to Al-Qaeda”. The lack of vocal support from Derna residents has also left government officials feeling uneasy that they are living in fear and a forced silence due to Al-Qaeda’s ever-growing presence.

What Libya appears to be facing then is a two-tiered issue when it comes to restoring integrity to the nation on any level. Not only does the conflict between Government and Rebel forces continue to make the headlines and actively prevent any progress in negotiations but as a result keeps the country vulnerable to chaos. This is something the likes of Al-Qaeda and other smaller radical Islam groups continue to freely exploit. The situation in Cities such as Derna is just one example of an important part of the nation being left to ruin while the focus remains on conflict between government and rebel held areas of the country.

It seems that while the country remains divided it is only a matter of time before groups like Al-Qaeda start to allow Libya to fall like dominoes. It is not only geographical divide in the country that is feeding the problem but the trade that runs throughout the country is torn between government and rebel control, particularly the oil trade running along all the ports in the country.

For now it seems the foreseeable future for Libya should be to keep a strong hold on what they already have so as to have a foundation to build upon when the nation does eventually start to progress. Those in power in the country, right from the very top, down to the local constituencies, government or rebel-held, need to work out a compromise within the next year or so.
Neither the rebel forces hoping for further liberation or the new government can even hope to gain a significant hold over the other or over the country in general without making significant inroads over negotiating who has the rightful control of what. Without political compromise, the fall of Colonel Gaddafi may not only just become another violent era being replaced by an even more violent one, but see a country fall into political ruin.

ROBERT PRITCHARD