‘Pouring arms onto troubled Libyan waters makes no sense’

The ministerial meeting on Syria in Vienna, Austria, May 17, 2016 © Leonhard Foeger
World powers’ decisions to provide weapons to Libya's unity government may lead to negative consequences as the arms will likely be used not only against ISIS but against all other sides, says Marko Gasic, an international affairs commentator.

World powers are ready to lift an arms embargo and to arm Libya's internationally-recognized unity government to combat Islamic State terrorists.

READ MORE: World powers up for arming Libyan govt to counter ISIS

The decision was announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday as members of the UN Security Council signed an official communique at talks in Vienna.

RT discussed the issue with experts.

RT: Libya is far from stable at the moment. Is this the right time to arm the country?

Diana Johnstone, political writer: There isn’t any right time. This would be comic if it wasn’t so tragic. We talk about the internationally recognized government. This is an internationally imposed government that was imposed by the supposed UN which has become really an instrument of US policy in this case. This government is called the government of national accord – but there is no national accord, this is a government of international accord that allows the US to bring in 20 countries to fight ISIS. Of course, ISIS is there because of the US bombing. So this is a perfectly circular situation: the US creates the chaos and then sends in soldiers…  

RT: Is Libya ready to be armed? Or will this add more fuel to the fire?

Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of Pan-African News Wire: We have to look at who caused the crisis in Libya. It was, in fact, the Pentagon, the CIA and NATO that armed Islamist extremist organizations five years ago. NATO and the Pentagon [dropped] 10,000 bombs on the country over a period of seven months. It is they who created the crisis. This is just another method of justifying a ground intervention in Libya by saying they are willing to lift the arms embargo. The arms embargo was imposed by the Pentagon and NATO during the period of the bombing in 2011. They were the ones who prevented arms and other goods from reaching Libya.

RT: Is it a practical way to try and counter ISIS in Libya?

AA: I don’t think it is a method to bring stability to Libya. It was the US who created the conditions for the growth of ISIS in Iraq and later in Syria.  Because of the intervention of Russia, of Hezbollah, of Lebanon and assistance from the Islamic Republic of Iran many of them have now been forced to flee to Libya, where there is a political vacuum in existence. I think that the US has to be honest about its overall intentions in Libya. They have destroyed the country. They turned it into one of the major sources of human trafficking across North Africa, the Mediterranean into southern, eastern and central Europe.  They created the worse humanitarian crisis since the conclusion of World War Two with some 60 million refugees and internally displaced persons. No, I don’t think they can create a solution for the problem that they in fact are responsible for bringing into existence.

RT: How do you see this decision to arm the recognized government - decisive or destructive?

Marko Gasic, an international affairs commentator: I don’t know what there is to recognize here because what we have to recognize first of all, is that there is a degree of chaos in Libya. There are alliances which are shifting, which are in a state of flux, which you can’t predict probably more than couple of months ahead.  It makes no sense to be pouring arms onto troubled Libyan waters because all that we are going to do effectively is give one side an encouragement to attack the other side, to create more refugees and problems for Libya and the wider region.

The problem is of course that ISIS will not be the only side that will be attacked. Because when a side has weapons it of course will use these weapons against all its enemies as convenient. It is not going to have a glass ceiling between one of the enemies and the other. It will simply act in a pragmatic way to achieve its self-interests. So, there is absolutely no guarantee that these weapons would purely be used against ISIS. And they are far more likely to be used against all other sides as well with negative consequences to the stability of Libya and also for the chance of creating an inclusive solution for the peoples of Libya because with an increasing killing, an upscale of killing we are not going to have less polarization – we are going to get more.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.