Libya: After Qaddafi – The tribes triumphant?

After the 1969 revolution the balance of power shifted – from the tribes of eastern Libya, Cyrenaica to those of eastern and south-easter Libya, Tripolitana and Rezzan.

The tribes that gained in influence were the al-Qaddadfa, al-Magarha, and al-Warfalla. These three tribes were to be the mainstay of the of Muammar Qaddafis support up until 1993. This was when a coup against Qaddafi with members of the al-Warfalla tribe was brought down. From then on al-Warfalla has been out in the cold. Qaddafi has come more and more come to rely on close relatives and trusted member  of the al-Qaddadfa tribe, who he appointed to key positions in the military, government and security services, thus alienating former tribal allies.

In the uprising of 2011, in Tripolitana the al-Warfalla and the Al-Zitan tribes have proclaimed their support for the up-rising and the al-Maghara tribe, a former ally of Qaddafi, is also backing the uprising. In Cyrenaica all seven major clans are in support of the uprising. In the oil rice Al-Kufrah district, in the south part of Cyrenaica the al-Zuwayya tribe, supporters of the Senussi-order, have also thrown in their lot with the opposition.

This all explains Qaddafis need for foreign mercenaries as this conflict can be characterized as everyone against the al-Qaddadfa and the Qaddafi-family.

If the regime of Qaddafi is vanquish, with the revolutionary system of Jamahiriya abolished, what remains then but the memory of the Libyan monarchy under king Idris, the Senussi-order and the tribes? As a majority of the tribes are backing the uprising against Qaddafi it would not be an unreasonable hypothesis that they will play a major role in the development of Libya after Qaddafi.


About Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson has worked in the field of asylum at the Swedish Migration Agency specializing in the Middle East, Schengen and the Dublin Regulation, as Migration Attaché and head of the migration section at the Swedish Embassy in Damascus 2005 - 2008, as a resettlement consultant at the UNHCR branch office in Damascus 2008 - 2009, Consul at the Swedish Consulate General in Jerusalem 2012 - 2013 and associate RSD/RST officer at UNHCR in Beirut 2013 - 2014. He currently lives in Tbilisi, Georgia.
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