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Libya: Week of chaos a reminder that the country’s still …

This has been much of Libya’s curse since the 2011 unseating of Moammar Gadhafi, but the past week has been a particularly ghastly episode. Militias holding parts of the capital, Tripoli — who are technically loyal to the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) — have been attacked by another armed group known as the 7th Brigade, from Tarhouna, to the capital’s southeast. All sides accuse the other of corruption, and maintain their grip will restore order.

Yet the opposite is obviously proving the case. Militias have been fighting or squabbling, often at a slow-burn rate, for control of parts of the city for years. The distant thump of explosions or intermittent gunfire is far from abnormal across the city’s skyline. But this uptick has led the GNA to denounce the fighting — among militias that are technically loyal to it — and declare a state of emergency.

Ongoing clashes have left at least 47 people dead and more than 140 wounded, a Libyan ambulance official told CNN. Prisoners broke out of a jail during the unrest on Sunday, with local media reporting 400 had escaped, although a GNA official claimed it was just dozens.

Yet this is a smaller part of the wider problem. Nationwide, Libya is split yet again. In the east, General Khalifa Haftar, who decades ago helped Gadhafi’s original coup, has consolidated control around the city of Benghazi. Another militia, the Misrata Brigades, dominate a port to Benghazi’s west.

There are further fiefdoms around the oil-rich nation — Libya has been reduced by the ongoing violence to an economic slump, and people queue for hours outside banks for the most basic of services.

To add to that, ISIS fighters — who gained substantial control around the town of Sirte and along Libya’s massive Mediterranean coastline until a 2015 offensive against them — remain a threat. Only last week, a US airstrike killed an ISIS militant near Bani Walid, the US military said.

In Tripoli, the GNA’s path has been far from straightforward. It first arrived as something of a UN and Western-backed implant, and found itself often restricted to its base in the port. It has since grown in power, and the Libya Dawn faction that formerly controlled much of the capital has stepped back. Yet some of Dawn’s loyalists are said to be assisting the 7th Brigade’s offensive. That old rivalry, too, persists.

If you have kept up, then you may understand the scale of the challenge ahead for UN negotiators as they seek calm, or even a short-term peace. None of this complexity softens the agony for Libya’s people, who have seen their oil-rich dictatorship flounder as the revolution brought the warring rule of the gun rather than a simple switch to elected leaders. Or the plight of the thousands of migrants, who risked all in Africa’s deserts to reach the coastline, but now languish in Libya’s jails.

Nor does it improve the confidence of European leaders who depend upon Libya’s government — and its coastguard — to stop the migrant trade across the Mediterranean.

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October 3, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

World Report 2018: Libya | Human Rights Watch

Political divisions and armed strife continued to plague Libya as two governments vied for legitimacy and control of the country, and United Nations efforts to unify the feuding parties flagged. The UN backs the Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, in the west, but not the rival Interim Government based in the eastern cities of al-Bayda and Benghazi.

Clashes between militias and forces loyal to these governments decimated the economy and public services, including the public health system, law enforcement, and the judiciary, and caused the internal displacement of over 200,000 people.

Armed groups throughout the country, some of them affiliated with one or the other of the competing governments, executed persons extrajudicially, attacked civilians and civilian properties, abducted and disappeared people, and imposed sieges on civilians in the eastern cities of Derna and Benghazi.

The extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) lost control of its Libya capital Sirte in December 2016. In January 2017, remaining ISIS forces in Benghazi fled the city. ISIS-affiliated fighters remained present in areas south of Sirte and Bani Walid.

Most of the more than 200,000 migrants and asylum seekers who reached Europe by sea in 2017 departed in boats from Libya. Migrants and asylum seekers who ended up in detention in Libya faced beatings, extortion, sexual violence, and forced labor in unofficial and quasi state-run detention centers, at the hands of guards, militias, and smugglers. Coast guard forces also beat migrants they intercepted at sea and forced them back to detention centers with inhumane conditions. Between January and November, 2,772 migrants died during perilous boat journeys in the central Mediterranean Sea, most having departed from the Libyan shore.

The GNA struggled to gain authority and control over territory and institutions. Between February and May, militias aligned with it overran positions in Tripoli held by militias that supported a third authority, the Government of National Salvation (GNS).

In the east, Libyan National Army forces (LNA), under the command of General Khalifa Hiftar and allied with the Interim Government, continued to expand control over territory in the east and south. Libyas legislative body, the House of Representatives, remained allied with the LNA and Interim Government, and failed to approve a slate of ministers for the GNA.

In March, the LNA ended its siege of nearly two years on the Benghazi neighborhood of Ganfouda, which fighters of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) had controlled. When LNA forces entered, they committed what appeared to be war crimes, killing civilians and summarily executing and desecrating the bodies of opposition fighters.

On May 18, forces aligned with the GNA, including the Third Force from Misrata, the Benghazi Defense Brigades, and other local units from the south, attacked an LNA airbase at Brak Al-Shati, in the south of the country, summarily executing as many as 51 individuals, most of them LNA fighters captured during the attack.

Clashes between pro- and anti-GNA militias for the control of Tripoli lasted between March and May. Hostilities left many injured and resulted in the deaths of scores of fighters, and some civilians before militias and security forces aligned with the GNA took control of the capital.

Several videos recorded between June 2016 and July 2017 emerged on social media seemingly implicating LNA fighters in summary executions and the desecration of bodies of captured enemy fighters in eastern Libya. On August 15, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Mahmoud al-Werfalli, an LNA commander implicated in these recordings. On August 18, the LNA announced they had arrested al-Werfalli for questioning. As of September, the LNA had not provided any update on the status of the alleged investigation against him.

On August 23, unidentified gunmen beheaded nine LNA fighters and two civilians in an attack on a LNA-controlled checkpoint in al-Jufra region. According to the LNA, ISIS carried out the attack.

In August, the LNA intensified a 14-month siege against the eastern city of Derna, which remained controlled by the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC), an alliance of armed groups that opposed Khalifa Hiftar and the LNA. Local council members, activists, and journalists reported on an impending humanitarian crisis in the city, where the LNA intermittently imposed strict measures that included cutting delivery of cooking gas, food items, and fuel.

On October 4, unidentified armed men including a suicide bomber, attacked a courthouse in Misrata where regular criminal proceedings were taking place, killing at least four and injuring several people. ISIS claimed it carried out the attack.

In October, unidentified forces conducted air strikes in Derna killing 16 civilians, including 12 children. There was no claim for responsibility.

Also in October, armed groups loyal to the LNA appear to have summarily executed 36 men in the LNA-controlled eastern town of al-Abyar.

The criminal justice system has all but collapsed since 2014. Civilian and military courts in the east and south remained mostly shut, while elsewhere they operated at reduced capacity.

Prison authorities, often only nominally under the authority of the ministries of interior, defense, and justice of the two rival governments, continued to hold thousands of detainees in long-term arbitrary detention without charges. Militias that operated their own informal and often-secret detention facilities also held detainees in similar circumstances.

According to the Tripoli-based Judicial Police, the body responsible for managing prisons under the GNA Justice Ministry, 6,400 detainees were held in prisons managed by it in the east, west, and south of the country, of whom only 25 percent had been sentenced for a crime. The rest were held in pre-charge or pretrial detention. The Defense and Interior Ministries of both governments in Libya held an unknown number of detainees, in addition to militia-run secret detention facilities.

Hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children and including non-Libyan nationals, remain held without charge in two prisons in Tripoli and Misrata and in a camp run by the Libyan Red Crescent in Misrata for their apparent link to alleged ISIS fighters, without prospect for release due to their uncertain citizenship status and lack of coordination with countries of origin.

On May 26, The Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, a militia allied with the GNA Interior Ministry, overran the al-Hadba Correctional Facility in Tripoli and transferred from there to another location in Tripoli Gaddafi-era officials detained there, including former intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi, former Prime Minister Abuzaid Dorda, and al-Saadi Gaddafi, a son of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The ICC prosecutor has a mandate to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in Libya since February 15, 2011, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1970.

In April, the ICC unsealed an arrest warrant for Mohamed Khaled al-Tuhamy, a former chief of the Internal Security Agency under Gaddafi, for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 2011 uprising. His whereabouts were unknown at time of writing.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of Gaddafi, continued to be subject to an arrest warrant issued by the ICC to face charges of crimes against humanity. In 2015, the Tripoli Court of Assize sentenced Gaddafi to death in absentia for crimes committed during the 2011 uprising. The Abu Baker al-Siddiq militia in Zintan, which had held him since 2011, reported it released him on June 9, 2017, citing an amnesty law issued passed by Libyas parliament. His release could not be confirmed; independent international observers have not seen or heard from Gaddafi since June 2014.

The death penalty is stipulated in over 30 articles in Libyas penal code, including for acts of speech and association that are protected activities under international human rights law. Civil and military courts around the country have imposed the death penalty since the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, often after trials marred by due process violations. An unknown number of people were sentenced to death by Libyan civil and military courts since 2011, yet no death sentences have been carried out since 2010.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that 217,000 people were internally displaced in Libya as of September. According to the IOM, most displaced people originated from Benghazi, Sirte, Misrata, and Ubari.

Militias and authorities in Misrata continued to prevent 35,000 residents of Tawergha from returning to their homes, despite the announcement on June 19 by the GNA that it had ratified a UN-brokered agreement between them and Tawerghans to end their disputes and allow Tawerghans to return to their homes. Misrata representatives, who accused Tawerghans of having committed serious crimes as supporters of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during the 2011 uprising that ousted him, demanded, as stipulated in the agreement, that the GNA establish a fund to compensate persons who had been detained and the families of victims who went missing or were killed, between February and August 2011. At time of writing, the GNA had yet to establish such a fund, and Misrata forces continued to block displaced families from returning to their homes in Tawergha.

According to the Benghazi municipal council based in exile in Tripoli, approximately 3,700 Benghazi families have been forcibly displaced since 2014 and have sought shelter in the western cities of Tripoli, Misrata, Khoms, and Zliten, after militias affiliated with the LNA threatened them, attacked, burnt or appropriated their homes, and accused them of being terrorists. Authorities in Misrata and Tripoli have detained a number of people displaced from Benghazi, often on dubious terrorism allegations. An additional 9,200 families from Benghazi were internally displaced in western Libya due to the conflict in the east.

Armed groups intimidated, threatened, and physically attacked activists, journalists, bloggers, and media professsionals.

Security forces affiliated with the LNA in Benghazi arrested AFP photographer Abdullah Doma twice within one weekon March 28 and April 2for a day each time. According to Domas family, the arrests were for his coverage of Earth Hour, a global event that took place on March 25 to raise awareness of climate change. Security forces also briefly arrested four of the organizers of the event, slamming it as offensive to Islam for allowing men and women to mix.

In August, members of militias and armed groups in both east and west Libya threatened in phone calls and on social media the contributors and editors of Sun on Closed Windows, a book of essays and fiction, accusing them of immoral content. Militias briefly arrested two participants in the book launch in the city of Zawiyah.

