The Libyan central government is so far failing to assert its authority over the country, buried in rampant infighting and lawlessness that could lead to civil war.
The failed coup that culminated in last month’s kidnapping of Libyan PM Ali Zeidan demonstrated the central government’s glaring lack of authority. Lawlessness has become an everyday feature of life; foreign embassies are targeted and attacked, rival militias and branches of Al-Qaeda vie for power, and the country’s borders are porous and outside the government’s control.
In another symbolic blow, a federalist movement in the eastern Cyrenaica region has declared an autonomous regional government. This region, known as Barqah, was the cradle of the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi and has been historically marginalized, despite being a generator of economic activity, with 80 percent of Libya’s proven oil reserves and several strategic ports and oil refineries within its territory.
The people of Barqah seek autonomy and federalism to combat the political and administrative marginalization meted out by the central government in Tripoli, which refuses to recognize the region’s aspirations of self-rule, and has previously warned that it would forcefully respond over attempts to break away.
Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He can be reached at email@example.com.