Ruling in the Name of the Revolution: The Local Grounding of Non-State Armed Groups in Western Libya


Since the fall of the Qadhafi regime, Libyan armed groups have emerged as the de facto power holders in many parts of the country. Much of the existing research on Libyan non-state armed groups has looked at the relation between the armed groups and the central authorities, or between the armed groups and other powerful actors. This article is based on fieldwork in four cities in Western Libya and shows that the armed groups should be understood as locally grounded actors. Several armed groups from local communities are seen as legitimate powerholders, because of their role during and after the revolution. Many of the armed groups also originate from the same ethnic and social group as the people they set out to rule, which creates a tacit social contract between the militias and the local population. I argue that the main factor which determines how the rule of armed groups in Libya plays out is the legacy of the Qhadafi regime and the revolution. This may have implications for the future organization of the Libyan state.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20398573v5n1p89


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