This oil-rich, North-African country gained independence in 1951 under King Idris. But the monarcy was short-lived as Idris was overthrown in a military coup d'état led by the eccentric Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi's 42-year rule came to a sudden end in 2011 when mass protests turned to civil war, and an international coalition intervened to protect the city of Benghazi from massacre. Although authorized by the Security Council, the intervention's apparent role in effecting regime change has infuriated countries like China and Russia, and the duration of American participation has raised questions about compliance with the War Powers Act. Since the intervention, Libya has slipped into chaos, and in 2012, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi in 2012 setting off debates and Congressional inquiries that continue today.

Latest in Libya

Foreign Policy Essay

Libya's House of Cards: Elections Without Institutions

Editor’s Note: After years of civil war in Libya, the recent plan to hold elections there seems like a rare ray of sunshine, creating hope that the country may be on the path to peace. Jason Pack and Rhiannon Smith of Libya-Analysis, however, urge caution. They point out that because of a lack of judicial accountability and security, among other problems, elections risk exacerbating violence rather than resolving it.

Daniel Byman



Libya's Monetary Crisis

To many Libyan households, the top security threat plaguing their daily lives isn’t the risk of being caught in the crossfire between contending militias, falling victim to a jihadi group, or being kidnapped for ransom. A more unrelenting consequence of Libya’s dysfunctional politics is its monetary crisis. The principal manifestations—chronic shortage of dinar banknotes, along with a weak valuation of the Libyan currency in the black market—first emerged in 2014. Unlike the ongoing civil war, which also began in 2014, the monetary crisis has consistently intensified through the months.

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