The son of assassinated former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi announced that he will be running for his country's presidency next year, and Saif's candidacy might herald the return of the Gaddafi family to power. The leader of the one-time Jamahiriya was ousted from office as a result of the NATO-led war on his country that occurred during the series of theater-wide Color Revolutions popularly known as the "Arab Spring", thus plunging Libya into chaos after its chief tribal dealmaker was removed from the equation. The multisided civil war that has since unfolded in the six and a half years has seen the previously unified state fracture along the lines of its three colonial-era regional units, with several emirate-like statelets popping up along the coast as warlords wrestled control of valuable ports from their rivals.
Amidst all of this, Daesh and other terrorist groups saw an irresistible opportunity for expansion, further complicating the already complex contours of the Libyan Civil War.
As Saif Gaddafi languished in prison for years as a hostage of one of the country's many armed groups, his father's long-time rival, General Khalifa Haftar, returned from exile in the US and began to lead a military consolidation movement in Eastern Libya that he described as a nationwide anti-terrorist operation. The fruits of his efforts have seen the self-declared House of Representatives government in Tobruk become the de-facto power center in the country, surpassing the authority of the divided but UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli in Western Libya. The East-West split had hitherto appeared to be irreconcilable, but Saif's candidacy for President offers a chance to change all of that if he can restore his father's tribal contacts and enter into a positive working relationship — or perhaps even an alliance — with General Haftar.
The objective of all responsible political forces in Libya is to peacefully unify the country, whether ultimately restoring the formerly centralized state or compromising on a decentralized model, and it now looks like a member of the Gaddafi family might be part of the solution whether the West likes it or not.
Ahmed Ibrahim, Libyan student pursuing an International Relations and Global Development degree in the UK, and Akram El-Bakush, Libyan activist, commented on the issue.
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