In November, a force affiliated with the GNA Interior Ministry, reportedly arrested participants of a comic book convention in Tripoli under the pretext that it breached the country’s “morals and modesty.”

Since 2011, militias and forces affiliated with several interim authorities, as well as ISIS fighters, have attacked religious minorities, including Sufis and Christians, and destroyed religious sites in Libya with impunity.

In July 2017, the Supreme Fatwa Committee under the General Authority for Endowments and Islamic Affairs, the religious authority of the Interim Government, issued a religious edict calling the minority Ibadi sect of Islam a misguided and aberrant group, and infidels without dignity. The Ibadi faith is practiced by many Amazighs, mostly in western Libya. Amazighs number between 300,000 and 400,000 of Libyas total population of 6.5 million. The GNA responded by condemning the religious edict.

In August, unidentified armed groups in Benghazi reportedly kidnapped or arrested 21 Sufi adherents, a minority Muslim group, at different times and different locations. As of September, none of the 21 had been released.

Libyan law does not specifically criminalize domestic violence. Personal status laws continue to discriminate against women, particularly with respect to marriage, divorce, and inheritance. The penal code allows for a reduced sentence for a man who kills or injures his wife or another female relative because he suspects her of extramarital sexual relations. It also allows rapists to escape prosecution if they marry their victim under article 424.

On February 16, Abdelrazeq al-Nadhouri, chief of staff of the LNA, issued an order requiring women who wished to travel abroad by land, air, or sea to be accompanied by a male guardian. Al-Nadhouri rescinded the order on February 23 after public pressure, and replaced it with another order requiring all men and women ages 18 to 45 to acquire clearance by relevant security agencies ahead of any international travel from east Libya.

The penal code prohibits all sexual acts outside marriage, including same-sex relations, and punishes them with up to five years in prison.

Militias linked with various government authorities in east and west of the country and criminal gangs kidnapped or forcibly disappeared scores of people for political gain, ransom, and extortion. Tripoli-based activist, Jabir Zain, remained missing after an armed group linked to the GNA Interior Ministery abducted him in Tripoli on September 25, 2016. Civil society activist Abdelmoez Banoon and Benghazi prosecutor Abdel-Nasser Al-Jeroushi, both abducted by unidentified groups in 2014, remained missing.

In August, an armed group affiliated with the GNA kidnapped former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan during a visit to Tripoli and released him nine days later.

Libya remained a major hub for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants on their way to Europe. As of November, the IOM recorded over 161,010 arrivals to Europe by sea since January, most of whom departed from Libya. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), at least 2,772 died or went missing while crossing the central Mediterranean route to Europe. As of November, the IOM reported that 348,372 migrants and asylum seekers were present in Libya.

Since 2014, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have filled a deadly gap in maritime rescue operations, patrolling in international waters close to the 12-nautical-mile line that marks Libyan territorial waters the area where over-crowded, unseaworthy boats are most likely to be in need.

Italy and the EU provided training and material support to Libyan coast guard forces to boost their capacity to intercept boats in territorial and international waters and return migrants and asylum seekers to Libyan territory, where many were exposed to physical abuse including beatings, sexual violence, extortion, abduction, harsh detention conditions, and forced labor.

In November, after revelations of alleged slave auctions, Rwanda offered to resettle 30,000 African slaves from Libya.

The Department for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM), which is part of the GNA-aligned Interior Ministry, managed the formal migrant detention centers, while smugglers and traffickers ran informal ones.

The United States announced in September 2016 that it had ended its military campaign against ISIS targets in Libya. In September 2017, the US conducted what it called precision airstrikes against purported ISIS targets south of Sirte. There were no reports of civilian casualties.

In June, the UN Security Council extended an arms embargo on Libya, effective since 2011, for another 12 months. On June 1, the UN Panel of Experts of the Libya Sanctions Committee, established pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1973 (2011), issued its report on human rights abuses, violations of the arms embargo, and misappropriation of funds.

In February, the UN Support Mission to Libya published a report on the 2014 and 2015 trial proceedings against 37 former members of the Gaddafi government who were accused of crimes during the 2011 uprising, concluding that proceedings violated both international fair trial norms and Libyan law.

Members of the European Council met in Malta in February, and pledged to train, equip, and support Libyan coast guard forces, and, together with UNHCR and the IOM, improve reception capacities and conditions for migrants in Libya. The EU pledged a total of 200 million for migration-related projects in Libya to support migrant detention centers and coast guard forces, despite evidence of abuse.

In July, the EU Council extended the mandate of its anti-smuggling naval operation in the central Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, until December 2018. Operation Sophias mandate is to disrupt migrant smugglers and human traffickers, including training Libyan Coastguard and Navy forces, and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo in international waters off Libyas coast.

On July 25, Frances President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting between Libyan leaders Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and General Hiftar in a bid to break the stalemate between them. The meeting resulted in a declaration of principles, mainly to a conditional ceasefire, and plans for future elections.

In September, the EU renewed sanctions for six months against three Libyans seen as threatening the peace, security, and stability of Libya, and obstructive to the implementation of the LPA: Agila Saleh, president of the House of Representatives; Khalifa Ghweil, prime minister of the National Salvation Government; and Nuri Abu Sahmain, president of the self-declared General National Congress.

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Libyas Economic Outlook- April 2017 – World Bank

The lengthy conflict is taking a heavy toll on the Libyan economy and the well-being of the population. Obstructed by the conflict, production of oil, the main source of income in Libya, has been steadily declining over the last 4 years to reach around 0.38 million barrel per day (bpd) in 2016, which is less than 1/4 of pre-revolution levels. As a result, the Libyan economy shrank by an estimated 2.5% in 2016, with estimated real GDP falling to less than half of its pre-revolution level.

The economic outlook assumes that a new functioning government is endorsed this year. In this context, the dynamics in the hydrocarbon sector triggered during the last quarter of 2016 is expected to continue, translating into higher production of oil, which is projected to progressively reach 1 million bpd by end-2017, still rep-resenting only two thirds of potential. On this basis, GDP is projected to increase by 40%. Although improving, the twin deficits will remain, as revenues from oil will not be sufficient to cover high budget expenditures and consumption-driven imports. This should keep the budget deficit at about 18.8% of GDP and the current account deficit at 15.3% of GDP in 2017.

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Libyas Economic Outlook- April 2017 – World Bank

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Libya Home – worldbank.org

The cost of the political conflict has taken a severe toll on the Libyan economy, which has remained in recession for the third consecutive year in 2015. Political strife, weak security conditions, and blockaded oil infrastructures continue to constrain the supply side of the economy. Production of crude oil fell to around 0.4 million barrels per day (bpd) or the fourth of potential. The non-hydrocarb…

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Libya | Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF) International

Libya remains fragmented by conflict and fighting continues in several parts of the country. The breakdown of law and order, the economic collapse and the existence of three governments has had a severe impact on the healthcare system.

Almost all the men, women and children who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea have passed through Libya.

Teams aboard our search and rescue boat have heard accounts of the alarming levels of violence and exploitation people experienced in Libya at the hands of security forces, militias, smuggling networks, and criminal gangs.We run mobile clinics in migrant detention centres located in and around Tripoli.

Medical complaints are mostly related to appalling conditions inside the dangerously overcrowded detention centres: lice, scabies and flees are rife and significant numbers of detainees suffer from nutritional deficiencies and the lack of safe drinking water.

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Libya | U.S. Agency for International Development

About Libya

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports Libyas transition to a democratic and peaceful nation. USAID works with civil society, municipal councils, national government, entrepreneurs, and a range of civil society groups, including those representing women and marginalized communities, in their efforts to improve Libyan lives. These partnerships help improve citizen confidence in Libyas government, both national and local, and support the ongoing democratic transition.

In 2011, the regime of Muammar Qadhafi responded to protests in eastern Libya with violence, leading to a popular revolution that brought his 42-year regime to an end. Three years later, armed conflict broke out after the second parliamentary elections, leading to political divisions and an intense conflict between supporters of parallel state institutions. In this context, USAIDs efforts focus on strengthening the countrys representative governing bodies, independent institutions, and civil society to navigate their transition into a more democratic and prosperous Libya that is capable of utilizing its human, financial and natural resources for the benefit of all Libyans.

USAID Libya Country Profile

Last updated: August 02, 2017

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Libya: Intervention by Invitation – yahoo.com

President Macron appears to be gradually positioning France as a global leader now that Americas President Donald Trump has lapsed into a proto-isolationist grand strategy. The latest example is Libya. With Macrons help, Libyas factional leaders have agreed to hold fresh presidential and parliamentary elections in December, which the United Nations Security Council just endorsed unanimously. However, conditions in Libya remain acutely fragile, with fighting continuing and no current peace agreement in place. With a serious risk of foreign meddling from western adversaries looming in the background, France and its allies risk a mini Syria if they do not act in concert to augment their Libyan stabilization efforts.

Libya is at a crucial crossroads. In some ways, it is closer to the stability that evaporated two years after western intervention overthrew Gaddafi, but in other ways less so as indicated by the recent large-scale bombing in Tripoli. It is incumbent on the allies working with Libyathe U.S., France, Italy, and the UAE to rid the country of extremism. Furthermore, the allies must band together to persuade the various Libyan parties to agree to a new UN-backed power-sharing agreement. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) also need to move forward on the delayed deployments of civilian stability operations Libya has requested. Additionally, all concerned parties need to prevent Russia from intervening further to the detriment of Libyas security.

The main sticking point in the negotiations over the UN Special Representatives power-sharing proposal is whether the Defense Minister position should be held by a civilian or whether a general could hold it. There is widespread expectation that General Haftar, leader of the so-called Libya National Army (LNA), would take up the position after the agreement of a deal. Haftar has just returned from a stint in a French hospital, and he wasted no time in harshly criticizing the coming election. While the UN has made considerable progress in the past six months, different Libyan factions continue to engage each other militarily, imperiling the likelihood of an agreement that will be adhered to by all parties.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj leads the Government of National Accord (GNA), but at the moment Libya has been suffering through a triad of mid-level instability. First there is the presence of ISIS in Sirte, second an attempt by the LNA to take the country by force in the east, and third the political instability that features rival parliaments in Tripoli and Benghazi. For some time it appeared as if Haftar and the LNA were likely to be successful in their drive to overtake the whole of the country, but more recently the GNA and its allies have made modest gains, while several militias previously loyal to Haftar no longer are. In part because of this, there is a legitimate window of opportunity for a successful power-sharing agreement to be reached at the behest of the dogged UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Ghassan Salame.

At a time when the Trump Administration appears to have taken its eye off the ball in Libya, Russia has ramped up its intervention in Libya. Moscow has undertaken a full-fledged backing of Haftars forces in an attempt even to replace the UN as the broker among the various parties. This Russian intervention has all staged from a Russian base in western Egypt where special forces and military advisors are deployed. Russian efforts have even recently moved more into the open, including a port of call from a Russian aircraft carrier that gave Haftar a ceremony and a secure phone call with the Russian Defense Minister. Yet there is still ample time for NATO and the EU to upgrade their efforts to aid the GNA, in particular now that Italy has committed troops to help stem refugee flows from Libyas coastal areas.

