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Libya

April 19, 2016

Mark asked the following of Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, in a debate on Libya:

  • We have seen a very thoughtful exchange between the Foreign Secretary and his shadow. Although there are flickers of optimism, the atmosphere remains very sombre, not least because, as other Members have pointed out, we have responsibility to a large extent for what has happened in Libya over the past five years. I say to my right hon. Friend, who has dealt with this whole issue of technical and other expertise very skilfully, that the British public would be very reluctant if there were any sense that our expertise was going into helping one side rather than another in what could still be a very bloody civil war. Although I appreciate that these are difficult things and that there are often no good guys on either side, there must be an appreciation that that would be something that would cause angst to the public if we are to have a functioning Libya in the years ahead.

  • I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that. If only it were so simple as there being two sides; there are about 120 sides as far as I can make out. He is absolutely right. Of course we must ensure that our support is targeted at the Government of national accord. We have to look for bright spots. One of the positive things that I take from the situation in Libya is that, by and large, the different factions are not motivated by ideology, particularly by extreme religious ideology, as they are in some of the other conflict zones. A lot of this is to do with traditional money and power interests. It is about people wanting to protect their local fiefdoms and making sure that they and their communities get their share of the wealth of the state. Prime Minister Sarraj is going about this in exactly the right way. He is going with the grain of Libyan society, recognising that reality and trying to build a consensus mechanism around it.