Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

Libya’s Faustian Bargains:: Breaking the Appeasement Cycle

Jason Pack
Karim Mezran
Mohamed Eljarh
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2014
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 84
  • Cite this Item

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 11-16)

    Libya’s leaderless “Arab Spring” movement to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi began on February 15, 2011, as a series of disparate local uprisings. Individual towns and neighborhoods erupted first in nonviolent protest, though the movement later morphed into an armed insurrection against the Qaddafi regime. As the regime and its oppressive security forces attempted to suppress the rebellion via indiscriminate killings, militias and local governing councils formed from local populations in the various pockets of the country where Qaddafi’s control was contested or evaporated.15 These peripheral local councils and militias that spontaneously arose throughout Libya to contest the regime on a city-by-city...

  2. (pp. 17-24)

    The woeful current state of affairs could have been avoided if the NTC had demonstrated bold leadership and started to reign in the recalcitrant periphery during the honeymoon period after the declaration of liberation. Such leadership could have rallied the Libyan people to the side of the government, an invaluable asset that would have been more useful in building Libya’s future than the $170 billion on-hand in sovereign wealth funds or top-notch outside technical assistance. Institutions cannot be built and security cannot be fostered without popular support, nor can these things be bought or manufactured by experts.

    Some counter-argue that...

  3. (pp. 25-40)

    Linking together the two concepts of the underlying center/periphery conflict and the GNC’s penchant for appeasement, it becomes clear that the Libyan government is trapped in a struggle with its myriad opponents to set the rules of the political game within which the struggle for post-Qaddafi Libya will be waged. The militias—and the social, local, regional, religious, ideological, and tribal cleavages which sustain them—have gained in strength over time as government policy incrementally transfers to them more funds and levers to both rally their supporters and pervert the political process. However, the Libyan populace constitutes a silent majority...

  4. (pp. 41-52)

    Since the appointment of Abdul-rahman al-Kib’s cabinet in November 2011, regional and ideological militias have become a key component in the Libyan political scene. They have been used by politicians or political groups to safeguard their influence and power. Even more destructively, the militias have become embedded in the government (as noted at the start of chapter 3 in section “The Players in the Struggle for the Post-Qaddafi Future”). In fact, it is not in practice possible to make a clear-cut distinction between the interests of “the militias/brigades” and of “the government,” “the ministries,” or “the GNC” because “militia interests”...

  5. (pp. 53-62)

    The overall ineffectiveness of Libya’s state institutions in restoring security or in providing infrastructure and welfare to the citizenry has resulted in their progressive delegitimization. With the central authorities lacking coherent institutions and further weakening themselves via appeasement, questions abound over whether Libya can hold to any semblance of the much amended road map to constitutional governance. There are three distinct pathways to restoring the center’s lost legitimacy and to achieving concrete steps toward the transition to democracy. The three pathways should be pursued simultaneously as they operate in parallel institutional tracks.

    The first of these tracks pertains to Libya’s...

  6. (pp. 63-64)

    The status quo is illusory for Libya. At present and in the short- to medium-term future, there can be no permanent balance between the forces of the center and those of the periphery. If the center does not genuinely assert its authority, it will lose its legitimacy and its ability to do so down the road—if it has not already. Conversely, if the center attempts to assert its authority against forces more powerful than itself before doing the proper popular outreach and creating a new incentive structure for militiamen, the center is likely to be defeated and this could...