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Saturday, 25 May 2024 – 20:55
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Libya 8 years after NATO intervention: why the war continues

Photo Credit: FunkMonk [CC BY 3.0]

The civil conflict in Libya is breaking out with new vigour. World media is again full of news about the hostilities that are going on in the territory of a once peaceful country.

According to the Associated Press, the death toll during the clashes in Tripoli between the troops of Haftar and the Government of National Accord (GNA), recognized by the international community, exceeded 150 people. Among the dead there are not only military, but also civilians. The United Nations noted that the conflict forced about 3.4 thousand people to leave their homes.

Media reports say that, at present, part of Libya is controlled by the Parliament and the forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA), and the other, including the capital Tripoli, is the Government of National Accord (GNA) formed with the support of the UN and the European Union.

In 2011, during the Arab spring, anti-government demonstrations began in Libya. Their brutal suppression provoked the intervention of NATO countries, during which the head of state Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and brutally murdered.

Since then, the country has maintained a high level of civil instability, as the struggle continues between various factions and an internationally recognized government.

Why, despite the intervention of European countries in Libya, does the military conflict continue?

The first reason is the destruction of the central leadership of Gaddafi during the Arab spring provoked by the West.

The second reason – Libya has ceased to exist as a single state. After the overthrow of Gaddafi, a long civil war began in the country. Today, there is virtually no single country of Libya, since different territories are subordinate to different groups. At the same time, there is an internationally recognized government in the country, which has no influence on these groups and cannot consolidate the population.

The main confrontation is in the north of the country. After the 2011 war in Libya, more than 1,700 armed groups remained with strongly differing ideologues. Among them, there are jihadist, secular, liberal, and equally formed according to the principles of belonging to a geographic region, ethnic group or tribe organizations. All groups are located in different parts of the country and have the status of a “failed state”. Among the groups that divided Libya into separate parts, there are the Libyan National Army, the Libyan Alliance, ISIS, the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council of Revolutionaries coalition, and others. According to Italian intelligence, there are up to 1.5 thousand different groups and tribals which aren’t subordinate to anyone.

The third reason is competition over resources of the opposing factions. The country has identified 86 oil and 8 gas fields in the oil and gas areas of Hamra in the west and Sirt in the east. In addition, in Libya, there are 8 refineries and petrochemical plants. Most of them have a small capacity. Oil fields are connected with export terminals and refineries with a system of oil pipelines with a total length of 3.7 thousand km. The largest of them are: Serie-Marsa el Hariga (513 km), Amal-Rac-el-Anuf (274 km).

The fourth reason, the NATO countries after the bombing of Libya didn’t participate in resolving the consequences of the intervention. The military intervention of the international coalition forces, mainly NATO countries, sanctioned by the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, adopted on March 17, 2011, declaring the protection of civilians as the goal of armed intervention. October 31, 2011 the military operation of NATO forces in Libya was officially completed. However, having spent hundreds of billions of dollars on intervention, the countries of NATO and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf left Libya, not providing any assistance to the subsequent organization of the State. As a result, in Libya there was no formation of a new government, and the country was fragmented. European countries paid no attention to Libya until 2016, when migrants flowed into Europe not only from Libya, but also from other African countries. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, peak exodus rates of refugees from Libya were 10-15 thousand people per day.

And finally, the fifth reason is that a government created with the help of NATO is not legally elected throughout the country. On November 6, 2014, the Libyan Constitutional Court, influenced by the Islamists, announced the dissolution of parliament. Later, the parliament refused to recognize the decision of the Constitutional Court, arguing that the decision was made under the threat of a weapon. By the end of 2015, there were two cabinet ministers in the country. The internationally recognized government was located in Tobruk. And in Tripoli, there was a cabinet of ministers representing the Islamist Universal National Congress. On December 17, 2015, in the Moroccan city of Shirat, the warring political forces signed a document on the creation of a government of unity. The agreement was signed by members of two existing parliaments in the country and other participants in the political process. In the winter of 2016, thanks to the efforts of the UN emissaries, the Government of National Accord (GNA) appeared in Libya. The new government was promptly recognized by the international community. However, less than a week later, the Libyan parliament instead of approving the GNA, voted against: the deputies considered that there were too many ministerial posts. As a result, the number of officials decreased by almost half: out of 32 portfolios, 18 remained. Nevertheless, despite these efforts, the internationally recognized government still doesn’t control the entire territory of the country.

Therefore, on the basis of the above facts, it appears that the coalition led by NATO had a negative impact on the internal political situation in the country. It tried through the revolution to establish a controlled regime that would serve it for the realization of its own interests in the region. However, it didn’t succeed, and it just left, leaving behind a destroyed country and millions of civilians suffering from a catastrophic humanitarian situation.


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