Not that anyone is keeping track, but we still have American (along with British, Italian, and French) Special Operations Forces in Libya. The entire conflict there has taken a backseat as the Western world has focused on Aleppo and Mosul, but the following report gives a good breakdown of the various players on the ground. In many ways, Libya resembles what the mafia calls an “open city” in which any band of brigands can jump in and play. Western SOF are embedded with various militias on the ground, many of whom are antagonistic to one another. The hope is that SOF will be able to stop these militias from fighting each other, a strategy that could end up blowing up in our faces.
In Libya there are very few truly national actors. The vast majority are local players, some of whom are relevant at the national level while representing the interests of their region, or in most cases, their city. Many important actors, particularly outside of the largest cities, also have tribal allegiances.
Since the summer of 2014, political power has been split between two rival governments in Tripoli and in Tobruk, with the latter having been recognized by the international community before the creation of the Presidential Council – the body that acts collectively as head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces – in December 2015. Several types of actors scramble for power in today’s Libya: armed groups; “city-states,” particularly in western and southern Libya; and tribes, which are particularly relevant in central and eastern Libya.
Featured image courtesy of DailyMail UK.