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Filling the Vacuum in Libya

The Need for a Political, Not Military Solution

A member of the Libyan army's special forces holds a RPG during clashes with Islamist militants in their last stronghold in Benghazi, Libya, July 6, 2017. Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters

Since the fall of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has suffered from years of ineffective and dysfunctional rule. A series of weak governments passed through Tripoli in the aftermath of the revolution as powerful militias vied for control on the ground. The country further splintered in 2014, when a contested election saw Islamist-backed politicians and allied militias seize power in the western capital of Tripoli and force the newly elected House of Representatives to flee to the east, where it allied with eastern anti-Islamist forces. Despite a UN-led agreement that installed a Government of National Accord (GNA) in 2016, rival factions across the country continue to fight one another. Unsurprisingly, the Islamic State (or ISIS) and other resurgent jihadist groups have taken advantage of the country’s political instability, effectively turning Libya into a safe haven and breeding ground for extremists. 

There are of course areas in which the country has recently

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