The rebel Libya Dawn forces have held the capital, Tripoli, for the last year, forcing the legitimate government to flee. In February they put on a show of strength ahead of a resumption of UN-brokered peace talks.
Led by the Muslim Brotherhood, it is an Islamist coalition of militias and local armed units, and has been backed by Qatar, Turkey and Sudan.
The internationally-recognised Libyan government redeployed to Tobruk, with the parliament in Al-Baïda. It has been supported by Egypt and the UAE.
A year ago this parliament elected a president and a new parliament was elected last June, but the situation in Eastern Libya is particularly chaotic as government forces are in constant conflict with Islamist militias.
The situation has been worsened by the arrival of Islamic State in the country, with its own particularly violent agenda and objectives. It has control of the city of Syrte, between Tripoli and Tobruk, and Misrata.
Benghazi, the crucible of the Libyan revolution and where the spirit of optimism and change seemed to herald a new start for Libya, has become a theatre of street fighting and bombardments. Islamic State has a foothold here, too.
Four years after the fall of Muammar Ghadaffi the only growth in Libya has been in refugees and smugglers looking to fill their boats bound for Europe. No one group has the strength to impose its authority, restore the rule of law, and control the country’s borders. It is a state of chaos in which the unscrupulous can, and do, thrive.
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