The future of Libya is uncertain. The country has been through two civil wars in the past decade. Many are concerned that a third one is on the horizon as two rival governments continue to
campaign for power, which has led to another six-month delay to Libyan elections. How did Libya get here, and what is the situation today for a country so consumed by chaos?


the Libyan chief of state attends the 12th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 2, 2009. Qaddafi was elected chairman of the organization.


The Libyan Civil War of 2011

We are certainly not unfamiliar with the Libyan Civil War of 2011, as it was used quite frequently as a political tool by U.S.-based politicians in the year that followed. The war began during the early stages of the Arab Spring, when its leader Muammar Gaddafi responded to protests with violence, igniting a full-scale civil war. The war started on February 15, 2011, and ended symbolically on October 20, 2011, when Gaddafi was killed.

At this point, the Libyan Revolutionaries took control of the country.
Although the rebel forces were united in their objective to overthrow the Gaddafi regime, they lacked a shared vision for the future governance of Libya. The militias in the country held too much power and were in conflict with one another for control. Militias were unwilling to share power with the Libyan government or yield control to official institutions. Sure, they would allow the government to pay their salaries as militiamen or as members of rebranded militias like the Libya Shield. However, collecting a paycheck was not out of loyalty to their country. They took
it as they believed it was earned through bloodshed during the Revolution.

One reason for the militiamen’s pushback against being rolled into the newly formed Libyan government was that the previous Gaddafi-run government had impacted members of the militias–with large numbers of people released from prisons-and they had no trust in another governing body. Another reason was that the militias were larger than official institutions and finally had authority. There were inherent risks in giving up their weapons to an unstable government. And the last reason was that the more extremist militias did not want a democratic-style government or western influence in Libyan affairs and were planning to fight for Libya to become a true Islamic Caliphate.

As the militias refused to surrender their arms and join traditional military, police, and intelligence forces, early Libyan governments lacked legitimacy. As a result, the government of Libya appeared weak and vulnerable to collapse, attracting terrorists from abroad. International terrorist groups, like al-Qaeda, planned for Libya to be a terrorist safe haven where it could operate
training camps and easily smuggle persons and weapons in and out of the country–offering a new base in North Africa. Al-Qaeda terrorists with their Libyan militia allies ended this post-revoluntary era a decade ago when they carried out the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and CIA Annex attacks on September 11 and 12, 2012.