While attention in the news is quite legitimately on Crimea and MH370 the country of Libya is on the brink of something very nasty. The latest from Reuters today is that Rockets have been fired at Tripoli airport. To give an update of what has happened over the last week or so. Rebels seized a ship loaded with oil in Cyrenaica. The Libyan navy is at the bottom of the Mediterranean due to Nato action in 2011. The airforce was in open revolt and it was left to the US navy to seize the (North Korean) ship back and return it to the Libyan government who the oil belonged to. At the same time the Prime Minster fled in a private jet. There is a real threat that the country might fall into civil war and break up.
Does that Libya is on the brink matter? I think it does for three reasons.
- First, there is a humanitarian issue. In Syria we have seen a huge humanitarian crisis that we have not been able to solve. At least one hundred thousand people have died, many of them women and children. Do we really want to see more carnage? Is that a Christian response?
- Second, we will have a refugee crisis much closer to Europe. The Syrian crisis has been appalling with 2million plus people displaced. Libyan will want to go to Europe which will cause all sorts of ructions.
- Lastly the raison d’etre of this blog, energy security. The graph below shows the oil and gas production for Libya (source BP statistical review of world energy 2013). The Italian gas network is supplied by Libya, but ultimately the whole EU gas network is one (with the UK on the end with very little gas storage). With relations with Russia getting worse by the day and the Russians very willing in the past to use energy supply disruption as a political weapon, this is another reason for us to do what we can to help Libya.
As we wrote in our book at the end of the section on the “Arab Spring”;
“This is where we are in the unfolding story of oil: dangerously dependent, with a finite supply, and a host of uncertainties to boot.”
What can we do? Western governments need to try to get the Libyan groups talking and encourage the disarmament of militias. They also need to do everything they can to build civil society and encourage the central government not to be too heavy handed in its dealings with regional groups. Not easy, or certain of success, but we have to try. Contact your representatives and pray. At the same time we need to get off fossil fuels using energy conservation and renewables. Our lent guide will help you do this No oil in the lamp – Lent guide.
Libya is on the brink- it does matter.