April 22, 2021 House of Trust

Malaysia, Don’t Forget Libya

*Photo Credit: AFP

By Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad

On February 5, 2021, the UN-assembled Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) appointed a new interim government.

With the intention to oversee the country until election day scheduled for December 24, 2021, the appointment of the Government of National Unity (GNU) ostensibly breaks the five years political deadlock since the civil war intensified. 

This is a historic opportunity for the Libyans to come together in a joint effort to rebuild their country into one that is more peaceful, stable, and united, while also restore Libya’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

However, the prospect of permanent peace comes with challenges. The new GNU’s mandate is limited, with only 39 votes supporting its establishment.

The second matter to note here is that the establishment was also more geared towards power sharing formula rather than a political reconciliation.

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dabaiba was selected to prevent the selection of Fathi Bashaga, the current interior minister.

UN-assembled Libyan Political Dialogue Forum
*Photo Credit: AP File Photo

Still, regardless of the limitation and challenges, the current GNU must be made to succeed. The international community must prevent a repeat of the dynamics that unfolded in 2016, where Khalifa Haftar and the opponents of the former government of national accord received significant international support from the UAE and Egypt, thus escalated the civil war.

It is time for the international community to fundamentally re-evaluate its approach to Libya’s chronic political instability and insecurity.

The war must end and cliches about the necessity of having strongmen like Haftar to combat Islamism is a bad idea and a wrong strategy.

The only way forward is to establish an inclusive civil institutions, form a functional government worthy of international recognition, grow the economy, and garner national and international support to rebuild a stable and prosperous country.

The GNU has received strong international support. France has opened its embassy in Tripoli after seven years of closure. Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Malta and many others will follow suit.

Malaysia, on the other hand, should seriously consider re-establishing its diplomatic relations by reopening its diplomatic mission in Libya.

Such a move is a huge endorsement of support to the current peace initiative and to Malaysia’s international standing as a promoter of peace among the Islamic countries.

Libya is endowed with enormous oil resources. The population is young and it requires international support in human capital development.

The rebuilding of the country offers enormous trade, business and economic opportunities to Malaysia.

Libya’s Government Post Revolution had once sent hundreds of war casualties for treatment in Malaysia.

*Photo Credit: Reuters

Thousands of Libyan students pursued their higher education in our universities and there was a huge movement of people from Libya to Malaysia for business, training and tourism.

Malaysia should not be passive observer of international happenings. Its foreign policy must be aggressively pursued to promote Malaysia’s strategic and diplomatic interest, its economic role and cultural contribution globally.

It is obvious that Malaysia’s international role and visibility have been significantly reduced. Malaysia’s international presence is urgently in need of renewed invigoration, or else Malaysia will just be another ordinary country of no international significance.

As a middle power in the making, Malaysia cannot be part of a world where ‘might makes right’ at the expense of international norms, rules and institutions.

* Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad is the founding director of Bait al-Amanah.

**This Article was published in The Malaysian Insight

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