Libya

Libya

“Oil was discovered in 1959 and made the state wealthy.”

“Col Gaddafi came to power by overthrowing King Idris in a coup in 1969. …In theory, power was held by people’s committees in system of direct democracy, without political parties, but in practice, Col Gaddafi’s power was absolute, exercised through “revolutionary committees” formed of regime loyalists.”

BBC News, 14 October 2014

Col Gadhafi himself was toppled in August 2011 by anti-authoritarian factions, inspired by the then “Arab Spring” sweeping the Arab world. Since then, nationalists and Islamists are in a lockdown vying for ultimate power, as described briefly below:

“When Moammar Gadhafi’s regime collapsed in 2011, Libya was left leaderless. In the ensuing years, rebel militias have battled one another for control of the country in a series of deadly bombings and shootouts. With fighting unavoidable and no end in sight, Libyan civilians are picking up AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) to protect their families from the militias.

Of course, they don’t have to look far. Libya’s parliament estimates that 15 million weapons—many left over from Gadhafi’s massive caches—are circulating within the country. That’s two and a half weapons per person. Times being what they are, many use social media to source their household arms. Since the beginning of the year, Vocativ has been monitoring Facebook and other online activity in Libya to track this phenomenon. What we discovered was a virtual arms market, complete with dealers claiming to live in Tripoli, advertised prices and hagglers in the comment section.

“Everyone has to be armed. We don’t trust the militias, we don’t trust the government, we don’t trust anyone,” says university student Ahmed Klisel, AK-47 in hand. “It’s really easy to obtain weapons in Libya. An AK-47 is a necessity in every household. More households have more than one. Or they have an AK-47 and a few pistols, handguns.”

And it’s not just men who carry weapons. Fidgeting with a small handgun, single mother Hind Ahmed Benghagab says, “We never thought we would see the day where Libyan women would need guns.”

While strife and chaos is Gadhafi’s endowment to the nation he ruled with an iron fist, it’s the second lives of the weapons he amassed and left behind that may be his lasting and violent global legacy.”

Lindsey Snell, Vladi Vovchuk and Bethany O’Grady, Vocativ, 08 January, 2014

“So far, the governments of the United States, Britain, and other European countries have insisted that the solution to Libya’s problems is political. The West has issued countless statements on this mythical political solution in the last few weeks — but that has not stopped the warring factions from indiscriminately shelling Tripoli International Airport, destroying the city’s gas and fuel tanks, and endangering civilian populations with their indiscriminate shelling.

No dialogue to find a political solution can take place while these violent clashes continue. The sound of guns and bombings is louder than everything else. The only break happened when the militias paused to watch the U.S. Air Force’s F-16s fly over Tripoli as they evacuated the embassy staff. One Tripoli resident jokingly remarked, “If only the F-16s were around a little longer, we could have had a better night’s sleep.” Many in Libya believe the United States and the West could be doing much more to quell the conflict. They could, for example, push for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would allow the use of targeted airstrikes against the armed factions. The U.S. embassy’s evacuation is a worrying sign for Libya’s democratic transition, but the United States can still work with its allies to push for meaningful intervention that would help put Libya’s transition back on track.

Karim Mezran, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, summarized it perfectly in his recent op-ed for the New York Times: The West must combine threats, intervention, and mediation to stop the fighting that has already killed hundreds in the country. Simply waiting for a “political solution” is not enough.”

Mohamed Eljarh, Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center and contributor to FP Magazine (Foreign Policy: A Trusted Advisor for Global Leaders), August 04, 2014

“With two rival governments, two parliaments and numerous armed groups, Libya finds itself experiencing the worst violence since the death of Muammar Gaddafi. As the security situation worsens, migrant workers and nationals continue to risk their lives to reach the shores of Italy by sea. An estimated 300,000 civilians have been displaced or have left North African nation.

Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, 16 Sep 2014

Libya’s Islamist militant group Ansar al-Shariah has declared an “Islamic emirate” in the eastern city of Derna and pledged allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to media reports coming out from the North African Country.

Al Arabiya News, 6 October 2014

Judging from newspaper reports and media comments, this development and advancement of IS (ISIS) policies has unsettled many in Europe, as it appears that IS (geographically, see above map) is at Europe’s doorsteps. Comments have been made that IS will take advantage of the chaotic power situation in Libya and the West’s inactivity, in order to get a foothold on this country for the purpose of expanding their reign in this area. They also work from within Western countries, by sending newly trained and converted Jihadists with the mission to establish a world-wide Islamist state! (My comments)

“Under Gadhafi’s regime, the state was the main source of oppression of Christians. The main persecution agents today are the Christians’ direct family and community, fanatical armed groups (including Salafists), and, to a minor, extent the government. To bring in Arabic Biblical Scriptures remains strictly forbidden. This is another factor that suppresses the growth of the indigenous church. Proselytizing of Muslims and missionary activity is officially prohibited in the country…”

Open Doors report that persecution of Christians in Libya is so severe that a Filipino man was recently beheaded in Benghazi because of his Christian faith!

Open Doors website

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