NATO and the EU have been formally requested by Libya to mount civilian stabilization operations, and both have accepted and committed informally to coordinating their operations. However, in part because of Libyan instability and in part because of Europes keen focus on the Libyan refugee situation, neither the EU nor NATO has fully deployed their operations. European governments have been consumed with viewing Libya through the refugee prism, understandably in part due to the incipient challenge of integrating refugees in their societies and the acute domestic political fallout.

However, it is imperative for the EU and NATO to move forward. It is critical to get their deployments in ahead of any deeper Russian incursion, or a renewed threat from the LNA. Doing so will augment the UNs sharpened lead approach, as well as help to prevent refugees from migrating en masse to Europe. The imperative for action has grown with the stalled UN attempt to broker greater stability and with the U.S. appearing to sit this simmering crisis out.

The best hope the UN has to achieve even a marginal degree of stability is for the EU and NATO operations to proceed. This is because such operations would have a timely impact in helping the UN create more sustained stability. In essence, the western powers should be playing a more prominent role in notoriously unstable Libya because at this moment there is a legitimate opportunity to turn the corner in a more stable direction. This is also important because although some observers have called for Egypt to play a prominent role alongside the western tandem, this is less advisable in light of how closely Egypt is now working with Russia.

Libyan leaders have spent the last several years sparring, politically and militarily, but lately, there has been sustained talk of a basis on which to come together and unify the disparate parts of Libya. For example, the large-scale Tripoli bombing aside, there has been measurable progress in registering Libyans for the next national election with over 2.5 million Libyans registered. Moreover, the U.N.-backed GNA government and the central bank in Tripoli have just agreed on public spending of 42 billion Libyan dinars ($31 billion) for 2018, an increase from 37 billion last year.

For its part, the UN views this embryonic stability as a critical juncture and has re-launched an updated version of its efforts to broker stability among the competing factions in Libya. Thus far, the most important actors on the ground have positively received the initiative, although Haftar recently commented that the UN-backed government was now void and expired. In fact, technically speaking this is true, for the formal mandate has expired, thereby galvanizing the UN into active mode to get a new agreement in place for the GNA.

The most compelling question in this context is whether General Haftar of the east-based LNA will compromise with the UN and the West-backed GNA, and in particular whether he will accept a civilian defense role as opposed to a military one. Recently he has swung between being supportive of the diplomatic path being spearheaded by the UN SRSG and rejecting it. With the EU and NATO operations in place and joining the UN to form a kind of UN-led triumvirate, Haftar is more likely to compromise and consent to becoming a civilian defense minister.

Over the past several years the Libyans have repeatedly made formal requests of NATO and the EU to mount civilian stabilization operations in Libya, and both organizations now need to accede to these requests and set near-term dates taking action. For example, while the EU has approved both, they have been slow in proceeding toward full deployment. In addition, although technically the EU mission exists, it is not even headquartered inside Libya.

One of the most important reasons for the West to get its collective act together is to secure a solid western operational foothold ahead of any additional moves by Russia. The danger is that Russia has gradually been consolidating its position for months now. Also, Russia has been courting Haftar for the past year, by hosting him in Moscow and directly funding the LNA in addition to also supplying it with weapons and logistics assistance.

Western civilian operations in Libya also represent a compelling opportunity for the EU and NATO not only to coordinate their operations, but actually to go so far as to engage in joint planning and fully conjoinedas opposed to merely complementaryoperations on the ground. These two pivotal overlapping western security organizations have recently been attempting to overcome their long-running tensions and jealousies. For example, staff to staff meetings in Brussels have been making marked progress in working together both in Brussels and in the field. In fact, a broad contingent of current and former EU and NATO officials believe Libya amounts to an important test case for deploying conjoined operations.

But by far the most crucial reason for western operations to be deployed forthwith in Libya is to shore up the tentative progress the UN is making for establishing a new unity government. According to conventional wisdom, Libya has been an unstable basket case ever since the NATO operation removed the Qaddafi regime during President Obama’s first term in 2011. In reality, there were over two years of relative stability. However, gradually an eventually acute problem metastasized with no actor ever figuring out how to deal with the strong presence of well-armed militias in Libya. Over time, those militias gradually achieved superiority over the politicians in Tripoli.

It was not until the summer of 2014 that Libya descended into full-fledged instability and actual civil war. Things remained relatively unstable until the UN managed to stand up the GNA government in 2017. President Obama has described the failure to follow up the air campaign and Gaddafis removal with a post-conflict stability operation as the worst mistake of his presidency. However, this failure was also Europes for there were European leaders who had to be prodded by America into supporting a European stability operation in Libya. The U.S. push for this Germany-spearheaded effort was viewed as the price to be paid for Germany having abstained on the UN Security Council resolution that gave legitimacy to the allied intervention in Libya. However, the EU was unable to achieve the consensus required to move forward, and as a result, Libyas descent ensued.

Although NATO and EU civilian operations have been delayed, there is a general understanding of what the overlapping EU and NATO missions should comprise, both in Brussels and in Tripoli. NATO could deal more with training the military and aiding in securing Libyas borders, while the EU could zero in on training the police and paramilitary forces. The EU could also focus its efforts on Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sirte through Rule of Law capacity building with the GNA government. Two imperatives are essential here, first, that both civilian operations should be conjoined (i.e., jointly planned and operated by NATO and the EU) and, second, that both operations should be implemented in sync with the overall leadership of the UN and its Special Representative. Again, the necessity of these operations to provide crucial assistance to the UNs efforts to broker a new government agreement cannot be overstated.

Libya also features in the newfound hot peace between Russia and the West, with Russia systematically intervening around the globe to the detriment of the western security alliance. Most recently, Russia has harmed core U.S. national security interests by bombing the U.S.-backed moderate rebel forces in Syria, thereby allowing President Assad to retain power and steadily retake territory with the help of Iran. Russia likely sees in Libya a chance to weaponize additional refugees for the further destabilization of Europe.

It has been unhelpful that Europeans have been overly focused on stemming the tide of refugees from Libyas shores. Surprisingly, the EU even flirted with the idea of reaching out to Russia to assess if Russia could be helpful to the EU with reducing the migrant flow to Europe. It is not entirely clear why High Representative Mogherini broached this topic in recent months, for this would play right into Putins hands and bring Russian malfeasance into the Libyan theater sooner and with greater confidence.

In conclusion, stability in Libya is worth expending considerable western operational capital, as the price of instability would be ISISs return, greater refugee flows, further populism in Europe, and the realistic prospect of a second Syria.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Stacey was a State Department official in the Obama Administration. Author of Integrating Europe by Oxford University Press, Stacey is an international development consultant residing in Washington, D.C.

Image:Anti-Gaddafi fighters fire a multiple rocket launcher near Sirte, one of Muammar Gaddafi’s last remaining strongholds, September 24, 2011. Libyan provisional government forces backed by NATO warplanes swarmed into the city of Sirte on Saturday but weathered heavy sniper fire as they tried to win control of one of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi’s last bastions of support. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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Libya – History | Britannica.com

This discussion focuses on Libya since the 18th century. For a treatment of earlier periods and of the country in its regional context, see North Africa.

Largely desert with some limited potential for urban and sedentary life in the northwest and northeast, Libya has historically never been heavily populated or a power centre. Like that of its neighbour Algeria, Libyas very name is a neologism, created by the conquering Italians early in the 20th century. Also like that of Algeria, much of Libyas earlier historynot only in the Islamic period but even beforereveals that both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were more closely linked with neighbouring territories Tunisia and Egypt, respectively, than with each other. Even during the Ottoman era, the country was divided into two parts, one linked to Tripoli in the west and the other to Banghz in the east.

Libya thus owes its present unity as a state less to earlier history or geographic characteristics than to several recent factors: the unifying effect of the Sansiyyah movement since the 19th century; Italian colonialism from 1911 until after World War II; an early independence by default, since the great powers could agree on no other solution; and the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in the late 1950s. Yet the Sansiyyah is based largely in the eastern region of Cyrenaica and has never really penetrated the more populous northwestern region of Tripolitania. Italian colonization was brief and brutal. Moreover, most of the hard-earned gains in infrastructure implanted in the colonial period were destroyed by contending armies during World War II. Sudden oil wealth has been both a boon and a curse as changes to the political and social fabric, as well as to the economy, have accelerated. This difficult legacy of disparate elements and forces helps to explain the unique character of present-day Libya.

The future of Libya gave rise to long discussions after the war. In view of the contribution to the fighting made by a volunteer Sans force, the British foreign minister pledged in 1942 that the Sanss would not again be subjected to Italian rule. During the discussions, which lasted four years, suggestions included an Italian trusteeship, a United Nations (UN) trusteeship, a Soviet mandate for Tripolitania, and various compromises. Finally, in November 1949, the UN General Assembly voted that Libya should become a united and independent kingdom no later than January 1, 1952.

A constitution creating a federal state with a separate parliament for each province was drawn up, and the pro-British head of the Sansiyyah, Sd Muammad Idrs al-Mahd al-Sans, was chosen king by a national assembly in 1950. On December 24, 1951, King Idris I declared the country independent. Political parties were prohibited, and the kings authority was sovereign. Though not themselves Sanss, the Tripolitanians accepted the monarchy largely in order to profit from the British promise that the Sanss would not again be subjected to Italian rule. King Idris, however, showed a marked preference for living in Cyrenaica, where he built a new capital on the site of the Sans zwiyah at Al-Bay. Though Libya joined the Arab League in 1953 and in 1956 refused British troops permission to land during the Suez Crisis, the government in general adopted a pro-Western position in international affairs.

With the discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959, Libya changed abruptly from being dependent on international aid and the rent from U.S. and British air bases to being an oil-rich monarchy. Major petroleum deposits in both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica ensured the country income on a vast scale. The discovery was followed by an enormous expansion in all government services, massive construction projects, and a corresponding rise in the economic standard and the cost of living.

Precipitated by the kings failure to speak out against Israel during the June War (1967), a coup was carried out on September 1, 1969, by a group of young army officers led by Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi, who deposed the king and proclaimed Libya a republic. The new regime, passionately Pan-Arab, broke the monarchys close ties to Britain and the United States and also began an assertive policy that led to higher oil prices along with 51 percent Libyan participation in oil company activities and, in some cases, outright nationalization.

Equally assertive in plans for Arab unity, Libya obtained at least the formal beginnings of unity with Egypt, Sudan, and Tunisia, but these and other such plans failed as differences arose between the governments concerned. Qaddafis Libya supported the Palestinian cause and intervened to support it, as well as other guerrilla and revolutionary organizations in Africa and the Middle East. Such moves alienated the Western countries and some Arab states. In JulyAugust 1977 hostilities broke out between Libya and Egypt, and, as a result, many Egyptians working in Libya were expelled. Indeed, despite expressed concern for Arab unity, the regimes relations with most Arab countries deteriorated. Qaddafi signed a treaty of union with Moroccos King Hassan II in August 1984, but Hassan abrogated the treaty two years later.

