Country Profile

Libya

Summary

The 2011 uprisings against Muammar Gaddafi have returned Libya to its traditional state of fragmentation. Now with the almost total collapse of state structures, the Libyan political and militia environment is roughly divided into two blocs, each of which represent a coalition of temporarily-aligned interests. Though often represented in the media as a civil war between Islamists and anti-Islamists, the reality is closer to a form of 'armed politics' pitting supporters of the controversial Political Isolation Law against its opponents. Adding a further layer of complexity, outside actors are driving the conflict by providing military support to the opposing blocs.

1The ‘Islamist’ bloc is not united by a particular vision for Islamic governance, but rather by an opposition to remnants of the Gaddafi regime remaining in power; it ranges moderate Muslim Brotherhood members to extremist Salafi-Jihadis such as Ansar al-Sharia.

2The ‘anti-Islamist’ bloc does not share any theological outlook, and is certainly not secularist. Aligned to the internationally-recognised government in Tobruk, its main shared ideology is opposition to the Political Isolation Law which currently excludes former Gaddafi officials from public office.

Situation Report

Despite the morass that Libya is now in, there are several scenarios that could spell an end game for the current polarisation. It is abundantly clear that fresh crises, no matter how dire, will not jolt the Libyan people out of their apathy and mould them into a force to stand up to the militias. Even though in summer 2014 Tripoli witnessed a destruction of its infrastructure on a much more systematic level than in August 2011, many of its citizens simply decided to wait it out in Tunisia or quieter countryside areas for the fighting to end, without any further reaction. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Libyan people will be jolted out of their apathy until a definitive endgame materialises. The Libyan people have clearly indicated that they wish a transition to constitutional governance but neither their elected leaders nor the militias have taken them there with any hurry.

All possible stable endgame scenarios require the role of foreign actors in Libya to be recalibrated, the conflict to be reframed and for all actors to seek to preserve Libya's territorial integrity without militarily intervening in the country's 'armed politics' or promoting further polarisation towards an actual civil war. Without such developments, outside actors will continue to drive proxy conflicts and perpetuate tensions in the country while exacerbating and calcifying the religious divide. Keeping Libya united and on a path towards constitutional governance must be the primary goal of international mediators and the only way to achieve this is to emphasise shared interests among Libya's divergent factions, such that all sides will benefit from compromise and endorsing the work of the constitutional assembly while all sides will lose from ongoing strife.

  • Global Overview
  • 1. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: September 2016 7
  • 2. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: August 2016 11
  • 3. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: July 2016 8
  • 4. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: June 2016 23
  • 5. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: May 2016 15
  • 6. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: April 2016 17
  • 7. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: March 2016 15
  • 8. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: February 2016 29
  • 9. Violent Religious Extremism Incidents: January 2016 25
  • Extremism
  • Fatalities: Civilians: September 2016 10
  • Fatalities: Extremism: September 2016 70
  • Fatalities: Non-State Actors: September 2016 43
  • Fatalities: Security Forces: September 2016 6
  • Groups: Fatalities caused by ISIS in Libya: September 2016 18
  • Counter-Extremism
  • Counter-Extremism Incidents: September 2016 22
  • State Counter-Extremism: Arrests: September 2016 1
  • State Counter-Extremism: Use of Force: September 2016 12