Remembering the Libyan Revolution – Middle East Monitor

In 2011, oil-rich Libya had been ruled by Muammar Gaddafi (1942-2011) for over 40 years. Its eccentricity masked a cruel dictatorship and the Libyan people refused to be bought off by lower prices for basic foodstuffs. They had had enough of the purges, nepotism and corruption.

What: Libyan Revolution of 2011 inspired by the protests of the Arab Spring in the Middle East

Or: Libya

When: February 15, 2011 – October 23, 2011

What happened?

On February 15, 2011, inspired and carried by uprisings in other Arab countries, notably neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, the Libyan popular revolution broke out in Benghazi. Hundreds of people gathered outside a government building in the city after the arrest of a young human rights lawyer, Fethi Tarbel. Protesters called for Gaddafi’s resignation and the release of political prisoners.

The protests quickly spread to other towns, leading to an escalation in clashes between security forces and anti-government rebels. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed by security forces in Benghazi.

Even though the protesters faced live ammunition fired by Gaddafi’s forces, they took control of Benghazi on February 20. Other towns in eastern Libya quickly followed. Shocked by the brutality of the government’s response to the protests, a number of senior officials resigned from Gaddafi’s administration.

READ: How the United Nations took control of Libya, then decided its future

The National Transitional Council (CNT) was formed as a coordination group to represent the rebels. It was ruled by defectors from Gaddafi’s government and was for a time the de facto government of Libya, gaining recognition in Western and Arab capitals.

At the end of February, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1970 to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council, impose sanctions and call for an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the regimes shooting. civilians. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates sent troops to help poorly trained CNT forces. In April, a NATO airstrike in Tripoli killed one of Gaddafi’s sons and three of his grandsons.

NATO airstrikes would have been crucial for the rebels to take control of the east and move towards the capital in western Libya. Supported by the persecuted Amazigh minority, the rebels took control of Tripoli in August 2011.

Gaddafi escaped capture until October 20, when he was captured and killed in Sirte. He was 68 years old.

What happened next ?

The National Transitional Council faced a difficult task. Libyan state institutions were fragile and there was a lot of corruption in the country. Gaddafi’s personality cult, mixed with tribal loyalties and favoritism, had defined political culture for four decades.

Libyan assets were released by the UN and the money was airlifted to the Central Bank of Libya in Tripoli. Preparations were made for the General National Congress (GNC) election in 2012. Factions inside the country, however, were unhappy with the GNC and other divisions were created. Lebanese-American General Khalifa Haftar led a militia to overthrow the GNC in February 2014.

Elections were held for a new House of Representatives, but the turnout was very low, estimated at 18 percent, as a result, many people refused to accept the result and the legitimacy of the legislative body. Attacks and bombings have taken place in a number of towns across the country, sparking yet another civil war. The House of Representatives moved to Haftar stronghold in Benghazi, while efforts to create a government of national unity based in Tripoli were underway.

The result was the Government of National Accord (GNA), which was recognized by the UN as the legitimate government of Libya at the end of 2015 before holding its first meeting in Tunis in January 2016. The GNA relocated in Tripoli in March 2016.

Haftar refused to accept the authority of the GNA and has waged a militia war against the legitimate government since its formation. It remains supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France. The GNA, meanwhile, was supported by Qatar and Turkey. It was with Turkish help that GNA forces were able to push back and defeat Haftar’s “Libyan national army” last year. The country is currently going through a difficult process of negotiations to end the civil war.

MAINTENANCE: “Haftar barked the wrong tree”

The opinions expressed in this article are the property of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

About Wesley V. Finley

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