Freddie Michell questions how we can expect freedom in the Middle East without first achieving political stability
Stability brings prosperity, and prosperity encourages freedom. This statement highlights a sad truth: when you topple a dictator, a stable, democratic state does not emerge fully formed. We must consider the implications of Western military intervention.
There were celebrations when Muammar Gaddafi was found in a drainage pipe on 20th October 2011. Western intervention had led to a clear victory against the dictator. However, the rebel groups, united in their hatred of Gaddafi, did not form a democratic state. Today Libya has two governments, both claiming to be the legitimate leaders of Libya, one in Tripoli and the other in Tobruk; voter turnout in the last election was 18%, down from a post-Gaddafi high of 60%, suggesting that a functioning democracy has yet to be realised. The international community is still committed to supporting an inclusive political settlement and a democratic Libya. However, the rhetoric is increasingly more hopeful than tangible.
Neither is Libya a stable state. The civil war has left arms readily available and rival groups fighting for resources, with little regard for civilians; the 2016 UN support mission in Libya recorded 567 civilian casualties. With a severe lack of state infrastructure and security, Libya has effectively become a lawless state open to ISIS and local militias, impeding any opportunity for future stability or prosperity.
Yet the experience of Libya may have changed Western military interventions. Major General Jones, deputy commander of the military coalition in Iraq and Syria, recently spoke about the importance of credibility and reconciliation beyond the initial military intervention and the value of national figures deciding their own campaign goals and rhetoric. Wise words, perhaps suggesting that the lessons of Libya have been learned.
Featured image credit: Magharebia