A light of liberation for Libya

Once chaotic and violent, the North African nation is taking key steps toward reconciliation – if an election is held and foreign forces leave.

People walk in Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya, Sept. 22

A year ago, Libya was a failed state, split by warring factions serving as pawns in a proxy war between Turkey and Russia. The country, liberated from a dictator a decade ago during the Arab Spring, had descended into violent chaos, much like that in Syria and Yemen. National reconciliation seemed like a desert mirage.

Yet on Oct. 5, a major construction and building trade fair opened in the capital, Tripoli. Hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees from around the world gathered in anticipation of the North African state becoming stable enough for mass investment. The day before, the country’s new unity government said construction had started on an oil refinery. These were signs that the stigma of a failed state is lifting after a Jan. 12 cease-fire between major warring parties.

What’s changed for Libya is that a peace process shepherded by the United Nations and a few European leaders has begun to take hold. Reconciliation among Libya’s 20 major tribal lines and between rival leaders in the east and west is still far off. But the pieces of peace are falling into place. Libyan activists in civil society groups, who have championed a national identity based on equality, individual rights, and social inclusion, seem hopeful.

Two big hurdles remain. One is the holding of elections, slated for Dec. 24. The other is the withdrawal of thousands of foreign mercenaries and military personnel. The United States and Europe are pressing for both to take place. Germany has kept a steady hand on the process. And on Sept. 28, the U.S. Congress passed the Libya Stabilization Act, which calls for penalties on anyone who contributes to violence in Libya. In addition, leaders of Libya’s rival militaries met in Tripoli for the first time in the presence of U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, who leads the U.S. Africa Command.

The cease-fire has allowed Libyans to travel again between east and west, helping efforts at unity. National healing has also begun with the first U.N. report on serious human rights violations committed during the civil conflict. The report opens the way for an accountability that might prevent further violations.

Libya is far from being a model democratic state for the Arab world. But its steps toward reconciliation are setting an example for other trouble spots in the Middle East.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to A light of liberation for Libya
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today