Crisis in Libya exposes failed EU

Truth be told, as far as foreign policy is concerned, Libya is not the EU’s top priority. The EU has failed Libya and its people; but it has failed its neighbouring countries too – not least Malta

It is painful to watch EU leaders nowadays, and then they wonder why they are losing the people’s trust. It is screamingly obvious that EU leaders are at a loss on how to deal with Libya – a country which has descended into chaos as two rival governments battle it out for power.

The inconsistencies and lack of foresight shown by EU leaders faced with the chaos in Libya is shocking. On Libya, the EU has lost the plot completely. 

First it was European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini who fudged it when, last month, she considered sending soldiers to Libya to ‘back up a potential national unity government’. Her plans were met with scepticism from EU governments wary of the risks such an operation would involve. 

This week, European Council president Donald Tusk visited Malta and addressed a press conference with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at Castille. As the world waits with bated breath for the EU and the international community to come up with permanent solutions to the crisis in Libya following the downfall of the Gaddafi regime, the best Tusk could do was to tell us that a military solution is not the answer. 

Asked by the press to provide tangible solutions to the crisis on our doorstep, unsurprisingly Tusk told them that he [the EU] had no solution to the problem. 

After countless press conferences, parliamentary sittings and the EU Council’s fudging, the situation deteriorates further and the EU is at a loss on how to deal with this grave situation. 

Truth be told, as far as foreign policy is concerned, Libya is not the EU’s top priority. The EU has failed Libya and its people; but it has failed its neighbouring countries too – not least Malta, as thousands of people are waiting on Libya’s shores to flee from Tripoli’s and Benghazi’s raging inferno. 

The chaos in Libya threatens the region’s security. Doing nothing is no longer an option. 


A two-state solution no more?

Despite predictions that he will not survive a fourth term in office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a resounding victory at the polls. His re-election will pave the way for Netanyahu to lead what is expected to be a right-leaning and religious coalition. 

Opinion polls predicted a bashing for Netanyahu – with political analysts stating that Israelis were concerned mostly with the state of the economy and the astronomical rise in the prices for houses in Israel. Others argued that security matters would win the day for Netanhayu. The latter were proved right. 

Now that his own party holds many more seats, and following his categorical statement a few days before the election that on his watch there won’t be a Palestinian state, his re-election will have a deep impact on Middle East politics. 

According to the New York Times, the Israeli Prime Minister is expected to walk back on his statement against a Palestinian state, quoting analysts saying that, “people close to him have already suggested that he meant only that current conditions in the region and the attitude of the Palestinian leadership make a State unrealistic now”.

That remains to be seen. Netanyahu has proved to be an impulsive, unpredictable leader. He portrays a no-nonsense, bullish image to his people and the outside world – as could be seen during his recent speech at the US Congress; ignoring widespread criticism on the purpose of his visit – to lambast a US-Iranian agreement on nuclear power, and delivering a no-holds barrel speech. It did not go down well with US President Barack Obama and his allies, but it seems to have worked wonders with voters in Tel Aviv. 

A fortnight ago, I visited Palestine to work on a documentary for my TV show, Iswed fuq l-Abjad. Interviewing young Muslims and Christian students at the Bethlehem University and at Manger Square, following the Muslim Friday prayers in front of the Omar Mosque, it was clear that these young people face a bleak future.

They mention as their main concerns security check points – which make it difficult for them to commute freely within the region, the construction of more settlements and Netanyahu’s recent statements – urging the Jews of Western Europe that they should emigrate to his country. 

The settlements issue raises the most ire – not least internationally. Hopefully, Netanyahu will walk back from his ‘not on my watch’ statement against a two-state solution. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians deserve to live in peace and harmony. According to media reports, the Israeli Prime Minister will have more leeway on the settlements issue, as the pro-settler Jewish Home Party lost four parliamentary seats – eight from 12 in the general election. The New York Times reported that “the last housing minister, a Jewish Home member who angered Mr Netanyahu by announcing construction without his approval, is bound to be replaced”.

Unfortunately, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been pushed to the back burner as the world focuses its attention on the threat of ISIS in other parts of the Middle East and the Iranian nuclear programme. Netanyahu’s re-election shall probably put this conflict under the spotlight again.

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