Libya Politics and Defense

Libya Politics and Defense

Society, politics and rights

Gaddafi’s Libya, despite the absence of political and civil liberties, had a relatively high level of human development compared to its African neighbors. The literacy rate, for example, reached 100% among young people; the conditions of the general health services offered to the population were sufficient: according to data from the World Health Organization, 97% of the population had access to health facilities, but only 54.4% of drinking water. Infant mortality was quite low (17 per 1000 births). As for gender equality, Gaddafi had tried, at least publicly, to promote the status of women with respect to traditional culture and to discourage discrimination. In 2012 the National Transitional Congress (NTC) tried by law to reserve a quota of seats for women in the July elections, but had to give up by inserting only the obligation to alternate sex among the candidates of the proportional quota, which assigned to women a total of 80 seats. On the other hand, the situation has always been critical as regards civil and political rights. Political activity under the Gaddafi regime has always been highly controlled, freedom of assembly was allowed only to pro-government demonstrations, there were no independent trade unions and corruption was quite widespread. Post-regime Libya had initially offered encouraging data. In the elections of July 2012 a record number of 140 registered parties competed, but the political formations were more than 350. The elections produced a very heterogeneous congress from a political point of view. The electoral system allowed the election with the majority system on local constituencies of 120 independent members who therefore responded more to the community they belong to than to any party. However, the very low participation in numerical terms of the Libyan population in last votes of 2014 constituted an important indicator on the degree of disillusionment of the Libyan population towards a peaceful and democratic transition. In the new Libya, pluralism seemed to be guaranteed, as was freedom of expression: within a few months, many media, civil groups, associations and trade unions had sprung up. However, in the past two years, civil liberties and political rights have been severely constrained by threats, personal ambushes and intimidation, mostly exercised by Islamic radicals, but also by the militias that manage individual areas. The greatest danger derives from violent Salafist and jihadist groups and from the cross-vendettas of the old members of the Gaddafi regime.

Defense and security

The current chaotic situation in the country is characterized by the presence of numerous armed militias on Libyan territory. These did not disarm at the end of the 2011 conflict and currently remain the true holders of power in the country. The various national authorities that have succeeded since the fall of the regime have not been able to regain the monopoly of the use of force. The sanctions against the Gaddafi regime in March 2011 imposed an embargo on any type of armament, while the NATO intervention eliminated a large part of the regime’s land and air armed forces.¬†For Libya defense and foreign policy, please check

After the end of the conflict there was also a rather significant flow of armaments out of the country and directed to conflict areas in Africa and the Middle East. Libya has a strong need to reconstitute its armed forces also from the point of view of means and structures. However, so far this has been prevented by the limitations still existing in the framework of the UN sanctions.Several Western countries, from the United States to Italy, to the United Kingdom, collaborated with the Libyan government during 2013-14 in the constitution and training of the police and army forces, however with modest results. The polarization in the field of security, which turned into open conflict between the two factions, has fueled a new race to arms, in an attempt to strengthen one side over the other. The international community, the Euin particular, it tried to collaborate with Libya in an attempt to strengthen the lack of border controls, which are the cause of the proliferation of trafficking in arms, people and drugs, but the effort was made in vain when Libya relapsed into a conflict between the two factions in mid-2014. On this front it should be noted that the return to Mali of dozens of Tuareg rebels who had fought alongside the pro-Gaddafi militias during the Libyan revolution and the rearmament of A qim (al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb), thanks to the Libyan regime’s arsenal, have constituted one of the causes of instability in Mali and the consequent takeover in the northern territories of Mali itself by the Islamic militias.

Since the last months of 2014, the penetration of I s in Libya has been reported by many international media. In reality, the jihadist landscape in Libya is very varied as many other Salafist-jihadist groups seem to have a sanctuary in Libya, including Aqim, Egyptian and Tunisian groups. Various avowedly jihadist formations have appeared on the Libyan scene since 2012 and have progressively strengthened with the crumbling of the Libyan state. Among these there are certainly groups that try to impose the constitution of a caliphate in Libya also through the use of force. Ansar al-Sharia Libya, responsible for the killing of the American Ambassador Christopher Stevens in September 2012, remains one of the most conspicuous military forces in the east of the country, particularly in the city of Benghazi where it is currently opposed by the military forces of Haftar, and was designated first by the US State Department, then by the United Statesas a terrorist organization. However, during 2015 the situation on the ground has become increasingly complicated due to the strengthening of all ‘related groups Is. The latter proclaimed their affiliation to the self-styled Caliphate, establishing two provinces in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, with bases in Sirte and Derna.

Libya Defense

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