Tripoli Govt Warns of Refugee Deluge if Europe Doesn’t Recognize Them

Spokesman: We've Been Protecting Europe

Jamal Zubya, the foreign media spokesman for the Tripoli-based Libyan government, one of two major factions vying for recognition as the real government of Libya, has warned the European Union that it’s refusal of recognition could eventually mean a deluge of Libyan refugees crossing the Mediterranean.

Zubya says the Tripoli government has been spending tens of millions of dollars annually trying to stem the flow of migrants, and that in the absence of formal recognition they should feel no obligation to continue “protecting the gates of Europe.” He says he has personally advised the government that, barring recognition, they’d be further ahead just renting boats and sending the migrants abroad instead of spending so much money trying to prevent them leaving.

In the dispute over the June 2014 elections, battles erupted between the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters and other secular factions. The Brotherhood’s forces eventually won the battle in Tripoli and made this government, while the other faction relocated to Tobruk in the far east, and has acted as a “government-in-exile” ever since.

The Tobruk government is the one that the UN recognizes, and subsequently the one that the EU and the rest of the West tends to recognize, though in practice the Tripoli government holds more territory. That said, neither is hugely powerful, and the UN has tried to reconcile the two into some unity faction, a move that has so far failed.

In the absence of a unity deal, it is highly unlikely that the EU would unilaterally shift recognition to Tripoli, though this may fuel another round of calls, chiefly from Italy, to launch another war against Libya, aimed primarily at destroying any boats that might be used to send migrants abroad.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.