LIBYA: a Story of Never Ending Conflict

Sonia Harim

By Sonia Harim

Fayez al-Sarraj (L) together with LNA’s leader General Khalifa Haftar (R). Credits: AGV

Libya has been the core of turmoil ever since Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebels in 2011, and when everyone hoped that the situation would get better it actually got worse. More than half a year ago, General Khalifa Haftar launched an attack on Tripoli in the attempt of unseating Fayez Al-Sarraj, the internationally recognized leader of Libya. 

Due to its strategic location and its oil possessions, Libya is an interesting asset to control by international actors. In fact, Turkey – who held control of Libya during the Ottoman Empire – has been active in Libya’s territory “to liberate and help the Libyan people”. Its involvement in Libya is expected to rise gradually as an affair of state, and its implications lead us to think that the interests, consequences and diplomatic moves of this war may be bigger than conceived, as the international “blocks” of power expand their wings to the North African country.

The war between the Western and the Eastern parts of Libya are the proof of a deeper conflict: Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the eastern part, the Lybian National Army [LNA] (as opposed to the GNA in the West), has been attacking Tripoli and has been sought for war crimes. A conflict that seems to have no end has left 2000 casualties and hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians.

The war has become not only a civil war, but an international and regional war with so much at stake. The GNA is recognized by the global West, and supported by Qatar and Turkey. The LNA, on the other hand, is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France and Russia, the latter having a visible presence in the battlefield.

Turkey doesn’t hide its active interest in the conflict either, showing reminiscences of an ancient colonial will. Trump’s vision on the conflict has been quite confusing and, as a result, the United States’ presence in Libya has not been very conciliating. Israel, Cyprus and Greece have been having an eye on this war that grows day by day, which can have devastating consequences for so many. Egypt, where a major gas field was discovered, thinks that the Lybian conflict will bring serious problems to the area as a whole.

  • Will the Western powers align on the same side for the sake of Libyans, or the interest to keep away old enemies from their own interest will prevail?
  • What diplomatic implication will there be for Turkey and Russia, that displayed full involvement in the conflict?

Recommended Readings

https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/fighting-stalls-after-final-assault-libyas-tripoli-fails-end-war

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/12/turkey-russia-libya-how-ankaras-moves-are-serving-moscow.html

https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/80628

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/erdogan-turkey-libya-war-military-egypt-greece-mediterranean-a9250201.html

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