Andreas Dittmann: Until a few months ago, we were still debating whether Libya was becoming a “failed state” or had already become a “failed state.” Unfortunately, the question has now been answered. Libya barely exists now as a state today. It still appears on maps, but the state organizations are no longer able to carry out their duties.
What exactly is threatening the country?
Libya is facing several conflicts. One is the age-old clash between the western and eastern parts of the country, Tripolitania against Cyrenaica. This is a conflict between the Islamic, and partly Islamist, values of the east and the somewhat more secular values of the west.
And other conflicts run along those lines?
Yes. There’s a very old religious opposition in Libya, dating back to the Italian occupation. At that time they were seen as religious freedom fighters. Today, we would call this movement Islamist. Its members mainly come from eastern Libya. When Moammar Gadhafi was still in power this group was seen as his most dangerous opposition, despite the implantation of many Islamic edicts and the introduction of Sharia law in many parts of the country. But that wasn’t enough for the religious zealots, and this attitude has remained long after the revolution.
And now the conflict is heating up once again.
And that’s because yesterday’s leaders do not enjoy a very high reputation among the younger, more radical Islamists. The younger Islamists are joining the “Islamic State” (IS), and are pushing for an Islamic domain that is not limited by geography. Many have fought for the IS in Syria and Iraq, and are aiming to realize the dream of an Islamic caliphate on Libyan soil. It’s an issue of religious and political gaps and at the same time, a generational one as well. For the young, religion plays a very important role. By no means is it a cloak behind which they can hide other interests.