The United Nations-backed unity government that is currently operating in Libya and trying hard to assert its authority nationwide suffered a new blow on Friday when a rival group seized key offices in the capital and proclaimed the reinstatement of a third administration previously based in Tripoli.
This is not an uncommon story in Libya as rival authorities and militias have been in a constant battle for control of the oil-rich country ever since the death of controversial dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
Power cuts, price hikes and a distinct lack of cash have become the reality of the citizens of the country put side by side with spurts of violence.
Fayza al-Naas, a 42-year-old Libyan pharmacist, referring to Moammar Gaddafi’s more than four decades of rule said;
“I hate to say it but our life was better under the previous regime, … [today] we wait for hours outside banks to beg cashiers to give us some of our own money. Everything is three times more expensive.”
The Islamic State jihadist group has managed to gain a foothold on Europe’s doorstep after seizing the strongman’s hometown of Sirte in June last year. As loyalists work to push ISIL out, a controversial field marshal was able, last month, to seize key oil terminals to its east, allowing the National Oil Company to resume crude exports.
Meanwhile, the eastern parliament has thrown its support behind Khalifa Haftar, who has presented himself as Libya’s saviour amidst all the struggle, but is also a hugely divisive figure. His army has removed most jihadists from Benghazi but critical detractors say that he is simply working towards the single goal of seizing power to establish a new military dictatorship.
Libya analyst Mohamed Eljarh seems to agree with them stating that;
“Libyans are forced to choose between two extremes: either chaos with militias and Islamist extremists as the dominant forces, or military rule, … No other convincing options are on offer,”
This persistent chaos has also allowed human traffickers to continue in their lucrative trade in the Mediterranean nation.
For this reason, hundreds of migrants dreaming of Europe are drowning off the Libyan coast. The country has also served as a launchpad for deadly attacks on holidaymakers in neighboring Tunisia.
It seems obviously difficult to pinpoint one good thing that Libyans have going for them after Moammar Gaddafi and so it is no surprise that a good number of residents in the capital joke that they have grown to miss the dictatorship of Moammar Gaddafi as the frustrations of daily life mount.
There are still, however, some holdouts who stress that the chaos in Libya springs from decades of mismanagement under the dictator.