Political economy of Libya after the Qadhafi regime (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1084)

This report gives an annotated bibliography of references on the political economy of Libya and an overview of the main issues



Present an annotated bibliography of key references on the political economy of Libya. Focus on references about the post-Qadhafi situation; a selection of key pre-2011 references can be used as relevant. Provide an overview of the key issues and suggest additional references.

Key findings

  • Libya lacks a stable, unified and inclusive state. Qadhafi wielded oil-funded patronage and repression to weaken the state and any social counterweight to his power.
  • The predominant social and political dynamic is fragmentation based on multiple interests, identities and loyalties. The major ones are cities, regions, tribes (including factions and families), political factions and religious orientation.
  • Local actors and dynamics dominate politics, with a strong connection between cities or regions and tribes. The centre is weak, while some peripheries are empowered. This is rooted in a long-term Libyan history of localism and regionalism. There are regular tensions around the balance of power between power levels and among provinces.
  • The new national rulers, composed of revolutionaries and the Muslim Brotherhood, have resorted to patronage to ensure political stability, using resources from oil and gas, and offering government appointments. Allocation of oil money is a major stake.
  • However, the political system is not always responsive to grievances and aspirations from revolutionaries. A number of armed factions are also alienated from national decisions. The tensions between “pro-revolution” and conservative actors are a significant axis of political and economic opposition.
  • Security is poor and ad hoc. National security forces have very little legitimacy and reach. An array of diverse armed groups have taken their place. Central rulers have subcontracted security and conflict resolution to some armed groups and local notables.
  • The defining feature of the economy remains oil and its legacy of rentier state: a starkly imbalanced economic structure; a largely inefficient state working for patronage; and poor economic governance (e.g. lack of accountability).


Combaz, E. Political economy of Libya after the Qadhafi regime (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1084). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 13 pp.

Political economy of Libya after the Qadhafi regime (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1084)

Published 1 January 2014