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.
Unified govt, first in over seven years, received vote of confidence and assumed power in major step forward for peace process. PM-designate Dabaiba 4 March submitted cabinet line-up proposal to House of Representatives (HoR) Speaker Aghela Saleh notably featuring two deputy PM positions for eastern and southern Libya. Following two-day parliamentary debate in strategic city of Sirte (centre) and closed-door negotiations which led Dabaiba to replace ten cabinet picks, HoR 10 March approved his Govt of National Unity (GNU) with close to all of 132 lawmakers present voting in favour, drawing international commendation; GNU tasked with leading country to general elections scheduled for Dec. GNU 15 March took oath before HoR in Tobruk city (east). UN-backed Govt of National Accord (GNA) PM Serraj in Tripoli 16 March and east-based PM Abdullah al-Thani in Benghazi city 23 March officially handed over power to GNU. Meanwhile, UN 3 March deployed advance team to assess possible UN support to Oct 2020 ceasefire. UN Security Council 12 March urged all parties to fully implement ceasefire agreement, called for withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries. UN expert panel report 16 March said arms embargo imposed in 2011 remained “totally ineffective”. Amid rumours that Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries had begun withdrawing, FM Najla al-Mangoush 25 March called for “immediate departure” of all foreign mercenaries following meeting with French, German and Italian counterparts in Tripoli. Unidentified gunmen 24 March killed Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Arab Libyan Armed Forces (ALAF) senior commander Mahmoud al-Werfalli – wanted by International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2016-2018 – in Benghazi. PM Dabaiba 19 March ordered investigation after over a dozen bodies found in mass grave in Benghazi previous day. Authorities throughout month also discovered new mass graves in and around Tarhuna city (west), former stronghold of ALAF-aligned al-Kani militia, on whose leaders EU 22 March imposed sanctions for alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Tarhuna between 2015 and 2020. ALAF 14 March announced arrest of prominent Islamic State figure Mohamed Miloud Mohamed, aka Abu Omar in Ubari city (south).
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 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.
[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.
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.