In a historically unprecedented attack by a sitting U.S. President to a U.K. Prime Minister, President Obama publicly blamed David Cameron for the unraveling of the situation in Libya.
In an interview with the Atlantic, President Obama said:
“When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong… there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.”
“We actually executed this plan as well as I could have expected: We got a UN mandate, we built a coalition, it cost us $1bn – which, when it comes to military operations, is very cheap. We averted large-scale civilian casualties, we prevented what almost surely would have been a prolonged and bloody civil conflict. And despite all that, Libya is a mess.”
Obama went on to say that Cameron got distracted by other issues, allowing Libya to turn into a “shit show.”
In 2011 in the midst of what was dubbed the “arab spring,” Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy pushed hard for strikes to take down Colonel Muammar Gaddafi – a successful operation. America’s lesser role became controversial, with many fearing that “leading from behind,” could lead to instability.
President and Prime Minister David Cameron have shared good relations so far in both their times in power but this new swipe by Obama to a liberal magazine is threatening to undo much of that goodwill.
For his part, 10 Downing Street is not taking these reports lying down. A Spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said:
“We would share the President’s assessment that there are real challenges in Libya. That’s why we are continuing to work hard with international partners to support a process in Libya that puts in place a government that can bring stability, and why we are talking about how we can support such a government in the future.”
She also went on to defend the actions the UK undertook in Libya while acknowledging the struggles.
Libya has become the new home for ISIS in northern Africa. As a country, Libya is mostly desert with cities lining the northern coast. Currently, two different governments are battling for control of the country. ISIS sees this power vacuum as the perfect place for the installation of a new caliphate.
Libya is also the site of many past struggles for the UK, Americans and especially the French who used to hold Libya as a colony. It was the site of the first war on terror as muslim pirates captured American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean. What followed was President Jefferson launching a bombardment of Tripoli to stop it from continuing.
Will Libya ever find stability? Sound off in the comments below!