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.
This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood asks Crisis Group experts how the Ukraine war has affected peacemaking elsewhere, notably Nagorno-Karabakh, where Moscow plays a major diplomatic role, and Libya, where the Kremlin backs one of the conflict’s main protagonists.
Dialogue between rival assemblies on amending draft constitution to chart roadmap toward elections reached dead end, and disputes around demarcation of maritime boundaries continued.
Rival assemblies’ dialogue track came to an abrupt halt. Heads of rival assemblies, Aghela Saleh of Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) and Khaled Mishri of Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC), 5 Jan met in Egyptian capital Cairo, pledged in vaguely-worded joint statement to refer amended constitutional draft to their respective chambers. Cairo 11 Jan hosted meeting between head of Presidential Council Mohamed Menfi and head of Libyan National Army, Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar; 15 January held another meeting between Menfi, Haftar and Saleh. Saleh in following days however refused to sign off on document outlining key agreements between HoR and HSC and reaffirmed HoR is Libya’s one and only legislative body and does not need HSC’s approval, suggesting that HoR amend 2011 constitutional declaration “before March”.
Diplomatic initiatives to press for elections continued. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns 12 Jan made first visit to Libya since 2012, met with PM Abdelhamid Dabaiba in capital Tripoli and reportedly also with Haftar in Benghazi city; Burns pressed on his interlocutors need to move forward with elections before year’s end. Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan 17 Jan also visited Tripoli and met with Dabaiba and Mishri to discuss political situation; reportedly also met with some armed groups’ leaders in Tripoli.
Controversies over disputed demarcation of maritime boundaries continued. National Oil Corporation 2 Jan protested against Athens’ ongoing oil and gas exploration in waters disputed between Greece and Libya. Tripoli’s Court of Appeals 9 Jan suspended implementation of Libya-Türkiye deal on oil and gas exploration that two countries had signed in Oct until final verdict on case. Meanwhile, Tripoli-based Govt of National Unity 28 Jan signed deals with Italian govt aimed at boosting Libyan energy supplies to Europe and clamping down on migrants attempting to cross Mediterranean Sea.
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...
None of the foreign actors backing the two Libyan sides want to compromise the rekindled dialogue for the sake of launching a war in Libya against the other side.
There’s a palpable fear ... that candidates [for the presidential election in Libya] that are very polarizing will contest the results either if they run or don’t run, if...
This is the first time that Libya has held presidential elections, and the powers attributed to the president in the current elections law are huge.
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...
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.
In this In Black & White video, Crisis Group's Expert Claudia Gazzini explains that the only way to put Libya back on track is to maintain and strengthen a multitrack approach to Libya's problem.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood is joined by Claudia Gazzini, Crisis Group’s Libya expert, to look at the political standoff in Libya that led to deadly clashes over the summer and whether a new UN envoy can help find a way out.
Libya is once again stuck in a standoff between two rival executives. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to host consultations among foreign ministers of countries engaged in Libya, push the UN Security Council to appoint a new special representative and encourage the opposing factions to reach agreement on a state budget.
Discord about how to resolve a political impasse has once more put Libya in danger of fracturing in two. The priorities are for the camps to agree on a way forward and for outside powers to stay united in backing whatever peaceful option Libyans choose.
Libya again has two rival administrations pressing claims to be the rightful government. Both sides have armed loyalists. Outside powers should join hands to help stop them from clashing once more.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s Turkey expert, Nigar Göksel, about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent trip to Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Turkey’s involvement in conflicts in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus, and its wider foreign relations.
Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group’s fieldwork and recent report “Libya Turns the Page”
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.
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