This week, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Crisis Group’s Libya expert Claudia Gazzini about the successful formation of a new interim government in Libya and the challenges in unifying the country.
Discussions on roadmap for elections planned late this year and budget stalled amid disagreement between different constituencies. Legal Committee of UN-backed Libyan Political Dialogue Forum 7-9 April failed to reach consensus on legal roadmap for general elections scheduled for Dec; disagreements persisted over whether Libya should hold referendum on draft constitution first, or opt directly for parliamentary election or both parliamentary and presidential elections. Budget discussions turned into tug of war between institutions. Eastern-based House of Representatives 19 April rejected PM Dabaiba’s govt budget, reportedly making its approval conditional on Central Bank’s governor’s replacement, which eastern constituencies have long requested; National Oil Corporation same day said it was forced to declare force majeure – lifted 26 April – at key export terminal due to Central Bank’s reported refusal to release budget funds, accused latter of politicising oil sector. Dabaiba 25 April cancelled next day’s cabinet meeting in Benghazi city (east) after security officers aligned with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Arab Libyan Armed Forces (ALAF) barred Dabaiba’s security escort from entering city over presence of Tripoli-based militias in its ranks; ALAF 27 April clarified it had no issue with Dabaiba visiting if coordinated with local security forces. New mass graves in and around Tarhuna city (west), former stronghold of ALAF-aligned militia, continued to be uncovered throughout month; Dabaiba early April pledged to deliver justice. NGO Amnesty International 26 April said east-based military courts had convicted hundreds of civilians perceived to be ALAF critics or opponents – including 22 sentenced to death – in “sham, torture-tainted trials” between 2018 and 2021. UN Security Council 16 April unanimously approved deployment, “when conditions allow”, of UN team to Sirte city to monitor Oct 2020 ceasefire. Presidency Council Chairperson Mohamed al-Menfi 21 April ordered armed forces to secure southern border with Chad immediately after Haftar-aligned Chadian rebel group Front for Change and Concord based in southern Libya 11 April crossed border into Chad in bid to depose Chadian President Déby (see Chad).
Though overdue, the 23 October Libya ceasefire deal is worthy of applause. With help from the UN and their foreign backers, the warring parties should now close the loopholes in the agreement’s text, lest rival interpretations derail movement toward peace.
Turkish intervention in Libya’s war stopped the besieged Tripoli government from collapsing. But fighting with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces has since escalated, threatening a protracted conflict. Both Ankara and Haftar’s regional backers should urge their allies toward a return to negotiations and a ceasefire.
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s march on Tripoli has ground to a halt in a war of attrition with the internationally recognised government’s forces on the city’s outskirts. The parties should conclude a ceasefire including Haftar’s partial withdrawal as a prelude to renewed UN peace talks.
An under-reported banking crisis threatens to exacerbate deadly fighting in Tripoli, ignite a protracted resource war and deepen the country’s east-west divide. A way out requires agreeing to a ceasefire in Tripoli and ending the four-year split between the Central Bank’s rival branches.
Adherents of a Salafi school, the Madkhalis, are gaining prominence on both sides of Libya’s divide, causing concerns about puritanical agendas imposed through military and religious institutions. Negotiators should ensure that rebuilt security forces are politically neutral and secure the Madkhalis’ pledge to respect pluralism.
A renewed struggle this summer over Libya’s main oil export zone cut sales in half, squeezing hard currency supplies amid outcry about mismanagement of hydrocarbon revenues. To build trust, Libyan and international actors should review public spending and move toward unifying divided financial institutions.
If you start with the NATO-led intervention, the big lesson learned was that this planted the seeds for the disarray that followed [in Libya].
The simple fact that [Libya’s new government] able to get a vote of confidence from rival members of the House of Representatives is a massive step forward.
There are major hurdles ahead, legal hurdles [...] and long-term hurdles about uniting [Libya].
The arms embargo in Libya died many years ago. What changed this year was that the violations of the embargo came out into the open more.
[L’envoyé spécial des Nations unies en Libye, Ghassan Salamé,] était un envoyé infatigable qui voulait probablement plus la paix que les Libyens eux-mêmes.
Tout le monde veut la fin de la guerre en Libye, sauf que chacun a une idée différente de ce qui devrait être la nouvelle configuration politique. Donc la guerre continue.
Reviving the Iran nuclear deal could help alleviate the threat of nuclear proliferation and cool regional tensions. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2021 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to support the Biden administration in re-engaging with Tehran and to facilitate trade between Europe and Iran.
This Briefing Note provides up-to-the-minute analysis of attempts to end Libya’s almost decade-long civil war through talks focused on reunifying the country’s government, oil-based economy and security forces. It is the third in a series of regular updates.
This Briefing Note provides up-to-the-minute analysis of attempts to end Libya’s almost decade-long civil war through talks focused on reunifying the country’s government, oil-based economy and security forces. It is the second in a series of twice-monthly updates.
This Briefing Note provides up-to-the-minute analysis of attempts to end Libya’s almost decade-long civil war through talks focused on reunifying the country’s government, oil-based economy and security forces. It is the first in a series of twice-monthly updates.