Libya is in danger. Crippling, life-threatening danger. This week we have witnessed unspeakably horrific incidents, things that we never thought we’d see happen in our own country. There was once a time when murder was a rare occurrence, and now every Libyan has at least one family member or friend who was violently killed. By 2013 the murder rate had gone up 500%.
But the threat of armed gangs and militia groups, which has contributed much of the violence, has been dwarfed by an even bigger threat; ISIS. Last Sunday, masked barbarians claiming to be ISIS fighters in Libya released a horrific video of the slaughter of 21 Egyptians on the shores of Sirte. Their crime? Being Christian. After Egyptian forces retaliated by bombing the ISIS stronghold of Derna (which was reported to also have caused civilian death), ISIS claimed responsibility for three car bombs that were detonated on Friday in the small town of Quba, taking over 40 lives.
Just like that, over 60 lives were extinguished in a week by the cycle of terrorism and revenge.
Of course, this did not happen out of the blue. There have been several warning signs of the growth of ISIS in Libya. The city of Derna has been held under the grip of extremists for years now, with young men being sent off or hidden away at home lest the extremists sink their claws into them. Derna has not been able to vote in the past three elections (constitution, municipal council and HoR elections) because, according to these monsters, “democracy is haram.” And yet, the only time Derna ever received attention or concern by so-called “revolutionaries” is when Heftar began bombing terrorist locations in the city.
The most prevalent characteristic of this conflict has been double standards, even on the side that I support. If they kill my people it’s horrific but if people on the other side die, then, well, they kinda brought it on themselves, ya know? This kind of justification is not just appalling in its complete disregard for human life, but also threatens to irreparably sever whatever threads of Libyan unity there are left. While the city of Misrata released a statement condemning the terrorist action in Quba (a noble move), many Facebook pages claiming to speak on behalf of the city have expressed jubilation at the attack (those darn Easterners had it coming!), and it’s so much easier for people to take the hate-bait and fan the flames of conflict than to admire and hold up the actions of good.
So, yeah, it’s getting really bad.
While the country continues to descend in this bottomless pit of chaos, the political scene isn’t making any progress either. In the wake of the recent attacks, many people have reiterated the importance of first “forming a unity government” in order to counter terrorism in Libya.
If you’re like me, the term ‘unity government’ has you puzzled. We already have a government, don’t we? One that we elected, like, you know, democratically? If the people parroting the line about “goals of February 17” are aware, one of those goals was democracy. Not a cut and paste government carelessly put together based on who has the most influence on militias. If this is such a legitimate solution, why didn’t we do it during the last war with Gadhafi?
Perhaps I’m not very knowledgeable on politics, but the logic behind this “unity” government eludes me. When Op. Karama began, partly as a result of the GNC refusing to budge or do anything to stem the violence in the country, everyone declared that this was an illegitimate, unilateral move that threatened Libyan democracy. What the solution was, they preached, was to have elections so the new government could take care of business.
So on June 25th, we went out under a hail of bullets to vote for the new government, the House of Representatives. The government was set to be based in Benghazi, but because of the instability and lack of security there, it was temporarily allocated to Tobruk.
But let’s back up a second. Before any of this allocating happened, a group calling themselves Fajr Libya went and fajer-ed (blew up) Tripoli International Airport, for reasons that still remain a mystery. The start of this crazy cycle began before the HoR even convened officially.
When that failed, “they” (you know who I mean) began attacking (figuratively) the HoR from its very first session. Long story short, HoR got nullified by a Supreme Court under duress, and the entire “democratic process” that was supposed to save us was axed by the very people extolling its importance.
Fast forward to today. The defunct GNC rises from the dead like a half-decomposed zombie intent on devouring our brains and sanity. They continue to fund /support militia groups like Fajr Libya and Ansar Shariah, and the international community’s solution to the Libyan mess is “form a unity government!”
Why would we form a unity government with the same assholes who ruined the country the first time around? Why would we form a unity government under threat of continued fighting by a group that refused to cede to election losses? WHY WOULD WE FORM A UNITY GOVERNMENT WITH PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT DEMOCRACTICALLY ELECTED TO BE IN THIS GOVERNMENT????
*rapid inhaling and exhaling*
The idea of a unity government is, to me, a cowardly cop-out that spits in the face of democracy [tfou]. It feels like we’re being blackmailed. But worst of all, this is supposed to be the grand master plan that the international community wants for Libya. So grand and masterful, in fact, that they refuse to aid the Libyan army in the fight against terrorism or even lift the arms embargo placed on them until this unity sham is achieved. It all reeks of nefariously ulterior motives.
It is flummoxing to the average Libyan, who doesn’t even have any prior political experience, to be receiving these mixed messages from international groups. “Bomb Gadhafi! Vote in elections! Work for democracy no matter what! Keep going on the democra…oh, wait, no, you know what, actually, form a unity government instead.”
Logistics aside (would the zombies even be willing to leave Tripoli? Would their Fajr collation thing be considered an army?), it leaves out the Big Question; How will this help combat ISIS? You know, those head-chopping guys I mentioned above? The GNC refuses to acknowledge that ISIS is even in Libya, claiming that the videos are fake and blaming it on anyone besides extremist groups. How do we fight terrorists with those kinds of people in a “unity government”? It’s like claiming to unite to combat global warming with people who think it’s a hoax. It is, in every sense of the word, stupid as hell.
Fighting extremism is not easy, and it requires, yes, UNITY, on the part of the whole country. Instead of blowing up oil ports and airports, Fajr Libya should join forces with Op. Karama to root out extremist forces before they become deeply imbued into Libya’s social structure. HoR members from every city should convene and start working on how to stabilize Libya while there’s still time. We need to work with what we have because the timeframe to find a solution has suddenly shrunk by a lot. If the international community is serious about helping Libya, they need to start proposing serious solutions. Otherwise, don’t stand in our way as we try to save ourselves.