The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed comments on the MENA region’s most significant issues and trends. Today, we turn the spotlight upon Libya, looking at the end of a three-month oil blockade in the country as well as the recent clashes among militias in Tripoli and Misrata.
For several months, the international community seemed to have forgotten Libya and the decade-long instability that has been ravaging the largest energy-exporting country in North Africa since 2011. Until last Friday, when a group of protesters stormed the parliament building in the eastern city of Tobruk, while other demonstrations spread across all the main cities.
When addressing Libya’s natural resources, the first thing that comes to mind is fossil fuels. According to a February 2020 World Bank Group review on Libya’s financial sector, Libya is Africa’s largest oil economy in terms of proven oil reserves. Before the revolution, the oil sector contributed to over 90% of government revenues.
In March, the establishment of a new administration parallel with Abdelhamid Dbeibah’s United Nations-backed Government of National Unity (GNU) caught global attention, as Libya slipped back to an era of explicit political divisions. However, the timeline and fault lines of this crisis predate the appointment of Fathi Bashagha’s parallel Government of National Stability (GNS), which is supported by the House of Representatives (HoR, Libya’s parliament). Instead, the roots can be traced to the battle to control Libya’s budget throughout the last eighteen months.
Libyans have always had a proud sense of exceptionalism. Despite attempts to compare Libya to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and even uprisings from France to Russia, their own revolution has long retained this sense of exceptionalism, too. Today, however, over eleven years later, the dust has settled upon a much more mundanely tyrannical new world.
“The history of Libyan politics today is one of a population desperate to rid itself of a parasitic nouveau elite class before they hollow out the country through corruption and reshape Libyan society in their own grotesquely venal image”.
Tarek Megerisi’s words are a stab in the chest for anyone who loves Libya. They are all the more painful because they are true, down to the last word.
The crisis in Libya has often been described as a proxy war, that is, a conflict where foreign actors support and equip a certain faction or a number of factions in a third country and exert all efforts to see their faction(s) overcome the others and ascend to power. The purpose is obviously to expand a country’s power and influence.
2022 marked the beginning of a new phase of political manoeuvring in Libya. Capitalising on the political power vacuum left by the 2021 elections’ indefinite postponement, a coalition of parliamentarians aligned with the Speaker of the House, Agila Saleh, appointed Fathi Bashagha as Prime Minister in a vote that was mired in legal irregularities. Bashagha has since repeatedly attempted to establish his government in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, to no avail.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed comments on the MENA region's most significant issues and trends. Today, we turn the spotlight on the recent clashes in Tripoli and the attempt by parliament-backed Prime Minister Bashagha to install himself and his cabinet in Libya’s capital.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed insights on the most significant developments in the MENA region, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we turn the spotlight on the French withdrawal from Mali, a pivotal moment for the future of the Sahel and North Africa region.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed comments on the MENA region’s most significant issues and trends. Today we turn the spotlight on Libya, where the Tobruk Parliament’s move to nominate a new prime minister has reopened divisions between rival factions, raising fears of renewed instability in the fragile country.