Libya crisis: The rise and fall of an economically prosperous state
The once sovereign state that rejected imperialist influence now desperately requires peace and stability.
Just a decade back, Libya was a role model for the world because of its economic sovereignty in the Middle East and North Africa. The prosperity under the bold leadership and policies of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi translated into benefits for the people. From economic growth to improvement in living standards – the North African country had transformed from one of the poorest countries in Africa to the continent's leader in the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2011.
In 2011, the oil-rich country scored the highest in almost all the positive indicators, with literacy reaching 88.4 percent and life expectancy of 74.5 year etc., in the HDI under the United Nations Development Programme (2010), reports The Telesur.
The once sovereign state that rejected imperialist influence now desperately requires peace and stability. On Sunday, global leaders met in the "Libya Peace Summit' in Berlin, Germany to end the decade long conflict in Libya.
Sixteen states and organisations signed an agreement to support the United Nations (UN) arms embargo and end military backing of the conflicting parties in Libya.
How and when did the conflict begin?
The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in December 2010 and swept through to neighboring Libya where it hit hard.
On October 20, 2011, an armed mass uprising backed by the US and the European Union plunged the country into the first civil war and killed their leader Gaddafi. The invasion by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and their bombings there between March and October 2011 fragmented the country.
The GDP growth plummeted from 5.021 in 2010 to -62.076 (negative) in 2011. Because of foreign interference, the country after years of negative growth had a GDP of 26.676 in 2018. The country which had the pride of having the highest HDI score in North Africa also saw a decline of HDI over the years. The HDI score in a decade declined from 0.757 in 2010 to 0.708 in 2018.
The chaos plaguing the country in the post-Gaddafi period has been frustrating for its people and their everyday struggle to survive.
In 2014, the second civil war broke out over establishing supremacy over the territory and oil of Libya. This second civil war is still ongoing, and foreign interference has worsened the situation. Ten thousand casualties have been reported in Libya since 2011, according to a report by Al Jazeera. The chaos also resulted in the collapse of the economically crucial oil industry due to blockades and damage caused by rival groups.
The country is now divided into rival administrations in the east and the west, each backed by foreign influence. The UN recognised government in Tripoli headed by Fayez al-Sarraj in western Libya is backed by Turkey and Qatar, and the rival Khalifa Haftar in the east is backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates - the rivals have big guns on their side.
The United Nations says that more than 2000 people have been killed in the nine-month-long war which began in April last year by the Haftar group.
The arms, troops and cash flooding into Libya from foreign allies has become a matter of grave concern. Analysts and politicians fear that continuing the war backed by foreign powers for their own economic interests may result in Libya facing the same fate as Syria.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said, "Libya is starting to resemble Syria."
However, the Berlin agreement also sought to address Libya's oil reserve control issue. But another concern is oil blockade. The Libya Peace Summit recognised the authority of the Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya and of the National Oil Company. They also called for an end to foreign interference into Libya's oil facilities.
"The shutdown of ports and oilfields will more than halve Libya's crude exports, plummeting from 1.3m barrels per day to just 500,000, and will cost it $55m per day, according to the Tripoli-based National Oil Company," reported by Al Jazeera.
However, how far the peace agreement, the arms embargo and the stopping of military backing can be imposed remains a big question and an agenda to be observed.