As a civil war between Islamists and nationalists rages on in Libya, international players are once again shaping the country’s future. The UN is calling for a ceasefire. France is using increasingly aggressive language to urge international action, with the French defense minister recently calling the country a “hub for terrorist groups.” Libya’s government has accused Sudan of providing arms to Islamist militias, who have in turn been the target of airstrikes by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Libya’s own elected parliament, meanwhile, is literally at sea. As The Guardian’s Chris Stephen reported this week, the country’s 200-seat legislature has shrunk, partly due to boycotts, and the roughly 115 members that continue to meet have fled the capital, Tripoli, and taken up residence on a 17,000-ton Greek ferry called Elyros, which is moored outside the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk.
The arrangement is part of an agreement the government reached with the Greek shipping company Anek Lines, which owns the Elyros, days before the Islamist coalition Libya Dawn captured Tripoli. Lacking a formal parliamentary building in Tobruk, which is still controlled by forces allied with the government, the nomadic legislature improvised its headquarters. On land, the officials hold sessions in the Dar Essalem hotel. They go home to the Elyros’s elegant interior.