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What’s at Stake in Libya?

The battle for Libya is a complicated affair involving not just the warring parties on the ground, but also a host of regional and global powers vying for regional influence and control of energy resources. And, unless it ends soon, it could sow instability in neighboring countries and trigger more waves of refugees fleeing to Europe.

PRINCETON – The ongoing war in Libya is a microcosm of the tragedy that has gripped many Middle Eastern countries. If it is not resolved soon, the fighting in Libya could sow instability in neighboring countries like Tunisia and Egypt, and trigger more waves of refugees fleeing to Europe.

At root, the Libyan crisis is a civil war among various groups that are divided by tribal and regional loyalties, as well as by ideological beliefs. All are vying to control the country’s oil revenues. Yet, at the moment, there are principally two sides to the conflict: the Islamist-dominated, internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which still controls the capital, Tripoli; and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and the Libyan National Army (LNA), which are under the command of the anti-Islamist field marshal Khalifa Haftar. While most of the country is now under the authoritarian nationalist Haftar’s control, Tripoli has yet to fall.

Behind each of these warring camps are outside powers pursuing their own interests. While Turkey and Qatar have backed the GNA, Egypt, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates have been lending support to Haftar. International media coverage of the war has attributed this outside interference to competition – mainly between Turkey and Egypt – for oil and gas resources.

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