In early 2021, Libyan politicians agreed on terms for a national unity government bringing together what had been two administrations in Tripoli and Tobruk. The accord was another step toward lasting stability following the October 2020 ceasefire between the two rival militaries. Unifying national institutions is taking time, however, and several possible pitfalls lie ahead. Through research and advocacy, Crisis Group aims to keep the national unity agreement intact and the various associated processes on track, encouraging dialogue among Libyans and vigorous engagement on the part of the UN and external powers with influence in the country.

CrisisWatch Libya

Unchanged Situation

In apparent policy shift, UN envoy for Libya called for unified govt before elections take place; rival militias engaged in deadly clashes in Tripoli, revealing precarious security outlook in capital.

Amid political gridlock, UN urged unified govt for elections. Tripoli-based consultative body, High State Council (HSC), 6 Aug elected Mohamed Takala as new leader, unseating incumbent Khaled Mishri, with unclear consequences on HSC’s support for eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR)’s plan to appoint interim govt as part of roadmap to general elections. HoR 8 Aug discussed draft election laws agreed upon in June by UN-backed “6+6” joint committee (composed of HoR and HSC representatives) and referred comments back to committee. Meanwhile, UN envoy for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily 22 Aug told UN Security Council agreement on unified govt is “imperative” to lead country to elections; statement appears as reversal of UN longstanding position that elections should be held ahead of govt unification.

Central Bank announced reunification after decade-long division. Central Bank Governor Sadiq al-Kabir 20 Aug said Central Bank of Libya reinstated as unified institution almost ten years after splitting into two rival branches; it is still unclear, however, whether procedures required to make unification operational have been activated.

Fighting between rival Tripoli militias left dozens dead. Members of Special Deterrence Force (alias Rada militia) 14 Aug detained commander of 444 Brigade, Mahmud Hamza, at Mitiga airport in capital Tripoli. In response, members of 444 Brigade opened fire at Rada militiamen, leading to intense fighting with heavy artillery around Mitiga airport and elsewhere in Tripoli that continued into 15 Aug; UN reported at least 55 people killed and over 100 injured. Fighting, which in following days subsided as Hamza was released, took place amid turf war between Rada militia and 444 Brigade commanders (both allied to Tripoli-based PM Dabaiba) for control of Tripoli International Airport upon its reopening.

In other important developments. Eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army 25 Aug launched airstrikes against Chadian rebel positions on Libyan side of border with Chad (see Chad). Dabaiba 28 Aug suspended FM Najla Mangoush after protests previous day erupted in several cities over Mangoush’s meeting with Israeli counterpart.

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In The News

13 Sep 2023
[The] disaster that has hit Derna has really brought together the country, the people [of Libya], most importantly. The Washington Post

Claudia Gazzini

Senior Analyst, Libya
12 Jan 2023
There is a need for the UN envoy to play a more proactive role in coordinating international positions and putting pressure on Libyan actors to move the situation forward... Atalayar

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa

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Claudia Gazzini

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