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UAE and Qatar manage shifting policies, fluid alliances in Libya

Vehicles of forces loyal to Libya's Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah are parked along the waterfront (with the "That El Emad Towers" complex seen in the background) in the capital Tripoli on May 17, 2022 hours after forces of the rival Tobruk-based government withdrew following heavy fighting between opposing militias.  (Photo by MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar played an active role in the military campaign to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi back in 2011. Since then, Abu Dhabi’s and Doha’s approaches to Libya have evolved tremendously but have always been characterized by rivalry and an aggressive foreign policy that targets each other’s efforts, allies and proxies in Libya. 

Following the overthrow of Gadhafi, the Qatari-Emirati rivalry in Libya went through phases of competing aggressive policies inside Libya. This included targeted media campaigns, the funding of various Libyan media outlets and social media pages, the use of Twitter and Facebook bots, and at times even direct military and financial support to their Libyan proxies and allies.

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