9, May 2019
Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt has expressed regrets that his country’s policy on Libya has failed since London and allies in the NATO military alliance launched an invasion in 2011 to oust long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
“We have not covered ourselves in glory with our policy on Libya. Let us face it,” Hunt said in a Tuesday interview with the Guardian newspaper.
The top British diplomat said if London knew that Libya would become a hotbed of militancy in North Africa, it would have second thoughts on the 2011 invasion.
“… if we knew in 2011 we would be in the situation we are now we would be asking ourselves some searching questions,” he said.
The comments came as Britain and other international powers are in disagreement over how to help Libya regain peace after some eight years of civil war.
The main row is over Khalifa Haftar, a Gaddafi-era military general who has defied the international community by launching an all-out offensive against a United Nations-backed government in the capital Tripoli.
Haftar and his large army of militant groups have enjoyed funds and support from oil-rich countries in the Persian Gulf region. However, countries to the west of Libya and certain countries outside the region are against his rise to power, saying it would destabilize the region.
Hunt said Britain should take a lesson from its failure in the 2011 invasion of Libya and allow Haftar to have a role in the future Libyan government.
“We do not agree with what Haftar is doing. We do not think it is possible for Haftar to achieve a military victory, and as a government he will not be seen as legitimate by whole swathes of the country. So we want a political process,” he said without elaborating how Haftar could help Libya’s future.
That comes as Libya’s prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj has repeatedly accused Haftar of trying to sabotage international efforts to establish peace in Libya, saying he has no interest in contributing to a democratic process.