The United Kingdom was among the major supporter of the NATO intervention in Libya, and one of the earlier critics of Muammar Qaddafi's crackdown on the protests that erupted in Libya in February 2011. London did not respond to the events of the Arab Spring in other countries, Bahrain for instance, with the same intensity. This was the result of its historical duality in dealing with the country of the region. This selective approach was particularly evident in dealing with the Arab Spring in Libya. Despite the rapprochement of the past years, the relations with Qaddafi remained burdened by mutual diffidence and lack of trust, given the troubled relations that the Jamahirya and the UK shared since the outbreak of Qaddafi's revolution in 1969. In the post-Qaddafi, the UK wants to support Libya in strengthening its sovereign capacities, avoiding however a direct intervention, wary of the Libyan diffidence over foreign intervention. London wants to avoid a greater destabilisation of the Mediterranean space since the stability of this areas, as well as of its shipping lanes, remain fundamental in the British geopolitical calculations.
Dario Cristiani is a Senior Analyst in the Peace and Security Section, with a particular focus on the Middle East and Mediterranean. He is a PhD candidate in Middle East & Mediterranean Studies at King's College, University of London.