Geopolitical Changes and Security Challenges in North Africa
The Scramble for Africa has affected all the regions of Africa very badly including North Africa. Even after the end of European Imperialism Africa is somehow still facing its effects and impacts as it created long-lasting economic and political instability in Africa. European countries have exploited natural resources from Africa and have made Africa an extremely poor and unemployed region. The people there have been living Hand-To-Mouth for years.
They have destroyed its economical and political structure. If we talk about North Africa there are many problems because of a weak economy, ethnicity, and unstable political structures. Therefore, Political instability and unrest have created many problems in North Africa.
Recently The President of Tunisia dissolved the regime of Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi. For the last 25 years, Tunisia has been managed. But the most important crisis that has affected the peace of the whole region and has engaged the foreign powers for many years is the Libyan Civil War. Moreover, Tunisia and Algeria are considered less safe countries because of terrorism there due to the Libyan Conflict.
Libya has been torn apart by foreign powers, extremists, and militias. The Libyan Civil War started in 2011 as a series of protests to take down the regime of Al-Gaddafi. The UN passed a resolution and the NATO-led coalition took control of Libya. From 2011 till now Libyan Civil War is still in a run.East Libya has been ruled by the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Hairat.
It has been backed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France, and Russia. While the West part of Libya has been ruled by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and supported by America, Turkey, Qat, ar, and Italy. Both these foreign blocks have been doing proxy war in Libya just for their benefits and interests. As Libya is strategically very important, its location is at the heart of the Maghreb, the Mediterranean and it is closest to important countries like Italy and Greece, and Europe. In addition to that, Libya contains one of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves.
Foreign Power’s Interests in North African County:
Saudi Arabia and UAE are the largest oil exporters to Europe so they do not want peace in Libya because they are afraid that Libya will take their position and will export oil to Europe. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been backed by France to fuel the prolonged bloodshed and violence in Libya. Besides, their support for Haftar has been also motivated by the support of Turkey and Qatar for Serraj.
While Russia has provided military support to Haftar and its interest in Libya is that it wanted to create a military base there. It would be a strategic position for Russia to keep an eye on its rivals, to monitor the Southern front of NATO, and also wanted to attain access to the Mediterranean region, which would be very beneficial for it.
France supported Khalifa Haftar because its oil companies have been working in Haftar’s controlled areas. It also does not want to lose out on an opportunity to get involved in Libya’s reconstruction market as French groups are falling behind the Italian and Turkish firms.
Egypt has been supporting Haftar to get rid of the Islamist groups, which is considered as a threat and damage to its visions, interests, and goals for the region. Both France and Egypt saw this conflict as a chance and opportunity to create a friendly state that can be used for their regional, security, and economic policymaking interests.
In contrast, Qatar and Turkey have been backing and supporting the opposite side from their opponents UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. One of the reasons for Turkey’s support to GNA was that the Khalifa Haftar was one of the biggest foes as well as had also signed offshore gas contracts and deals with Libyan GNA in the Mediterranean sea.
Furthermore, Serraj has also been backed by Italy. The conflict between France and Italy over Libya has also added to the non-success of the international attempts for the settlement of this issue through a political solution.
In short, this Libyan conflict has grown into an increasingly unpredictable and reckless geostrategic struggle for influence. Since 2011 till now all these foreign powers have been getting their hands dirty in Libya and have made Libya a battlefield to gain influence and superiority over others. They are just prolonging this conflict for their benefit and interests.
A step towards peace and stability:
Many steps had been taken to end this conflict and to create peace but all in vain. After many years of war and international efforts, finally, Libya has taken a step towards peace and stability, a ceasefire has been signed. All the foreign powers have been told to demilitarize Libya but still many challenges are in their way.
In addition to that, the new interim government was set up in Libya in March 2021, which was nominated through an UN-led process. Both governments of Eastern and Western Libya were replaced with The Government of National Unity (GNU). The government is new but the obstacles and hurdles to unite the war-torn state and to direct it towards elections are still the same. The GNU is facing many problems and hurdles to conducting fair, free, and authorized elections. The path towards elections and enduring peace are full of unvoiced obstacles. Hence, it proved that peace and stability in Libya require more than elections. Certainly, the peace and stability of North Africa greatly depend on the tranquility in Libya.
In a nutshell, this violent and barbaric struggle is extensive and proceeding in Libya for many years. The security condition is extremely insecure and unstable. Libya is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world due to social unrest and political violence. The areas that border Niger, Algeria, Sudan, and Chad are immensely dangerous. This single conflict has destroyed the peace of the whole region and has created many security and political issues. Governments of the other states are advising their citizens not to travel to Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, which has affected the image of the whole region and has created a gap between North Africa and other states of the world. Indeed, most of the problems and challenges of North Africa stem from its history. For North Africa, there’s a long way to go for achieving peace, political and social stability
Author: Virda Azam