By Barbara Tasch
It has now been five years since the start of the Libyan revolution, and the situation in the country has not evolved for the better.
The uprising put an end to the regime of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, the country has descended into a state of persistent chaos with two separate governments struggling to find a way to work together.
Mattia Toaldo, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Business Insider in an email that although the general state of the country was worse than under Gaddafi’s rule, “Authoritarianism has just been decentralised: instead of having one security apparatus torturing people, now each militia has its own,” Toaldo said.
He also added that the dictator’s era “should not be idealised,” and that his many wars and support for terrorism should not be forgotten.
The revolution that toppled Gaddafi has continued to wreak havoc all over the country. The ensuing security vacuum has proved to be a windfall for ISIS, which has expanded its operations and taken control of swathes of territory while attacking Libya’s oil infrastructures.
“We should not be concerned by just what ISIS is now, but by its potential, which in Libya is significant.” Toaldo said. Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown which is a mere 400 miles from Sicily, is now completely under ISIS control.
Numerous attempts to form a unity government between opposition leaders have failed so far. There is civil war between a militia coalition, Libya Dawn, based in Tripoli, and the elected parliament in Tobruk, which is internationally recognized.
Wayne White, a Policy Expert with Washington’s Middle East Policy Council, told Business Insider in an email that the security system was “far worse than ever before.”
“Even these two ‘governments’ control only fragments of the country mostly near the coast and portions of inland oil fields. ISIS has a firm grip on Sirte, and has repulsed attacks from the two governments,” White said, “Elsewhere, the country is a patchwork of fiefdoms controlled by various tribal and regional militias.”
‘Libya was left to simmer on the international backburner’
According to an article published on Thursday in The Daily Beast, the US military has been pushing for more airstrikes and for troops to be sent into Libya. The Obama administration has turned down this plan, three defence officials reportedly told The Daily Beast.
A few weeks ago the Pentagon announced that it was looking to eventually expand military operations in the North African country, but that they were still gathering intelligence on the ground. But now that a plan has been proposed, there seems to be “… little to no appetite for that in this administration,” one defense official told the Daily Beast.
Other European nations who participated in the Libyan revolution, have been dealing with regional crises, and not shown any particular interest in the country’s situation.
“While the UN and the West concentrated on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Libya was left to simmer on the international backburner,” White said.
With militias battling each other, few signs that a unity government will be agreed on in the near future, and fading interest from the international community, the future of the country is looking fairly bleak.
A medical student, who was part of the revolution five years ago and now takes care of injured members of militias fighting against ISIS in Libya, told the Guardian that “Back then it was simple, we fought for freedom. But a lot of time, you wonder was it worth it?”