Search Results for: Jason Pack Libya

Libya must solve militia problem to avoid foreign intervention over oil – By Jason Pack and Haley Cook

One of Libya’s most complex dilemmas is the continuing occupation of multiple oil and gas production sites, pipelines, platforms, and export terminals by armed protestors. Meanwhile, a rash of assassinations of security officials, criminal activity, and sporadic militia clashes have spread the nascent Libyan security institutions thin. A recent political opinion focus group survey conducted by the National Democratic Institute found that, “Libyans blame the government for continued insecurity and express a desire for the state to exert its authority and address the issue.” In cases when community-based mediation has not been successful, can governmental authority be asserted? Time and time again the Libyan government has threatened the use of force but weak security institutions and an ingrained dislike of using it against protestors –even armed ones – especially on behalf of Prime Minister Ali Zidan have so far prevented the use of force as a viable option. In recent weeks, the government has seemingly changed its policies regarding the use of force, and most recently Libyan Oil Minister Abdelbari al-Arusi said on December 4th that those oil ports still closed would reopen by December 10th following the Libyan Army’s December 1st warning for occupiers to disperse – or else […]

In Libya anarchy reigns and international engagement is sorely needed – By Jason Pack

May 2013 was just another humdrum month in Libya. It witnessed more deadly explosions, a prolonged siege of government ministries, the disappearance of a popular militia leader, the closure of the Sebha airport by militiamen as retaliation, a declaration of Cyrenaica’s semi-autonomy by self-styled provincial leaders, the resignation of Libya’s president, and the start of the witch hunt to cleanse the public sphere from those who served the Qadhafi regime in any capacity. After the hospital in Benghazi on May 12 and on the French Embassy on April 29, foreigners may assume that the security situation in Libya is atrocious and must be the country’s primary problem. Yet, in reality, the transition has been a relatively peaceful affair, despite its clearly anarchic and dysfunctional trajectory. Post-Qaddafi, Libyans are very reluctant to kill their countrymen over ideological or political battles. The attacks on the American mission in Benghazi in September 2012 and at the French Embassy in Tripoli this April were isolated incidents, likely to have been carried out by non-Libyans or by Libyan extremists in concert with foreign actors. Libyan culture is fundamentally conservative and the country’s greatest strengths and weaknesses come from the immense value placed on consensus, tribe, […]

Libya’s Election Forecast: More Uncertainty – By Jason Pack

Since the toppling of Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi’s regime in October 2011, the people of Libya have been impatiently waiting for the desired results of their revolution. However, the waiting may be almost over: On July 7 many of the over 2.7 million registered voters are likely to make their voices heard in Libya’s first free election since 1951.  At stake are seats in a 200 member General National Congress (GNC) to replace the increasingly unpopular National Transitional Council (NTC). The hope is that the election will facilitate a move out of the current state of transitional stasis. Sceptics fear, however, that it will only bring about a “˜transition to transition.’ NTC’s Failure to Act In their eight month tenure, Libya’s current interim government — which was appointed by the NTC — have not been able to deliver on the long list of Libyans’ needs, promised by the National Transitional Council: a functioning justice system, a reconciliation process for officials who served the old regime, the disarmament of militias, the building of functional national security forces, rebuilding of destroyed areas, and delivery of basic services such as healthcare. Outside of the oil sector much of Libya’s economy is barely moving. Lacking the […]

Libya: Uncertainty around Elections and Federalism – By Jason Pack and Ronald Bruce St John

It is now all but official, Libya’s elections will be delayed. But by how long nobody knows. The Libyan Election Commission has repeatedly leaked news about a delay but made it clear that they are still not ready to announce it officially. Simultaneously, they have semi-officially promised the public that the delayed elections will take place before Ramadan begins on July 20th. This game of shadows and mirrors borders on the surreal, given that the elections’ scheduled date, June 19th, is less than two weeks away. In early May, there were cryptic tweets from Al-Jazeera’s correspondent Omar al-Saleh suggesting that the deputy Head of the Libyan Election Commission, Sghair Majeri had  attempted to resign. In late May the voter registration drive was completed, and deemed successful by UN observers. Yet in early June, Western Diplomats stationed in Tripoli were anonymously stating that the overarching reason for the imminent delay is that the ballot papers will not be ready on time. On the other hand, the Election Commission themselves have attempted to justify the ‘potential’ delay by pointing to the fact that the finalized list of candidates and parties was just released on Tuesday, June 5th. This would only allow for two weeks […]

Libya: NTC must assert itself and consign federalism to the dustbin of history – By Jason Pack

In today’s Libya, local is king.  Yet, if the country is to become a functioning state governed by an elected leadership capable of empowering its citizens and providing an equitable distribution of its resource wealth, then, the interim government of the National Transitional Council (NTC) must become king. In the run-up to the June elections many militias and civil society organizations are lambasting the interim government’s mission to centralize authority rather than, more importantly, its lacklustre results at achieving that task. On March 5th, notables in Benghazi – Libya’s second city and capital of the Eastern region of Cyrenaica – proposed to compensate for the ineffectiveness of the central NTC authorities by asking them to relinquish certain powers to sub-state bodies such as an autonomous Cyrenaican provincial government. On April 17th, they met again to demand that NTC authorities change the election law and stake their claim to Libya’s resource rich Sirte basin. Since the start of April, ongoing clashes in Libya’s main southern cities of Sebha and Kufra led to similar calls for special regional autonomy arrangements, dubbed “˜federalism’ in the Libyan political discourse. These calls for the delegation of overlapping, autonomous, and ill-defined powers to localities and regions […]

