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Libya

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

Deteriorated Situation

Prospects of holding elections by year’s end fading as parliament unilaterally issued presidential election law and voted no-confidence motion against unity govt, escalating political tensions. Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) Speaker Aghila Saleh 8 Sept ratified presidential election law without putting it to vote or consulting rival political factions; law establishes strong presidential system of governance. Unilateral move sparked ire of western-based authorities. Rival assembly, Tripoli-based consultative High State Council (HSC), next day decried law as “flawed” due to lack of consultations, vowed to oppose it in court. Other Tripoli-based political opponents claimed it was designed to impose presidential election alone, without parliamentary ones, despite UN-backed roadmap requiring to hold both by year’s end. While briefing UN Security Council, UN Special Envoy for Libya Ján Kubiš 10 Sept did not express reservations on HoR’s presidential election law. HSC 19 Sept passed its own proposal for constitutional framework, envisaging bicameral legislative model, but also directly elected president. HoR 27 Sept postponed same-day session on parliamentary elections law to early Oct. Following weeks of mounting tensions between parliament and govt, HoR 21 Sept approved motion of no-confidence against govt, citing concerns over budgetary disbursements; PM Dabaiba and his cabinet to stay in power as “caretakers” with curbed access to country’s finances. Dabaiba same day rejected no-confidence vote, called on Libyans to rise up against HoR; in response, hundreds 24 Sept gathered in capital Tripoli. Meanwhile, fighting 3 Sept broke out between rival Tripoli-based armed forces in worst fighting this year. Dabaiba 7 Sept said govt forces arrested senior Islamic State (ISIS) figure Embarak al-Khazimi in operation south of Tripoli. Forces loyal to eastern strongman Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar 14 Sept launched air and ground operation against formerly allied Chadian rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) in Tarbu area along Chadian border; Chadian and French forces reportedly involved in operation. Presidency Council Chair Mohamed al-Menfi 6 Sept announced release of political prisoners as part of national reconciliation effort; Saadi Qadhafi, son of former leader Muammar Qadhafi, released previous day. U.S. House of Representatives 28 Sept passed bill enabling sanctions against foreign actors in Libya.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

23 Jun 2021
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 times. Al Jazeera

Claudia Gazzini

Consulting Senior Analyst, Libya
5 May 2021
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. Associated Press

Claudia Gazzini

Consulting Senior Analyst, Libya
26 Apr 2021
If you start with the NATO-led intervention, the big lesson learned was that this planted the seeds for the disarray that followed [in Libya]. The Guardian

Claudia Gazzini

Consulting Senior Analyst, Libya
15 Mar 2021
The simple fact that [Libya’s new government] able to get a vote of confidence from rival members of the House of Representatives is a massive step forward. Financial Times

Claudia Gazzini

Consulting Senior Analyst, Libya
10 Mar 2021
There are major hurdles ahead, legal hurdles [...] and long-term hurdles about uniting [Libya]. Associated Press

Claudia Gazzini

Consulting Senior Analyst, Libya
7 Oct 2020
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. The Guardian

Claudia Gazzini

Consulting Senior Analyst, Libya

Latest Updates

From War to Peace: The Challenges of Libya’s Transition (Online Event, 1st June 2021)

Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group’s fieldwork and recent report “Libya Turns the Page

Reviving the JCPOA after Maximum Pressure

Reviving the Iran nuclear deal could help alleviate the threat of nuclear proliferation and cool regional tensions. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2021 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to support the Biden administration in re-engaging with Tehran and to facilitate trade between Europe and Iran.

Also available in العربية

Crisis Group Libya Update #3

This Briefing Note provides up-to-the-minute analysis of attempts to end Libya’s almost decade-long civil war through talks focused on reunifying the country’s government, oil-based economy and security forces. It is the third in a series of regular updates.

Also available in العربية

Crisis Group Libya Update #2

This Briefing Note provides up-to-the-minute analysis of attempts to end Libya’s almost decade-long civil war through talks focused on reunifying the country’s government, oil-based economy and security forces. It is the second in a series of twice-monthly updates.

Also available in العربية

Crisis Group Libya Update #1

This Briefing Note provides up-to-the-minute analysis of attempts to end Libya’s almost decade-long civil war through talks focused on reunifying the country’s government, oil-based economy and security forces. It is the first in a series of twice-monthly updates.

Also available in العربية

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Claudia Gazzini

Consulting Senior Analyst, Libya