Analysis: Libya closer to full civil war
situation in the country has deteriorated so much that the US suspended
training by US special forces after a local militia stole a cache of
Fighters protest Photo: ISMAIL ZITOUNY/ REUTERS
Libya seems to be heading towards a major civil war, waiting for its
next strong man to put a lid on the chaos and control the various
The Libyan government is unable to control its territory.
situation in the country has deteriorated so much that the US
suspended training by US special forces after a local militia stole a
cache of American-provided weapons.
According to a report published in the British newspaper, The Times, on Friday
quoting Olivier Guitta, the director of the London-based Henry Jackson
Society think-tank, French, American and Algerian special forces are
on their way to southern Libya to attack al-Qaida in the Islamic
After a contested vote in parliament three
weeks ago, businessman Ahmed Maiteeq was appointed as Libya’s third
prime minister in two months – with backing from Islamists and
independents in the splintered General National Congress (GNC).
Wednesday, his predecessor, acting prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni,
refused to hand over power after questioning the legality of Maiteeq’s
appointment by parliament.
Meanwhile, a former Libyan army
officer, Khalifa Haftar, began a self-declared campaign against
extremists he accuses Islamist parties in the GNC of allowing to
The West helped create a vacuum in Libya where various
tribes, militias and Islamist groups roam, where each group seeks to
aggrandize and/or protect its own power and territory.
other Arab countries, local identity, or that of the family or ethnic
group, override an overarching, modern national one.
Koury and Joseph Kostiner wrote in the introduction to their book
Tribes and State Formation in the Middle East: “States that contain or
coexist with tribal societies have encountered difficulty developing
efficient administrative machineries and compelling ideologies
necessary to achieve legitimacy.”
“Instead, they have depended heavily on physical and psychological coercion to expand their control,” they said.
continuing chaos that broke out upon the uprising and the subsequent
Western military intervention in 2011 is because no one party has been
able to monopolize power within Libyan territory, and hence, put a stop
to inter-group warfare.
And like in other Arab countries, to
maintain order, it seems necessary for an unforgiving strongman to hold
the disparate factions together. Former Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi
was able to do it, though brutally.
In Syria, the country is
suffering from similar chaos due to ethnic and religious divisions and
President Bashar Assad has lost control of much of the country’s
And in Sudan, which borders Libya to the southeast, it broke up into two states, and the strife there is still far from over.
analysts have opined that breaking up the Arab states and drawing new
borders that better reflect ethnic and tribal divisions would provide
for more stability.
But drawing such borders would be difficult
to carry out and moreover, would not perfectly align with ethnic
divisions on the ground, with disputes lingering as to their location.
which lies on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is bordered by
Algeria on the West, Niger, Chad and Sudan to the south, and Egypt to
These countries are very concerned about the instability
in Libya and are no doubt interfering to support groups in the country
that support their interests.
Egypt’s newly elected president,
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is likely to continue the all-out battle against
the Islamist insurgency at home and work to prevent Libya from becoming
an Islamist bastion – along with its Gulf allies, led by Saudi Arabia.
this reason, they are likely to support the upstart Haftar and his
forces that struggle against the Islamist- backed Maiteeq.
are already flowing from Libya to Islamists in Sinai and even into
Gaza. If Haftar’s forces can help control the border-area and reduce
the Islamist threat to Sisi’s government, cooperation could be carried
On the other hand, Qatar and Turkey, which have a history of
supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, could throw their support behind
Reuters contributed to this report.
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