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 prioritising economic development and basic political consensus as the main stepping stones for sustainable peace.
Efforts to reunify Libya after six years of internal strife have drifted. Global and regional powers should seize the opportunity of a high-level UN meeting on Libya and a new UN special envoy to speak with one voice and act to build an effective and inclusive peace process.
International Criminal Court (ICC) 15 Aug issued arrest warrant for war crimes for controversial Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Mahmoud Warfalli, loyal to eastern-based strongman Gen Haftar. LNA early Aug intensified military campaign and cut supplies to wrest control of Derna city in east from coalition of Islamist militants known as Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC). At least eleven people – nine soldiers and two civilians – beheaded 23 Aug in attack on checkpoint controlled by Haftar forces in Al-Jufra region south of Sirte; LNA accused Islamic State (ISIS) but no group claimed responsibility. Suicide bomber drove car into LNA checkpoint near town of Nufliya, 130km east of Sirte 31 Aug, killing four members of security forces; ISIS claimed responsibility. Tripoli-based UN-backed Presidency Council 7 Aug condemned LNA siege on Derna for worsening humanitarian situation there. Members of armed group affiliated to govt of PM Serraj 13 Aug kidnapped former PM Ali Zeidan in Tripoli, released him 22 Aug. For first time in months in July number of migrants crossing from Libya to Europe decreased – down to 11,000, 50% less than in July 2016. Militia in Reyaina, north west of Tripoli, late Aug closed pipeline valve, blocking transit of crude oil from oil fields in south west and Hamada region to Zawiya terminal; state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) subsequently declared force majeure at several oil fields and export sites. Uncertainty continued to surround constitution drafting process after court in al-Bayda in east 17 Aug annulled July’s vote by Constitution Drafting Assembly in favour of draft constitution.
The principal gateway into Europe for refugees and migrants runs through the power vacuum in southern Libya’s Fezzan region. Any effort by European policymakers to stabilise Fezzan must be part of a national-level strategy aimed at developing Libya’s licit economy and reaching political normalisation.
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.
Now the problem is that those [political] factions [across Libya] have fragmented internally. It's even more difficult to solicit representative views.
The smuggling business [in Libya] is a business. It’s all about money.
Several members [of the Libyan Presidency Council] think [Faiez al-Serraj] is not fit to lead–that he does not have the knowledge, charisma or decision-making capability.
We are already seeing signs that [attempts by ISIS remnants to influence and win over groups opposed to General Khalifa Haftar in Libya] may have already happened.
The fact Egypt has a free hand to carry out these strikes [in Libya] is a cause of concern for those political and military forces on the ground that are opposing Haftar.
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.
A recent dramatic decrease in migrants reaching Europe may be partly explained by payoffs to armed groups in Libya. In this video, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Libya, Claudia Gazzini, warns of the risks associated with short-term solutions to the flow of migrants reaching Europe through Libya.
Our Senior Analyst Claudia Gazzini travels to southern Libya and finds neglect, smugglers, a gold rush, and simmering tensions among a patchwork of ethnic, tribal and militia actors on the edge of the Sahara Desert. She also discovers much longing for a united, well-governed Libya.
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.
Libyan factions are once again fighting for control of key oil installations in the Gulf of Sirte’s “oil crescent”. The latest offensive risks reducing Libya’s oil production and is undermining efforts to broker a peace deal. In this Q&A Claudia Gazzini, Senior Analyst for Libya, assesses the fallout.