Libya: NTC must exercise authority and tackle militias – By Jason Pack

The current situation in Libya can be best characterized as a struggle pitting the ‘centre’ that controls national institutions, the flow of oil, and billions in unfrozen assets against a marginalized ‘periphery’ that can challenge the centre’s legitimacy via its use of force and appeal to local loyalties. On February 17th, Libyans commemorated the one-year anniversary of their revolution against Muammar Qadhafi. Simultaneously, Amnesty International released a report accusing the victorious anti-Qadhafi militias of war crimes, widespread use of torture, and hindering the rebuilding of state institutions.  The carnival-like atmosphere during the anniversary celebrations was marred by the palpable fear that the Libyan interim government — the National Transitional Council (NTC) — is failing to cement its authority. In the past weeks, rival militias have vied for dominance in Tripoli.  Government officials were briefly expelled from the former Qadhafi stronghold of Beni Walid. After the national army proved powerless to resolve the situation, pro-government militias restored order.  On February 13th, militia leaders from Western Libya gathered to form a paramilitary-federation. They accused the NTC of corruption, failure to integrate militiamen into the newly-formed national army, and of allowing former Qadhafi supporters to retain undue influence. Impatient with the NTC’s lack […]

Crossing into Libya – Jason Pack survives border bureaucracy and sustainable development consultants

I figured getting to Tripoli for another quick research trip would be significantly easier than the time I went to visit the Iraqi archives in late 2003.  This time around, I thought it would be very unlikely that I would encounter what the Iraqis used to call an “˜Ali Baba border guard’.  One such petty bureaucrat playfully attempted to enforce the HIV test that had been mandatory for foreign visitors under Saddam, thereby compelling me to cough up a hundred bucks to prevent him from sticking a dirty syringe in my vein. I had also heard that the Libyan road network from the Tunisian border to the capital was entirely secure, unlike the Amman-Bagdad route in 2003 which passed through the “˜Sunni Triangle’ near Fallujah where frequent IEDs necessitated lengthy detours onto local roads.  On both accounts I was flat out wrong. Possessing no definitive information about how to get to Tripoli from the U.S, I flew to Tunis on September 14th. There I was advised to go to the Tunisian resort island of Djerba and the Radisson Blu in the zone touristique, a common “˜departure’ hotel where journalists and consultants were known to assemble into convoys headed to Libya.  […]

The 2011 Libyan Uprising and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi future – Reviewed by Magnus Taylor

Palgrave Macmillan has published what is probably the best analytical account of the 2011 Libyan Uprising currently available. The text is edited by Jason Pack – a researcher in Libyan history at Cambridge University and regular contributor to African Arguments. Pack provides us with a lengthy introduction and co-writes 2 other chapters. The book also includes contributions from several notable scholars and analysts of contemporary Libya including George Joffe (also an AA contributor), Ronald Bruce St John (author Libya: from Colony to revolution) and Noman Benotman (a former commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and now head of the Quilliam Foundation). Pack’s fundamental argument revolves around the role of “˜the Centre’ and “˜the Periphery’ within the Arab Uprisings. His contention is that whilst in Tunisia and Egypt a strong, centralised state meant that popular uprisings led to a swift decapitation of the regimes (“˜popular coups’) something different happened in Libya. This can be attributed to the country’s peculiar national history under former leader Muammar Qadhafi, whose “˜theory’ of government – the Jamahirriya – prevented the development of strong state structures or institutions. The Libyan revolution was thus formed by a series of local uprisings which began with the lawyers […]

Enough! Will youth protests drive social change in Africa?

Uncertain, unable to find secure jobs, and caught in the liminal state of ‘waithood’, young people are angry and are on the march across the world. Young people in Africa have changed governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Burkina Faso, and recently staged major demonstrations in South Africa and the Republic of Congo. Disillusioned young people continue to take to the streets in various African cities.  But they are also reacting in other ways: some migrate and look for opportunities elsewhere, while others are lured into joining radical organisations such as Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Young people’s transitions to adulthood have become increasingly uncertain. Economic growth in recent decades has not translated into job creation or greater equity, and a growing number of young women and men, both educated and non-educated, find themselves unemployed or underemployed. They are unable to attain the social markers of adulthood such as a secure job, marriage and a family. Trapped between childhood and adulthood, they are living in a twilight zone, a liminal space that has now become known as “waithood”. But this is not just an African story. Increased youth unemployment and social inequalities in the West led to street […]

Gadaffi and the AU: Brotherly despots or estranged lovers?

By Jason Pack 20/04/2011 The African Union’s half-hearted attempt to mediate between the two sides of the Libya conflict does not mean they have belatedly joined the international coalition supporting humanitarian military intervention and are finally offering planes.  Far from it.  In fact, inasmuch as AU member states have thrown their weight behind one side or another they have haphazardly and inadvertently contributed more to strengthening Qaddafi‘s side through unwittingly providing mercenaries, supply lines, and diplomatic cover. Additionally, most African countries would find it impossible to take an overtly anti-Qaddafi stance while their migrant workers are essentially held hostage by events in the country. For reasons geographical and historical, the AU remains Qaddafi’s most important potential ally on the world stage. If Qaddafi wants to hold onto power in the medium term — and avoid the most deleterious effects of international sanctions in the long term –he positively needs AU support. After all, it was Qaddafi’s African neighbours who helped him first circumvent and then later exit the previous UN sanctions regime on Libya from 1992-1999.  Neither side has forgotten this. It is unsurprising, therefore, that less than a week after an AU delegation attempted some sort of shuttle diplomacy […]