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Shortly after the beginning of the beginning of the Arab Spring, major anti-government protest demonstrations rocked Libya's social fabric, peaking in early 2011. However, the then-leader of the country, Muhammar al-Qadhafi chose to crack down on these demonstrations violently. This quickly escalated to a civil war of such intensity that the UN authorized air and naval intervention by other countries. In mid-2011, after several months of continuous fighting, al-Qadhafi's government fell, and was replaced by an interim government. This interim government then handed power over to a wholly-elected government in 2012. This government was ultimately forced from power in 2014 after a contested second election, with extremely low voter turnout.
In 2014, a series of complex and overlapping events gave rise to a second civil war in Libya, the full description of which is beyond the scope of this introduction. Fighting broke out after a series of military coup attempts made by Libyan General Khalifa Haftar. Major combatants at this point include the Government of National Accord, a UN-sponsored multilateral initiative which is internationally recognized as Libya's legitimate government; a remnant of the ousted government originally elected in 2012, which has relocated to the city of Tobruk and has the support of General Haftar; and many smaller actors besides. The Libyan people are caught in the chaos, fighting as much for stability as for positive political change.
The situation in Libya is further complicated by the large number of Europe-bound migrants who must travel through Libya on their way to their intended destinations. Tripoli is a major port for refugee and asylum-seeker traffic, though a dangerous one.
Good Resources for Getting Started
After Gaddafi, what now? Issues of transitional justice
Pedersen, Katarina Marcella. Georgetown University, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2013. 1536439.
Comparative Role of the Military in the Political Transition in Libya and Egypt
El-wahishi, Ali Musbah Mohamed. University of Idaho, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2013. 3572686.
One Hand: Military Structure and Middle East Revolts
Burns, Sean. Northwestern University, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2013. 3595563.
Religion and the evolution of democracy: A revised Selectorate Model for the Arab Spring
Bagherpour, Amir. The Claremont Graduate University, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2012. 3512471.
Libyan women and revolution: A study of the changes of women's political and social roles during and after the Libyan revolution
Hweio, Haala. Northern Illinois University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2016. 10196232.
The NATO allies and intervention in Libya
Wong, Jimmy M. University of Miami, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2019. 27667848.