Six years after the death of Gaddafi, Libya has not recovered from the results of the revolution that led to the end of his reign. Today the people that fought in the civil war against Gaddafi wonder if it was worth it. Six years after Gaddafi there are still civil wars raging and even the Islamic State now has interests in Libya. One wonders; where are the states that agitated for the removal of Gaddafi from power? What have they done to bring back normality to Libya? Was the fight against Gaddafi really worth it? It is disappointing that the country has been practically left to fend for itself.
Four years after Arab Spring protests turned into an armed uprising that led to the overthrow and death of the former strongman, Libya is torn between two governments and dozens of militias and armed groups. Like many of their Middle Eastern neighbors in 2011, Libyans protested against a dictator hoping for more political freedom and an end to the Gaddafi regime’s repressive four-decade-long reign. However, life for the average Libyan today, in some ways, has become more dangerous and unstable than it was under Gaddafi, according to experts.
“Libya today — in spite of the expectations we had at the time of the revolution — it’s much, much worse,” said Karim Mezran, resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. “Criminality is skyrocketing. Insecurity is pervasive. There are no jobs. It’s hard to get food and electricity. There’s fighting, there’s fear… I see very few bright spots.”
While Libya was able to hold elections in 2012, the government that emerged was never able to control the numerous militias and armed groups that gained power during the uprising, and skirmishes continued.
Fighting intensified in May 2014, when a renegade general, Khalifa Haftar, launched an assault on the Islamist militias operating in the city of Benghazi. One month later, Libyans frustrated with the Islamist-dominated General National Congress (GNC) and its inability to bring stability elected a new legislative body — the internationally-recognized House of Representatives. Now, each of Libya’s rival parliaments is roughly aligned with armed actors, with Haftar and his “Operation Dignity” fighters supporting the House of Representatives based in the northeastern city of Tobruk, while “Libya Dawn,” an umbrella term that includes Islamist militias and revolutionaries who battled Gaddafi, supports the GNC, based in Tripoli in the northwest.
The fight has only grown more complicated in recent months, as many of these groups have fragmented over time, and several other local militias and tribal fighters fight for control within the country. Added to this mix are groups like Ansar al Sharia, suspected of being behind the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012, and a Libyan affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which now controls Qaddafi’s home town of Sirte.
In all, an estimated 1,700 armed groups and militias are active in Libya, according to a recent report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“People don’t feel safe, because the law doesn’t protect them anymore,” Mughrabi said, describing a situation in which police stations are either not operational or are too frightened to intervene. Meanwhile, people can use militias that they have a personal connection with to settle scores.
Mughrabi said courts have also come under attack by armed groups, as have many attorneys, especially when they represented clients thought to be Gaddafi supporters.
Someone should take responsibility for the happenings in Libya, the international community knows the states that vowed to make things right in Libya, its time these states are reminded of their commitments. Libya was a better state under Gaddafi’s reign that it is today, the international community condemned the way he operated as a dictator, but he was able to provide the basic amenities that made the life of Libyans worthwhile, today 2017 it is a different tale entirely. Libya needs help, if you were willing to create propagandas to state a civil war, you should make sure mechanisms are in place to take care of such a state after the war.
The world should not ignore Libya. Libya needs international intervention now more than it ever did any time in history.