Policy Analysis

The Possibilities of the Libyan War: Monopoly - War - Division - Negotiation

Ismail Rashad

I pointed out in the two previous articles to the roots of the conflict in Libya. The first article focused on the role played by the religion and social groups in the struggle for power in Libya, while the second article addressed the impacts of geography and demography on the current conflict. Both articles raise difficulties of historical depth which were never the outcome of the conflict that broke out after February 2011. The culture of the conflict dates back to several centuries ago in regard to the role of religion and through the definitions and concepts that have contributed since ancient eras to fueling the struggles over power. Often, scholars did not practically succeed in providing a perspective to the social peace, but they tend to refer to sultans, princes and rulers who were struggling over power. Each of these rulers had his jurisprudential entourage and social group which support him and take part in his war against other opposing group or groups. 

I also pointed out that the conflict in Libya has another aspect related to the absence of a political understanding that is based on epistemological dimension between the Libyan demographic components, which were neither formed in a modern society as a result of a natural process of social evolution nor as a one political and historical context on the current geography of Libya. Even though its features began to appear since the first Ottoman era, its definition did not reach the details which would form the social contract, the political structure of the power and administration and all what is related to resources distributions and the relationship between the local and the central authorities.

In the second article, I noted how Libyans were emotionally brought together without any organization to confront the Italian colonialism, and refuse the British mandate. Libyans did not succeed in negotiating and agreeing on a pattern of coexistence among each other. In the light of the absence of an understanding and agreement, Libya's independence was declared to be marked from its outset by disagreements over the federal system, ownership and the capital of the country. Therefore, Libya's Independence was declared without resolving these issues.

The events of February 2011 could have been an opportunity to rebuild the socio-political understanding among Libyan components, though none of this happened. On the contrary what has happened is the rush to create a political state that is not founded on understandings, negotiations, compromises and political bargains, which opened the door widely to conflicts under multiple banners. In fact, the fall of the tyranny and autocracy has dispersed the power over areas, regions and social groups. Furthermore, the longer the war is the more fragmented the power will be for the benefit of local leaderships, that are seeking support through local and external alliances. These leaderships might fail, while other which gained local and external support takes their place.

The shifts in the social, regional, economic, and political conflict in Libya through its political and military interfaces point out to four possibilities towards which Libyan issue is moving. These possibilities are not necessarily consecutive, but they might exist at the same time and in the same place and they are based on the struggle for power and resources between the historic regionalisms, which have intentions related to political positioning that date back to the era of Kingdom. Other regionalism trends consider the Gaddafi regime as its interface, and others insist on owning the February revolution, amid religious and liberal alliances granting these regionalisms the ideological teleological legitimacy.

In the current conflict, it seems that regionalisms and interfaces are emphasizing the monopoly of the centralized resources along with the legislative and executive decisions in politics and economy. These regionalisms have obvious geographical contradictions which are characterized by a historic depth that was manifested after the event of February, 2011. Despite that, the largest power that remains in the district of Tripoli refuses to make any compromises for the benefit of regionalisms especially for “Barga” (Cyrenaica). The latter, proposes a non-centralized vision for the legislative, executive and financial decisions in politics and economy, which contradicts the district of Tripoli's gains of centralization and also opposes the Utopian definition of nationalism upon which many generations were brought up since the abolition of the federal system in 1963.  Every talk about the rights of regionalisms is interpreted as a divisive tendency that contradicts with the unity of Libya.

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February 09, 2017