Libya. At least 37 people died and around 90 were injured
by two car bombs near a mosque in Libya's second largest
city of Benghazi in January. A few weeks later, at least 150
people were injured and at least one person died in two more
bomb attacks aimed at a mosque in the same city.
In February, UN envoy in Libya Ghassan Salamé said during
a press conference that he hoped elections could be held in
Libya by the end of the year. However, the plans seemed to
increase the turmoil in the country. In May, the National
Electoral Commission headquarters in Tripoli was destroyed
in an attack taken by the Islamic State (IS) terror group.
At least twelve people died, most of whom were employed in
the Electoral Commission's office.
In the same month, at least 30 people were killed and 120
injured in fighting in the city of Sabha. The unrest began
in February and stood between two groups, which according to
the Reuters news agency were linked to the country's two
rival political camps in the east and west respectively.
At the end of May, four of Libya's most important leaders
agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on
December 10. The four leaders were the Prime Minister of the
Unity Government in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, General
Khalifa Haftar with power in eastern Libya and the leaders
of the two rival parliaments in the western and eastern
parts of the country, respectively. The hope was that Libya,
which has had two, sometimes three, rival governments since
2014, could unite and stabilize.
Unfortunately, some militia groups in western Libya were
under-represented at the meeting. These were doubtful of the
talks they thought would benefit General Haftar. The meeting
was held during a peace conference in Paris.
In June, General Khalifa Haftar and his army captured the
city of Derna from the Libyan National Army (LNA) from a
coalition of local militia and Islamist extremists. It was
the last place in eastern Libya that LNA had no control
In August, a court sentenced 45 militants to the death
penalty for opening fire on protesters in Tripoli during the
uprising against Muammar al-Khadaffi in 2011. According to
the AFP news agency, the number of death sentences was
probably the highest in the country since the regime was
Countryaah.com, struggles between different militia groups in and around
Tripoli escalated in September. The clashes were the most
serious in several years. They began in the southern suburbs
of the capital and then spread to central parts of Tripoli.
Since the situation became too dangerous, police and
security forces abandoned several migration camps in
Tripoli's southern suburbs. In the camps, hundreds of
migrants were left locked up without food or water.
In addition, a riot broke out at a prison on the
outskirts of Tripoli and 400 prisoners managed to escape.
The country's health ministry stated at the end of
September that at least 115 people had died and around 400
were injured in the fighting since the beginning of August.
After several broken ceasefires, the unity government in
Tripoli asked the UN to release the policy and instead focus
on basic security. They wanted the United Nations action
UNSMIL, which is a special political effort, to be
transformed into an effort to support Libya's security and
stability, according to TT News Agency. Then, UN envoy
Ghassan Salamé said in a statement that the unrest in
Tripoli meant that the planned elections in December could
not be carried out until next year.
At the same time, migration flows continued through Libya
towards Europe, albeit on a smaller scale than last year.
Media reported in May that the number of refugees arriving
by boat to Italy from Libya had decreased by 80% since the
summer of 2017. The decline occurred, among other things,
after Italy, where 700,000 refugees and migrants arrived
since 2013, signed an EU-backed agreement with Libya on
preventing boats with migrants from leaving the coast of
Further statistics showed that 20 of the government's 53
migrant camps had been closed as the number of migrants
detained in them had dropped from 27,000 to just over 5,000
since May 2017. This is stated by Mohammed Bishr, who is
leading Libya's measures against illegal migration. The
reason was that thousands of migrants were returned to their
home countries by the International Migration Organization
IOM, among others.
At the same time, many migrants were held in human
smugglers' camps. According to representatives of the
migrants, they are raped and tortured by smugglers, who also
squeeze them for money.
More than 100 East Africans fled from one of the camps in
May. The camp was located near the town of Bani Walid which
has developed into a center for human trafficking in
migrants. During the flight, East Africans were shot at by
smugglers and several were taken to hospitals.
In June, an EU summit was held where migration was
discussed. Prior to the meeting, several proposals were made
for asylum camps in and outside the EU. Among the proposed
asylum camp countries was Libya. However, Libya's Deputy
Prime Minister Ahmed Malteeq rejected that idea. On the
other hand, he, together with Italian Interior Minister
Matteo Salvini, launched a proposal to place asylum camps in
countries south of Libya.
