Khalifa Haftar, who commands forces besieging Tripoli, has announced he will replace UN-backed mediation in Libya with a new political roadmap and government. His proposal divided supporters; adversaries called it a coup. To stop a power struggle, Haftar’s regional backers should press him to reconsider.
Tides turned in battle for capital Tripoli and front line shifted eastward around strategic city of Sirte, raising risk of escalation there in coming weeks, while political negotiations remained stalled. Forces loyal to UN-recognised Govt of National Accord (GNA) 5 June reclaimed control of capital Tripoli and took Tarhuna, last outpost of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Arab-Libyan Armed Forces (ALAF) in west, reportedly after ALAF and Russian military aides pulled out without fighting. GNA 11 June reported discovery of several mass graves in Tarhuna. GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha 7 June signalled intention to continue military offensive eastward to capture strategic city of Sirte and nearby Jufra airbase, which serves as ALAF’s operations base. ALAF and its foreign backers 12-13 June repelled GNA offensive on Sirte; airstrikes killed over 40 GNA fighters and 19 civilians. Egypt President Sisi 20 June threatened military intervention in Libya over “red line” of Sirte. Turkey tried to strike deal with Russia over Sirte, but Russia’s foreign and defence ministers 14 June postponed visit to Turkey in last-minute move. Meanwhile, attempts at restarting negotiations failed. UN mission, which remains weakened by absence of special representative, held separate consultations on ceasefire with GNA and ALAF delegations throughout month. Sisi 6 June proposed roadmap for political negotiations, which was welcomed by allied states but rejected by GNA and Turkey. After National Oil Corporation and local guards 6-7 June agreed to restart oil production at Sharara and El-Feel oil fields in south, armed Haftar-allied military commanders 8 June ordered employees to halt production. UN Human Rights Council 22 June ordered fact-finding mission in Libya to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law since early 2016.
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.
Four main Libyan leaders meet in Paris on 29 May to sign a roadmap to peace, including 2018 elections with united international backing. But with Libya’s UN-backed peace process at risk from the meeting's format and the accord that France has brokered, the sides should instead commit to a broader declaration of principles.
[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.
Haftar is deeply unpopular in many places and given the fragmented state of Libya and the proliferation of armed groups it’s going to be very hard to impose his rule throughout the country.
In this interview, Crisis Group's Libya Expert Claudia Gazzini try to provide some insight into Turkey's relation with Libya and the Mediterranean neighbourhood.
On 19 January, Berlin will convene the main parties in Libya’s conflict. This comes in the wake of the Moscow meeting between Libya’s two main rival leaders that failed to produce a ceasefire. Libya expert Claudia Gazzini discusses where the peace process may go next.
The continued violence between the two local forces competing for power, and their inability to cooperate has locked the conflict in a stalemate that sees no immediate end. In this excerpt from its Watch List 2019 - Second Update, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to work towards an internationally-monitored ceasefire.
Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The second update to the Watch List 2019 includes entries on Colombia, Ethiopia, Iran and Libya.