Unneeded Arab Spring: Eyewitness Recalls the Downfall of Once-Wealthy Libya 10 Years Down the Line

The 2011 Libyan uprising that toppled the country’s longtime ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi devastated the oil-rich nation, believes a Tunisian journalist, who has been covering the conflict extensively. And now a decade down the line, the future still looks bleak as the threat of the country’s split is looming.

In December 2010, when Khaoula Ben Kias, a young Tunisian journalist was covering the eruption of the mass protests in her country that later turned into a tsunami known as the Arab Spring, she could not imagine that the wave of violent clashes would soon spill into Libya.

Past Prosperity

But in the neighbouring Libya, the situation was different. Before the eruption of the NATO airpower-backed revolution in February 2011, the oil rich country had relatively high living standards.

Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, who ruled the country for 41 years, used Libya’s oil to advance the society. Throughout his tenure, he launched ambitious social programmes in the fields of education, health, housing, public works and provided subsidies for electricity and basic products, something that improved Libyans’ living conditions and positioned the country as having among the highest living standards in Africa.  

Back then, Libyans’ literacy rate stood at more than 88 percent, the concept of gender equality was protected by law, the country had no external debt, and the security situation was relatively stable, primarily due to the fact that Gaddafi was ruling the country with an iron…

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