The regime, under Qaddafis ideological guidance, continued to introduce innovations. On March 2, 1977, the General Peoples Congress declared that Libya was to be known as the Peoples Socialist Libyan Arab Jamhriyyah (the latter term is a neologism meaning government through the masses). By the early 1980s, however, a drop in the demand and price for oil on the world market was beginning to hamper Qaddafis efforts to play a strong regional role. Ambitious efforts to radically change Libyas economy and society slowed, and there were signs of domestic discontent. Libyan opposition movements launched sporadic attacks against Qaddafi and his military supporters but met with arrest and execution.

Libyas relationship with the United States, which had been an important trading partner, deteriorated in the early 1980s as the U.S. government increasingly protested Qaddafis support of Palestinian Arab militants. An escalating series of retaliatory trade restrictions and military skirmishes culminated in a U.S. bombing raid of Tripoli and Banghz in 1986, in which Qaddafis adopted daughter was among the casualties. U.S. claims that Libya was producing chemical warfare materials contributed to the tension between the two countries in the late 1980s and the 90s.

Within the region, Libya sought throughout the 1970s and 80s to control the mineral-rich Aozou Strip, along the disputed border with neighbouring Chad. These efforts produced intermittent warfare in Chad and confrontation with both France and the United States. In 1987 Libyan forces were bested by Chads more mobile troops, and diplomatic ties with that country were restored late the following year. Libya denied involvement in Chads December 1990 coup led by Idriss Dby (see Chad: Civil war).

In 1996 the United States and the UN implemented a series of economic sanctions against Libya for its purported involvement in destroying a civilian airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. In the late 1990s, in an effort to placate the international community, Libya turned over the alleged perpetrators of the bombing to international authorities and accepted a ruling by the international court in The Hague stating that the contested Aozou territory along the border with Chad belonged to that country and not to Libya. The United Kingdom restored diplomatic relations with Libya at the end of the decade, and UN sanctions were lifted in 2003; later that year Libya announced that it would stop producing chemical weapons. The United States responded by dropping most of its sanctions, and the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the two countries was completed in 2006. In 2007 five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who had been sentenced to death in Libya after being tried on charges of having deliberately infected children there with HIV were extradited to Bulgaria and quickly pardoned by its president, defusing widespread outcry over the case and preventing the situation from posing an obstacle to Libyas return to the international community.

In the years that followed the lifting of sanctions, one of Qaddafis sons, Sayf al-Islam al-Qaddafi, emerged as a proponent of reform and helped lead Libya toward adjustments in its domestic and foreign policy. Measures including efforts to attract Western business and plans to foster tourism promised to gradually draw Libya more substantially into the global community.

In February 2011, in the midst of a wave of popular demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa, antigovernment rallies were held in Banghz by protesters angered by the arrest of a human rights lawyer, Fethi Tarbel. Libyan security forces used water cannons and live fire against the crowds, resulting in a number of injuries and deaths.

As protests intensified, with demonstrators taking control of Banghz and unrest spreading to Tripoli and other areas of the country, the security forces and squads of mercenaries loyal to the government began to use lethal force freely, firing indiscriminately into crowds. The regime restricted communications, blocking the Internet and interrupting telephone service throughout the country. On February 21 one of Qaddafis sons, Sayf al-Islam, gave a defiant address on state television, blaming outside agitators for the unrest and saying that further demonstrations could lead to civil war in the country. He vowed that the regime would fight to the last bullet. The next day Muammar al-Qaddafi delivered an angry rambling speech on state television, condemning the protesters as traitors and calling on his supporters to fight them.

The governments use of violence against civilians drew condemnation from foreign leaders and human rights organizations. It also seemed to damage the coherence of the regime, causing a number of high-level officials to resign in protest. A number of Libyan embassies around the world signaled their support for the uprising by flying Libyas pre-Qaddafi flag.

Within days of the first protests, the anti-Qaddafi movement began to evolve into an armed rebellion as demonstrators acquired weapons from abandoned government arms depots. By late February, rebel forces had expelled most pro-Qaddafi troops from the eastern portion of Libya, including the city of Banghz, and from many western cities. The Libyan-Egyptian border was opened, allowing foreign journalists into the country for the first time since the conflict began. Pro-Qaddafi paramilitary units continued to hold the city of Tripoli, where Qaddafi and his inner circle remained.

International pressure for Qaddafi to step down gradually increased. On February 26 the UN Security Council unanimously approved a measure that included sanctions against the Qaddafi regime, imposing a travel ban and an arms embargo and freezing the Qaddafi familys assets. The measure also referred the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The United States, the European Union, and a number of other countries also imposed sanctions.

A rebel leadership council emerged in Banghz in early March. Known as the Transitional National Council (TNC), it declared that its aims would be to act as the rebellions military leadership and as the representative of the Libyan opposition, provide services in rebel-held areas, and guide the countrys transition to democratic government.

In the weeks that followed, the conflict appeared to enter a stalemate and then to tilt in Qaddafis favour. Despite the rebels impressive gains in February, the Qaddafi regime still controlled enough soldiers and weapons to hold Tripoli and to stage fresh ground and air assaults which rebel fighters struggled to repel. Most fighting took place in the towns around Tripoli and in the central coastal region, where rebels and Qaddafi loyalists battled for control of the oil-export terminals on the Gulf of Sidra.

The international community continued to debate possible diplomatic and military intervention in the conflict. Countries worked to establish contact with the TNC and in some cases began to recognize it as Libyas legitimate government. At an emergency summit on March 11 the European Union unanimously called for Qaddafi to step down. However, the international community remained divided over the possibility of military intervention. Some countries, including France and the United Kingdom, sought the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya to protect rebels and civilians from air attacks, while others, including the United States and Germany, expressed reservations, emphasizing the need for broad international consensus and warning against possible unforeseen consequences of military intervention. The African Union (AU) rejected any military intervention, asserting that the crisis should be resolved through negotiations, whereas the Arab League passed a resolution on March 13 calling on the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

On March 15 Qaddafi loyalists captured the eastern city of Ajdbiy, the last large rebel-held city on the route to Banghz. As they advanced on the remaining rebel positions in Banghz and Tobruk in the east and Mirtah in the west, the UN Security Council voted on March 17 to authorize military action, including a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians. Beginning on March 19, an international coalition led by the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom began to carry out air and missile strikes to disable Libyas air force and air defense systems so the no-fly zone could be imposed. Coalition missiles also struck buildings in a compound used by Qaddafi as a command centre.

Within a week Libyas air force and air defenses were out of commission. However, heavy fighting continued on the ground. Pro-Qaddafi units massed around the rebel-held city of Mirtah and the contested city of Ajdbiy, shelling both and causing significant civilian casualties. Attacks by coalition warplanes soon weakened pro-Qaddafi ground forces in eastern Libya, allowing rebels to advance and retake Ajdbiy, Marsa el-Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Bin Jawwad.

On March 27 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officially took over command of military operations in Libya from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The handover came after several days of debate among NATO countries over the limits of international military intervention; several countries argued that the coalitions aggressive targeting of pro-Qaddafi ground forces had exceeded the mandate set by the UN Security Council to protect civilians.

By April the conflict seemed to have returned to a stalemate; Qaddafis troops, though weakened by the coalition assault, still appeared strong enough to prevent the disorganized and poorly equipped rebels from achieving decisive victories. Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis intensified, with an AU delegation traveling to Tripoli on April 10 to present a cease-fire plan that was quickly rejected by both sides.

On April 30 a NATO air strike on a house in Qaddafis compound in Tripoli killed Qaddafis youngest son, Sayf al-Arab, along with three of Qaddafis grandchildren. Qaddafi was present at the site of the strike but avoided injury. More strikes in early May targeted government buildings associated with Qaddafi and Libyas senior military leadership, but NATO representatives denied claims that NATO had adopted a strategy of trying to kill Qaddafi and other high-ranking Libyan officials.

International pressure on Qaddafi continued to build. The ICC, which in early March had opened an investigation into alleged war crimes by members of the Qaddafi regime, announced on May 16 that it would seek arrest warrants against Qaddafi, his son Sayf al-Islam, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah Senussi, for ordering attacks on civilians in Libya.

In August 2011 rebel forces advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli, taking control of strategic areas, including the city of Zwiyah, the site of one of Libyas largest oil refineries. Rebels soon advanced into Tripoli, taking over some areas of the capital on August 22. The next day, rebel forces established control over most of the city and captured the Bb al-Azziyyah compound, Qaddafis headquarters. Rebels raised Libyas pre-Qaddafi flag over the compound while jubilant crowds destroyed symbols of Qaddafi, whose whereabouts were unknown.

By early September rebel forces had solidified their control of Tripoli, and the TNC began to transfer its operations to the capital. Qaddafi remained in hiding, occasionally issuing defiant audio messages. In the few remaining cities under loyalist control, rebels attempted to negotiate with loyalist commanders to surrender and avoid a bloody ground assault. In late September rebel forces began to advance into Ban Wald and Surt, the two remaining strongholds of Qaddafi loyalists. On October 20 Qaddafi was captured and killed in Surt by rebel fighters.

(For coverage of unrest in Libya in 2011 and the aftermath in 2012, see Libya Revolt of 2011.)

The TNC struggled to establish a functional government and exert its authority in the months that followed the fall of the Qaddafi regime. Local rebel militias that had fought autonomously during the uprising, especially those in western Libya, were reluctant to submit to an interim government formed in eastern Libya with little input from the rest of the country and were suspicious of some TNC officials past ties to the Qaddafi regime. The militias refused to disarm, and skirmishes between rival militias became commonplace.

Elections to choose the members of a 200-seat assembly, the General National Congress (GNC), were held in July 2012 in spite of occasional outbursts of violence caused by local and regional power struggles. The National Forces Alliance, a secular party led by Mahmoud Jibril, a former TNC official and interim prime minister, won the largest number of seats.

New concerns about Libyas stability arose in September 2012 when members of the militant Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia launched a surprise attack on the U.S. consulate in Banghz, killing four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

Within the GNC there were disputes over the assemblys functions and mandate, and boycotts threatened its overall viability. The divisions between armed groups continued to deepenwith steadily increasing bloodshedas the central government proved unable to control even those that were nominally aligned with government ministries. In an episode that seemed to encapsulate the disordered state of Libyan politics, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was briefly kidnapped in October 2013 by militia members aligned with the ministries of defense and the interior. He was quickly released unharmed.

Groups also sought to exact concessions from the central government by disrupting oil production, its main source of revenue. Strikes by disgruntled oil workers caused fluctuations in production in early 2013. Later in the year, a militia commanded by Ibrahim Jathran, a former rebel commander, seized several oil terminals and demanded greater autonomy and a greater share of oil revenues for eastern Libya. Jathrans attempts to sell oil independently from the central government were thwarted in 2014 when the U.S. Navy seized a tanker carrying oil from one of the ports under his control, and he was ultimately forced to relinquish the oil facilities he held. Attacks on oil infrastructure by a variety of armed groups continued, however, and oil revenues fluctuated accordingly.

