The chaotic situation in Libya shows no signs of improving in the near future, and one of the few certainties is the drift and paralysis that have overtaken a country blessed with huge natural resource wealth.
Libya has seen several rounds of elections and the coming and going of several prime ministers and governments since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, but the end result has been vagueness as to who is actually in charge.
But more alarmingly, the deteriorating security situation has begun to scare off Gulf countries, which have tried to help support the Libyan economy, and the country’s immediate neighbors, which fear spillover in the form of violent extremists.
And if the threat of armed militants isn’t enough, some officials have seen fit to threaten nearby European countries with a “flood” of illegal immigrants, generating even more fears about the repercussions of Libya’s chaos.
It is the kind of mess that makes some Libyans remember the Gadhafi days with a bit of nostalgia. Back then, people didn’t have a say in government, but they at least enjoyed a measure of stability. Today, while people might be able to cast ballots, the system has utterly failed them, and the risks and dangers of daily life are far greater than they were in the past.
Libyan politicians and officials shouldn’t be surprised by the fact their country is split between Islamist and non-Islamist factions, and between various tribes, clans and regions.
No one expects them to agree on everything, but they must arrive at a set of common denominators. Otherwise, there will be even more “Somalization,” and more talk that in this part of the world, countries are unworthy of transitioning away from dictatorship.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 20, 2014, on page 7.