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Quadriga - Liberating Libya: The Failed Intervention

July 31, 2014

Three years after the fall of the dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya is a country ravaged by violence and chaos. Armed militias, Islamists and others are battling for control. The United States, Germany and other countries have evacuated staff from their embassies and have told their citizens to leave the country. All this is part of the disastrous legacy of the military intervention of 2011.


The most recent fighting for control of an airport near the capital Tripoli left dozens of people dead. A rocket attack caused a major fire at a fuel depot. The Libyan government forces are unable to do much to counter the militias; indeed in some cases they work together.

Libyen Gefechte am Flughafen in Tripolis 16.07.2014
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The fighting started after the rebellion against Gadhafi in 2011. Back then, the UN-authorised military intervention by the West, with the aim of enforcing compliance with a no-fly zone intended to protect the Libyan population from air attacks by the regime. Bombing was carried out by air and sea by American, French, British and Canadian forces. The rebels also participated in heavy fighting - many of whom are now spreading violence across the country.

The interim national government that was put in place after the fall of Gadhafi quickly lost power. Since then self-appointed revolutionary guards, militias made up of former loyal Gadhafi supporters, as well as groups of armed Islamists have been fighting for control of Libya.

At the parliamentary elections in June, the Islamists and Muslim Brothers were defeated. Now they are trying to put pressure on the government ahead of the formation of a new parliament in August. To that end they are forming tactical alliances with each other.

Can anything stop Libya falling apart? And how effective - or how damaging - are military interventions of the kind that took place there?

Let us know what you think. Send an email to quadriga@dw.de

Liberating Libya: The Failed Intervention

Our guests:

Libyen Treibstofftanks Brand Explosion Rakete Zerstörung Feuer Evakuierung
Image: picture-alliance/dpa
Libyen Misarata Brigade
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo
31.07.2014 DW Quadriga Elbakuri, Malek

Malek Elbakuri – is a Libyan doctor. He got his degree at the University of Tripoli during Libya's civil war. During this period he also served as a representative for Physicians for Human Rights at various field hospitals in combat zones. Now he is a surgeon at the University Clinic in Aachen. He still makes regular visits to Libya.

17.01.2013 DW Quadriga Studiogäste Daniel Gerlach
Image: DW

Daniel Gerlach – he is the founder and one of the editors of the orientalistic magazine „Zenith – Zeitschrift für den Orient“. After studying history and orientalism in Hamburg and Paris, he started as a freelance journalist. He is the author for several TV-documentations on the middle east and the Islamic world. He is also a co-founder of the German publisher Levante Verlag. In 2012 he travelled through Syria and reported on the confessional aspects of the civil war. He last visited Libya shortly before the parliamentary elections in June.

Stefano Casertano – he is the correspondent for the italian newspaper Pagina 99 in Berlin and has published widely on energy politics in North Africa and economic relations between Libya and Europe. He also taught international politics at Potsdam University, and was a Senior Fellow at the Brandenburg Institute for Society and Security. He served as international affairs advisor for the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and has published several books on geopolitics and energy.