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.
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.
Oil exports resumed after rival camps brokered deal to lift months-long oil sector blockade, and rival PMs pledged to step down amid protests. East-based strongman Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar 18 Sept agreed to lift eight-month oil sector blockade and allow resumption of oil sales; move followed weeks of intense diplomatic efforts and meeting between Haftar’s camp and west-based UN-backed PM Serraj’s Deputy Ahmed Meitig in Russia mid-Sept. Central Bank and officials in Tripoli late Sept distanced themselves from deal on grounds that Meitig made too many financial concessions to Haftar camp, but oil exports resumed 26 Sept. Ceasefires declared by rival east-based House of Representatives’ head Aguila Saleh and Serraj in Aug mostly held, despite Haftar’s Arab-Libyan Armed Forces (ALAF) shelling UN-backed Govt of National Accord (GNA) forces’ headquarters west of strategic city of Sirte 1 Sept. Heads of rival assemblies, Saleh and Tripoli-based High State Council’s Khaled Mishri 6-10 Sept met in Morocco and agreed to start consultations on appointment of five top institutional posts, including Central Bank governor; leaders also agreed to appoint members of their institutions to participate in UN-mediated talks scheduled to restart in Oct, with aim to reach agreement on new unified govt to guide country toward general elections within 18 months. Protests against corruption and worsening living conditions subsided in west but continued in east. Protesters 13 Sept set fire to govt headquarters in Benghazi city and attacked police station in al-Marj town, prompting police to fire live ammunition, leaving one dead and several wounded. Amid unrest and in alleged attempt to pressure representatives of various factions to agree on new unity govt, rival PMs announced their intention to step down. East-based PM Abdullah al-Thani 14 Sept tendered his resignation to Saleh, who left him in caretaker capacity until lawmakers review his resignation. Serraj 16 Sept said UN-brokered talks have led to “new preparatory phase” to unify institutions and announced his intention to resign by end of Oct. Two militias loyal to GNA 24 Sept clashed in Tripoli suburb of Tajoura, leaving at least three killed and several wounded.
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.
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.
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.
On 20 July, Egyptian legislators authorised sending combat troops to Libya, where Cairo’s ally Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar is on the defensive. Following Turkey’s intervention on the Tripoli government’s behalf, Egypt’s involvement could escalate the war dramatically. All parties should seek a compromise.
Crisis Group's Libya Senior Analyst Claudia Gazzini and Turkey Project Director Nigar Göksel held a panel moderated by our Communications & Outreach Director Hugh Pope to discuss Crisis Group's 29 April report on outside intervention in Libya.
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.
The Berlin conference represented an important step toward ending Libya’s civil war, with outside parties committing to that goal. The imperative now is to translate these pledges into concrete steps toward a cessation of hostilities and a renewal of UN-backed negotiations.
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.