The Libya-Syria Conflict, Put Simply

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By Campaign Agent Johnny Wordsworth

The “Arab Spring” exploded in early 2010, affecting countries such as Libya, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen and consequently causing uproar and political revolt in similar nations. The “Arab Spring”, a violent and non-violent revolution, spread from Tunisia on December 17th 2010. By, early 2011 it had kickstarted an uprising in Libya, a country dominated by Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorial forces since 1969. Rebel groups formed, sparked by the success in both Egypt and Tunisia. Soon after, Gaddafi attempted to quash the rebellion and accelerated from using rubber bullets and tear-gas to live rounds and airstrikes.

American and European forces became involved in spring 2011, to try and quell Gaddafi’s reign and war crimes from both the Rebels and Gaddafi’s army. The US and European Alliance were able to disable Libya’s air force, Gaddafi’s most powerful counter-tool. Subsequently, NATO took control of military operations later that month and set the stage for the rebels to push back against Gaddafi’s forces. In August, the rebels took over the capital city of Tripoli and captured Gaddafi’s headquarters, however the country’s leader’s whereabouts were unknown. Finally, on October 20, Gaddafi was found and killed by rebel fighters in his hometown Sirte, guarded by his infamous female bodyguards.

In early June 2014, Libya held parliamentary elections with liberal and nationalist politicians winning the majority of seats. Voter turnout was remarkably low due to the threat of violence and clashes broke out soon after, as Islamist militias conducted a coup d’etat (a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics; especially the violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group or militia) in Tripoli in support of the parties that lost in the elections.

From then on, Libya operated without a central and executive government. Instead, various key players have formed to attempt to take the “throne”, in the form of political power. Key players include:

1. ISIS (Islamic state in Iraq and Syria)
2. The Libyan National Army
3. New General National Congress

A growing matter is the conflict between Syria and Libya, in the form of ISIS militants. “Libya is now home to the second-largest and fastest-growing Islamic State group affiliate outside Iraq and Syria,” Christoper S. Chivvis, the associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at RAND Corporation (February, 2016).

Although ISIS seem to be losing power in Syria and Iraq by the fire-power of the 66 member coalition forces, the issue is that remaining militants are attempting to evade the attack by relocating to Libya, now a major possibility of becoming the next IS stronghold.

The G5 has discussed a plan to stabilise the country, including restoration of oil production to shore up the economy, and stemming migration flows from the country.  On the oil front, the country has long relied almost entirely on oil and gas extraction, which accounts for 95 per cent of export earnings and 99 per cent of government income. This source of income, when under correct governance could help to pull Libya out of the hole its dug itself into.

Syria has undergone a similar downfall, also kickstarted by the “Arab Spring” in 2011, with a consequent uprising and the unsuccessful attempts to defeat the ruling governments leader, Bashar Al-Assad, who’s family have been in power since 1971. Now the country has fallen to pieces, controlled by five distinct parties, the Kurds, ISIS, The opposition forces, The Syrian armed forces and the Free Syrian army. As the fighting goes on, it looks as if ISIS may be defeated due to the presence of NATO, US and European forces. However, the future seems uncertain, will the Assad regime stay in control? Bolstered by the Russian forces, or will western nations fail or succeed in forming a respected central government to facilitate the climb from conflict to prosperity.

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