In mid-December, the Ottawa Citizen posted a small story about how the Libyan government wants to find a new embassy building in Canada’s national capital.
What had sparked the news item was the fact that the Libyan diplomats had taken the rare approach of placing a classified ad, in the same newspaper, stating they were looking for new digs “in an area worthy of the representation and where the embassies of other countries are located, downtown or not far from the core of the Ottawa city.”
Also specified in the ad was the need for the new facility to have at least 25 offices, a boardroom and washroom facilities.
Noted by the reporter was the fact that, in recent months, the burgeoning staff numbers have caused the Libyans to outgrow their current location on a single floor in an office tower.
The growth spurt, from 15 officials immediately following the ouster of President Moammar Gadhafi in October 2011 to the current roster of 30 staffers, was described as “a change that reflects the changing nature of (the Canada-Libya) relationship.”
To support this theory, the story noted how Canada had taken a lead role in supporting the Libyan revolt in 2011. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s May 2011 visit to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi at the height of the conflict was hailed as “a significant milestone in relations between the two countries.”
Also mentioned on the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Department website is the claim that the growing relationship with Libya is not solely trade-based opportunism.
No siree. According to the department’s official message, “The Canadian-Libyan bilateral relationship is a mutually respectful partnership based on common interests such as democratic governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and strengthening commercial relations.”
Not mentioned anywhere in this puff piece about acquiring new real estate was the fact that, since the overthrow and murder of Gadhafi, Libya has devolved into a failed state. Even the current Libyan ambassador, Fathi Baja, the very same individual seeking a bigger embassy, agreed in a recent interview that the term “failed state” applies to the situation in Libya.
Those armed, undisciplined militias that fought to topple Gadhafi had little common purpose other than to collectively effect regime change.
After this was bloodily accomplished with the direct support of a 10-month NATO campaign, the disparate bands of armed fighters refused to voluntarily disband, resulting in widespread violence and reprisals against innocent civilians caught on the wrong side of what was largely a tribal-based civil war.
Sub-Saharan Libyans were considered Gadhafi supporters and, consequently, were brutally ethnically cleansed from entire towns. With no central security force, the Libyan government has been impotent to enforce any central authority.
The West’s failure to secure the vast arsenal of weapons that poured into the Libyan civil war meant that, after the collapse of the Gadhafi regime, the violence spread throughout the entire region.
Tuareg fighters and al-Qaida operatives used the weapons and ammunition from Libya to create the crisis in Mali in February. As well, large numbers of opportunistic Islamic Jihadists who had swarmed into Libya to depose Gadhafi have since fleshed out the ranks of the al-Qaida-based al-Nusra Front fighting in Syria to oust President Bashir al-Assad.
The anarchy in Libya, highlighted by the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other diplomats dead in the rubble.
The latest news out of post-revolution Libya is that public pressure has at last forced many of the larger militia formations to withdraw from the major cities. Instead of being a positive development, the withdrawal has apparently created a power vacuum that is being filled with even more random violence.
Rival armed tribes are vying for control, unchecked by the government’s limited security force. Even more damaging is the fact that, since July, a tribal warlord has shut down the flow of Libya’s oil until he receives a larger share of the revenue.
So while it may seem a positive development that Libya wants to enlarge its embassy in Ottawa, one has to question why a small North African failed state that has plunged into armed anarchy and had its resource-based revenues suspended would think it needs a 30-person diplomatic mission?
More importantly, why does Canada officially see increased ties with a failed state as a good thing?