Nine years after the revolution, Libya is suffering from a political, economic and security crisis and its people say their struggle has fallen prey to foreign agendas and internal divisions.
In February 2011, the Libyan revolution started in Benghazi. Libyans had lived for 42 years under the oppression of Libya’s ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
Their uprising gave Libyans a sense of hope for a better future. But nine years since the end of Gaddafi’s rule, the country is in chaos.
Citizens recall vividly the first hours of February 17, and the months after, but say the revolution was stolen from them.
“Yes, it was stolen by foreign powers. Because if this country manages to rise, it will have no parallel because its history is renowned with its educated people,” said Hamid al-Tabouli, a resident of Benghazi.
Al-Tabouli appealed to Libyans and the international community to stand with the Libya National Army (LNA), the armed forces of the eastern administration of Libya, saying it is “the safety valve” of the country.
“We had welcomed the February 17th revolution and had wished for it after 42 years of torture and oppression … But it was stolen afterwards,” said Sanusi al-Maqsabi, a Benghazi resident.
Since the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, Libya has witnessed a power struggle between two separate governments in the east and west of the country.
The internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) controls a shrinking patch of land around Tripoli in the west and enjoys the support of powerful militias from Zintan and Misrata, and the backing of Turkey, Qatar and France.
The east is controlled by the Benghazi-centred administration of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar and his tribal allies, who have in recent months tried to push into Tripoli and shut down oil production in the east to deprive the GNA of funds.
Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.
Much of the south is controlled by various tribal and other armed groups, causing endemic insecurity and a rise in human-trafficking networks.
Recent efforts to establish a ceasefire and enforce an arms embargo have failed but a new round of talks is expected to begin in Geneva soon.
On Wednesday, February 13, the UN Security Council endorsed a 55-point road map for ending the war in Libya and condemned the recent increase in violence in the oil-rich North African country.