Eight years after the Arab uprisings, Libya shows no signs of recovering from the plethora of problems in which it became entangled. With the official fall of Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, despite many difficulties, the country could have still headed towards a better future. But disagreements, rivalries, and struggles for power took over, as exemplified by the early April 2019 battle for Tripoli. Currently, Libya is experiencing one of the worst crises in its history, ruled by insecurity, underdevelopment, humanitarian crises, trafficking of all sorts (human, drugs, weapons, and goods), political and sociopolitical fragmentation, and the absence of a strong government.
The dire situation in Libya is defined by another serious reality: the rule of militias. In the field of security, paramilitary actors are the backbone of the country; but because they are not organized as a part of a regular armythey have become one of the main sources of disorder and insecurity in Libya. With recent events, militias from the west did indeed gather under one umbrella with the aim of protecting Tripoli; however, this move does not aim to safeguard governmental institutions and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). In reality, militias are acting first and foremost in their own interests.
Is there an efficient way to compel militias to disarm and/or put themselves under the rule of an official governmental army? In reality, no. Strategies and efforts to disarm militias or circumscribe their role have all failed up to now. Militias and their leaders are fully aware that the political vacuum and prevailing uncertainties in Libya give them further power and influence; consequently, the end of their rule is not yet foreseeable.
This does not mean that the way forward to achieving stabilization – including through the disarmament of militias – would be out of reach; there is no doubt that stabilization will be achieved one day, and militias disarmed by then. Yet to achieve that, Libya’s regional, national and local specificities must be well-understood, and the way forward to solving the country’s core problems must be defined accurately.
This article will look at the strategies required to address Libya’s most pressing issues and challenges. After placing Libya in its regional context, it will discuss the main dynamics prevailing from a security point of view. The last part will be dedicated to the points that need to be quickly and seriously addressed if Libya is to move forward. (Continue reading)