Leaders must not bicker on Libyan conundrum

Make no mistake, Libya needs a political solution not miliatry intervention. Military intervention would serve only to worsen the situation. 

Bernardino Leon, Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya
Bernardino Leon, Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya

More than three years after the downfall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, our neighbours remain locked in a struggle between rival camps, a state of affairs that has yielded two rival seats of governments, in Tobruk and Tripoli. 

Make no mistake, Libya needs a political solution not miliatry intervention. Military intervention would serve only to worsen the situation. It is debatable whether lifting a ban on international arms sales to the North African country, to help Libya in its fight against terrorist organizations, is a step in the right direction.

However, the international community should be united in its efforts to bring the two factions together – the Tripoli-led government and the Tobruk government. Unless they come together stability in Libya and the Mediterranean region will never materialize. 

Only a national unity government would help Libya’s fight against terrorism and prevent ISIS from gaining a foothold in the country. This is what both the Maltese Government and Opposition should insist upon. Instead, we got the usual political bickering – Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, shortsightedly supporting Italy’s initial reaction for military intervention and the Opposition insisting that the Maltese government joins the coalition against ISIS – even if there is no clearly defined ‘coalition’, except for Jordan and Egypt, who are conducting military interventions on suspected ISIS strongholds.

On Iswed fuq l-Abjad last Wednesday, I interviewed Hussin S.T. Musrati, the Charge d’Affaires of the Balzan embassy who represents the Tripoli government in Malta. Musrati criticized the Maltese government support for the Tobruk government and said that there is no relationship whatsoever between his embassy and the Maltese government.

The Tobruk government is recognized by the European Union, and one can’t really blame the Maltese government for following suit. However, it is very short sighted of the Maltese government to break ties with the Balzan Embassy. 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition leader Simon Busuttil should set an example to the international community by bringing the two rival Libyan factions together in Malta for a much needed dialogue. Malta can play a strong role in bringing the two sides together.  It would be a step in the right direction. 

Kudos to Bishop Grech

I wonder what is keeping the Vatican from appointing a new Archbishop for the Maltese Catholic Church following Mgr Paul Cremona’s resignation. We have had a defunct Church for the past four years at least, and the void at the Curia is not helping the situation. I fail to understand why Malta’s bishops issued separate pastoral letters for Lent.

However, kudos to Gozo Bishop Mario Grech, who issued a strongly worded pastoral warning that the Church risked isolation by retaining the certainties of the past and refusing to change. Mgr Grech spoke on behalf of those who wish to celebrate the sacraments but cannot and on behalf of those who yearn for a renewed Church but are finding strong resistance. That Grech’s pastoral was not issued on behalf of both bishops was a missed opportunity for the Maltese Catholic Church.

Shame on us

UNHCR Europe director Vincent Cochetel described the migrant crossings in the Mediterranean as ‘a tragedy of enormous scale’. Brig. Martin Xuereb, director of MOAS which, in the abscence of Italy’s Mare Nostrum sea rescue mission, meant that hundreds of lives were saved at sea, said that migrants are being pushed to leave their homes by getting onto rickety boats on rough seas knowing the rescue missions have stopped.

As thousands of men, women and children continue to lose their life at sea, EU Leaders, notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and UK Prime Minister David Cameron fail to put their money where their mouth is – through effective and vigorous search and rescue systems. Needless to say, the Valletta market, the extension and restoration of St John’s Co-Cathedral, wind farms and the April spring hunting referendum are the primary concerns of our political class. Shame on us.

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