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Libya in chaos since 2011 overthrow of Qadhafi

By AFP - Apr 07,2019 - Last updated at Apr 07,2019

TRIPOLI — Libya has been mired in chaos since the ouster and killing of dictator Muammar Qadhafi in 2011, with two rival authorities and a multitude of militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.

The UN on Sunday made an “urgent” appeal for a two-hour truce in the southern suburbs of the capital Tripoli to evacuate wounded and civilians as the forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar continued an offensive to take the city.

The country’s internationally recognised unity government is based in Tripoli and Haftar supports a parallel administration based in the east.

Here is a timeline of the Mediterranean country’s descent into turmoil:

 

Qadhafi killed 

 

Triggered by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, demonstrations erupt in Libya in February 2011. A coalition led by Washington, Paris and London lends its backing to an armed revolt.

Qadhafi, in power for 42 years, flees the capital. He is captured and killed on October 20, 2011 during a battle for his hometown Sirte, east of Tripoli.

Three days later, the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) declares Libya’s “total liberation”.

In August 2012 the NTC hands power to a transitional authority elected a month earlier -- the General National Congress (GNC).

 

Embassies targeted 

 

US ambassador Chris Stevens and three American staff are killed in a September 11, 2012 attack on their consulate in Libya’s second city Benghazi. An Al Qaeda-linked group is blamed.

A car bomb in April 2013 targets France’s embassy in Tripoli, wounding two French guards.

Most foreign delegations withdraw from the country.

 

Rival governments 

 

Dissident army general Haftar launches an offensive in May 2014 against jihadist groups in Benghazi. He is backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. 

Several military officers from the east join his self-styled Libyan National Army.

As nationalists and Islamists vie for power, legislative elections are held in June and the GNC is replaced by a parliament dominated by anti-Islamists.

Islamist-led militias contest the results and group under the banner of “Fajr Libya” (Libya Dawn). They storm Tripoli in August, installing their own “national salvation” government and restoring the GNC.

The elected house, which has international recognition, takes refuge in the eastern city of Tobruk near the border with Egypt.

Thus the country finds itself with two governments and two parliaments.

After months of negotiations and international pressure, lawmakers from the rival parliaments sign an accord in December 2015 in Morocco to set up a UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

In March 2016, GNA chief Fayez al-Sarraj arrives in Tripoli to set up the new government, but Haftar’s rival administration refuses to recognise its authority.

 

Oil-rich sites 

 

In June 2018, a militia attacks two northeastern oil sites under Haftar’s control through which oil is exported.

After days of fighting, Haftar’s forces announce they are back in “full control” and have also seized the city of Derna from radical Islamists.

In January 2019 Haftar launches an offensive into oil-rich southern Libya, ostensibly aimed at wiping out “terrorists” and criminal groups. 

His forces seize the region’s capital Sebha and one of the country’s main oil fields without a fight.

 

 Conferences 

 

On February 28 the UN says Libya’s rivals have met and agreed to hold polls.

In March the UN says it will organise an all-party conference the next month to draw up a “road map” for Libya, including setting dates for legislative and presidential elections.

Later in March the African Union says it will host a “reconciliation” conference in July aimed at uniting Libya’s political rivals.

 

 Towards Tripoli 

 

On April 4 Haftar’s LNA launches an assault on Tripoli.

Unity government chief Fayez Al Sarraj says he has ordered loyalist forces to prepare to “face all threats”. 

On April 5, Haftar’s forces are pushed back from a key checkpoint less than 30 kilometres from Tripoli.

After meeting Haftar and Sarraj, UN chief Antonio Guterres expresses concern about the situation.

 UN calls for truce –

On April 7 Haftar’s forces say they have carried out their first air strike on a suburb of Tripoli, where the GNA is based. 

The GNA announces it has launched a “counteroffensive”.

The US military says it has temporarily pulled some of its forces out of the country, and the UN calls for an urgent two-hour truce on the outskirts of the capital to allow evacuations of civilians and wounded.

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