Is Libya the next Iraq?

Over the past couple of months the media has constantly reported on the events unfolding in Iraq. With major concerns regarding the security of the country it is clear that the US-led intervention back in 2003 failed to create stability in a hostile region and as a result there has been a great backlash to the systems that were imposed. This is not news to many of us, as much controversy surrounded the Iraq war even before it began. But what about the other interventions led by the West in the Middle East? For example, Libya in 2011 in which NATO led the military intervention to remove Colonel Gaddafi from power.

Once withdrawal took place in October 2011 little has been mentioned about Libya apart from the odd story here and there. On the face of it many probably believe that there is some form of stability in the country, however at present Libya is quickly deteriorating into civil war with great violence appearing across the country. This begs the question, since Western intervention clearly was unsuccessful yet again, is Libya going to head in the same way as Iraq currently is?

The only reason I even came across this topic was because last month the BBC reported on elections held across Libya to elect a new parliament for the second time since 2011. These took place on 25th June 2014. However the number of voters who actually registered was down on the previous election and turnout was less that half of those eligible. The elections happened in the middle of violence with a number of deaths even on polling day. Although democracy is trying to be instilled in the country, it is clear that both civilians and rebels have little faith in the system and how it can positively affect a country that has been gripped by insecurity since 2011. Back in September 2012 militants attacked the consulate killing the US Ambassador and three other Americans. In December 2013 it is reported that the first suicide car bomb took place in Benghazi. Amongst all this, threats in the form of illegal arms trading and drug trafficking have emerged in the country. In February 2014 it was reported in the United Nations that weapons have been trafficked to terrorists in Nigeria, Palestinian militants in Gaza and insurgents in Mali.

It is clear that in three years the country has turned to anarchy, a place that the US and its allies would not have imagined following what they believed was a successful mission. Promises were made to protect civilians, ensure support to end violence and see strong government institutions be installed. Like Iraq the appropriate after care was not given to Libya and yet at present not much is being done to fix the situation. It is highly unlikely that the elections will make a significant difference to the situation. They may pause excessive violence for a short period, however this will probably surface again in the future. The results have yet to be published and until they are it is unclear how the Libyan people will react and whether violence will continue or the new government will be accepted for the mean time.

Although the Western intervention in Iraq and Libya took different approaches it is apparent that deep problems have emerged in both countries as a result of this intervention and therefore it is likely that what we currently see happening in Iraq might prove insightful as to what path Libya might take in the future.

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