The World Today for June 28, 2021



All the King’s Horses

Literally and figuratively, Libya is a minefield.

Russian mercenaries fighting in Libya’s civil wars left behind booby-trapped teddy bears and soda cans as they fled when warlord Khalifa Haftar failed to conquer the capital of Tripoli. Children who “playfully” crush the cans or grab a toy have been blown up.

“They studied us, even how our kids played,” said Rabie Aljawashi of the Libyan demining group, the Free Fields Foundation, in an interview with the Washington Post. “They know how we think.”

Some of those and other explosives in the North African country date back to the war to oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi 10 years ago. Others are from the battles between Haftar, who still controls much of eastern and southern Libya, armed groups that include Islamic State, and the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the violence are also fraught with danger.

Russia has given Haftar military support. France allegedly has done the same, France24 wrote. Turkey sent Syrian fighters to support the Government of National Accord, as Voice of America explained. The three countries have pledged to stop meddling in Libya’s internal affairs. But an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters remain in the country.

Libya’s neighbor, Egypt, recently called for their removal, Arab News noted. Egyptian companies are looking to benefit from the massive reconstruction efforts that presumably will begin once peace is restored. Turkey is similarly eyeing economic opportunities in the oil-rich country, wrote Middle East Monitor.

They might be in for a long wait. Negotiators planned to meet in Berlin to discuss a framework for peace ahead of elections in December that would establish a new government to run Libya, Agence France-Press reported. But Libyan leaders and foreign diplomats have yet to agree on the constitutional changes necessary for the vote to proceed, added Reuters.

The security situation remains unstable. Libyan officials, for example, recently banned non-approved military movements in the country after some renegade Haftar forces seized a border crossing with Algeria, Al Jazeera wrote.

The humanitarian situation is unstable, too. North African migrants seeking peace and job opportunities in Europe are flooding into Libya, Politico wrote. Hunger is a major problem. Migrants stuck in Libyan detention centers have complained about sexual assaults perpetrated by camp guards and the human traffickers who moved them through the region, the Associated Press reported.

It’s easy to break a country. It’s much harder to put one back together again.

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