Chaos in Libya: It’s the oil, stupid

Chaos in Libya: It’s the oil, stupid

By Issandr El Amrani
December 13, 2015
One of the members of the military protecting a demonstration against candidates for a national unity government proposed by U.N. envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon, is pictured in Benghazi, Libya October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTS5V4X

One of the members of the military protecting a demonstration against candidates for a national unity government proposed by UN envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon, is pictured in Benghazi, Libya, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

There seems no end to the bad news coming out of Libya.

UN-led negotiations to unite the divided country — it has two parliaments, two governments, two militia coalitions that have been competing for control of a rapidly failing state since summer 2014 — are stalling. Fighting continues apace in Benghazi, the city that was the first to rebel against the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011 and is now a byword for extremism. The Islamic State is growing by the day in the Gulf of Sirte in the center of the country, imposing its cruel dictates and making inroads elsewhere in the country. Criminal gangs – often the same militias that have had the run of the country since Gaddafi’s fall – are doing a brisk trade in people smuggling, sending off desperate migrants and refugees on rickety boats across the Mediterranean.

Oh, and by the way, Libya is also going broke.

That last tidbit should be surprising. Libya has Africa’s largest oil reserves and has long been an important supplier of light sweet crude, the kind made into gasoline and kerosene. It also had tons of money in both hoards of cash reserves and investments across the globe.

But the oil, which used to bring in 96 percent of the country’s income, is not flowing anymore.

For the rest of the story: Chaos in Libya: It’s the oil, stupid

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