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Calamitous butting in


West's intervention in Libya to blame for prolonged turmoil in the country

In February 2011, anti-government protests broke out in eastern Libya, which quickly evolved into domestic conflicts. The US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization took the opportunity to intervene militarily and soon toppled the Muammar Gadhafi regime. Since then, the country has been plunged into protracted turmoil.

Right after the Libyan war, the United States and other Western countries intervened in the reconstruction by supporting a pro-West government and training military personnel. They obtained huge profits by getting the permits of mining and drilling operations.

However, with the deterioration of the post-war security situation in Libya, there have been frequent outbreaks of violence. Western powers withdrew all their staff and companies after the US ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff members were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on September 2012.Since then, they have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the humanitarian disaster caused by the turmoil in Libya.

Before the war, Libya was a rich country in Africa thanks to its abundant energy reserves. Its high energy export earnings enabled the Libyan people to live a comfortable and prosperous life. They enjoyed high social welfare, including long-term free medical care, free education and low prices of daily necessities. As a result, Libya became a destination for African immigrants, where a large number of people from other African countries worked and settled.

After the overthrowing of the Gadhafi regime, nearly 1 million people fled Libya. Some returned to their home countries to avoid the war while others took refuge in neighboring countries. In addition, over 100,000 displaced persons are temporarily living in refugee camps in Libya and on its borders, looking forward to returning home once stability is restored in their country.

Since 2014, Libya has witnessed a confrontation between two governments and two parliaments in the east and west respectively, which continues to this day. The two regimes confront and attack each other, resulting in serious damage to infrastructure and a sharp decline in energy production. Libya's oil output dropped from nearly 1.6 million barrels a day before the war to less than 200,000 barrels a day at one point.

Besides, as the international oil price has remained low in recent years, Libya's national economy has suffered a prolonged depression. Since 2014, its economy has been hit by high unemployment, high inflation, high prices and low standard of living. The unemployment rate is as high as 30 percent, the inflation rate nearly 30 percent, and the consumer price index about 300.Even basic daily necessities such as water, electricity and food cannot be guaranteed. The political impasse and economic woes have brought about a security crisis. The extremist organization Islamic State took advantage of the chaos to enter Libya and expand, and the number of extremists in Libya was once estimated to be about 7,000. They have frequently committed terrorist attacks in Libya and its border areas, deteriorating the security situation in the country as well as Libya's neighboring areas.

This not only hindered Libya's own political and economic reconstruction, but also exacerbated the regional security of Africa where it is located. For one thing, the militants within Libya carried numerous weapons into neighboring African countries to make trouble and spread terrorist ideas. The Islamic State group has used Libya as a stronghold to train young people from many African countries, turning them into terrorists. What makes it worse is that many African terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia have connected with those in Libya, which has greatly contributed to violence and terrorism in Africa. The deterioration of the security situation has caused people in many African countries to suffer greater humanitarian disasters and the number of refugees has increased sharply.

Refugees and illegal immigrants from some African countries have taken advantage of Libya's proximity to European countries and lax border control to enter its territory and wait for the opportunity to sneak into Europe across the Mediterranean. From 2014 to 2016, the number of refugees entering Europe from Africa and other turbulent countries in the Mediterranean region reached its peak since World War II.

In 2020, the novel coronavirus outbreak made the country's turmoil even worse. More than half of the medical institutions and facilities no longer operate normally owing to the war and post-war chaos. In addition, the country lacks pandemic-prevention supplies and has poor diagnosis and treatment capabilities. Consequently, there is a high probability of infection and low capability of cure.

Ten years ago, the US and its allies launched a war in North Africa and caused regime change in Libya. Since then the Libyan people and neighboring countries were deeply involved in the disaster, which triggered a series of humanitarian crises. The post-war decade has seen tragic changes in Libya, which the US and other Western powers are to blame for.

The author is an associate researcher of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn