Let us Look Beyond the Glamorised Portrayal of a New Libya
Evidently, things are rapidly changing in Libya. Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron, alongside President Nicolas Sarkozy, visited the north of Libya to meet with members of the National Transitional Council (NTC) to discuss aid and support for the new government. Following this was the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 2009 allowing the NTC to officially take Libya’s seat in the UN. Moreover, assets of two Libyan oil companies have now been unfrozen, arms embargos have been modified to allow the NTC to buy arms for security purposes, and, despite the no-fly zone still being in place, it will be kept under review.
The Foreign Secretary William Hague, who went to Libya alongside Cameron, has stated that these changes show the international community’s confidence in the new Libya. He also stated that the United Kingdom will continue to work closely with Libya for a successful future.
Undoubtedly, the United Kingdom has been portrayed as being (along with France of course) at the forefront of Libyan change. On Cameron’s recent visit, people are reported to have tripped over each other to touch him; they also chanted “Thank You Cam-Ron! Thank you Cam-Ron!” as he made his appearances.
However, the Libyans have still made it clear that France is at the top of their praising list. New born Libyan babies are now even being named after Sarkozy because he has supposedly “saved the children of Libya”. Furthermore, Sarkozy interestingly made sure to state that his role in the Libya situation was not being done for business contracts or benefit but for “justice” – something that I do not think necessitates justification if justice is really what this has all been about.
Nevertheless, as the west is praised and as we are reminded of similar images such as those of Bush and his 2003 “Mission Accomplished” moment in Iraq, the world is still forgetting that the situation in Libya is far from over. Perhaps more accurately, the new glamorised NTC cabinet has already been reported to be quibbling over its expansion and is also being labelled as being unrepresentative. Not only are particular positions being disputed, but there is currently only one female in post in the NTC; something quite disturbing as this has also been a revolution for the women of Libya. Surely these are not the most reassuring signs of the newly labelled “prosperous” Libya. But perhaps more importantly, what seems to have been forgotten is the continuing fighting that is taking place. As people continue to be killed and as suffering persists, it needs to be made considerably more transparent that the loyalists have still not stepped down. In fact, Sirte, the hometown of Muammar Gaddafi, is now a particularly dangerous hotspot.
Therefore, it is crucial to look beyond the glamorised portrayal of a new Libya. It is almost as if because the NTC now has an official seat, that Libya has become a peaceful democratic country overnight. However, the current state of affairs, characterised by an already unstable NTC and the continuing persistence of loyalist groups, is certainly far from being so.