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Libya: After Gaddafi and before its fragmentation
Libya, one of the major oil producing countries of world is virtually leading to the state of fragmentation. The State machinery has collapsed, democratic forces are sidelined and practically in non-existent, radicals and militias are gaining strength day by day.

Their inter rivalry to maintain their hold on different areas especially oil rich territories are causing dents to the political restructure of the nation after killing of Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, who ruled the country with iron first for a span of over forty years.

Libya is a North African country and located at the Northwest of Africa ( Maghreb Region) west of Egypt. Libya is 17th largest country of the world and third largest country in African continent. It shares borders with Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, and Chad. It has a coastline of about 1, 770 km and borders the Mediterranean sea between Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. The country is divided into 22 administrative districts.

Libya has just 1.4 per cent of the arable land and remaining land is desert or semi desert. Population of Libya is about seven million and population growth rate is about two per cent. The majority of the population, that is about 88 per cent, lives in urban areas and major cities are Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata and Bayda.

The most dominating ethnic group of Libya is Berber- Arabs, which forms about 98 per cent of the total population. Turk, Maltese, Egyptians, Italians, Pakistanis and some other minority groups form the remaining three per cent of the population. Libya has about 82 per cent of literacy rate and the female literacy rate is 72 per cent which is highest in the Arab world.

As regards economy of Libya, the country has 10th largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world and 17th highest petroleum production in the world. Libya has also other natural resources, including natural gas and gypsum.

However, in most of Libya, the hot and dusty climate in the country does not favour much of agricultural activities and meets only 25 per cent of country's need and remaining agricultural related requirements are imported. The economy is, therefore, mainly dependent on oil production and petroleum products.

Libya attained independence on December 24, 1951 from France and the United Kingdom. The country was ruled by King Idris. Following discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959, Libya's economic situation and wealth improved but resentment against the King also grew very fast for amassing the country's wealth. On September 1, l969 a small group of military officers, led by Col. Muammar Gaddafi staged a coup against King Idris and resumed the power by launching 'Al Fateh' Revolution.

Gaddafi, son of a goat herder was born in 1942 in the costal area of Sirte. He went to Benghazi University but dropped out to join the army as a signal officer. Gaddafi was Africa's and Arab world's longest ruling leader. He run the country through virtual dictatorship. He maintained tight control of his oil rich country by clamping down on dissidents. He run the country through a 12-member central committee viz: Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) and founded a civilian government to implement policies of RCC. Known to be an eccentric Gaddafi also compiled his political and social ideas on how to run the State into a book called 'Green Book".

Col. Gaddafi had earned wrath of several countries, including USA for perpetuating and aiding terrorism in other countries on several occasions and killing innocent civilians, including Americans. In December 2010, protests started in 21 countries of Arab league and some surrounding countries due to dissatisfaction against the local governments and rulers.

The widespread protests known as 'Arab Spring', lasted till the end of year 2013 and resulted into overthrowing of some governments. In Libya, anti-Gaddafi protests started on February 17, 2011 and his government was overthrown on August 23, 2011. Following which, Col. Gaddafi, went into hiding. On 20 October ,2011 Gaddafi was taken prisoner in Sirte area by Misratan militia and was killed. Meanwhile, a transitional government was formed, which governed the Libya for about ten months before the end of civil war in the country.

In July 2012, elections for country's 200 seats to the General National Congress (GNC) were held , which were country's first free general elections after six decades. National Forces Alliance (NFA) won maximum number of 39 seats. NFA was formed in February 2013 and it included 58 political organizations and 239 NGOs.

Following formation of GNC, Ali Zeidan of the NFA was elected as Prime Minister of Libya. Ali, a former diplomat had defected in l980 while serving at the Libyan Embassy in India and for next three decades lived in self exile. He was member of the Opposition National Front for the Salvation of Libya, established by the Libyan dissidents aboard in l981.

Zeidan was also Geneva based advocate for the human rights in Libya. However, Zeidan's government did not last for a long .On March 11, 2014 no confidence motion against Zeiden was passed by 124 members of the Parliament. He was accused of financial irregularities and his failure to disarm militias which have carved out their own fiefdoms since the NATO backed uprising which culminated into the end of forty two year old rule of Col. Gaddafi in 2011.

Following his removal, Zeiden fled the country and believed to be now residing in Germany. On March 11, 2014, Defense Minister Abdullah al Thani was named as an interim Prime Minister in place of Zeidan for two weeks, which was later approved as a permanent until his replacement has been selected.

Since formation of civilian government in early 2013, Libya is being overrun by militias and faces threat of a civil war. Hundreds of militia hold sway and the central government is powerless even to take over control of millions of weapons and their trafficking. Islamic forces and militias, who took arms against Gaddafi regime, did not lay down their arms.

Some of the largest and most well equipped militias are associated with Islamist groups, including Ansal al Sharia, which had attacked the US Consulate building in Benghazi in September 2012. Subsequently, this group was designated as a terrorist origination by the USA.

Post civil war violence in the Libya's has crippled the country's economy, A new umbrella group of Islamist militia viz: Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, which includes Ansar al Sharia and some other Islamic militias . who called themselves the Dawn of Libya are running their writ. Rebels are demanding a bigger share of oil revenue and political autonomy in the east seized three ports and partly control the fourth port of the country.

The worsening situation in Libya further got a jolt on August 23, 2014 when a collation of Islamist and militias from Misrata District launched a joint 'Operation Dawn' and captured Tripoli airport after a fierce fighting with pro-government militias , after a five weak siege that damaged some parts of the Tripoli also.

Militias also set a blaze the Tripoli airport building. Meanwhile, the government was exploring some other ways to check militias and save civilians from them by seeking international support, including from the United Nations, America, France, UK and Egypt, but so far did not get any support from any quarter at international level. However, some unknown countries had attacked the militias at Tripoli airport on August 25,2014. Militias had blamed Egypt and the UAE for air strikes against them and vowed to take revenge at appropriate time.

A large section of the Libyan population feel that now the fragmentation of the country is inevitable, with Islamist-led forces holding strong positions in around Tripoli, and tribal and nationalist forces' dominance is in the eastern part of the country.

Libya, ruled by Col. Gaddafi for over forty years, miserably failed to formulate political transition successfully and numerous self proclaimed militias, who could lay hands on deadly weapons during ousting of Col. Gaddafi are still possessing the arms illegally and are prime players in on going power struggle in the country. Militias, who were hailed as 'liberators', refused to disarm themselves after Gaddafi's ouster and now posing biggest challenge to the transitional political polity of the country.

In addition, since holding of successfully elections in 2012, the government failed to maintain law and order and could not arrange to surrender of arms by rebellions, which led to the bolstering of regional identities and politicians in oil rich area of eastern Libya. These elements have been calling for the self rule to gain petro money for themselves and their tribes and militias. Government efforts to ease the tension by recruiting former anti Gaddafi elements to the country's police and army also did not yield any favorable result.

Therefore, control of Tripoli by militias and Islamiats, divisions of country into de-facto self ruled territories and tribal rivalries, including between ethnic Arabs and Berbers led to the present volatile situation in Libya after the ouster of Col. Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, there are dim chances of Western counties, including France, USA and UK 's plunging into the worsening situation in Libya in near future due to their other regional priorities, including to check and demolish The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham(ISIS) and to tackle the explosive situation in Ukraine, Syria and Gaza.

However, if current situation in Libya goes too far, Western powers will not have any other alternative available at their disposal, except to strengthen democratic forces and neutralize numerous number of militias to bring back normalcy in Libya for the ensured normal and reasonable supply of oil to the world. Else, Libya will be another Somalia in the African continent.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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