By Mayank Jain:
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy
Libya, a country with one of the highest Human Development Index in Africa and the fifth largest GDP (per capita) in the region, finds itself in another crisis that’s probably the biggest after the 2011 civil war which saw the ousting and death of country’s former leader, Muammar Gaddafi. After ruling the country for 42 years, he was finally removed from the seat and a transitionary government took the place but the crises has only deepened after the ousting. Here are 7 things you must know about it:
- From the beginning: The crisis never stopped even after 2011, when the government was established as it failed to instill its authority over the country and the people. Assassinations, kidnappings and rebellion movements have become common place while the economy is plummeting down with the widespread bedlam. The Parliament has virtually been robbed off its powers to direct and control the nation while armies are going berserk trying to find their chieftain who can put the country back on track.
- Chief contender for power: The major contention comes from Khalifa Haftar, who has returned from Virginia after two decades to lead the opposition to the Muslim extremism and has emerged as one of the top military figures. He has been hypercritical of the transitionery government’s efforts to fight back Islamic militias which have already started rebelling and the country has become a breeding ground for all sorts of chaos.
- Fractured sovereignty: The power struggle has only begun but it’s not a people’s movement that could bring out order by way of popular opinion. A fractured and fragmented support-opposition relationship exists between different arms of military, Khalifa Haftar, organizations that support him and the tribes that oppose him. In essence, there are almost 2,00,000 people with access to guns and it’s going to be hard to control them or organize them into one simple majority.
- Attack on the Parliament: The forces led by Khalifa Haftar launched two attacks last week; one was on the islamist groups in the eastern city of Benghazi which led to 70 reported deaths. The other one was on the country’s Parliament itself in the capital city, Tripoli. The supporters reportedly chanted slogans against ‘terrorism’, allegedly referring to the rise of Muslim groups after Gaddafi’s downfall.
- Extent of the debacle: The 2 lakh people with guns are on the streets forming minority militia groups and take part in the power struggle which they all hope to win on their own. The rule of law has essentially disappeared, one group even hijacked an oil tanker in the international waters and tried to sell the oil onboard. When assassinations are becoming regular in the Eastern side, the current Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni, and his family were attacked in a few days after his appointment in April, leading him to resign.
- GNC held to ransom: The General National Congress has lost all its credibility and authority in the country and has effectively become a puppet in the hands of revolutionary militias which are opportunistic enough to extract their demands by way of threatening to pull support or even launch attacks. “Libya’s transitional government has effectively been paying huge sums to militias as protection money, to allow the politicians to stay in office,” reports CNN.
- What’s Next: A clear cut solution to the problem which pacifies Haftar, militias and other revolting groups is far from sight due to lack of a central agenda or a unifying force. The government also finds its hands tied as the economy is plummeting and $4 billion debt is a large pressure. Fresh elections have been ordered though which might put an end to dissent and anguish when the new leaders are elected by majority. The elections are due in June and Haftar has already expressed his willingness to run for the President’s post.
“If the people ask me (to be president), I won’t hesitate a moment to fulfill their request,” he said. “We are ready for any duty at any time.”
Stay tuned to this space as I keep an eye on the situation and update the article with relevant developments.
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