Who Controls Libya?
December 1, 2017
With three rival governments, an ongoing civil war, the presence of international terrorist networks, and now even slave auctions being held in its territory, the North African state of Libya has collapsed into chaos in recent years. Outside attempts to put a functional central authority back together have largely failed in the face of a multitude of competing interest groups and social fissures dating back to Libya’s birth as a postcolonial state. Formally, power is still divided between the Council of Representatives based in the eastern cities of Tobruk and al-Bayda, a rump “National Salvation Government” originally based out of the capital Tripoli, and the UN-backed Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord (GNA) which took over from it. In reality power ultimately depends on a host of militia and Islamist groups who provide each of the three rival governments with the firepower to enforce their demands on the ground.
The political struggle in Libya is no closer to a resolution today than it was after the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. As result, the once highly developed country has become a hub for organized crime, human trafficking, and the modern slave trade.