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Regular version of the site

Article

Key Actors in the Libyan Conflict (Friends and Foe of the Libyan Political Milieu)

Russia in Global Affairs. 2019. Vol. 17. No. 4. P. 157-182.

Recently, Libyan conflict has become one of the vital elements that determine the development of the geostrategic space in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Meanwhile all the governing mechanisms of this artificial state, the social structure of which still crucially depends on tribes and archaic principles of their interaction, were destroyed.

During the Libyan monarchy the social fabric of the country was held together among other factors by the network of Islamic institutions, while in Ghaddafi`s Libya it came down to his personal charisma and the network of his contacts and connections through tribal elders and elites. Since late 2011, there has been an apparent lack of such a factor, on the state level, that could contribute to reunification of the Libyan society or, at least, be used as an impetus for the main actors to compromise. Instead, there are multiple tribes, controlling territories and infrastructure, and numerous militias, controlling the cities, and three governments, each posing as the sole legitimated one.

This article is an effort to analyze the current political situation in Libya through activities of main actors and web of opportunistic interactions they create on the national and regional theatre. Beside the three governments and the tribal factor, the emphasis is made on a number of neocons recently entering the political milieu and claiming their stakes in the future of the country.

An attempt is made to look at the international relations theories, such as realist and liberal interdependency narratives, in their holistic approach to the state, through the lens of their applicability to the Libyan file, and their use as a pathway to understanding Libyan puzzle and forecasting the future to the possible development . Through our research we made an informed argument that these theories as they equate the state with the country, failing to distinguish between the state, government, society and so on (Thomson, 1995), their use in the argument becomes largely similar to a “parlor debate” when applied to our case study. The closest argument to be found is the radical Krasner’s (1984) statism theory with the “us against them” dichotomy where the state is “us” and “them” are seen as other states and own society. This layout is much closer in our view to the Libyan backstage than any other in circulation.

We further study a plethora of power centers in Libya including tribes and clans and their proximity to the heart of the crisis be it nationally or internationally, not simply because they exist, but in an effort to formulate relevant arguments for future debate which is inevitable from our point of view.