In May 2014 Khalifah Haftar, a general acting without authorization from the central government, led forces under his control in a campaign dubbed Operation Dignity against Islamists and other groups aligned with Islamists in eastern Libya. Haftar also condemned the GNC as dominated by Islamists, and fighters loyal to him made an unsuccessful attempt to seize the parliament building in Tripoli in May.

In June a new national assembly was elected to replace the GNC, whose 18-month mandate had officially expired in February. Security concerns and voter disillusionment held turnout to less than 20 percent. The election delivered a resounding victory for liberal and secular candidates, although the viability of the new assembly, called the House of Representatives, remained uncertain.

The emergence of Haftars Operation Dignity had the effect of heightening polarization between Islamist-aligned and non-Islamist forces, pushing the country closer to a new civil war. In western Libya a coalition of armed groups opposed to Haftars Operation Dignity began to appear in mid-2014. Operating under the name Libya Dawn, the new coalition was largely Islamist in orientation, and it rejected the authority of the newly elected House of Representatives in favour of the outgoing GNC. In August, with the backing of Libya Dawn militias, members of the GNC convened in Tripoli and declared themselves the legitimate national assembly of Libya. The House of Representatives, meanwhile, convened in the eastern city of Tobruk under the protection of Haftars troops.

The absence of central authority in Libya created an opening there for the militant extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Fighters from the groups core territories in Iraq and Syria began to arrive in early 2014, and by the summer of 2015 the group had taken control of the central coastal city of Surt. In 2016 a coalition of western militias confronted ISIL with the help of U.S. air support, dislodging them from Surt and the surrounding area. ISIL fighters remained active, though, operating scattered small desert camps and staging occasional attacks.

In December 2015, delegates from Libyas rival factions signed a UN-brokered power-sharing agreement in Skhirat, Morocco, establishing a Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by a prime minister and a nine-member presidency council drawn from constituencies and factions throughout the country. Although the GNA received recognition from the UN Security Council as the legitimate government of Libya, it struggled to consolidate its authority in both the eastern and western halves of the country. In the east the House of Representatives, aligned with the forces of General Haftar, refused to endorse the GNAs proposed ministerial appointments, and in the west the GNA met with resistance from GNC-associated factions.

In September 2017 the UN Support Mission in Libya announced an effort to amend the 2015 agreement, with the goal of creating a workable arrangement for sharing power between the opposing factions. By the end of the year, though, prospects for an agreement looked dim, especially after Haftar gave a speech in December in which he dismissed the legitimacy of the GNA and hinted that he would seek the Libyan presidency for himself.

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Libya 2018: Best of Libya Tourism – TripAdvisor

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Libya: Week of chaos a reminder that the country’s still …

This has been much of Libya’s curse since the 2011 unseating of Moammar Gadhafi, but the past week has been a particularly ghastly episode. Militias holding parts of the capital, Tripoli — who are technically loyal to the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) — have been attacked by another armed group known as the 7th Brigade, from Tarhouna, to the capital’s southeast. All sides accuse the other of corruption, and maintain their grip will restore order. Yet the opposite is obviously proving the case. Militias have been fighting or squabbling, often at a slow-burn rate, for control of parts of the city for years. The distant thump of explosions or intermittent gunfire is far from abnormal across the city’s skyline. But this uptick has led the GNA to denounce the fighting — among militias that are technically loyal to it — and declare a state of emergency. Ongoing clashes have left at least 47 people dead and more than 140 wounded, a Libyan ambulance official told CNN. Prisoners broke out of a jail during the unrest on Sunday, with local media reporting 400 had escaped, although a GNA official claimed it was just dozens. Yet this is a smaller part of the wider problem. Nationwide, Libya is split yet again. In the east, General Khalifa Haftar, who decades ago helped Gadhafi’s original coup, has consolidated control around the city of Benghazi. Another militia, the Misrata Brigades, dominate a port to Benghazi’s west. There are further fiefdoms around the oil-rich nation — Libya has been reduced by the ongoing violence to an economic slump, and people queue for hours outside banks for the most basic of services. To add to that, ISIS fighters — who gained substantial control around the town of Sirte and along Libya’s massive Mediterranean coastline until a 2015 offensive against them — remain a threat. Only last week, a US airstrike killed an ISIS militant near Bani Walid, the US military said. In Tripoli, the GNA’s path has been far from straightforward. It first arrived as something of a UN and Western-backed implant, and found itself often restricted to its base in the port. It has since grown in power, and the Libya Dawn faction that formerly controlled much of the capital has stepped back. Yet some of Dawn’s loyalists are said to be assisting the 7th Brigade’s offensive. That old rivalry, too, persists. If you have kept up, then you may understand the scale of the challenge ahead for UN negotiators as they seek calm, or even a short-term peace. None of this complexity softens the agony for Libya’s people, who have seen their oil-rich dictatorship flounder as the revolution brought the warring rule of the gun rather than a simple switch to elected leaders. Or the plight of the thousands of migrants, who risked all in Africa’s deserts to reach the coastline, but now languish in Libya’s jails. Nor does it improve the confidence of European leaders who depend upon Libya’s government — and its coastguard — to stop the migrant trade across the Mediterranean.

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World Report 2018: Libya | Human Rights Watch

