Since the fall of Gaddafi’s forty-two years of rule, Libya has been facing tremendous challenges of instability and insecurity reflecting and characterized by both a political impasse and a lack of legitimate state institutions. Ad-hoc and non-state formations grew outside the legitimate state boundary and became the real actors, polarizing politics and society while rendering any political dialogue ineffective, especially when confined to exclusionary power-sharing arrangements. Official bodies remain weak and divided, while peripheral actors reject/resist submitting to its authority. While acknowledging that the current Libyan crisis is the product of the interaction of several factors including the Islamists and non-Islamist contestation, regional and tribal dimensions, and foreign interventions, this paper concentrates on the effects of the state approach of the Gaddafi era as well as the failure to adopt and implement reconciliation post the 2011 conflict. Therefore, it is argued that the first step towards realizing peace, security, and development is a departure from the current approach and the necessity of bringing in the real players to agree on a roadmap to reclaim the state by launching state-building processes that have national reconciliation as an essential component at their core. State-building cannot be purely a technical exercise of defining, designing, building, or reforming public institutions, while ignoring reconciliation. No matter how successful such technical state-building processes may be, some parts of the population will remain excluded and major segments of the population are likely to remain highly mistrustful of the (new) state and its institutions. Therefore, addressing this gap is central to a transformative approach to state-building that includes reconciliation in which dealing with the Gaddafi legacy is central to preventing future conflict relapse.
Gaddafi’s Legacy, Institutional Development, and National Reconciliation in Libya
Youssef Mohammad Sawani is Director of Studies, Center for Arab Unity Studies, Beirut, Lebanon; and Professor of Politics & International Relations, University of Tripoli, Libya. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Youssef Mohammad Sawani; Gaddafi’s Legacy, Institutional Development, and National Reconciliation in Libya. Contemporary Arab Affairs 1 March 2020; 13 (1): 46–68. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/caa.2020.13.1.46
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