The success of Libya’s 2011 revolution has given way to political disarray, an institutional vacuum, and an extraordinary proliferation of non-state and quasi-state armed groups operating across the country. However, rather than pursuing political or ideological objectives, these groups increasingly focus on resource predation.
Through an empirical study of various axes of violence in contemporary Libya, this report highlights the critical role played by criminal accumulation, land grabs, and protection rackets in the actions of tribal militias and jihadist groups, and in the fighting that has blighted one major urban hub. Whereas conventional representations of Libya’s post-revolutionary period dwell on the political battle between Islamists and secular forces, the report suggests that the cause of the country’s increasing levels of armed violence can be found in the absence of a functional state and the fragmentation of local, tribal, ethnic and ideological forces, which together make the violent acquisition of material resources essential to group survival.
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