Cameron blamed for Libya chaos

> MPs: UK’s 2011 mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion based on ‘er­ro­neous as­sump­tions’

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

LON­DON: For­mer Bri­tish prime min­is­ter David Cameron launched a bomb­ing cam­paign in Libya based on “er­ro­neous as­sump­tions” and failed to ad­e­quately plan for the af­ter­math, ac­cord­ing to a damn­ing par­lia­men­tary re­port re­leased yes­ter­day.

The For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee an­a­lysed Bri­tain’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing in the run-up to its in­ter­ven­tion along­side France in 2011, which the govern­ment said at the time was aimed at pro­tect­ing civil­ians un­der fire from dic­ta­tor Muam­mar Gaddafi.

“It (the govern­ment) could not ver­ify the ac­tual threat to civil­ians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it se­lec­tively took el­e­ments of Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to iden­tify the mil­i­tant Is­lamist ex­trem­ist el­e­ment in the re­bel­lion,” law­mak­ers said in their re­port.

“UK strat­egy was founded on er­ro­neous as­sump­tions and an in­com­plete un­der­stand­ing of the ev­i­dence,” it said.

Nearly five years after Gaddafi was ousted and killed, chaos con­tin­ues to reign in Libya with two ri­val gov­ern­ments vy­ing for power and fierce bat­tles over the coun­try’s valu­able oil as­sets.

Crispin Blunt, chair of the For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said other op­tions were avail­able to Bri­tain which could have led to a bet­ter out­come.

“Po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment might have de­liv­ered civil­ian pro­tec­tion, regime change and re­form at a lesser cost to the UK and Libya,” he said in a state­ment.

“The UK would have lost noth­ing by try­ing these in­stead of fo­cus­ing ex­clu­sively on regime change by mil­i­tary means.”

The re­port also said the govern­ment should have been aware that mil­i­tant ex­trem­ist groups would at­tempt to ben­e­fit from the re­bel­lion, adding there was no ev­i­dence a proper anal­y­sis of those be­hind the re­bel­lion was car­ried out.

Cameron was de­scribed by the com­mit­tee as “ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for the fail­ure to de­velop a co­her­ent Libya strat­egy”.

The ex-premier de­clined to give ev­i­dence to the com­mit­tee, cit­ing “the pres­sures on his diary”, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Key po­lit­i­cal play­ers in­clud­ing for­mer de­fence min­is­ter Liam Fox and for­mer for­eign min­is­ter Wil­liam Hague gave ev­i­dence to the com­mit­tee, as well as for­mer prime min­is­ter Tony Blair.

Blair told the com­mit­tee he spoke to Gaddafi by phone in Fe­bru­ary 2011 and tried to con­vince him to stand aside.

“We saw no ev­i­dence that the then prime min­is­ter David Cameron at­tempted to ex­ploit Blair’s con­tacts,” the re­port said.

The fall­out from the oust­ing of Gaddafi has also seen crit­i­cism of US pol­icy, with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ad­mit­ting in a can­did in­ter­view with At­lantic mag­a­zine pub­lished in March that Libya was a “mess”.

He said Cameron had placed too much faith in the Euro­peans “be­ing in­vested in the fol­low-up”. – AFP

The Aus­tralian pel­i­can flies over the wa­ters of Gen­eral San­tos on Mon­day.

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