In July 2012, amid the euphoria of historic elections, Libya’s future seemed brighter than ever. The polls were Libya’s first democratic elections in more than 52 years, and the promise of Libya’s Arab Spring seemed closer at hand. Many obstacles had been surmounted to demonstrate to the world that the nation could prevail against strong odds.
But those obstacles have not for the most part been overcome. One year after the elections and two years after the fall of Tripoli and the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s transition continues to confound and dismay most observers. This is due in part to the fact that insecurity and infighting have slowed the pace of the transition. But it is also due to the fact that we do not fully understand Libya’s specificities and therefore its trajectory.
Libya as an Outlier