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Libya: Let’s Go Back to the Future!

Libya is a disaster. There are two governments: one in the west with its capitol in Tripoli and another in the east with its capitol in Tobruk. The government in Tripoli is regarded as “islamist” and is supported by Qatar. The government in Tobruk is regarded as “secular”, is acknowledged by the U.S. and most of Europe as the legitimate government, and receives support from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

While everyone claims to want a peaceful, political solution, no one seems to be pursuing one. Given the typical strategic leadership void in Washington, I’ve decided to go ahead and offer an idea: get rid of Libya and replace it with realistic political divisions. Specifically, let’s divide Libya into three countries: Cyrenaica in the east, Tripolitania in the northwest, and Fezzan in the southwest. If you know anything about Libya, you know this is not an original idea. These were the countries, based on ethnic groupings, that were forced into being Libya by the United Nations after World War II. Interestingly, any map showing the current geographic divisions of power between warring factions looks just like a map of the region as it existed prior to World War II. It’s worth noting that this is also pretty much the idea Libyans had in 2011 when they proposed a loose federation of autonomous regions that, shockingly, look just like Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan. This idea was generally seen as the only way to achieve stability.

This is the only way to bring peace to Libya. The same approach brought stability to the former Yugoslavia. Interestingly, this also happens to be the only approach that will solve Iraq, though the U.S. leadership seems determined to resist workable plans and perpetuate conflict in Iraq. Let’s not continue to punish Libyans for the stupidity of the West.

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