The Arab Spring spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and what started in hope quickly devolved into struggles for formal and informal power. Violence in Libya was intensified by institutions’ inabilities to maintain governance, contain violence, and quell the rise of armed groups. Power in Libya is in constant contention by opportunistic tribal and regional militias, Islamist groups, and government and military power brokers. Libya is on the verge of becoming a failed state; allowing Libya to fail will have local, regional, and international repercussions. The challenge is to understand why the loosely formed alliances between government and tribal, regional, and Islamist militias are falling apart. The introduction of the Islamic State in Libya increases the urgency for these disparate groups to resolve their differences. This thesis concludes that Gaddafi nurtured a sentiment of distrust between the people, Islamists, and government institutions. This trust deficit in post-revolutionary Libya has stymied cooperation and progress. Any meaningful solutions will have to address the core issue of social trust, the emergence of the Islamic State, and economic weakness before reconciliation or reforms can occur.
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