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Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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Libyas political transition has been disrupted by armed non-state groups and threatened by the indecision and infighting of interim leaders. After an armed uprising ended the 40-plus year rule of Muammar al Qadhafi in late 2011, interim authorities proved unable to form a stable government, address pressing security issues, reshape the countrys public finances, or create a viable framework for post-conflict justice and reconciliation. Elections for legislative bodies and a constitutional drafting assembly were held and transparently administered in 2012 and 2014, but were marred by declining rates of participation, threats to candidates and voters, and zero-sum political competition. Insecurity remained prevalent in Libya following the 2011 conflict and deepened in 2014, driven by overlapping ideological, personal, financial, and transnational rivalries. Resulting conflicts involving Libyans in different parts of the country drove the political transition off course. At present, armed militia groups and locally organized political leaders remain the most powerful arbiters of public affairs. Criminals and violent Islamist extremists have exploited these conditions, and the latter have strengthened their military capabilities and advanced their agendas inside Libya and beyond its borders. U.S. officials and other international actors have worked since August 2014 to convince Libyan factions and their regional supporters that inclusive, representative government and negotiation are preferable to competing attempts to achieve dominance through force of arms. In August 2014, the United Nations U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 2174, authorizing the placement of financial and travel sanctions on individuals and entities found to be engaging in or providing support for other acts that threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya, or obstruct or undermine the successful completion of its political transition.

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