The death of Muammar Qadhafi in 2011 freed Libya from forty-two years of despotic rule, raising hopes for a new era. But in the aftermath of the uprising, the country descended into bitter rivalries and civil war, paving the way for the Islamic State and a catastrophic migrant crisis. What went wrong?
It is true that Libya is often overshadowed by a host of other crises and challenges that demand America’s attention. But the country remains a place of great potential and resilience, and it affects U.S. and European interests beyond the threat of terrorism.
The story of what went wrong in Libya after Qadhafi.
Modern U.S. policy in Libya is confronted by shades of gray and a counterterrorism narrative that tends to flatten and obscure complexities.
The euphoria from the fall of Muammar Qaddafi was short-lived for Libyans, as militias and tribes turned on each other and the country quickly descended into civil war.
The presence of foreign armed groups in Libya’s south poses an increasing threat to local security and regional political ties.
Although Maghreb states have tended to pursue border security unilaterally, increased transnational coordination at the local level offers a more sustainable approach.
The Maghreb continues to see a rise in discontent and militancy due to governmental indifference towards marginalized border regions.
Ghassan Salamé’s action plan for Libya faces numerous obstacles from entrenched political elites, who see it as just another venue in which to seek personal gain.
With no effective Libyan government and no capable police or security services, militias present themselves to outside powers as counter-terror partners. The challenge is dealing with extremism in a way that does not empower these militias at the expense of an inclusive, civic state.