On April 20, IAI Senior Fellow and Head of research, Riccardo Alcaro, chaired the seminar on the Libyan crisis. The main speakers were Karim Mezran, senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East of the Atlantic Council in Washington, and Roberto Aliboni, scientific counsellor of the IAI.
Mezran presented the two most realistic explanations of the Libyan crisis:
1. There has been a misunderstanding of the conflict, in that it has been interpreted as a revolution while it is in fact a civil war, and the fact that Gaddafi was followed by a significant segment of the population has been ignored;
2. Western allies were sent away after they deposed Gaddafi: but instead, NATO's help would have been fundamental for reconstruction. Furthermore, Mezran listed what he feels is needed nationally and internationally to solve the crisis: namely, a neutral party in the conflict; the inclusion of Gaddafi’s former supporters who are now in exile; application of UN sanctions to the militia and a national parliament that is legitimate.
Aliboni, on the other hand, focused his comment on the international context and on the position of the West in the conflict, which is formally aligned with the government in Misurata. However, he explained that, if the urgency of fighting ISIS prevails and, thus, if mediation is not supported, the West will fatally be attracted by the other government in Tobruk. The current challenge is to establish a national unity government that is able to fight both ISIS and other extremists. As for the rest of the region, Saudi Arabia’s interest in Libya seems to have diminished as the new King Salman has shifted perspective towards Iran; on the contrary, interest is rising in Egypt, which has been active in the fighting in much of the area (for instance, Yemen and Syria). As concerns the West, it needs to convince Egypt that the best option is to support a Libyan national unity government to combat all extremists.