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Libya's Foreign Policy: Drivers and Objectives


The policy process in Libya is complex and intensely personalized around the figure of the Libyan leader, even if it also relies on a structured consultation process as well. Libya’s foreign policy fits within this paradigm as well, as our research among Libyan policymakers has demonstrated. Actual relations form four interconnected conceptual circles covering the Arab world, Africa, the West (Europe and America) and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China, etc.). Thus relations with the Arab world and Africa are suffused with ideological import, alongside Libya’s pragmatic objectives in Africa, while with Europe and America they are conditioned by pragmatic loyalty based on oil and international acceptance. With the world of the BRICs, some of Libya’s old visions of anti-imperialism have resurfaced but commercial concerns still dominate interrelationships. Overall, however, the constant and underlying theme since the 1990s has been regaining international acceptance, one which, even if its content is diametrically opposed to the patterns of that past, reflects the objectives of the 1970s and 1980s as well. And, in this mix, relations with the United States are now dominant, in the wake of the renewal of diplomatic links after many years of Libyan isolation.

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