The Consequences of Refusing to Negotiate

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In their counter-terrorism efforts, both the US and EU are still often acting upon the principle not to negotiate with ‘others’ whom are perceived as somewhat non-reconcilable and ‘beneath diplomacy’. The issue of migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea is a good example of the potential consequences of this policy. Since mid-2014, power over Libya is divided between the internationally backed government in Tobruk and authorities that govern the Western part of Libya, based in the capital Tripoli. The West has since been unable and perhaps unwilling to establish any contact or relationship with the actors in power in Western Libya. As part of the EU’s attempt to crack down on the networks of smugglers who are made responsible for the disastrous shipwrecks, opportunities to liaise and coordinate with the authorities in Libya could perhaps be immensely helpful as they are in charge of internal security and coastguard operations. The effects of a short-sighted policy of non-communication, based on principles rather than realities, have begun to bear fruit.


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