Political stance of Libyan tribes during the Civil War (2019–2020)

Political stance of Libyan tribes during the Civil War (2019–2020)

Mariya I. Makhmutova
Full text:
In this article, the author analyzes one of the most difficult problems in the Arab region, the civil war in Libya after the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The author focuses on the fresh round of the escalation of the conflict (2019–20) between the eastern and western centers of power. The paper presents the importance of the political positions of Libyan tribes in the course of hostilities and their impact on the internal situation.
The key issue of the study considered in the article directly concerns the political positions of the main clans within Libya. The author explains why some of the clans decided to participate in the military campaign on the side of the Libyan National Army, while the other defended the Government of National Accord; there were also those who adopted the position of non-interference in national affairs, since they sought to maintain autonomy.
The main purpose of this work is to demonstrate the specifics of the Libyan problem, which is not only the desire of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan for their autonomous existence but also the internal contradictions between different tribes. It remains one of the most important factors hindering the unification of the country.
After analyzing the publications in the modern Arabic-language press, the author offered her vision of the reasons for the ongoing armed confrontation in Libya and also presented and analyzed the full range of political positions and the role of the main Libyan tribes during the civil conflict, especially its latest round, which gives an idea of the complexity of the internal situation in Libya.
The conclusion indicates the main reasons why Libya as a country cannot currently be a single and whole entity. The problem lies mainly in the complex ethnic and tribal situation as well as in the desire of individual tribes for an autonomous existence.
Mariya I. Makhmutova
Candidate of Historical Sciences
Prince Alexander Nevsky Military University of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia,
Azeem, I. Rise and fall?: The Rise and fall of ISIS in Libya. Carlisle, PA: US Army War College Press, 2020.
Baginskii, K.E. “Itogi Berlinskoi konferentsii po Livii: posledstviya dlya Rossii” [The results of Berlin conference on Libya: consequences for Russia]. Modern Science, no. 4–1 (2020): 311–15. (In Russian)
M. “The war and the economy: The gradual destruction of Libya.” Review of African Political Economy, vol. 47 (166) (2020): 545–67.
Carboni, A., and J. Moody. “Between the cracks: Actor fragmentation and local conflict systems in the Libyan Civil War.” Small Wars & Insurgencies, vol. 29 (3) (2018): 456–90.
Cherstich, I. “When tribesmen do not act tribal: Libyan tribalism as ideology (not as schizophrenia).” Middle East Critique, vol. 23 (4) (2014): 405–21.
Costantini, I. “A solution in Libya: Elections, mediation and a victor’s peace.” Middle East Policy, vol. 26 (4) (2020): 146–56.
DeVore, M.R., and A. Stähli. “Anarchy’s anatomy: Two-tiered security systems and Libya’s Civil Wars.” Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 43 (3) (2018): 392–420.
Egorin, A.Z. Muammar Kaddafi [Muammar Gaddafi]. Moscow: IV RAN, 2009. (In Russian)
Evseev, V.V. “Liviiskii krizis i ego vliyanie na neftyanoi rynok” [The Libyan crisis and its impact on the oil market]. Geoekonomika energetiki, vol. 10, no. 2 (2020): 20–37. (In Russian)
Fasanotti, F.S. “Libya: a nation suspended between past and future.” Studia Diplomatica, vol. 68, no. 4 (2017): 95–104.
Gaub, F. “Like father like son: Libyan civil-military relations before and after 2011.” Mediterranean Politics, vol. 24 (2) (2017): 181–95.
Issaev, L., and A. Zakharov. “Decentralization in Libya after the Arab Spring.” Middle East Policy, vol. 27 (1) (2020): 56–70.
Joffè, G. “Libya: The new geopolitical arena.” The Journal of North African Studies, vol. 25 (5) (2020): 681–88.
Joffè, G. “The Trojan horse: the Madkhali movement in North Africa.” The Journal of North African Studies, vol. 23 (5) (2018): 739–44.
Karim, M. “Conspiracism In and Around Libya.” The International Spectator, vol. 51 (2) (2016): 113–18.
Khalid Muhammad at-Tilisi. Mu’adjamat sukkan Libia [A Dictionary of the Population of Libya]. Dar ar-Riban, 1991. (In Arabic)
Lacher, W. Libya’s fragmentation: Structure and process in violent conflict. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.
Lacher, W. “Libya’s local elites and the politics of alliance building.” Mediterranean Politics, vol. 21 (1) (2016): 64–85.
Lacher, W. “Was Libya’s collapse predictable?” Global Politics and Strategy, vol. 59 (2) (2017): 139–52.
Lefèvre, R. “An Egyptian scenario for Libya?” The Journal of North African Studies, vol. 19 (4) (2014): 602–07.
Luk'yanov, G.V. “Liviya i Iran: ot obshchnosti interesov ‘gosudarstv-izgoev’ k novoi politicheskoi real'nosti” [Libya and Iran: from common interests of the rogue states to a new political reality]. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, no. 1 (2015): 78–91. (In Russian)
Oakes, J. War Lord. Khalifa Haftar and the future of Libya. Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2021.
Raineri, L. “Security and informality in Libya: Militarisation without military.” Conflict, Security & Development, vol. 19 (6) (2019): 583–602.
Ronen, Y. “Libya: Teetering between war and diplomacy. The Islamic State’s role in Libya’s disintegration.” Diplomacy & Statecraft, vol. 28 (1) (2017): 110–27.
Strazzari, F. “Libyan arms and regional instability.” The International Spectator, vol. 49 (3) (2014): 54–68.
Tabib, R. “Mobilized publics in Post-Qadhafi Libya: The emergence of new modes of popular protest in Tripoli and Ubari.” Mediterranean Politics, vol. 21 (1) (2016): 86–106.
Truevtsev, K.M. “Raspad v Livii kak faktor napryazhennosti v Afrike i Sredizemnomor'e” [Libyan collapse as a source of tensions in Africa and the Mediterranean]. Rossiya i musulmanskii mir [Russia and the Muslim World], no. 4 (298) (2017): 80–98. (In Russian)
Vasil'ev, A.M., and N.A. Zherlitsyna. “Transformatsiya strategii IGIL v Livii” [Transformation of ISIS strategy in Libya]. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, vol. 63, no. 12 (2019): 101–08. (In Russian)
Vasil'ev, A.M., L.M. Isaev, A.A. Tkachenko, V.Yu. Kukushkin, and N.A. Zherlitsyna. “Situatsiya v Livii i interesy Rossii” [Situation in Libya and Russian interests]. Aziya i Afrika segodnya, no. 3 (2020): 4–13. (In Russian)
Zinin, Yu.N. “Liviya posle Kaddafi: rol' islamskogo faktora” [Libya after Gaddafi: The role of the Islamic factor]. Ekonomicheskie, sotsial'no-politicheskie, etnokonfessional'nye problemy afro-aziatskikh obshchestv, no. 1 (2018): 158–65. (In Russian)
Zinin, Yu.N. “Osnovnye uchastniki vnutripoliticheskogo konflikta v Livii” [The main participants in the internal political conflict in Libya]. Rossiya i musul'manskii mir, no. 3 (297) (2017): 96–116. (In Russian)
Libya, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, Fezzan, Tripoli, Government of National Accord, Libyan National Army, Warfalla, Gaddafa, Magraha
For citation:
Makhmutova, M.I. “Political stance of Libyan tribes during the Civil War (2019–2020).” Historia Provinciae – the Journal of Regional History, vol. 6, no. 2 (2022): 361–406,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ISSN 2587-8344 (Online)