The situation in Libya is continuing to develop alarmingly. The current situation in the country is characterised by a complete lack of any signs of a state system. Libya is being devoured by civil war, disintegration, and the seizure of its territory by a huge variety of forces, most notably the Islamic State. Despite the fact that Prime Minister al-Thani took part in the recently concluded African Union summit in Johannesburg as the head of Libya, suggesting that he is actually the one ruling the country would be a sad joke. And although al-Thani’s government is actually recognised by the African Union (and the majority of other countries) as ‘legitimate’, this is more out of despair.
At present, the ‘legitimate’ government is located in Tobruk, about a thousand miles from the country’s capital, Tripoli. But even there, neither Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani nor his government are in control of anything. In February, the residence of the head of parliament, Saleh Issa, was bombed by Islamic State militants and in May, Prime Minister al-Thani was lucky to survive an assassination attempt.
Parallel government bodies are operating in Tripoli that also have no control over the situation in the country, just individual parts of the former Libyan Jamahiriya. There is a total of five competing ‘governments’ in Libya, not counting those that have not proclaimed themselves to be a government, but are simply taking power into their own hands. Not a single one of the Libyan ‘governments’ has managed to resolve the country’s main problem – putting an end to the mass violence and establishing at least some kind of control over the situation – and the number of armed groups is only increasing.
The situation was triggered back in 2012 when the latest in a series of favourites in the rank of ‘government’ officially decided to form armed brigades and provide them with law enforcement functions and the right to detention, establishing relatively high rates of pay for those working in them. This immediately led to the emergence of not one, but several parallel armies, police forces and other ‘gendarmes’. Since then, many armed groups have become more efficient, improved their weapons and begun to outperform the national army and police force, while remaining on the payroll of the government. The weapons that once belonged to The former Libyan army have been looted and there is now a powerful uninterrupted flow of weapons into the country from abroad, including heavy artillery and ammunition. Despite efforts to tighten up the arms embargo, weapons continue to flow into the country (1).