This Briefing Note assesses the outcome of a UN-backed forum that took place in Geneva from 1-5 February and where Libyan delegates elected a new interim executive. It is the fourth in a series of regular updates on efforts to end Libya’s civil war.
In unexpected breakthrough, participants to UN-led political talks elected new political leadership; implementation of Oct 2020 ceasefire however still on hold. UN-backed Libyan Political Dialogue Forum 5 Feb elected heads of unified transitional govt to lead country to general elections scheduled for Dec 2021; winning ticket secured 39 votes of 74, with Abdelhamid Dabaiba, a businessman with ties to former Qadhafi regime, elected PM-designate, Mohamed al-Menfi (representing east) chosen as Presidency Council president-designate, and Musa al-Koni (south) and Abdullah al-Lafi (west) elected Presidency Council VP-designates; vote of confidence in House of Representatives (HoR), currently scheduled on 8 March, needed for new leadership and upcoming cabinet to officially replace Libya’s two rival govts. Tripoli-based Govt of National Accord (GNA) immediately welcomed breakthrough and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, leader of east-based Arab-Libyan Armed Forces (ALAF), 6 Feb said he was ready to work with new leadership. UN Security Council 9 Feb welcomed “important milestone in Libyan political process”. In east, in bid to foster unity ahead of vote of confidence, al-Menfi 11 Feb met dozens of tribal elders, academics and activists in Benghazi city, next day met mayor of Tobruk city and pledged to unify all state institutions. Dabaiba 25 Feb delayed submitting list of cabinet members to HoR for approval. AFP 28 Feb leaked UN report alleging at least three delegates had received bribes to vote for Dabaiba in 5 Feb election. Meanwhile, UN Security Council 4 Feb called on Sec-Gen Guterres to deploy advance team to monitor implementation of Oct 2020 ceasefire, and UN Special Envoy for Libya Ján Kubiš 19 Feb met with Haftar in Benghazi city to discuss ceasefire implementation. Unclaimed mortar attack during tenth anniversary celebrations of Libyan uprising 17 Feb killed one child in Sabha city in south. GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha 21 Feb claimed he was target of assassination attempt after gunmen same day opened fire on his motorcade outside capital Tripoli; one person killed and two arrested.
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.
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.
[The new European Union foreign policy chief has brought] a renewed energy and willingness to look at Libya as a crisis and a war in and of itself.
The French need to clarify in greater detail. The open question is whether or not they are actively supporting Haftar’s forces in their offensive on Tripoli.
With the GNA and the LNA refusing to halt hostilities and amid diplomatic paralysis, the war in and around Tripoli is likely to drag on.
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 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.
In this week’s episode of Hold Your Fire!, Crisis Group’s Libya expert Claudia Gazzini explains the militia and foreign proxy rivalries that are tearing the country apart to our President Rob Malley and co-host Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict.