FREE GEOPOLITICAL NEWSLETTER

 

For current reports go to EASY FINDER

LIBYA

 
  
  

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 19,131     71
     
GNI per capita
 US $ n/a n/a
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Libya



Update No: - (26/11/13)

 Ordinary Libyans start to challenge the militias


Summary: Libya still lacks a Constitution, which has been replaced by an almost Somalia like ‘arrangement by admission of most of the current ministers in Tripoli, especially the minister of Defense and surely the head of the intelligence service, whose deputy was kidnapped in broad daylight, even if only for a few hours. On November 16, Tripoli saw some of the most intense inter-militia battles of recent months and resulting in at least 40 dead, many of them bystanders.

There is a ‘silver lining’ of sorts, which suggests that Libya might still have a chance to emerge from the post-Qadhafi mess in one piece (even if in the form of a federation). While there can be no assurances of security or safety, the population has not been shy to express its anger and it has managed to obtain a – temporary – departure of the militias from Tripoli. The people are justifiably outraged and this may have given impetus to some sympathetic elemen
ts in government to take action.

Libya was once famous for its flamboyant dictator and for its oil reserves, which were not only abundant but also highly desirable for their low sulfur content. Libya was also noted for its stability and ‘predictable unpredictability’ (for better or worse), as former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld might put it, in that there was chaos rather than rule of law, but the chaos was orchestrated from a single and well organized source of power and control: Qadhafi himself.

Two years after the Brother Leader’s demise. Libya has become completely unpredictable and its power structure fractured among a weak government and dozens of feuding armed gangs or militias. Some of the militias, those who reached the former regime’s arsenals first, managed to grab some very sophisticated and heavy weapons, including tanks and armored vehicles. Others are also involved in illicit trades, whether drugs or sub-Saharan migrants anxious to buy a ‘ticket’ for a seat in one of the sorry excuses for boats, that are used to ferry African migrants to the more prosperous shores of the Mediterranean. Libya still lacks a Constitution, which has been replaced by an almost Somalia-like ‘arrangement’ by admission of most of the current ministers in Tripoli, especially the Minister of Defence and surely the head of the Intelligence Service, whose deputy was kidnapped in broad daylight, even if only for a few hours. On November 16, Tripoli saw some of the most intense inter-militia battles of recent months resulting in at least 40 dead, many of them merely unfortunate bystanders.

There is a ‘silver lining’ of sorts, which suggests that Libya might still have a chance to emerge from the post-Qadhafi mess in one piece (even if in the form of a federation). While there can be no assurances of security or safety, the population has not been shy to express its anger and it has finally managed to obtain a – temporary – departure of the militias from Tripoli. The people are justifiably outraged and this may have given impetus to some sympathetic elements in government to take action. Even some militias appear to have found some solidarity and logic, as the Berbers who were holding hostage the Mellitah gas plant in Zuwarah, a town 40 km. northwest of Tripoli, populated largely by Berbers, have decided to give up their protest, allowing Libya to start selling natural gas to Italy again. The protests had gone on for about three weeks and they completely blocked the Evergreen pipeline, a joint project held by Italy’s ENI (currently the foreign oil company in Libya) and Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC). The Amazigh Berbers, unlike the other militias, moreover were protesting over a more generally acceptable political principle – not all has been lost to greed. They were demanding a greater consideration for ethnic minorities in general, challenging the temporary Constitutional arrangement.

The protesters have been demanding the amendment of Libya's interim constitution to ensure that decisions about the protection of minority rights be adopted in a permanent charter and that they be adopted by consensus in the constituent assembly rather than by majority vote in the Arab-dominated body. Berbers make up about 10 percent of Libya's population. They were persecuted under Qadhafi and feel just as marginalized under the new regime even though they played a key role in the 2011 uprising. The Supreme Council of the Amazigh stopped the protest in respect for those who were killed in the militia battle in Tripoli. The militia in Ghargour (a southern suburb of Tripoli) opened fire on protesters who were demanding them to leave the city, killing 44 people.

