Mary Wakefield Mary Wakefield

Libya is imploding. Why doesn’t Cameron care?

The US has said it has temporarily evacuated its staff from the Libyan capital Tripoli over security concerns. Earlier this year Mary Wakefield discussed in The Spectator how David Cameron wasn’t paying due attention to the troubles in Libya:

A few days ago I went to a talk about Syria; one of those events for the concerned layman, in which a panel of experts give a briefing. Everything sounded depressingly familiar until expert number three piped up: I hear people blame Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the Islamists in Syria, he said, but in fact, they more often come from Libya. The crowd shifted in discomfort. Isn’t Libya done and dusted? Oh no, said the expert, it’s full of al-Qa’eda training camps now, especially in Benghazi.

My first thought, unusually, was to feel sorry for David Cameron. Remember how proud he was on his victory visit to Tripoli at the end of the Libyan war? There he stood in the five-star Corinthia hotel, by Sarko’s side, his arms full of flowers, his cheeks pink with pleasure. His friends say that these days Libya has become his ‘happy place’. When times are tough and backbenchers uppity, his mind wanders to Benghazi: well, at least we done good there. Just imagine him discovering that the worst offenders in Syria are those he liberated from Gaddafi. Nothing more infuriating than being hoist by your own petard.

But worse for Cameron, and for the allies of 2011, is that it’s not just Syria (or Mali, say) feeling the fallout. Three years on, unnoticed by most of the world, Libya itself has become a heartbreaking mess. Those same rebels who once formed the allies’ army have fractured into militias — more than 1,000, it’s said — some tribal, some Islamist, all at loggerheads. Assassinations and kidnappings have become routine; last year even the man in charge of investigating assassinations was assassinated.

As a measure of Libya’s descent, take that same Corinthia hotel where once our PM took a bow.

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