Libyen: Ein geteiltes Land hat in einer Notlage erst recht schlechte Karten

When the originally cold storm system „Daniel“ caused flooding in parts of Bulgaria, Turkey, and especially Greece, skeptics of climate catastrophes could still think that it might be an exceptional phenomenon. Such trivialization is prohibited after „Daniel“ developed into a tropical cyclone over the extremely warmed Mediterranean Sea and broke dams and walls upon its arrival in eastern Libya. Land masses were torn apart and washed into the sea. An area of approximately 20,000 square kilometers is partially completely flooded. It is estimated that there may be up to 20,000 fatalities. 40,000 people are said to have managed to flee from the floodwaters.

This catastrophe can be seen as an initial, sudden major event of the ongoing climate change. Hopefully, it will have a stronger impact on political decision-makers who have only been moderately alarmed by long-standing events such as droughts causing hunger or heatwaves causing many deaths.

Ohnmächtige Regierung

Das Inferno urbaner Vernichtung in der Küstenstadt Darna und anderswo trifft ein Land, das aus der öffentlichen Wahrnehmung weitgehend verschwunden ist. Die internationale Gemeinschaft konnte sich bislang nicht darauf einigen, dass und wie den Libyern politische Selbstbestimmung zugestanden wird. Um die ging es angeblich westlichen Staaten wie den USA, Frankreich und Italien, als sie im März 2011 dem UN-Sicherheitsrat ein begrenztes militärisches Mandat abrangen, um einen vermuteten Völkermord durch das Gaddafi-Regime in Ostlibyen abzuwenden. Dass es einen solchen Plan gar nicht gab und die westlichen Bombardements dem Ziel des Regime-Change dienten, lag zwar auf der Hand, wurde aber erst später offensichtlich.

Since then, it has not been possible to hold elections in Libya, from which a legitimate government could emerge. The United Nations, which remains active in this case, recognizes a provisional government in Tripoli, which only represents one-sixth of the territory. It relies on Islamist militias involved in the overthrow of Gaddafi, who have not been able to form a regular army so far.

Erst im August 2023 kamen bei Kämpfen rivalisierender Gruppen aus diesem Lager in Tripolis 44 Menschen ums Leben. Dass dieses fragile westlibysche Gebilde überhaupt noch existiert, verdankt es dem militärischen Eingreifen der Türkei, die 2020 entscheidend half, die vom abtrünnigen General Khalifa Haftar im Ostteil gebildete Libysche Nationalarmee kurz vor Tripolis aufzuhalten, schließlich zum Rückzug zu bewegen.

Verzögerter Einsatz

The eastern and the majority of the southern regions of Libya are governed by a parliament in Tobruk. In these areas controlled by Haftar’s forces, Islamist groups have been eliminated, with the support of Wagner mercenaries. Although there is at least a minimal consensus between the two parts of the country on how oil export revenues are distributed, the nearly 1.8 million square kilometer country is effectively divided into a western part and a part more aligned with Russia.

The initial reluctance of the West to respond to the pleas for help from the affected East and the government in Tripoli explains why the weather catastrophe hit this part. The UN had to intervene and urge action. While teams from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are already on the ground, Western aid organizations like the German Red Cross and Turkey are also preparing. Thousands of displaced Libyans are in need of aid, particularly medication, and assistance with clean-up efforts to make neighborhoods somewhat livable again.