Libya’s crises are not inevitable, yet they are legion

article-lex1_7-8-2016

After the overthrow of the long-time dictator, Muamar Gaddafi, by a people’s revolution in February 17, 2011 and with his death in October of the same year, Libyans started to lead a new life full of hopes for freedom of expression, of political views and also value of the self.

Years rolled on reaching the year of 2014, particularly in May of that year, when a new clear-by-the-naked-eye conflict kicked off in the eastern city of Benghazi, with retired General Khalifa Haftar announcing an armed operation Dignity, saying it is aimed to eradicate Al-Qaeda linked groups and ISIS militants from the city. His vision of the war was totally contrasted by most of the Libyans as they said he waged war on the city’s locals who had different visions for Libya than his.

Those were mainly from the February 17 revolutionaries, who called themselves later in the fight against Haftar’s Dignity Operation “Benghazi Shura Council revolutionaries”. Fight raged on from May 2014 and still on till today in August 2016 with mounting numbers of deaths, injuries from both sides and displaced persons and destruction of houses from the civilian side.

This was coupled with another armed conflict that kicked off also in 2014 in the western capital of Tripoli between forces of Misurata (Libya Dawn – Fajr Libya) and Zintan’s forces who were in control of the capital’s state institutions. The conflict took a dangerous turn as they both fought inside civilian nooks and allies and then took the fight to the Tripoli International Airport leading to the defeat of the Zintan’s forces and their retreat to their city, but also leading to the destruction of the airport.

These two wars shaped the political arena of the Libyan state thereafter with two parties emerging to claim power. One in the east and backed up by the Dignity Operation (House of Representatives and its emergent Transitional Government of Al-Thinni in Tobruk and Al-Bayda cities), and one in the west – backed up by the winning Misurata forces- (the General National Congress and its emergent Salvation Government of Al-Ghweil.)

Crises began

Oil shutdown

Since mid-2013, the oil fields and terminals have been shut down in the oil crescent region by an armed group headed by Ibrahim Jodran under the name Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG). This closure was politically enticed as Jodran claimed he wanted to protect the Libyan oil from the political power conflict. This was added to later shutdown of oil fields in the western region by Tribes Army, affiliated to Zinatn groups who left Tripoli in 2014, leading to complete near definite closure and stoppage of oil production in Libya, except for some modest output in Al-Hariga port in Tobruk.

Division

It also led to a new shape for the Libyan people and revolutionaries. Some took part with a certain party and others took part with another. Some backed the Dignity Operation in the east, others backed their rival – the Benghazi Shura Council. In the west, some backed the Misurata forces and Fajr Libya along with the GNA and SG, others backed the Zinatn groups and backed the HoR based in Tobruk. So it got split politically and hence militarily with each one in Libya favoring a party over the other.

Political deadlock – UN – Skhirat

This led to a dialogue for political reasons under the auspices of the United Nations Mission in Libya (UNMSIL) in Morocco’s Skhirat. After a protracted set of dialogue rounds and two heads of mission (Bernardino Leon and Martin Kobler) the outcome of the dialogue – the agreement draft – was signed by the two main parties GNC and HoR in December 2015.

Arrival of new government

Then, a government was picked according to the agreement in Skhirat and it included a Presidential Council and High Council of State. The government was named the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Fayez Al-Serraj was picked as its Prime Minister and Head of Presidential Council. He picked a cabinet and presented it more than once to the HoR for endorsement, the HoR refrained from doing so and still is until today, which added to the political gap and division. The GNA arrived from Tunisia in Tripoli and based itself in the Naval Base in Abu Sitta.

Cash crisis

The new GNA took power of Tripoli state institutions and the GNC and SG stood aside as the former was internationally recognised and backed by the UN as the sole legitimate government in Libya. Fight of ISIS in Sirte came to effect by the GNA’s call under the supervision and leadership of military factions from Misurata city in what they named Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous operation, which kicked off in May.

However, amid this people were suffering from lack of money at the banks filing since dawn at the doors waiting to cash out a little sum to provide for themselves and their families. Many actions, though insufficient and ineffective, were taken by printing money by the Tripoli and the eastern parallel Central Banks of Libya, yet failing to end the crisis.

Devaluation of the dinar

However, such solutions and such chaos in the state institutions in Libya led to a murder-like drop of the value of the dinar with gradual rate against the US dollar starting from 1.45 – 2 – 2.50 – 3 – 3.50 – 4 – 4.50 – and finally 5 and 5.25 dinars for one dollar.

Power outage

And crises got bigger in number with the outage of electricity that ranged according to the city and to the area across Libya. In the south, days pass without electricity and when it returns it only provides for hours and off it goes. In the east it is frequently off and outages registered 10 to 12 hours a day. Also in the west where power outages lasted between 10 and 14 hours a day with the boiling heat that is going on in the country.

Foreign intervention

With the confession of the French President François Holande, it has been obvious that French military has been violating Libya’s sovereignty by supporting Khalifa Haftar’s war in Benghazi, while the French government announced its back up for the Presidential Council as the sole legitimate authority. This revelation led to great anger in the Libyan streets and public protest on Fridays denouncing this intervention, let alone the US air raids that were endorsed by the Presidential Council for the fight of ISIS.

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