Libya’s political and security situation is once again in flux as alliances shift with circumstances. In mid-summer 2014, political and militia forces based in Misrata formed the Libya Dawn coalition as a unified opposition front to Qaddafi-era military officerKhalifa Hiftar’s Operation Dignity assault on Islamists in Benghazi. Yet its initial successes shave been since undercut by divisions among Misrata’s many allies.It is the brewing strife among armed Islamist groups within the Libya Dawn coalition that could indicate where the country as a whole might be heading. In much of western Libya and in some areas in the east, local Islamist militia groups comparatively less motivated by ideology perceive regional, ideologically-motivated Islamists as threats. Decision-makers in Misrata are now drifting from ideological militia factions and political actors who were once their allies but are opposed to a political solution, which Misrata increasingly seeks, to end the current state of conflict. As the Libya Dawn coalition continues to splinter, increased presence and activity by the Islamic State (IS), Al-Qaeda (AQ) and AQ-linked Ansar Al-Sharia (AS) may be the factor that turns the array of Libya’s Islamist armed groups against one another.
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By Amanda Kadlec and Hassan Morajea.