In physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, for every revolution, there is a counter-revolution whose succession or failure depends on its course and transformations.

In physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, for every revolution, there is a counter-revolution whose succession or failure depends on its course and transformations.

The monarchy ousted by the French Revolution in 1789 came to power once again a quarter of a century later, but this time in a new form. The counter-revolution of the 1917 Russian Bolshevik Revolution only ended after three years, during which  13 million people died due to fighting and famine.

Arab autumns

Looking closely at the Arab Spring revolutions reveals that a counter-revolution is present in differing models in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. In Tunisia, it crept in politically with the Nidaa Tounes party. In Egypt, it was embraced by Abdul Fattah el-Sisi’s coup d’état. In Yemen, it sparked a civil war through a coalition of armed forces loyal to ousted President Abdullah Saleh and Houthi militias in the face of the legitimate authority of President Abed Rabbo Hadi.

In, and only in, Libya, however,  have there been multiple revolutions and counter-revolutions. The historical systematic concept of the revolution-counter-revolution equation does not apply to the Libyan scene. The way of a revolution in a historical sense is paved by socially influencing revolutionary thought.

Spring of militias

Objectively speaking, what happened on February 17, 2011, was a spontaneous popular uprising originally called for by non-ideological youth with no party affiliations. They demanded freedom that meant the opposite of autocracy. When the uprising turned into an armed revolution, ordinary people, as well as defected police and army officers joined it, and Islamists (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (Al Qaeda), jihadi Salafists and Muslim Brotherhood) formed militias that fought in fronts. From the outset, they were against the military, led by Gaddafi’s Minister of Interior General Abdul Fatah Younis who defected and was later kidnapped and killed by an extremist Islamic group that also burned his body.

This hideous crime was committed not only because Younis was a figure of Gaddafi’s regime, although he defected, but also because he, as it turned out later on from the available facts and information, was working on building a regular army of the officers and soldiers who did not fight with Gaddafi’s brigades.

Rise of extremists

The alliance of Islamists’ brigades aimed not only at toppling Gaddafi’s regime, but also at seizing power with strong support from Qatar and Turkey. Politically, the alliance was strongly influential in the National Transitional Council and the interim government formed after the liberation and it dominated state economic, financial and media institutions. Its militias controlled Tripoli, Misurata, Ajdabiya, Benghazi and Derna.

The alliance also dominated the elected General National Congress (GNC) through the ‘94 bloc’ headed by Al Qaeda member Abdulwahab Kaid, and it considered the National Forces Alliance bloc – led by Dr. Mahmoud Jibril and backed by the Zintan militia – to be a counter-revolution.

Islamists’ Coup

The alliance did the same thing with the broad civil movement against the term extension of the GNC on February 7, 2013. The movement however won in the elections of the House of Representatives (HoR) on July 7, 2014, with a crushing defeat for the Islamists who, as a response, performed an armed coup d’état through the Fajr Libya Militia (FLM) that is mainly comprised of the Misurata militias.

They attacked Tripoli in July 2014 and started a fierce war with the Zintan militia, that ended with the withdrawal of the latter outside Tripoli. Soon after that, the FLM revived the dissolved GNC and formed a government affiliated with it. Thus, the country was politically divided between western and eastern Libya: two parliaments, two governments and two central banks.

East & west

In Benghazi, General Khalifa Haftar formed a military force of the regular army in addition to supportive armed civilians. He launched ‘Operation Dignity’ against the Islamic militias that controlled Benghazi and were, in the eyes of public opinion, responsible for the assassinations of hundreds of soldiers, police officers, political activists, civilians and media professionals.

While the HoR considers the FLM a rogue group that has overturned the election results and occupied the capital, the FLM who deems itself the protector of the principles and objectives of the February 17 revolution sees Operation Dignity as a counter-revolution and a coup aiming to return the country to its former stability.

Fragile peace

Amid these politically and militarily overlapping realities, the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) – concluded in Skhirat, Morocco, under the auspices of the United Nations – envisaged that by creating a Presidency Council (PC) and a consultative State Council (SC) coupled with the HoR a consensual solution could be reached. But it turned out to be a fabricated, fragile solution that only furthered the already tense political situation.

Controlling Tripoli, radical Islamists, led by Grand Mufti Sadiq Ghiryani, considered the PC of the Government of National Accord (GNA) an international project adverse to the February 17 revolution. The agreement was also rejected by the forces controlling eastern Libya (HoR) because it aimed at excluding Haftar as the commanding general of the Libyan army. Thus the HoR refused to incorporate the LPA clauses into the constitutional declaration and gave a vote of no confidence to the GNA. Then, Abdulrahman Asswehly, head of the SC that was self formed before constitutionalizing the LPA, declared that the SC was obliged to assume full legislative functions until the HoR convened and recognized the LPA.

Afterwards, Ghiryani announced there was a constitutional document calling for the formation of a Nation Council to lead the country. Later on, it was revealed that what he meant was forming a leadership council of jihadi Islamic revolutionaries of militant Islamic militias stationed in Tripoli, Janzur, Sabratha, Zawyia and Gharyan in addition to some of Misurata militias. This means that it was a coup in the face of the PC protected by the militias of Souq al Jum’aa, Tajura and Abu Salim within the circle of inner conflict for power in the capital.

Oil ports Vs. central bank

By examining the facts of this politically and militarily strange chaos of the Libyan reality, it becomes obvious that any solution could be only viable when Kobler, backed by the Americans and British, becomes aware that the conflict over power has become confined between the political and military forces in eastern Libya that control major oil fields and all oil ports, and the Islamic forces controlling western Libya whose only trump card is the central bank. Meanwhile, the war against ISIS in Sirte has exhausted the military forces of Misruata, which has lost over six hundred soldiers, not to mention the thousands of wounded.

Thus, a solution, if any, has necessarily to depend on understanding the nature of the conflict between western and eastern Libya through their armed forces, tribes, and political and civil societal leaderships. This reveals the LPA’s defect; it depends on a dialogue committee, mostly comprised of people with western nationalities.