When the 2011 Arab Spring swept through the Middle East, it left behind a number of ongoing conflicts that still continue to rage. One of the most serious of these conflicts is the Libyan civil war, which began with the ousting and subsequent death of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The conflict has been a long and complicated one, with many different factions taking their turn in the spotlight. Below are 10 facts about the Libyan crisis:
- The current phase of the war is primarily being fought by the House of Representatives government, based out of Tripoli, and the rival General National Congress, elected in 2014, as they both vie to take control of the whole nation.
- The U.N. brought the two sides together in 2016 to sign the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and form a transitional government, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, that would help bring stability to the nation. It still remains unclear whether the new government will be able to enforce its U.N. mandate.
- Khalifa Haftar, general of the Libyan National Army, has aligned himself with the House of Representatives, who voted against the U.N. agreement, and has been aiding them in their struggle with al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
- When the House of Representatives was voted into office in 2014, only 18 percent of eligible voters turned out and cast their ballots. This was largely due to a lack of confidence in the ability of an elected government to make meaningful change.
- Considering such low voter confidence and the fact that the original LPA expires in December of this year, the U.N. has begun taking steps to amend the LPA to ease the divisions between the House of Representatives and the GNA, as well as create free and fair elections.
- The Libyan crisis is commonly divided into two official civil wars. The first lasted for several months in 2011 and was marked primarily by the deposing and killing of Muammar Gaddafi. The currently ongoing civil war began in 2014 when the national government came into conflict with the General National Congress, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed Islamist government.
- The second civil war has already claimed nearly 7,000 lives, with over 20,000 people wounded in the conflict and many thousands more displaced from their homes. Fighting in Sabratha, a city near Tripoli, saw nearly 10,000 people fleeing their homes to seek aid from U.N. groups in Libya.
- Fleeing the same fighting in Sabratha, a group of immigrants, as over 100,000 others from all across North Africa have sought to do this year alone, tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy in a dinghy that subsequently ran out of fuel and capsized. Of the 100 refugees in the boat, more than 50 are feared to have drowned. They join the over 2,400 of that 100,000 that have drowned crossing the Mediterranean while fleeing the fighting in their home countries.
- The BBC reports that refugees caught fleeing Libya are thrown into crowded and dirty detention centers where they are held to keep them from fleeing. There are also rumors that the falling numbers of Libyans fleeing to Italy is spurred by the GNA’s use of Libyan militias, who may be involved in human trafficking.
- Though representatives of the U.S. government have made statements in favor of the measures being taken to end the crisis, actions such as the United States’ past military involvement with the Libyan oil industry and the inclusion of Libya in President Trump’s travel ban have led many to questions as to what the U.S. is doing to help bring stability to the nation.
The wars in Libya are an increasingly complex, evolving and seemingly convoluted issue. These 10 facts about the Libyan crisis can serve as an overview of the conflict, but there is far more information to be delved into as the world seeks a resolution to the crisis.
– Erik Halberg