Libya’s ongoing Civil War

In 2011, rebel forced with Western assistance ousted Colonel Gaddafi from power in Libya. A new constitution was created, democracy was established and elections for the General National Congress (GNC) were held on the 7th of July the very same year. It seemed as if the West had finally conducted a successful intervention in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring which would hopefully shake off the long shadow cast by the Iraq war just eight year earlier.

However as with all interventions and especially Westerns interventions in the Middle East successful and complete intervention is never that easy. In early 2014 Libya’s unicameral legislature ran by a majority of independent Islamist elected Nouri Abusahmain as President of the GNC. Abusahmain administration subsequently passed Shira law through Libya, started to supress debates and when his term ran out in January 2014 Abusahmain unilaterally extended its rule without seeking re-election.

General Khalifa Haftar, a leading general during the civil war in 2011 launched a campaign to allow for elections for the GNC and for a care taker administration to take over during the election. The GNC and President Abusahmain ignored Haftar’s calls for an election resulting in former rebel brigands to turn on each other, resulting in civil war. The civil now an ongoing armed conflict being fought between Haftar’s Operation Dignity and Parliament and Operation Libya Dawn supported by the GNC and various Islamist groups. Libya Dawn has created a parallel government and Libya in effect is one country run by two governments. The civil war has become a race between the two governments to gain control of cities, ports and resources, especially Libya’s largest export; oil.

Among the loose coalition of fundamentalist Islamists factions, ISIL have a contingent which has attract the eye of Western foreign policy makers as Libya engulfed in civil war now had a branch of the so called ‘Islamic State’ growing within the conflict. With tensions rising, the death count now reaching over 2,500 since the start if the civil war in early 2014 and other Arab countries now starting to take sides in the war the UN has intervened and has scheduled talks between the two governments on the 5th of January 2015. The reality of these talks is that they will be fruitless and the real question is how Western policy makers respond to the situation. To get not involved like in Syria or to finish the job they started in 2011 and provide limited assistance much like the situation in Iraq.


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