For example, one respondent commented that the international community ″left the country in chaos and civil war.″ Journalist Jalal Othman rued, ″After getting rid of [Gaddafi], the international community left Libya facing its fate alone. Quite often the tanks were moving from one town to go to bomb another. The international community heard that, saw that, but it didn′t do anything to stop it.″

Within this vein, another issue to emerge strongly from the responses was a sense that by turning its back on Libya, the international community had left the country to the mercy of regional players. Many flagged up the roles played by Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey, who have all played their part in Libya′s conflict, backing different factions to the detriment of peace and stability. Indeed, Qatar and Turkey have backed the Tripoli and Misratan camps, while Egypt and the UAE have stood firmly behind Haftar, providing him with political support, as well as military training and assistance.

Gaddafi opponents demonstrate in front of the White House, Washington on 09.07.2011 (photo: AFP/Getty Images)
NATO comes to the aid of Benghazi in July 2011: the uprising against long-time dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi began in the east Libyan town. In 2011, he was on the brink of recapturing Benghazi from the rebels and taking revenge on the civil population. A NATO attack led by France ultimately put paid to the operation

And the solution?

While many of these comments reflect a somewhat contradictory position in which the international community is damned if it intervenes and damned if it stands back, there is clearly a strong feeling of resentment inside Libya that the country has been subjected to a barrage of meddling and ill-thought through interventions, none of which has had Libya′s interests at its core.

This is exacerbated by the secrecy and ambiguity over the intentions of intervening countries. Ambiguity and lack of transparency create hearsay and fuel accusations, drawing interveners into the local dynamics of the conflict, making it impossible to be seen as an apolitical or non-partisan player.

This cannot help but undermine diplomatic action. In the case of the GNA, the international intervention only fuelled accusations that it was little more than a puppet government, created by external powers and serving a foreign agenda. Such accusations weakened it further and chipped away at its legitimacy.

If nothing else, my research underscores the need for greater transparency, so that international actions and intentions can stand up to the scrutiny of the many competing local groups that will need to be brought onside if Libya is to see peace.

Alison Pargeter

© OpenDemocracy 2017

Alison Pargeter is a North Africa and Middle East expert who has a particular focus on Libya, Tunisia and Iraq, as well as on political Islamist movements. Her latest book isReturn to the Shadows: The Muslim Brotherhood and An-Nahda since the Arab Spring″ (Saqi, 2016).

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