Three years after NATO intervened to help overthrow long-time Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi, two rival governments claim his mantle and a rash of heavily armed militias fight for territory and oilfields.
Hopes for a diplomatic solution are fading, say analysts.
Two assemblies currently vie for legislative authority: the recently-elected House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk, and the formerly elected General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.
The sharp political divisions have yielded two rival seats of government, each of which has its own institutions.
Western diplomats have been shuttling frantically between the two rival governments.
So far, UN attempts to bring the two sides to the negotiating table have been in vain.
“Even if they get them to talk, they wouldn’t achieve anything,” said Geoff Porter, head of the US-based North Africa Risk Consultancy.
“Both sides think they stand a strong chance of military victory, each feels they have enduring support from external supporters, and both feel they have been done a severe injustice by the other party and would be betraying their followers if they backed down.”
Some neighbouring countries such as Niger and Chad have called for military intervention to stem the tide of militants, refugees and weapons spilling over their borders.
But these hopes are unlikely to be met.
“A NATO-style operation? Let’s not dream,” a French government source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We are not going to restart the idea that we can show up, drop a few bombs and it brings democracy and national unity.”
Speaker of Libya’s HoR, Aqila Saleh, on Monday rejected any “foreign military intervention” in Libya.
“Foreign military intervention in Libya is rejected,” Saleh told a joint press conference in Cairo with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
An intervention force would have to be massive to make any dent on the chaos engulfing Libya.