The principal gateway into Europe for refugees and migrants runs through the power vacuum in southern Libya’s Fezzan region. Any effort by European policymakers to stabilise Fezzan must be part of a national-level strategy aimed at developing Libya’s licit economy and reaching political normalisation.
UN-backed Tripoli-based PM Serraj 15 July announced roadmap to end crisis, including parliamentary and presidential elections in March 2018, gradual merging of rival parliamentary bodies, and nationwide ceasefire. Serraj and eastern-based strongman Gen Haftar in France 25 July issued ten-point joint declaration committing to ceasefire, working toward parliamentary and presidential elections and securing territory against terrorism and trafficking. Haftar in following days told Saudi newspaper that not everything in Paris agreement can be implemented. UN-backed education ministry 3 July said gunmen attacked minister’s convoy in Sebha in south and briefly detained part of team. During fighting between rival groups at and around Mitiga airport east of capital Tripoli 4 July, stray rocket hit beach, killing five people, including at least one child. After Haftar 5 July announced his Libyan National Army (LNA) had retaken Benghazi in east, at least twelve LNA killed in clashes with rival armed groups there; more clashes killed six LNA troops 22 July. Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) voted in favour of latest draft constitution 29 July, but some CDA members claimed irregularities; remains unclear if vote was legal. Serraj 31 July called for referendum on draft constitution. After Italian PM Gentiloni 27 July said plan to deploy Italian vessels in Libyan waters to combat human trafficking would be presented to parliament, UN-backed PM Serraj denied having agreed plan with Rome and said that his administration had approved that Italy provide only training and arms.
The UN-brokered peace process in Libya has stalled, leaving unresolved pressing issues like worsening living conditions, control of oil facilities, people-smuggling, and the struggle against jihadist groups. New negotiations are needed to engage key actors who have been excluded so far.
The imminent collapse of Libya’s economy could impoverish millions, foster chaos and more radicalisation. At the heart of Libya’s misery is frenzied competition for control over the country’s oil resources. Ongoing UN-led talks should urgently prioritise economic governance, local ceasefires and armed defence of oil facilities.
The Sahel’s trajectory is worrying; poverty and population growth, combined with growing jihadi extremism, contraband and human trafficking constitute the perfect storm of actual and potential instability. Without holistic, sustained efforts against entrenched criminal networks, misrule and underdevelopment, radicalisation and migration are likely to spread and exacerbate.
After six months of worsening clashes, Libya is on the brink of all-out civil war and catastrophic state collapse. All parties must press the two rival authorities to join a national unity government, resolutely uphold the UN arms embargo, and persuade regional actors to stop fuelling the conflict.
Unless Libya breaks the cycle of violence and urgently reforms its justice system, there is a real risk of an increase in assassinations, urban violence and communal conflicts.
Several members [of the Libyan Presidency Council] think [Faiez al-Serraj] is not fit to lead–that he does not have the knowledge, charisma or decision-making capability.
We are already seeing signs that [attempts by ISIS remnants to influence and win over groups opposed to General Khalifa Haftar in Libya] may have already happened.
The fact Egypt has a free hand to carry out these strikes [in Libya] is a cause of concern for those political and military forces on the ground that are opposing Haftar.
To stop the migrant flows to Libya, we [...] need to deal with the economic problems of the country, because people are [...] smuggling humans, because the country is falling into a deep economic crisis.
[The Libyan tribes know that] any attack against [the city of] Misrata could result in a freezing of trade between the north and the south, and people would suffer from that.
While the GNA's Minister of Defence in western Libya, Mahdi al-Barghati, supports the [Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB)] ... the Presidential Council has officially condemned the [recent oil] attack.
Despite suffering significant blows in Syria and Iraq, jihadist movements across the Middle East, North Africa and Lake Chad regions continue to pose significant challenges. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to prioritise conflict prevention at the heart of their counter-terrorism policy and continue investment in vulnerable states.
Africa is experiencing the highest number of humanitarian crises since the 1990s. As the new chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, takes office, International Crisis Group suggests how he can strengthen the organisation’s response to threats to continental peace and security.
Libyan factions are once again fighting for control of key oil installations in the Gulf of Sirte’s “oil crescent”. The latest offensive risks reducing Libya’s oil production and is undermining efforts to broker a peace deal. In this Q&A Claudia Gazzini, Senior Analyst for Libya, assesses the fallout.
As the UN-backed effort to form a unity government is yet to bear fruit, the conflict in Libya could face further escalation in 2017. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to first focus on supporting a political settlement, which will contribute to solving the wider issues of uncontrolled migration flows and instability in the region.
New clashes over Libya’s oilfields could wreck the fragile remains of the country’s economy. Beyond security help, international actors must support compromises on state financing between the opposing factions and help pull Libya back from the brink.