Implementation of the UN-mediated 2015 political deal that established the Presidency Council and Tripoli-based interim government has been hindered by claims of illegitimacy by rival political forces. Although the framework of the deal is the only viable path to resolving the Libyan conflict, Crisis Group encourages all parties to negotiate a new government with nationwide legitimacy. Important steps were taken in July 2017, when rivals President al-Serraj and General Haftar agreed to a ceasefire agreement and to hold elections in 2018. Yet Libya remains deeply divided and failure to implement the agreement could adversely affect regional security as well as increase migrant flows into the European Union. Crisis Group aims to inform the international community, as well as national and regional actors, about the importance of prioritising economic development and basic political consensus as the main stepping stones for sustainable peace.
Libyan politicians have moved with salutary speed in 2021 to reunify their divided country. With UN help, the new government should hasten to clear two last hurdles: establishing a legal framework for elections and clarity about who holds supreme command of the armed forces.
Tensions between rival armed coalitions rose and Islamic State staged first attack in a year; at Berlin conference, Libyan govt and foreign states renewed calls for elections in Dec and foreign forces withdrawal. Forces loyal to now dissolved UN-backed Govt of National Accord (GNA) 5 June held military ceremony in Misrata city (west) to mark first anniversary of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s defeat in capital Tripoli; Haftar’s Arab Libyan Armed Forces (ALAF) held their own military parade in Benghazi city (east) late May to mark seventh anniversary of launch of their “Dignity Operation”. High-level Turkish delegation 12 June visited Tripoli and condemned parade by “putschist Haftar”, prompting pro-ALAF MPs to denounce violation of Libyan sovereignty and triggering brawl in House of Representatives 14 June. Following months-long delay, PM Dabaiba 20 June said strategic road linking Misrata to Sirte city (centre) had reopened in line with Oct 2020 ceasefire provisions, which ALAF same day denied; 5+5 Joint Military Commission – comprising military officers loyal to GNA and others affiliated with ALAF – next day postponed reopening. In first Islamic State (ISIS) attack since May 2020, suicide bombing 6 June and explosive device 14 June killed six ALAF-aligned fighters in Sebha area (south). ALAF 17 June said it had launched counter-terrorism operation in south west and 19 June closed Essen border crossing with Algeria, prompting Presidency Council to same day ban military movements unless approved. Unidentified gunmen 3 June abducted NGO Libyan Red Crescent official Mansour al-Maghrabi in Ajdabiya city (east). At international conference co-sponsored by UN in Germany’s capital Berlin, new interim national unity govt and foreign stakeholders 23 June renewed calls to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in Dec in line with UN roadmap, and for “all foreign forces and mercenaries” to withdraw “without delay” despite reservations from Turkey, whose forces are deployed in Libya. Ahead of 1 July deadline set by UN to clarify electoral roadmap and enact necessary legislation for Dec elections, delegates of UN-backed Libyan Political Dialogue Forum 28 June-1 July met in Switzerland in bid to break deadlock in negotiations.
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.
The Libyan parliament and the executive were not able to drive the [peace] process forward alone. This was why tensions between rival groups had increased again in recent times.
There is not doubt that if [Egypt and Turkey] find a way to work together [...], this will reflect in pushing forward political stability in Libya.
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.
Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group’s fieldwork and recent report “Libya Turns the Page”
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.