To avid Middle East watchers, Libya has appeared to be going the way of a failed state for some time now. Unfortunately, the U.S. and much of the West appears to have been a bit slow to catch on.
This delayed realization seems to reveal the international community has learnt nothing whatsoever from Syria and Iraq. As with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Western military support for the ousting of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 was motivated by self-interest. And just with the Iraq invasion, it was done with little concern for prolonged stability in the country or the creation of strong institutions.
Now we see the aftereffects of this ill-thought out intervention, with two rival Libyan governments vying for a place at the table, and various militias battling each other across the country. When other regions of the world are working together to create larger blocs to increase trade and cooperation – such as Europe, South East Asia and South America – much of the Middle East seems to breaking up into tiny pieces, with different religious or tribal groups vying for their own mini-states in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and now Libya.
And while the U.S. has finally realized that it must intervene militarily in Iraq, and possibly also Syria, to limit the advances of ISIS, it has criticized Egypt and the UAE, which it alleges struck militant positions in Libya last week, for acting without its knowledge.
It is clear that Western policy – or lack of policy – in the region is failing, and it appears Libya is yet the latest to suffer accordingly. But like Iraq and Syria, events inside Libya will affect not just its neighbors but countries across the region.