Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s 2011 decision to intervene militarily in Libya was misguided and helped give rise to Islamic extremism in North Africa, a key British parliamentary committee said Wednesday.
The harsh report slams Cameron and his top advisers for expanding a civilian protection mission in Libya to include regime change and failing to adequately plan for the country’s future after the overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
It said Britain’s military action was based on “erroneous assumptions” and an “incomplete understanding” of the ramifications of removing Gadhafi and that Cameron’s team should have been aware that the rebel groups Britain was backing contained “significant” numbers of extremists.
“The UK’s actions in Libya were part of an ill-conceived intervention, the results of which are still playing out today,” said committee chairman Crispin Blunt, a Conservative Party legislator.
France and Britain led an international coalition in a series of airstrikes against Gadhafi in March 2011 as the dictator’s forces were threatening what would have been a bloody onslaught against heavily populated Benghazi, then controlled by rebel forces.
The oil-rich North African country descended into chaos after the intervention and parts of it have become a bastion for Islamic State extremists, giving the militants a new base even as its territory in Syria and Iraq shrinks under constant assault.
The parliamentary report says the failure to plan for the aftermath led to political collapse, internal warfare, a humanitarian crisis and the rise of the Islamic State group.
Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement that the intervention had international support from the Arab League and had been authorized by the United Nations Security Council.
Cameron stepped down as prime minister in July and resigned from Parliament this week. His political career was cut short by Britain’s June vote to leave the European Union.