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Members of the Libyan army stand on a tank as heavy black smoke rises from the city's port in the background after a fire broke out at a car tyre disposal plant during clashes against Islamist gunmen in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on December 23, 2014.

Libya: Getting Geneva Right

Middle East and North Africa Report N°157, 26 February 2015

After six months of worsening clashes, Libya is on the brink of all-out civil war and catastrophic state collapse. All parties must press the two rival authorities to join a national unity government, resolutely uphold the UN arms embargo, and persuade regional actors to stop fuelling the conflict.

More Weapons Are Not the Answer to Libya’s Jihadi Upsurge

25 February 2015: The political divisions in Libya, and resulting military clashes between armed groups allied to the two governments and two parliaments, have facilitated the growth of jihadi armed groups. After the Islamic State (IS) beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, and Egypt's bombing of IS camps in response, it seems clear that Libya has an IS problem. In response to the killing of its citizens, Egypt is calling for the UN to lift the arms embargo. However, what Libya needs is political dialogue, and a push to create common ground between the various factions, both military and political. By requesting an end to the arms embargo, Egypt and those Libyan leaders who back such a request could actually deepen Libya’s woes. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s senior Libya analyst Claudia Gazzini discusses the upsurge in IS activity in Libya and advises the international community to stand firm against the delivery of weapons to any of the factions in Libya.

Time for Venezuela's Friends to Act
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (R) talks with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff (L), Bolivia’s President Evo Morales (C) and Argentina’s Vice President Amado Boudou (2nd R) at UNASUR leaders summit, 30 August 2013. REUTERS

23 February 2015 Caracas mayor and opposition politician Antonio Ledezma remains in custody following his arrest last Thursday. The arrest takes place one year since protests and harsh repression erupted in Venezuela's main cities. In this blog post, Javier Ciurlizza recounts his recent trip to Venezuela and urges international and regional support to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. The country needs urgent help from its friends to build political consensus. Regional states and organisations, as well as the international community at large, must act firmly, not with unilateral sanctions, but with pressure for dialogue between the two sides.

Yemen Conflict Alert: Time for Compromise
Houthi fighters ride a truck near the presidential palace in Sanaa January 22, 2015. Yemen's Houthi rebels welcomed on Thursday proposed concessions by the government on power-sharing but their gunmen still held positions outside the residence of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who remains a virtual prisoner there. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

27 January 2015: Yemen’s UN-backed transition has unravelled and the country has entered a new, highly unstable phase. On 22 January President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the prime minister resigned after Huthi fighters seized the presidential palace and consolidated control of the capital. This has upended the troubled transition and raises the very real prospect of territorial fragmentation, economic meltdown and widespread violence if a compromise is not reached soon. At this point, there is little external actors can do, with the possible exceptions of Saudi Arabia and Iran, to influence the calculus of Yemeni stakeholders, and the choice for the Yemenis is stark: either agree to an inclusive political settlement based on compromise, or suffer a descent into Libyan-style violent conflict and national fragmentation. It is in no party’s interest, with the exception of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and, to a lesser extent, some components of the southern Hiraak, to let things go that far.

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