The 2011 Libyan uprising transformed into a civil war in a matter of days—and it has lasted more than a decade. What made this uprising different from others? This article argues that the type of system determined the outcome of the revolt. It posits a relationship between Muammar Qadhafi's sultanistic regime and the fragile political institutions that have allowed the chaos and rivalry to persist without resolution. To demonstrate this, Libyan citizens were surveyed about their perceptions of how Qadhafi shaped the political order responsible for today's institutional vacuum. While the revolution revealed the Qadhafi regime's lack of popular and foreign support, as well as the inadequacies of state institutions, it could not use institutional channels to mobilize the public and organize authority, as in Tunisia and Egypt. The civil war, coupled with the interventions of regional and international powers in support of local actors and militias, has made the Libyan case different. The article also explains how the passive stances of the League of Arab States and the United Nations paved the way for external rivalries.
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