Libya's future in limbo amid violent stalemate

Oil-rich Libya has been dogged by political instability since the 2011 ouster and death of longstanding strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya's future in limbo amid violent stalemate

World Bulletin/News Desk

Throughout 2014, Libya remained embroiled in political infighting that evolved into a violent power struggle between two rival seats of government, throwing the fractious North African country's future into uncertainty.

Oil-rich Libya has been dogged by political instability since the 2011 ouster and death of longstanding strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

In the three years since, the country has witnessed frequent clashes between rival militias that had fought Gaddafi's forces during the 2011 uprising.

A parliamentary election – held this summer amid sharp polarization – left the country with two rival legislative assemblies that currently answer to two rival governments.

The first is the House of Representatives, which was the outcome of a July election. Convening with 188 of 200 members, the secularist-leaning assembly received international recognition and later appointed a government led by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni.

This assembly relocated to the eastern city of Tobruk after Islamist militias took over capital Tripoli, where the Islamist-led General National Congress (GNC) continued to convene despite an expired mandate.

The GNC, for its part, appointed Omar al-Hassi as prime minister.

Two months before the parliamentary crisis, former army chief Khalifa Haftar waged a military campaign against militias based in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The fighting later moved to the capital after several revolutionary militias launched an operation – dubbed "Dawn of Libya" – against the pro-Haftar Zantan militia in Tripoli.

By December, Haftar's forces – now backed by the Tobruk-based government – and the GNC-backed "Dawn of Libya" militias were fighting for control of the country's northern Hilal region, home to Libya's most lucrative oil terminals.

The fighting forced the country's two largest oil ports – Sidra and Ras Lanuf – to close, taking a toll on Libya's already-dwindling oil exports.

As fighting raged across Libya, a group of militants in the eastern city of Darnah reportedly swore allegiance to the ISIL militant group.

Militants rallied in Darnah with black ISIL flags, later appearing in footage in which they can be seen declaring their loyalty to the group.

Officials have downplayed claims of an ISIL presence in Libya. However, the so-called Shura Council of Islamic Youth, one of Darnah's leading groups, has also reportedly declared its allegiance to ISIL chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In September, the UN appointed Bernardino Leon as its special envoy to Libya, tasking him with bringing the country's warring camps to the negotiating table.

In late September, Leon brought a House of Representatives delegation to the southwestern city of Ghadames to meet with MPs who had boycotted the assembly.

Leon's plan to draft roadmap for Libya appeared to crumble towards the end of the year, however, when the House of Representatives refused to allow a delegation of GNC members to attend an upcoming round of talks slated for January 5.

Last Mod: 01 Ocak 2015, 12:50
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