FCO Report Assesses Arab Spring

By Joe Thorpe

In a report published at the end of March the FCO and Foreign affairs committee are assessing their actions after the events of the ‘Arab Spring’.

The UK has looked at the Libyan state four years after western intervention and has seen what has been obvious for four years now. The state is failing, and in a way that is very dangerous for the UK.

“It was not possible for us to visit Libya in 2015”.

The Foreign Affairs Committee discussed what approaches the FCO were taking on the ‘Arab Spring’ and how the UK plans on dealing with the aftermath of the overthrow of Libyan dictator Gaddafi in 2011.

Post 2011, several interim governments were encouraged and developed but have never been able to take control of a country that was left in confusion and chaos after a messy, international civil war. The General National Congress have been weak in their dealing with violence and militant Islam in the country, and the voting over the Council of Deputies was an unprecedented failure after only 18 per cent of the population voted.

“Post intervention building has proved to be difficult”.

On top of the lack of infrastructure rebuilding after a sustained period of bombings by anti-Gaddafi aerial forces (including the UK), Islamic State militants are reported to be moving into some of the major northern cities.

Transit between and from the degenerating nation are a primary concern for the FCO now. With access to the Mediterranean Sea and with it, access to Europe, the growing IS membership in Libya is a growing concern.

The Italian navy started the ‘Mare Nostrum’ operation which established boat patrols around the Libyan sea front, but after it ended in November 2014, the EU took over the naval watch with Operation Triton. Lower funding is proving this operation to only be partly successful.

The Italian Navy has re-started their Libyan naval watch with operation ‘Mare Sicuro’ (Safe Seas) which will involve two frigates, a helicopter landing vessel, a patrol vessel and several Predator drones.

This increased surveillance along the marine commando force that will go with it will do much to prevent sea immigration of potential Islamic militants, but it is only part of the solution.

With the Arab Partnership funding period coming to end this year, continued involvement in the Arab Spring regions is not guaranteed. The FCO have confirmed that they plan on a central role in aiding Libya, Tunisia and Egypt to become effective, government-run states.

One can’t help but think if authority is not established soon, we may be facing regions that will need further military intervention before peace can reign again.


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