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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What's Keeping Libya Lawless?

This is an article I wrote for the Student Center for African Research and Resolutions, a student think tank in Washington, D.C. Check them out at for more student-produced news regarding African affairs. This article can also be accessed in SCARR's blog section.

This article was originally published on August 1, 2014. 

On July 26, 2014, the United States evacuated its embassy staff in Libya to next-door Tunisia, recommending that any Americans in the country also leave, citing heavy fighting between rival militias. It’s not the first time Americans have been in danger in this North African country: On the 11th anniversary of the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington, Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed as well as three other embassy staff in Benghazi, in a tragedy that is still shrouded in controversy in the United States. 
Libya, now a fledgling republic, was ruled for nearly 40 years by Muammar Gaddafi, a ruthless megalomaniac who was so infamously egotistical that British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen used him for inspiration in his movie “The Dictator.” Unfortunately, the pride and joy that came with the ousting of Gaddafi was short-lived. Since Gaddafi was ousted, the country’s weak and ineffective government has struggled to establish order.

Local militias which played a vital role in ousting Gaddafi have been trying to vie for influence since Gaddafi was ousted, paralyzing the interim government. Islamists and their liberal and nationalist rivals have been at odds since the end of Gaddafi’s regime, unable to cooperate on anything and undermining progress. Benghazi, a large city in the eastern part of the country, is hit by frequent bombings, and crime is frequent and hard to control.

It seems as if the only thing that united Libyans was hatred of Gaddafi. There’s a possibility that the country’s neighbors may help establish order, though. Tunisia, Libya’s neighbor to the west, has seemingly established a stable and progressing democracy. The Tunisian economy is stable and the presidential elections this year will serve as an important benchmark to see how far the country hasprogressed. To the east lies Egypt, and while President El-Sisi is not expected to be the most democratic of leaders, a stable Egypt may help the Libyan government establish its own authority. 

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