Hundreds of migrants—as many as 700—drowned off the coast of Libya this weekend, in one of the greatest disasters of what has already become an out-of-control refugee crisis. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have made the crossing into Europe since 2011, with about 3,200 losing their lives last year. This year, the death toll has already surpassed 1,000.
In addition, ISIS, now very active in Libya, has released gruesome footage of the beheadings and shootings of about 30 Ethiopian Christians.
European Foreign Ministers are meeting in Luxembourg today, and the tragedy is likely to focus discussions on how the EU might try to mitigate the effects of state collapse just across the Mediterranean. Reuters had a look at some of the proposals being considered:
One option proposed in the EU document seen by Reuters is for a naval operation to prevent arms-smuggling and to monitor Islamic State activity in Libya. Such a mission could also check oil tankers going to and from Libyan refineries, it said.
The paper said however that careful consideration would have to be given to “the operation’s response to the inevitable presence of migration at sea and the ‘pull-factor’ risk”. […]
Another option suggested in the paper is that EU soldiers could secure oil installations in Libya to let international oil firms resume operations. Preventing Libyan factions shipping in arms funded by outward shipments of oil from installations under the control of militias is a priority for international powers.
European diplomats said neither military option had much support from EU states, though Mogherini’s former colleagues in the Rome government were pushing for more collective action to stabilize Italy’s former colony and to stem the flow of refugees and African economic migrants landing on its own shores.
In short, we shouldn’t expect any concrete action soon.
For his part, President Obama called on the Gulf Arab nations to work toward fixing the chaos on Friday. He is scheduled to meet with GCC members at the White House on May 13 and 14 to discuss the crises roiling the Middle East. Given the rising temperature in the Gulf itself, something tells us that we shouldn’t hold our breath on the GCC bailing out Libya either.
A failed state developing in the heart of North Africa and thousands killed in the aftermath of what was supposed to be a humanitarian intervention: these are the wages of an epic policy failure. No one seemed to have made any plans for stabilizing Libya after Qaddafi’s ouster, a decision that beggars belief given that this came after the wishful thinking and lack of planning that characterized the Iraq invasion. Heckuva job.