Libya: Europe’s looming ‘Vietnam’?

Amid continued confused multi-factional warfare in Libya, Islamist militias on Feb. 23 reportedly lost two major areas in the contested eastern city of Benghazi. Fighters loyal to anti-Islamist Gen Khalifa Haftar are reported to have taken over the port, a hospital and have cut off a key weapons supply line. (BBC News) Meanwhile, Libya Dawn militia forces loyal to the rebel government that controls Tripoli were mobilized to the western town of Sabratha, after ISIS militants seized several key positions there, including the main hospital. (Libya Herald) In England, the defense spokesman for the hard-right UK Independence Party (UKIP) warned that Libya could be the "EU's Vietnam," citing a supposed leak of documents revealing plans to expand "Operation Sophia" to put European "boots on the ground" in the North African country. (UKIP, Feb. 18)

  1. Monarchist solution for Libya?

    You knew this was coming. The NY Times on Feb. 24 notes the Return to Constitutional Legitimacy Movement, which is calling for a restoration of the Libyan monarchy, as if this would magically end the multi-factional warfare and collapse of the state. But, as we noted regarding similar proposals for Iran a few years ago, the pretender to the throne seems reluctant:

    Those who say a king can rescue the country point to a little-known crown prince, Mohammed el-Senussi, a grandnephew of King Idris. The prince once worked for the Qaddafi government’s Agriculture Ministry, but then fled into exile in the late 1980s. He was a prominent presence in the news media when the regime tottered in early 2011, offering his services to rebuild the country, but in recent years he has become a more distant figure. He occasionally addresses Libyans through videos posted online, but his website is focused on his hobbies and love of sports and provides little information about his occupation or sources of income.

    The prince declined to be interviewed for this article, but an aide in the United States, Alaa el-Senussi, said the prince "was ready to return to Libya if the people demanded it."

    Egypt's Ahram Weekly informs us that acousin of King Idris, Abdullah Abed Al-Senussi, is also a pretender to the throne and actually led an attempted restorationist coup in 1970. Qaddafi's ex-spy chief who now awaits execution, Abdullah al-Senussi, also presumably belongs to this family.