Political divisions and armed strife continued to plague Libya as two governments vied for legitimacy and control of the country, and United Nations efforts to unify the feuding parties flagged. The UN backs the Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, in the west, but not the rival Interim Government based in the eastern cities of al-Bayda and Benghazi. Clashes between militias and forces loyal to these governments decimated the economy and public services, including the public health system, law enforcement, and the judiciary, and caused the internal displacement of over 200,000 people. Armed groups throughout the country, some of them affiliated with one or the other of the competing governments, executed persons extrajudicially, attacked civilians and civilian properties, abducted and disappeared people, and imposed sieges on civilians in the eastern cities of Derna and Benghazi. The extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) lost control of its Libya capital Sirte in December 2016. In January 2017, remaining ISIS forces in Benghazi fled the city. ISIS-affiliated fighters remained present in areas south of Sirte and Bani Walid. Most of the more than 200,000 migrants and asylum seekers who reached Europe by sea in 2017 departed in boats from Libya. Migrants and asylum seekers who ended up in detention in Libya faced beatings, extortion, sexual violence, and forced labor in unofficial and quasi state-run detention centers, at the hands of guards, militias, and smugglers. Coast guard forces also beat migrants they intercepted at sea and forced them back to detention centers with inhumane conditions. Between January and November, 2,772 migrants died during perilous boat journeys in the central Mediterranean Sea, most having departed from the Libyan shore. The GNA struggled to gain authority and control over territory and institutions. Between February and May, militias aligned with it overran positions in Tripoli held by militias that supported a third authority, the Government of National Salvation (GNS). In the east, Libyan National Army forces (LNA), under the command of General Khalifa Hiftar and allied with the Interim Government, continued to expand control over territory in the east and south. Libyas legislative body, the House of Representatives, remained allied with the LNA and Interim Government, and failed to approve a slate of ministers for the GNA. In March, the LNA ended its siege of nearly two years on the Benghazi neighborhood of Ganfouda, which fighters of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) had controlled. When LNA forces entered, they committed what appeared to be war crimes, killing civilians and summarily executing and desecrating the bodies of opposition fighters. On May 18, forces aligned with the GNA, including the Third Force from Misrata, the Benghazi Defense Brigades, and other local units from the south, attacked an LNA airbase at Brak Al-Shati, in the south of the country, summarily executing as many as 51 individuals, most of them LNA fighters captured during the attack. Clashes between pro- and anti-GNA militias for the control of Tripoli lasted between March and May. Hostilities left many injured and resulted in the deaths of scores of fighters, and some civilians before militias and security forces aligned with the GNA took control of the capital. Several videos recorded between June 2016 and July 2017 emerged on social media seemingly implicating LNA fighters in summary executions and the desecration of bodies of captured enemy fighters in eastern Libya. On August 15, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Mahmoud al-Werfalli, an LNA commander implicated in these recordings. On August 18, the LNA announced they had arrested al-Werfalli for questioning. As of September, the LNA had not provided any update on the status of the alleged investigation against him. On August 23, unidentified gunmen beheaded nine LNA fighters and two civilians in an attack on a LNA-controlled checkpoint in al-Jufra region. According to the LNA, ISIS carried out the attack. In August, the LNA intensified a 14-month siege against the eastern city of Derna, which remained controlled by the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC), an alliance of armed groups that opposed Khalifa Hiftar and the LNA. Local council members, activists, and journalists reported on an impending humanitarian crisis in the city, where the LNA intermittently imposed strict measures that included cutting delivery of cooking gas, food items, and fuel. On October 4, unidentified armed men including a suicide bomber, attacked a courthouse in Misrata where regular criminal proceedings were taking place, killing at least four and injuring several people. ISIS claimed it carried out the attack. In October, unidentified forces conducted air strikes in Derna killing 16 civilians, including 12 children. There was no claim for responsibility. Also in October, armed groups loyal to the LNA appear to have summarily executed 36 men in the LNA-controlled eastern town of al-Abyar. The criminal justice system has all but collapsed since 2014. Civilian and military courts in the east and south remained mostly shut, while elsewhere they operated at reduced capacity. Prison authorities, often only nominally under the authority of the ministries of interior, defense, and justice of the two rival governments, continued to hold thousands of detainees in long-term arbitrary detention without charges. Militias that operated their own informal and often-secret detention facilities also held detainees in similar circumstances. According to the Tripoli-based Judicial Police, the body responsible for managing prisons under the GNA Justice Ministry, 6,400 detainees were held in prisons managed by it in the east, west, and south of the country, of whom only 25 percent had been sentenced for a crime. The rest were held in pre-charge or pretrial detention. The Defense and Interior Ministries of both governments in Libya held an unknown number of detainees, in addition to militia-run secret detention facilities. Hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children and including non-Libyan nationals, remain held without charge in two prisons in Tripoli and Misrata and in a camp run by the Libyan Red Crescent in Misrata for their apparent link to alleged ISIS fighters, without prospect for release due to their uncertain citizenship status and lack of coordination with countries of origin. On May 26, The Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, a militia allied with the GNA Interior Ministry, overran the al-Hadba Correctional Facility in Tripoli and transferred from there to another location in Tripoli Gaddafi-era officials detained there, including former intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi, former Prime Minister Abuzaid Dorda, and al-Saadi Gaddafi, a son of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The ICC prosecutor has a mandate to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in Libya since February 15, 2011, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1970. In April, the ICC unsealed an arrest warrant for Mohamed Khaled al-Tuhamy, a former chief of the Internal Security Agency under Gaddafi, for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 2011 uprising. His whereabouts were unknown at time of writing. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of Gaddafi, continued to be subject to an arrest warrant issued by the ICC to face charges of crimes against humanity. In 2015, the Tripoli Court of Assize sentenced Gaddafi to death in absentia for crimes committed during the 2011 uprising. The Abu Baker al-Siddiq militia in Zintan, which had held him since 2011, reported it released him on June 9, 2017, citing an amnesty law issued passed by Libyas parliament. His release could not be confirmed; independent international observers have not seen or heard from Gaddafi since June 2014. The death penalty is stipulated in over 30 articles in Libyas penal code, including for acts of speech and association that are protected activities under international human rights law. Civil and military courts around the country have imposed the death penalty since the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, often after trials marred by due process violations. An unknown number of people were sentenced to death by Libyan civil and military courts since 2011, yet no death sentences have been carried out since 2010. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that 217,000 people were internally displaced in Libya as of September. According to the IOM, most displaced people originated from Benghazi, Sirte, Misrata, and Ubari. Militias and authorities in Misrata continued to prevent 35,000 residents of Tawergha from returning to their homes, despite the announcement on June 19 by the GNA that it had ratified a UN-brokered agreement between them and Tawerghans to end their disputes and allow Tawerghans to return to their homes. Misrata representatives, who accused Tawerghans of having committed serious crimes as supporters of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during the 2011 uprising that ousted him, demanded, as stipulated in the agreement, that the GNA establish a fund to compensate persons who had been detained and the families of victims who went missing or were killed, between February and August 2011. At time of writing, the GNA had yet to establish such a fund, and Misrata forces continued to block displaced families from returning to their homes in Tawergha. According to the Benghazi municipal council based in exile in Tripoli, approximately 3,700 Benghazi families have been forcibly displaced since 2014 and have sought shelter in the western cities of Tripoli, Misrata, Khoms, and Zliten, after militias affiliated with the LNA threatened them, attacked, burnt or appropriated their homes, and accused them of being terrorists. Authorities in Misrata and Tripoli have detained a number of people displaced from Benghazi, often on dubious terrorism allegations. An additional 9,200 families from Benghazi were internally displaced in western Libya due to the conflict in the east. Armed groups intimidated, threatened, and physically attacked activists, journalists, bloggers, and media professsionals. Security forces affiliated with the LNA in Benghazi arrested AFP photographer Abdullah Doma twice within one weekon March 28 and April 2for a day each time. According to Domas family, the arrests were for his coverage of Earth Hour, a global event that took place on March 25 to raise awareness of climate change. Security forces also briefly arrested four of the organizers of the event, slamming it as offensive to Islam for allowing men and women to mix. In August, members of militias and armed groups in both east and west Libya threatened in phone calls and on social media the contributors and editors of Sun on Closed Windows, a book of essays and fiction, accusing them of immoral content. Militias briefly arrested two participants in the book launch in the city of Zawiyah. In November, a force affiliated with the GNA Interior Ministry, reportedly arrested participants of a comic book convention in Tripoli under the pretext that it breached the country’s “morals and modesty.” Since 2011, militias and forces affiliated with several interim authorities, as well as ISIS fighters, have attacked religious minorities, including Sufis and Christians, and destroyed religious sites in Libya with impunity. In July 2017, the Supreme Fatwa Committee under the General Authority for Endowments and Islamic Affairs, the religious authority of the Interim Government, issued a religious edict calling the minority Ibadi sect of Islam a misguided and aberrant group, and infidels without dignity. The Ibadi faith is practiced by many Amazighs, mostly in western Libya. Amazighs number between 300,000 and 400,000 of Libyas total population of 6.5 million. The GNA responded by condemning the religious edict. In August, unidentified armed groups in Benghazi reportedly kidnapped or arrested 21 Sufi adherents, a minority Muslim group, at different times and different locations. As of September, none of the 21 had been released. Libyan law does not specifically criminalize domestic violence. Personal status laws continue to discriminate against women, particularly with respect to marriage, divorce, and inheritance. The penal code allows for a reduced sentence for a man who kills or injures his wife or another female relative because he suspects her of extramarital sexual relations. It also allows rapists to escape prosecution if they marry their victim under article 424. On February 16, Abdelrazeq al-Nadhouri, chief of staff of the LNA, issued an order requiring women who wished to travel abroad by land, air, or sea to be accompanied by a male guardian. Al-Nadhouri rescinded the order on February 23 after public pressure, and replaced it with another order requiring all men and women ages 18 to 45 to acquire clearance by relevant security agencies ahead of any international travel from east Libya. The penal code prohibits all sexual acts outside marriage, including same-sex relations, and punishes them with up to five years in prison. Militias linked with various government authorities in east and west of the country and criminal gangs kidnapped or forcibly disappeared scores of people for political gain, ransom, and extortion. Tripoli-based activist, Jabir Zain, remained missing after an armed group linked to the GNA Interior Ministery abducted him in Tripoli on September 25, 2016. Civil society activist Abdelmoez Banoon and Benghazi prosecutor Abdel-Nasser Al-Jeroushi, both abducted by unidentified groups in 2014, remained missing. In August, an armed group affiliated with the GNA kidnapped former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan during a visit to Tripoli and released him nine days later. Libya remained a major hub for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants on their way to Europe. As of November, the IOM recorded over 161,010 arrivals to Europe by sea since January, most of whom departed from Libya. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), at least 2,772 died or went missing while crossing the central Mediterranean route to Europe. As of November, the IOM reported that 348,372 migrants and asylum seekers were present in Libya. Since 2014, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have filled a deadly gap in maritime rescue operations, patrolling in international waters close to the 12-nautical-mile line that marks Libyan territorial waters the area where over-crowded, unseaworthy boats are most likely to be in need. Italy and the EU provided training and material support to Libyan coast guard forces to boost their capacity to intercept boats in territorial and international waters and return migrants and asylum seekers to Libyan territory, where many were exposed to physical abuse including beatings, sexual violence, extortion, abduction, harsh detention conditions, and forced labor. In November, after revelations of alleged slave auctions, Rwanda offered to resettle 30,000 African slaves from Libya. The Department for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM), which is part of the GNA-aligned Interior Ministry, managed the formal migrant detention centers, while smugglers and traffickers ran informal ones. The United States announced in September 2016 that it had ended its military campaign against ISIS targets in Libya. In September 2017, the US conducted what it called precision airstrikes against purported ISIS targets south of Sirte. There were no reports of civilian casualties. In June, the UN Security Council extended an arms embargo on Libya, effective since 2011, for another 12 months. On June 1, the UN Panel of Experts of the Libya Sanctions Committee, established pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1973 (2011), issued its report on human rights abuses, violations of the arms embargo, and misappropriation of funds. In February, the UN Support Mission to Libya published a report on the 2014 and 2015 trial proceedings against 37 former members of the Gaddafi government who were accused of crimes during the 2011 uprising, concluding that proceedings violated both international fair trial norms and Libyan law. Members of the European Council met in Malta in February, and pledged to train, equip, and support Libyan coast guard forces, and, together with UNHCR and the IOM, improve reception capacities and conditions for migrants in Libya. The EU pledged a total of 200 million for migration-related projects in Libya to support migrant detention centers and coast guard forces, despite evidence of abuse. In July, the EU Council extended the mandate of its anti-smuggling naval operation in the central Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, until December 2018. Operation Sophias mandate is to disrupt migrant smugglers and human traffickers, including training Libyan Coastguard and Navy forces, and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo in international waters off Libyas coast. On July 25, Frances President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting between Libyan leaders Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and General Hiftar in a bid to break the stalemate between them. The meeting resulted in a declaration of principles, mainly to a conditional ceasefire, and plans for future elections. In September, the EU renewed sanctions for six months against three Libyans seen as threatening the peace, security, and stability of Libya, and obstructive to the implementation of the LPA: Agila Saleh, president of the House of Representatives; Khalifa Ghweil, prime minister of the National Salvation Government; and Nuri Abu Sahmain, president of the self-declared General National Congress.

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September 15, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libyas Economic Outlook- April 2017 – World Bank

The lengthy conflict is taking a heavy toll on the Libyan economy and the well-being of the population. Obstructed by the conflict, production of oil, the main source of income in Libya, has been steadily declining over the last 4 years to reach around 0.38 million barrel per day (bpd) in 2016, which is less than 1/4 of pre-revolution levels. As a result, the Libyan economy shrank by an estimated 2.5% in 2016, with estimated real GDP falling to less than half of its pre-revolution level. The economic outlook assumes that a new functioning government is endorsed this year. In this context, the dynamics in the hydrocarbon sector triggered during the last quarter of 2016 is expected to continue, translating into higher production of oil, which is projected to progressively reach 1 million bpd by end-2017, still rep-resenting only two thirds of potential. On this basis, GDP is projected to increase by 40%. Although improving, the twin deficits will remain, as revenues from oil will not be sufficient to cover high budget expenditures and consumption-driven imports. This should keep the budget deficit at about 18.8% of GDP and the current account deficit at 15.3% of GDP in 2017.

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September 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya Home – worldbank.org

The cost of the political conflict has taken a severe toll on the Libyan economy, which has remained in recession for the third consecutive year in 2015. Political strife, weak security conditions, and blockaded oil infrastructures continue to constrain the supply side of the economy. Production of crude oil fell to around 0.4 million barrels per day (bpd) or the fourth of potential. The non-hydrocarb…

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September 11, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya | Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF) International

Libya remains fragmented by conflict and fighting continues in several parts of the country. The breakdown of law and order, the economic collapse and the existence of three governments has had a severe impact on the healthcare system. Almost all the men, women and children who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea have passed through Libya. Teams aboard our search and rescue boat have heard accounts of the alarming levels of violence and exploitation people experienced in Libya at the hands of security forces, militias, smuggling networks, and criminal gangs.We run mobile clinics in migrant detention centres located in and around Tripoli. Medical complaints are mostly related to appalling conditions inside the dangerously overcrowded detention centres: lice, scabies and flees are rife and significant numbers of detainees suffer from nutritional deficiencies and the lack of safe drinking water.

