the Tribal Patchwork of Libya’s South West


Traversing the Tribal Patchwork of Libya’s South West

When Muammar Qadhafi, the self-styled “Brotherly Leader” of Libya, was ousted in 2011, the shattering of his iron grip fractured the country into warring pieces. There are now three rival governments and parliaments, but barely any sense of a state anymore. The key players are a multitude of militias, none of which can control the whole country.

Our Senior Analyst for Libya, Claudia Gazzini, describes her field research in Libya's Sahara Desert south west to find out to what extent these centrifugal forces have split the tribes and ethnic groups that live in the urban oases and arid sands of the south. And how the local economy has evolved: while the collapse of central authority has turned the region’s desert routes to the Sahel into a crossroads for smugglers, migrants heading to Europe and jihadists, the south is also home to Libya’s great riches. These include not just oil, but also deep aquifers of water and gold as well.