Libya in chaos

Kuwait Times - - International -

TRIPOLI: Libya has been mired in chaos since the ouster and killing of dic­ta­tor Muam­mar Gaddafi in 2011, with two ri­val au­thor­i­ties and a mul­ti­tude of mili­tias still vy­ing for con­trol of the oil-rich coun­try. The cap­i­tal Tripoli is the seat of an in­ter­na­tion­ally-backed gov­ern­ment led by Fayez Al-Sar­raj, while a par­al­lel ad­min­is­tra­tion op­er­ates out of the east sup­ported by mil­i­tary strong­man Khal­ifa Haf­tar. Ahead of peace talks due to start Mon­day in Si­cily, here is a time­line of the Mediter­ranean coun­try’s de­scent into an­ar­chy:

Gaddafi killed

Trig­gered by up­ris­ings in Tu­nisia and Egypt, demon­stra­tions erupt in Libya in Fe­bru­ary 2011. A coali­tion led by Wash­ing­ton, Paris and Lon­don lends its back­ing to an armed re­volt. Gaddafi, who has ruled for 42 years, flees the cap­i­tal. He is cap­tured and killed on Oc­to­ber 20, 2011 dur­ing a bat­tle for his home­town Sirte, east of Tripoli. Three days later, the rebel Na­tional Tran­si­tional Coun­cil (NTC) de­clares Libya’s “to­tal lib­er­a­tion”. In Au­gust 2012, it hands power to a tran­si­tional author­ity, the Gen­eral Na­tional Con­gress (GNC), elected a month ear­lier.

Em­bassies tar­geted

US am­bas­sador Chris Stevens and three Amer­i­can staff are killed in a Septem­ber 11, 2012 at­tack on their con­sulate in Libya’s sec­ond city Beng­hazi. An Al-Qaeda-linked ji­hadist group is blamed. A car bomb in April 2013 tar­gets France’s em­bassy in Tripoli, wound­ing two French guards. Most for­eign del­e­ga­tions with­draw from the coun­try.

Ri­val gov­ern­ments

Dis­si­dent army gen­eral Haf­tar launches an of­fen­sive in May 2014 against ji­hadist groups in Beng­hazi. He is backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emi­rates. Sev­eral mil­i­tary of­fi­cers from the east join his self-styled Libyan Na­tional Army. As na­tion­al­ists and Is­lamists vie for power, leg­isla­tive elec­tions are held in June and the Gen­eral Na­tional Con­gress is re­placed by a par­lia­ment dom­i­nated by anti-Is­lamists. Is­lamist-led mili­tias con­test the re­sults and group un­der the ban­ner of “Fajr Libya” (Libya Dawn) and storm Tripoli in Au­gust, in­stalling their own “na­tional sal­va­tion” gov­ern­ment and restor­ing the GNC.

The elected house, which has in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion, takes refuge in the eastern city of To­bruk near the bor­der with Egypt. Thus the coun­try finds it­self with two gov­ern­ments and two par­lia­ments. Af­ter months of ne­go­ti­a­tions and un­der in­ter­na­tional pres­sure, law­mak­ers from the ri­val par­lia­ments sign a De­cem­ber 2015 ac­cord in Mo­rocco to set up a UN-backed Gov­ern­ment of Na­tional Ac­cord (GNA). In March 2016, GNA prime min­is­ter Sar­raj ar­rives in Tripoli to set up the new gov­ern­ment. Haf­tar’s ri­val ad­min­is­tra­tion, how­ever, re­fuses to rec­og­nize its author­ity.

Peace talks in Paris

In July 2017, ri­val lead­ers Sar­raj and Haf­tar meet for talks near Paris where they agree to a cease­fire and com­mit to elec­tions the fol­low­ing year. They meet again in Paris in May 2018, weeks af­ter Is­lamic State group sui­cide at­tack­ers kill 14 peo­ple at Libya’s elec­toral com­mis­sion, and com­mit to hold­ing par­lia­men­tary and pres­i­den­tial polls in De­cem­ber. But the un­rest con­tin­ues. In June 2018, a mili­tia at­tacks two north­east­ern oil sites un­der Haf­tar’s con­trol through which oil is ex­ported. Af­ter days of fight­ing, Haf­tar’s forces an­nounce they are back in “full con­trol” and have also seized the city of Derna from rad­i­cal Is­lamists.

Month of deadly clashes

The UN bro­kers a cease­fire in early Septem­ber but fight­ing re­sumes within days, with the cap­i­tal’s air­port at­tacked with rocket fire and ri­val mili­tias clash­ing nearby. In nearly a month, the clashes around Tripoli leave more than 110 dead and some 400 in­jured. The GNA calls for UN “se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity” sup­port as the world body’s en­voy, Ghas­san Salame, says in late Septem­ber that the lat­est fight­ing has made it dif­fi­cult to hold elec­tions be­fore spring 2019. —AFP

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