The attitude of the Amazigh protesters suggests that a shift for the better is still possible in Libya; the reaction of Tripoli residents to the militias’ arrogance has also offered a glimpse that there are starting to emerge the general conditions for a slow improvement in Libya’s security in the country, as ordinary people have started to challenge the militias’ impunity. In fact the militias from Misratah and Gharian, who were battling in Tripoli, have withdrawn – for the time being. The government deployed the army, which proved able to oversee crucial areas of the capital. More than that, the government itself showed the people it was not afraid to challenge the militias, gaining a semblance of being in control of the territory.

The State is still far from gaining the people’s confidence and while Tripoli residents have welcomed the recent developments, the people have not stopped protesting against the State, still seen as unable to protect the country it represents. Yet, most of these protests were peaceful such as one led exclusively by women in the central Algeria Square against the uncontrolled proliferation of weapons and militias across Libya. The government will now have to face the crucial issue of how to deal with the militias. Surely, their forced and armed challenge to the government has worked in the short run, but their removal from Tripoli has aroused resentment in such heavily armed circles, which are believed to have played the central role in toppling the former regime. Meanwhile, the Libyan government has already obtained a direct and tangible benefit, in that gas exports to Italy have resumed, thus a funds-flow, and the oil terminal in Brega has also re-opened – partially.

This welcome, if fragile, glimmer of a brighter future, however, still has to contend with an overall political weakness for the government and Prime Minister Zeidan. Unlike Egypt or Tunisia, political elections in Libya have favored progressives rather than the Muslim Brotherhood. Nonetheless, the ‘progressive’ forces – starting with Prime Minister Zeidan – have not translated their win into an actual parliamentary majority or any of the things that are associated with it, such as a clear policy framework with a program and a well-defined institutional process. Indeed, there is still no Constitution and the Islamists, while not officially the winners, have found ways to obstruct the government, through a heavy media presence, blackmail tactics in the National Congress (parliament) and most importantly through their association with various militias, which act as the armed wing of the Brotherhood. Zeidan has also exhausted diplomatic avenues to reason with the Islamists. Zeidan has already offered six cabinet portfolio posts to the Brotherhood, including the all important (in the Libyan context) Ministry of Energy.

The Islamists have also obstructed efforts to strengthen a more centralized army and police force, able to establish hegemony on the use of force and violence such as to promote the rule of law. The situation was precipitated in June 2013 when, rather than addressing the concerns of the people of Benghazi, which mobilized peacefully to protest the presence of militias – resulting in over thirty civilians killed – the Islamists forced the passing of the Political Insulation Law, that is the law that used the excuse of expelling personalities who had played a political or an institutional role under Qadhafi from the National Congress. The occupation of some key ministries was part of that plan. The fraudulent nature of that law was amply demonstrated when President Mugharief, former Libyan ambassador to India (in the 1970’s), and a leading figure of the anti-Qadhafi movement living in exile since 1980, founder of the Libyan National Salvation Front was forced to resign. The Brotherhood was also angry that Prime Minister Zeidan took a neutral position over the situation in Egypt following President Morsi’s ouster and the return of military power.

Zeidan’s government, so far, has acted in an effort to avoid dragging Libya into another bloodbath, using tactics of moderation and mediation, which the extremists have interpreted as weakness, and opportunities to pursue vastly different agendas. Perhaps the people’s determination to challenge the militias – many of whose participants are described by Libyans as ‘revolutionaries of the last quarter of an hour’ (i.e., opportunists), because they only joined the fight in the last weeks of August when the Qadhafi regime was all but destroyed – will help to build the determination to build a modern state. Certainly, such hope exists and some government members and many ordinary Libyans have started to wake up.

 

« Top

« Back

 


 
Published by 
Newnations (a not-for-profit company)
PO Box 12 Monmouth 
United Kingdom NP25 3UW 
Fax: UK +44 (0)1600 890774
enquiries@newnations.com