Lacher, Wolfram (2020) Libya's Fragmentation: Structure and Process in Violent Conflict. London: IB Tauris. 304 pp.

​ISBN: 978-0-7556-0083-0

Emadeddin Badi

Atlantic Council

Read more about this book: www.bloomsbury.com

Wolfram Lacher's book offers a uniquely granular account of the fragmentation in Libya's socio-political and military arenas after the 2011 revolution. Lacher advances an original and novel framework for analyzing conflict that centres different manifestations of violence and illustrates their impact on social relations and ties within post-conflict societies. The four different Libyan locales whose drastically different experiences of events in 2011 are explored (Bani Walid, Misrata, Tobruk and the Nafusa Mountains) are aptly used to demonstrate the transformative effect of violence – expected, inflicted, or received – on the decision-making in the enmeshed webs of ties in their respective constituencies in 2011. In addition, this allows Lacher to elucidate localistic patterns of military mobilization and political maneuvering almost a decade into Libya's revolution, in turn demystifying several misleading narratives that were applied to the conflicts that erupted post-2011. More broadly, this original framework for analysis captures the inherent contradictions observed in Libya's contemporary landscape. On the one hand, Lacher illustrates how political fragmentation is paradoxically most persistent in locales where social cohesion is more pronounced. He argues that in these tightly knit communities, gradual social atomization is driven by local elites' political jockeying in post-conflict periods. Lacher contrasts this phenomenon with the consolidation of a warlord-like armed structure under Khalifa Haftar, which he argues has capitalized on long-standing grievances over perceived marginalization and the lack of cohesive social and military forces in Eastern Libya to centralize command by way of foreign backing. Overall, Lacher's book is both a formative contribution to scholarship on Libya's recent history, but also a solid reference on the study of violent conflict and the social dimensions of hybrid security orders in post-war settings.