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August 19, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya | U.S. Agency for International Development

About Libya The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports Libyas transition to a democratic and peaceful nation. USAID works with civil society, municipal councils, national government, entrepreneurs, and a range of civil society groups, including those representing women and marginalized communities, in their efforts to improve Libyan lives. These partnerships help improve citizen confidence in Libyas government, both national and local, and support the ongoing democratic transition. In 2011, the regime of Muammar Qadhafi responded to protests in eastern Libya with violence, leading to a popular revolution that brought his 42-year regime to an end. Three years later, armed conflict broke out after the second parliamentary elections, leading to political divisions and an intense conflict between supporters of parallel state institutions. In this context, USAIDs efforts focus on strengthening the countrys representative governing bodies, independent institutions, and civil society to navigate their transition into a more democratic and prosperous Libya that is capable of utilizing its human, financial and natural resources for the benefit of all Libyans. USAID Libya Country Profile Last updated: August 02, 2017

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July 26, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya: Intervention by Invitation – yahoo.com

President Macron appears to be gradually positioning France as a global leader now that Americas President Donald Trump has lapsed into a proto-isolationist grand strategy. The latest example is Libya. With Macrons help, Libyas factional leaders have agreed to hold fresh presidential and parliamentary elections in December, which the United Nations Security Council just endorsed unanimously. However, conditions in Libya remain acutely fragile, with fighting continuing and no current peace agreement in place. With a serious risk of foreign meddling from western adversaries looming in the background, France and its allies risk a mini Syria if they do not act in concert to augment their Libyan stabilization efforts. Libya is at a crucial crossroads. In some ways, it is closer to the stability that evaporated two years after western intervention overthrew Gaddafi, but in other ways less so as indicated by the recent large-scale bombing in Tripoli. It is incumbent on the allies working with Libyathe U.S., France, Italy, and the UAE to rid the country of extremism. Furthermore, the allies must band together to persuade the various Libyan parties to agree to a new UN-backed power-sharing agreement. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) also need to move forward on the delayed deployments of civilian stability operations Libya has requested. Additionally, all concerned parties need to prevent Russia from intervening further to the detriment of Libyas security. The main sticking point in the negotiations over the UN Special Representatives power-sharing proposal is whether the Defense Minister position should be held by a civilian or whether a general could hold it. There is widespread expectation that General Haftar, leader of the so-called Libya National Army (LNA), would take up the position after the agreement of a deal. Haftar has just returned from a stint in a French hospital, and he wasted no time in harshly criticizing the coming election. While the UN has made considerable progress in the past six months, different Libyan factions continue to engage each other militarily, imperiling the likelihood of an agreement that will be adhered to by all parties. Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj leads the Government of National Accord (GNA), but at the moment Libya has been suffering through a triad of mid-level instability. First there is the presence of ISIS in Sirte, second an attempt by the LNA to take the country by force in the east, and third the political instability that features rival parliaments in Tripoli and Benghazi. For some time it appeared as if Haftar and the LNA were likely to be successful in their drive to overtake the whole of the country, but more recently the GNA and its allies have made modest gains, while several militias previously loyal to Haftar no longer are. In part because of this, there is a legitimate window of opportunity for a successful power-sharing agreement to be reached at the behest of the dogged UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Ghassan Salame. At a time when the Trump Administration appears to have taken its eye off the ball in Libya, Russia has ramped up its intervention in Libya. Moscow has undertaken a full-fledged backing of Haftars forces in an attempt even to replace the UN as the broker among the various parties. This Russian intervention has all staged from a Russian base in western Egypt where special forces and military advisors are deployed. Russian efforts have even recently moved more into the open, including a port of call from a Russian aircraft carrier that gave Haftar a ceremony and a secure phone call with the Russian Defense Minister. Yet there is still ample time for NATO and the EU to upgrade their efforts to aid the GNA, in particular now that Italy has committed troops to help stem refugee flows from Libyas coastal areas. NATO and the EU have been formally requested by Libya to mount civilian stabilization operations, and both have accepted and committed informally to coordinating their operations. However, in part because of Libyan instability and in part because of Europes keen focus on the Libyan refugee situation, neither the EU nor NATO has fully deployed their operations. European governments have been consumed with viewing Libya through the refugee prism, understandably in part due to the incipient challenge of integrating refugees in their societies and the acute domestic political fallout. However, it is imperative for the EU and NATO to move forward. It is critical to get their deployments in ahead of any deeper Russian incursion, or a renewed threat from the LNA. Doing so will augment the UNs sharpened lead approach, as well as help to prevent refugees from migrating en masse to Europe. The imperative for action has grown with the stalled UN attempt to broker greater stability and with the U.S. appearing to sit this simmering crisis out. The best hope the UN has to achieve even a marginal degree of stability is for the EU and NATO operations to proceed. This is because such operations would have a timely impact in helping the UN create more sustained stability. In essence, the western powers should be playing a more prominent role in notoriously unstable Libya because at this moment there is a legitimate opportunity to turn the corner in a more stable direction. This is also important because although some observers have called for Egypt to play a prominent role alongside the western tandem, this is less advisable in light of how closely Egypt is now working with Russia. Libyan leaders have spent the last several years sparring, politically and militarily, but lately, there has been sustained talk of a basis on which to come together and unify the disparate parts of Libya. For example, the large-scale Tripoli bombing aside, there has been measurable progress in registering Libyans for the next national election with over 2.5 million Libyans registered. Moreover, the U.N.-backed GNA government and the central bank in Tripoli have just agreed on public spending of 42 billion Libyan dinars ($31 billion) for 2018, an increase from 37 billion last year. For its part, the UN views this embryonic stability as a critical juncture and has re-launched an updated version of its efforts to broker stability among the competing factions in Libya. Thus far, the most important actors on the ground have positively received the initiative, although Haftar recently commented that the UN-backed government was now void and expired. In fact, technically speaking this is true, for the formal mandate has expired, thereby galvanizing the UN into active mode to get a new agreement in place for the GNA. The most compelling question in this context is whether General Haftar of the east-based LNA will compromise with the UN and the West-backed GNA, and in particular whether he will accept a civilian defense role as opposed to a military one. Recently he has swung between being supportive of the diplomatic path being spearheaded by the UN SRSG and rejecting it. With the EU and NATO operations in place and joining the UN to form a kind of UN-led triumvirate, Haftar is more likely to compromise and consent to becoming a civilian defense minister. Over the past several years the Libyans have repeatedly made formal requests of NATO and the EU to mount civilian stabilization operations in Libya, and both organizations now need to accede to these requests and set near-term dates taking action. For example, while the EU has approved both, they have been slow in proceeding toward full deployment. In addition, although technically the EU mission exists, it is not even headquartered inside Libya. One of the most important reasons for the West to get its collective act together is to secure a solid western operational foothold ahead of any additional moves by Russia. The danger is that Russia has gradually been consolidating its position for months now. Also, Russia has been courting Haftar for the past year, by hosting him in Moscow and directly funding the LNA in addition to also supplying it with weapons and logistics assistance. Western civilian operations in Libya also represent a compelling opportunity for the EU and NATO not only to coordinate their operations, but actually to go so far as to engage in joint planning and fully conjoinedas opposed to merely complementaryoperations on the ground. These two pivotal overlapping western security organizations have recently been attempting to overcome their long-running tensions and jealousies. For example, staff to staff meetings in Brussels have been making marked progress in working together both in Brussels and in the field. In fact, a broad contingent of current and former EU and NATO officials believe Libya amounts to an important test case for deploying conjoined operations. But by far the most crucial reason for western operations to be deployed forthwith in Libya is to shore up the tentative progress the UN is making for establishing a new unity government. According to conventional wisdom, Libya has been an unstable basket case ever since the NATO operation removed the Qaddafi regime during President Obama’s first term in 2011. In reality, there were over two years of relative stability. However, gradually an eventually acute problem metastasized with no actor ever figuring out how to deal with the strong presence of well-armed militias in Libya. Over time, those militias gradually achieved superiority over the politicians in Tripoli. It was not until the summer of 2014 that Libya descended into full-fledged instability and actual civil war. Things remained relatively unstable until the UN managed to stand up the GNA government in 2017. President Obama has described the failure to follow up the air campaign and Gaddafis removal with a post-conflict stability operation as the worst mistake of his presidency. However, this failure was also Europes for there were European leaders who had to be prodded by America into supporting a European stability operation in Libya. The U.S. push for this Germany-spearheaded effort was viewed as the price to be paid for Germany having abstained on the UN Security Council resolution that gave legitimacy to the allied intervention in Libya. However, the EU was unable to achieve the consensus required to move forward, and as a result, Libyas descent ensued. Although NATO and EU civilian operations have been delayed, there is a general understanding of what the overlapping EU and NATO missions should comprise, both in Brussels and in Tripoli. NATO could deal more with training the military and aiding in securing Libyas borders, while the EU could zero in on training the police and paramilitary forces. The EU could also focus its efforts on Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sirte through Rule of Law capacity building with the GNA government. Two imperatives are essential here, first, that both civilian operations should be conjoined (i.e., jointly planned and operated by NATO and the EU) and, second, that both operations should be implemented in sync with the overall leadership of the UN and its Special Representative. Again, the necessity of these operations to provide crucial assistance to the UNs efforts to broker a new government agreement cannot be overstated. Libya also features in the newfound hot peace between Russia and the West, with Russia systematically intervening around the globe to the detriment of the western security alliance. Most recently, Russia has harmed core U.S. national security interests by bombing the U.S.-backed moderate rebel forces in Syria, thereby allowing President Assad to retain power and steadily retake territory with the help of Iran. Russia likely sees in Libya a chance to weaponize additional refugees for the further destabilization of Europe. It has been unhelpful that Europeans have been overly focused on stemming the tide of refugees from Libyas shores. Surprisingly, the EU even flirted with the idea of reaching out to Russia to assess if Russia could be helpful to the EU with reducing the migrant flow to Europe. It is not entirely clear why High Representative Mogherini broached this topic in recent months, for this would play right into Putins hands and bring Russian malfeasance into the Libyan theater sooner and with greater confidence. In conclusion, stability in Libya is worth expending considerable western operational capital, as the price of instability would be ISISs return, greater refugee flows, further populism in Europe, and the realistic prospect of a second Syria. Dr. Jeffrey A. Stacey was a State Department official in the Obama Administration. Author of Integrating Europe by Oxford University Press, Stacey is an international development consultant residing in Washington, D.C. Image:Anti-Gaddafi fighters fire a multiple rocket launcher near Sirte, one of Muammar Gaddafi’s last remaining strongholds, September 24, 2011. Libyan provisional government forces backed by NATO warplanes swarmed into the city of Sirte on Saturday but weathered heavy sniper fire as they tried to win control of one of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi’s last bastions of support. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic Read full article

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July 26, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya – History | Britannica.com

