Situation has deteriorated since David Camerons upbeat visit after Gaddafi fell, with latest administration on the brink
On 15 September 2011 David Cameron flew into a newly liberated Tripoli with the then president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, to be mobbed by rebels grateful for Nato airstrikes that had helped them secure victory over Muammar Gaddafi.
Beaming with delight in the sunshine, Cameron declared: Your friends in Britain and France will stand with you as you build your country and build your democracy for the future.
Back then, optimism was in the air. In rebel camps, coffee bars, hotels already jammed with foreign businesspeople even amid the shattered concrete ruins of Gaddafis giant Bab al-Azizia compound the talk was of progress.
Back-of-the-envelope calculations showed Libya would undoubtably have the brightest future of any of the emerging Arab Spring states. It had Africas largest oil reserves and only 6 million souls to share it. Democracy was on the way. What could go wrong?
As it turned out, everything.
Libyas politics soon polarised into a battle dominated by the two most organised factions Islamists on one side, and former regime figures on the other. But that polarisation comes with complicated cross-currents. The tribe is the basic political unit in Libya, creating an ever-changing tapestry of alliances and feuds.
Libyans have a saying: In Libya it is region against region; in the regions, tribe against tribe; in the tribes, family against family. The five years following the revolution gave grim confirmation to that proverb.
Libyans voted in massive numbers for the first transitional government, the general national congress (GNC). But hopes that this government could muddle through were shattered in September 2012 when jihadi gunmen over-ran the US consulate in Benghazi, murdering the US ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.