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Europe and the Libyan Question

Al-Etihad, UAE, July 4

At this point, Europe cannot turn its back on the Libyan issue, regardless of the course of action it chooses to pursue: a stable peace agreement, on the one hand, or a bloody regional war, on the other. Europe’s interests in Libya are manifold. Therefore, an intervention in the country has little to do with the aspiration to bring democracy to North Africa, and more to do with material benefits. Europe is motivated by the hope to maximize its gains, reduce its losses and preserve its strategic interests in North Africa. The first of these interests relates to oil. Europe has had its eyes on Libyan oil for quite some time, especially after Colonel Qaddafi decided to ban its export to the United States for its aggression against Libya in 1986, and opened his country up to European petrol companies such as Italy’s Eni, France’s Total, Germany’s Wintershall and Spain’s Repsol. For years, Libya provided these companies with high-quality oil at minimal extraction costs, especially in comparison to the price of oil manufactured in the Arab Gulf. The second of these interests is linked to terrorism. For years, terror cells established on Europe’s parameters managed to slowly make their way to cities like London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam, Brussels and others. Europe fears that Libya will turn into a terrorism hotbed from which terrorist groups would launch attacks against the European continent. The Europeans are taking this threat seriously, especially given the short distance between Libya and European shores. The third interest relates to the flow of illegal immigrants traveling from Libya to Europe. The continuous outpouring of refugees into EU states imposes serious social, political and financial implications on European society as a whole. It is known that in recent years, Libya has become a convenient home base for refugees setting their eyes on Europe. In addition to these three basic motivations, we cannot deny another interest, no matter how small, revolving around the European sense of guilt from the overthrow of Qaddafi after the launch of a popular revolution against him, without taking time to rehabilitate the country in his removal. The absence of such an arrangement led Libya to chaos, opened the door to terrorist groups coming into the country and turned the Libyan coast into a destination for illegal immigrants. – Ammar Ali Hassan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)