This discussion focuses on Libya since the 18th century. For a treatment of earlier periods and of the country in its regional context, see North Africa. Largely desert with some limited potential for urban and sedentary life in the northwest and northeast, Libya has historically never been heavily populated or a power centre. Like that of its neighbour Algeria, Libyas very name is a neologism, created by the conquering Italians early in the 20th century. Also like that of Algeria, much of Libyas earlier historynot only in the Islamic period but even beforereveals that both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were more closely linked with neighbouring territories Tunisia and Egypt, respectively, than with each other. Even during the Ottoman era, the country was divided into two parts, one linked to Tripoli in the west and the other to Banghz in the east. Libya thus owes its present unity as a state less to earlier history or geographic characteristics than to several recent factors: the unifying effect of the Sansiyyah movement since the 19th century; Italian colonialism from 1911 until after World War II; an early independence by default, since the great powers could agree on no other solution; and the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in the late 1950s. Yet the Sansiyyah is based largely in the eastern region of Cyrenaica and has never really penetrated the more populous northwestern region of Tripolitania. Italian colonization was brief and brutal. Moreover, most of the hard-earned gains in infrastructure implanted in the colonial period were destroyed by contending armies during World War II. Sudden oil wealth has been both a boon and a curse as changes to the political and social fabric, as well as to the economy, have accelerated. This difficult legacy of disparate elements and forces helps to explain the unique character of present-day Libya. The future of Libya gave rise to long discussions after the war. In view of the contribution to the fighting made by a volunteer Sans force, the British foreign minister pledged in 1942 that the Sanss would not again be subjected to Italian rule. During the discussions, which lasted four years, suggestions included an Italian trusteeship, a United Nations (UN) trusteeship, a Soviet mandate for Tripolitania, and various compromises. Finally, in November 1949, the UN General Assembly voted that Libya should become a united and independent kingdom no later than January 1, 1952. A constitution creating a federal state with a separate parliament for each province was drawn up, and the pro-British head of the Sansiyyah, Sd Muammad Idrs al-Mahd al-Sans, was chosen king by a national assembly in 1950. On December 24, 1951, King Idris I declared the country independent. Political parties were prohibited, and the kings authority was sovereign. Though not themselves Sanss, the Tripolitanians accepted the monarchy largely in order to profit from the British promise that the Sanss would not again be subjected to Italian rule. King Idris, however, showed a marked preference for living in Cyrenaica, where he built a new capital on the site of the Sans zwiyah at Al-Bay. Though Libya joined the Arab League in 1953 and in 1956 refused British troops permission to land during the Suez Crisis, the government in general adopted a pro-Western position in international affairs. With the discovery of significant oil reserves in 1959, Libya changed abruptly from being dependent on international aid and the rent from U.S. and British air bases to being an oil-rich monarchy. Major petroleum deposits in both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica ensured the country income on a vast scale. The discovery was followed by an enormous expansion in all government services, massive construction projects, and a corresponding rise in the economic standard and the cost of living. Precipitated by the kings failure to speak out against Israel during the June War (1967), a coup was carried out on September 1, 1969, by a group of young army officers led by Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi, who deposed the king and proclaimed Libya a republic. The new regime, passionately Pan-Arab, broke the monarchys close ties to Britain and the United States and also began an assertive policy that led to higher oil prices along with 51 percent Libyan participation in oil company activities and, in some cases, outright nationalization. Equally assertive in plans for Arab unity, Libya obtained at least the formal beginnings of unity with Egypt, Sudan, and Tunisia, but these and other such plans failed as differences arose between the governments concerned. Qaddafis Libya supported the Palestinian cause and intervened to support it, as well as other guerrilla and revolutionary organizations in Africa and the Middle East. Such moves alienated the Western countries and some Arab states. In JulyAugust 1977 hostilities broke out between Libya and Egypt, and, as a result, many Egyptians working in Libya were expelled. Indeed, despite expressed concern for Arab unity, the regimes relations with most Arab countries deteriorated. Qaddafi signed a treaty of union with Moroccos King Hassan II in August 1984, but Hassan abrogated the treaty two years later. The regime, under Qaddafis ideological guidance, continued to introduce innovations. On March 2, 1977, the General Peoples Congress declared that Libya was to be known as the Peoples Socialist Libyan Arab Jamhriyyah (the latter term is a neologism meaning government through the masses). By the early 1980s, however, a drop in the demand and price for oil on the world market was beginning to hamper Qaddafis efforts to play a strong regional role. Ambitious efforts to radically change Libyas economy and society slowed, and there were signs of domestic discontent. Libyan opposition movements launched sporadic attacks against Qaddafi and his military supporters but met with arrest and execution. Libyas relationship with the United States, which had been an important trading partner, deteriorated in the early 1980s as the U.S. government increasingly protested Qaddafis support of Palestinian Arab militants. An escalating series of retaliatory trade restrictions and military skirmishes culminated in a U.S. bombing raid of Tripoli and Banghz in 1986, in which Qaddafis adopted daughter was among the casualties. U.S. claims that Libya was producing chemical warfare materials contributed to the tension between the two countries in the late 1980s and the 90s. Within the region, Libya sought throughout the 1970s and 80s to control the mineral-rich Aozou Strip, along the disputed border with neighbouring Chad. These efforts produced intermittent warfare in Chad and confrontation with both France and the United States. In 1987 Libyan forces were bested by Chads more mobile troops, and diplomatic ties with that country were restored late the following year. Libya denied involvement in Chads December 1990 coup led by Idriss Dby (see Chad: Civil war). In 1996 the United States and the UN implemented a series of economic sanctions against Libya for its purported involvement in destroying a civilian airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. In the late 1990s, in an effort to placate the international community, Libya turned over the alleged perpetrators of the bombing to international authorities and accepted a ruling by the international court in The Hague stating that the contested Aozou territory along the border with Chad belonged to that country and not to Libya. The United Kingdom restored diplomatic relations with Libya at the end of the decade, and UN sanctions were lifted in 2003; later that year Libya announced that it would stop producing chemical weapons. The United States responded by dropping most of its sanctions, and the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the two countries was completed in 2006. In 2007 five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who had been sentenced to death in Libya after being tried on charges of having deliberately infected children there with HIV were extradited to Bulgaria and quickly pardoned by its president, defusing widespread outcry over the case and preventing the situation from posing an obstacle to Libyas return to the international community. In the years that followed the lifting of sanctions, one of Qaddafis sons, Sayf al-Islam al-Qaddafi, emerged as a proponent of reform and helped lead Libya toward adjustments in its domestic and foreign policy. Measures including efforts to attract Western business and plans to foster tourism promised to gradually draw Libya more substantially into the global community. In February 2011, in the midst of a wave of popular demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa, antigovernment rallies were held in Banghz by protesters angered by the arrest of a human rights lawyer, Fethi Tarbel. Libyan security forces used water cannons and live fire against the crowds, resulting in a number of injuries and deaths. As protests intensified, with demonstrators taking control of Banghz and unrest spreading to Tripoli and other areas of the country, the security forces and squads of mercenaries loyal to the government began to use lethal force freely, firing indiscriminately into crowds. The regime restricted communications, blocking the Internet and interrupting telephone service throughout the country. On February 21 one of Qaddafis sons, Sayf al-Islam, gave a defiant address on state television, blaming outside agitators for the unrest and saying that further demonstrations could lead to civil war in the country. He vowed that the regime would fight to the last bullet. The next day Muammar al-Qaddafi delivered an angry rambling speech on state television, condemning the protesters as traitors and calling on his supporters to fight them. The governments use of violence against civilians drew condemnation from foreign leaders and human rights organizations. It also seemed to damage the coherence of the regime, causing a number of high-level officials to resign in protest. A number of Libyan embassies around the world signaled their support for the uprising by flying Libyas pre-Qaddafi flag. Within days of the first protests, the anti-Qaddafi movement began to evolve into an armed rebellion as demonstrators acquired weapons from abandoned government arms depots. By late February, rebel forces had expelled most pro-Qaddafi troops from the eastern portion of Libya, including the city of Banghz, and from many western cities. The Libyan-Egyptian border was opened, allowing foreign journalists into the country for the first time since the conflict began. Pro-Qaddafi paramilitary units continued to hold the city of Tripoli, where Qaddafi and his inner circle remained. International pressure for Qaddafi to step down gradually increased. On February 26 the UN Security Council unanimously approved a measure that included sanctions against the Qaddafi regime, imposing a travel ban and an arms embargo and freezing the Qaddafi familys assets. The measure also referred the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The United States, the European Union, and a number of other countries also imposed sanctions. A rebel leadership council emerged in Banghz in early March. Known as the Transitional National Council (TNC), it declared that its aims would be to act as the rebellions military leadership and as the representative of the Libyan opposition, provide services in rebel-held areas, and guide the countrys transition to democratic government. In the weeks that followed, the conflict appeared to enter a stalemate and then to tilt in Qaddafis favour. Despite the rebels impressive gains in February, the Qaddafi regime still controlled enough soldiers and weapons to hold Tripoli and to stage fresh ground and air assaults which rebel fighters struggled to repel. Most fighting took place in the towns around Tripoli and in the central coastal region, where rebels and Qaddafi loyalists battled for control of the oil-export terminals on the Gulf of Sidra. The international community continued to debate possible diplomatic and military intervention in the conflict. Countries worked to establish contact with the TNC and in some cases began to recognize it as Libyas legitimate government. At an emergency summit on March 11 the European Union unanimously called for Qaddafi to step down. However, the international community remained divided over the possibility of military intervention. Some countries, including France and the United Kingdom, sought the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya to protect rebels and civilians from air attacks, while others, including the United States and Germany, expressed reservations, emphasizing the need for broad international consensus and warning against possible unforeseen consequences of military intervention. The African Union (AU) rejected any military intervention, asserting that the crisis should be resolved through negotiations, whereas the Arab League passed a resolution on March 13 calling on the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. On March 15 Qaddafi loyalists captured the eastern city of Ajdbiy, the last large rebel-held city on the route to Banghz. As they advanced on the remaining rebel positions in Banghz and Tobruk in the east and Mirtah in the west, the UN Security Council voted on March 17 to authorize military action, including a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians. Beginning on March 19, an international coalition led by the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom began to carry out air and missile strikes to disable Libyas air force and air defense systems so the no-fly zone could be imposed. Coalition missiles also struck buildings in a compound used by Qaddafi as a command centre. Within a week Libyas air force and air defenses were out of commission. However, heavy fighting continued on the ground. Pro-Qaddafi units massed around the rebel-held city of Mirtah and the contested city of Ajdbiy, shelling both and causing significant civilian casualties. Attacks by coalition warplanes soon weakened pro-Qaddafi ground forces in eastern Libya, allowing rebels to advance and retake Ajdbiy, Marsa el-Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Bin Jawwad. On March 27 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officially took over command of military operations in Libya from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The handover came after several days of debate among NATO countries over the limits of international military intervention; several countries argued that the coalitions aggressive targeting of pro-Qaddafi ground forces had exceeded the mandate set by the UN Security Council to protect civilians. By April the conflict seemed to have returned to a stalemate; Qaddafis troops, though weakened by the coalition assault, still appeared strong enough to prevent the disorganized and poorly equipped rebels from achieving decisive victories. Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis intensified, with an AU delegation traveling to Tripoli on April 10 to present a cease-fire plan that was quickly rejected by both sides. On April 30 a NATO air strike on a house in Qaddafis compound in Tripoli killed Qaddafis youngest son, Sayf al-Arab, along with three of Qaddafis grandchildren. Qaddafi was present at the site of the strike but avoided injury. More strikes in early May targeted government buildings associated with Qaddafi and Libyas senior military leadership, but NATO representatives denied claims that NATO had adopted a strategy of trying to kill Qaddafi and other high-ranking Libyan officials. International pressure on Qaddafi continued to build. The ICC, which in early March had opened an investigation into alleged war crimes by members of the Qaddafi regime, announced on May 16 that it would seek arrest warrants against Qaddafi, his son Sayf al-Islam, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah