On 2 May 2017, the head of Libya’s internationally recognised government, Faiez al-Serraj, and his major military opponent, General Khalifa Haftar, met for the first time in over a year. Crisis Group’s Libya Senior Analyst Claudia Gazzini says talk of a deal is premature.
In south, forces loyal to eastern-based strongman General Haftar continued to clash with forces led by factions from Misrata in west, nominally loyal to UN-backed Presidency Council (PC). Forces aligned with Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) early April tried to seize Tamenhint air base on outskirts of Sabha town from Misratan-led militias. Unclaimed airstrike on prison in Sabha 25 April reportedly killed two guards and three prisoners. Crude oil production and exports fell again due to closures of oil and gas pipelines in west, causing value of Libyan dinar to fall and prices of consumer goods to rise. International Criminal Court 24 April unsealed arrest warrant issued in 2013 for former head of Internal Security Agency Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled for crimes against humanity and war crimes during crackdown on anti-govt protests in 2011. In eastern Tobruk-based parliament House of Representatives (HoR) some 30 MPs including those supportive of current Central Bank governor 25 April reportedly blocked vote to replace him. Representatives of southern tribes 2 April in Rome discussed stabilisation of south and possible border control. Rival presidents of HoR and State Council (advisory body loyal to PC and formed under Libyan Political Agreement) 21 April met in Rome. After offshore gun battle coastguard 27 April seized Congolese and Ukrainian-flagged tankers and detained crews for allegedly smuggling oil.
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.
The violent death of the U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues is a stark reminder of the challenges Libya still faces and should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities to urgently fill the security vacuum.
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.
The fact that [abuse of women and children] has increased so much in this past year or two is also directly related to the deteriorating economic situation in Libya.
Whether or not this state of suspended animation marks the beginning of Libya as a 'failed state' depends primarily on its economic standing.
The negotiations [over Libyan oil fields] take multiple groups and multiple actors to move things. It’s still a very fragile oil and gas structure.
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.
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.
The seizure of Libya’s main pre-2013 oil terminals by an opposition force is a blow to the authority of Libya’s fledgling UN-backed Presidency Council. But smart compromises might help restart the flow of oil, as Crisis Group’s Senior Libya analyst Claudia Gazzini explains in this Q&A.
Originally published in Internazionale