Libya faces 'impossible' task

2012-12-18 22:03
(Picture: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shutterstock</a)

(Picture: Shutterstock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tripoli - Libya's decision to shut its desert frontiers is a tall order for its fledgling army, which is ill-equipped to seal largely uninhabited Saharan wastes stretching more than 4 000km.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told the national assembly on Tuesday that the measure requires further study and warned that "rash decisions should not be made when we are incapable of implementing them”.

Assembly members voted on Sunday to order the closure of Libya's borders with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Algeria. They also declared martial law in the vast desert south, citing mounting unrest across the Sahel region.

The foreign ministry said on Monday that the decision was made in coordination with the countries concerned, following a regional tour by the prime minister to discuss boosting joint action against "terrorists" following the seizure of northern Mali by Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Libya plans to establish one authorised border crossing with each of the four neighbours, army spokesperson Ali al-Sheikhi told AFP. "Any person who enters or exits at other points will be considered an infiltrator," he added.

Analysts see the measure as a response to the crisis in Mali, which has sparked calls for international intervention, but say that Libyan security forces simply do not have the means to implement it while they remain in disarray after last year's ouster of veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Border crossing

"The Mali crisis has crystallised the fact that you have an area where there can be a lot of cross-border criminality, cross-border flux," said Jon Mark, a North Africa analyst at the London-based Chatham House.

"Some of the fighters and a lot of the guns in Mali came from Libya. The Malian conflict forced everyone to focus on the situation," Mark said.

Mali does not share a border with Libya but it proved the worst affected by the spill-over of fighters and weapons, both Tuareg and Islamist, that accompanied the uprising that overthrew Gaddafi.

With West African governments now pushing for intervention to evict the jihadists from northern Mali, Libya and its neighbours, particularly Algeria, fear the fighters and weapons made be sent streaming back north across the Sahara.

"Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb got themselves more ensconced in the top of Mali. The threat that all governments in the region are worrying about is that it blows back the other way," Mark said.

Middle East analyst Shashank Joshi said he was "sceptical" whether the new measures would make any "dent in the flow of arms, people and goods," given that the post- Gaddafi army struggles even to secure the cities of Libya's Mediterranean coast.

"We are dealing with national armed forces that are extremely weak and have trouble asserting themselves in populous coastal areas," said Joshi, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

Long term

The killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans by Islamist extremists in an 11 September assault in Libya's main eastern city Benghazi highlighted insecurity in the populous north but Joshi said the south could prove more dangerous in the long run.

"In the longer term... the threat is greater in the south... because the prospect of politically integrating the south is a lot harder than integrating the east," he warned.

Ethnic conflicts born out of the Gaddafi regime's policy of divide-and-rule and aggravated by the 2011 conflict have already led to several rounds of fighting in the south that claimed hundreds of lives this year.

Libya analyst Saleh al-Senussi said the decision to declare martial law in the region also reflected continuing security concerns about remnants of the Gaddafi regime, some who found refuge in neighbouring Algeria and Niger.

The new authorities worried that they might yet exploit the south for "subversive activities," Senussi said.

 

- SAPA
Read more on:    al qaeda  |  ali zeidan  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

13 summer safety tips

Summer time and the burning is easy. Get some great tips to ensure sunburn doesn't spoil your holiday!

 
 

I love summer.24

This sleeping bulldog is you during the holidays
This man's reaction to his Christmas present is priceless!
LOL! Cats destroying Christmas trees
Great tips for surviving the holidays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may feel more sensitive than usual and there may be something or someone blocking the flow of things. There is a strong desire...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.