IT’S been a rollercoaster few weeks for Libya. A spot of good news first: Libya is pumping oil at its highest rate in four years, an important boon for a country that relies heavily on the petroleum industry.
Now for a bunch of bad: Earlier in the week, a convoy from the UN Support Mission in Libya was ambushed and, according to reports, their staff taken at gunpoint.
The UN now says its staff are all safely in Tripoli, but the incident is yet another a sign of the chaos in Libya, where multiple forces claim authority and there is heavy fighting in some parts of the country, including Benghazi.
The UN has just appointed a new envoy to the country – a former Lebanese minister of culture – a process that took four months, after the US rejected a Palestinian appointee because of his nationality, followed by retaliatory objections to other candidates from Russia and other countries. UNISMIL and various UN agencies have been gradually increasing their presence on the ground in the dangerous country, but this week’s ambush is likely to be a major setback.
And with Italy threatening to deny entry to foreign ships docking on its shores – an effort to force its European partners to do more about the massive influx of migrants, mostly coming from Libya – the internal divisions and external debate over Libya make it one to watch.