A report from the UN refugee agency UNHCR in September
stated that the proportion of migrants who died on the
so-called central route between Libya and Italy had
increased. During the first seven months of the year, 1 in
18 died, compared with 1 in 42 in the same period in 2017.
The Gaddafi regime (1969–2011)
A group of younger officers led by Muammar al-Gaddafi
took power at a military coup on September 1, 1969. The
country's head of state, King Idris, was overseas and
remained in exile. Crown Prince Hassan al-Aida renounced the
right to the throne, and the monarchy was abolished.
The coup came after several years of strengthening
national feeling and pan-Arabism. The rise of Arab
self-esteem was reinforced by officers abolishing the
monarchy in Egypt and Iraq, while increasing the
confrontation with Israel and its Western supporters. This
regional backdrop interacted with the Libyan king's
provocative politics and conservative attitudes, as well as
The coup makers created a Revolutionary Command
Council (RCC) with Gaddafi as the front figure and de
facto head of state, although he never took the title of
president. He saw the takeover of power as a pervasive
revolution, not a coup. Although the new leaders led a
largely secular - and partly socialist - oriented, policy,
Gaddafi allowed Islam a central position in the revolution.
The coup makers, a group of young officers, were Arab
nationalists. Gaddafi was strongly inspired by Egyptian
President Gamal Abdel Nasser and the free officers who
seized power and abolished the kingdom there in 1952.
Initially, the Libyan officers had no clear ideological
or political direction, but led an experimental domestic
policy and a radical foreign policy. Gaddafi leaned against
Nasser, announcing that Libya's revolution and the country's
resources were at the disposal of Egypt and pan-Arabism.
Following the takeover of Egypt, Egypt sent security forces
to Libya, essentially in response to any counter-coups.
Libya's pan-Arabian course remained the guiding principle
for foreign policy until the turn of the century. From the
beginning, it was essential to dismantle foreign military
bases in Libya, as part of the fight against Western
National unity was another political priority, after
Libya was united into one state as late as 1963. A cultural
revolution was an important part of the Libyan experiment,
focusing on the combination of Arab nationalism and Islamic
values. As part of this, Western symbols were removed and
Arabic language mandatory used; the Latin alphabet was
A new constitution came into force in 1969. RCC then
formally became the top political leadership. Political
oppression was reflected, among other things, by a ban on
free party formation and a free press. The regime itself
established the Arab Socialist Union as a state
party in 1971. In 1973, Gaddafi launched a so-called popular
revolution; a cultural revolution from below that should
lead to popular government. The RCC, and Gaddafi himself,
still retained real power.
The military apparatus was expanded, eventually with
support from the Soviet Union. After the revolution, Egypt
sent military advisers, and later also came from eastern
European countries to train the security police,
Mukhabarat. Libya gave arms to Egypt in connection with
the October war in 1973 and sent a smaller force in support
of Egypt, but did not participate in the war. Military
training was introduced in the school and armed militias
Gaddafi's political and social experiment was based on an
ambition to create a new governance, a third way, as an
alternative to Western capitalism and atheistic communism.
The goal was a society without a centralized state, and the
socialist Libyan-Arab Jamahiriya (government) was
proclaimed in 1977: a political community with consultation
rather than representation. He also emphasized community in
the Arab world, later in Africa. This was followed by
several attempts to integrate Libya with other Arab states.
In the early 1980s, a system of people committees was
introduced at workplaces and in educational institutions, in
villages and districts. Local popular congresses were also
established. A National People's Congress should be the
supreme body instead of a parliament. The real power
remained with Gaddafi, including through revolutionary
committees loyal to him and given extensive authority to
follow up his policies.
In 1970, the foreign military bases - the US Wheelus
outside Tripoli and the UK in Kyrenaika (El Adem and Tobruk)
- were wound up.
Libya under Gaddafi did not have parties, did not hold
elections, nor did he have a national assembly, government
or head of state in the western sense.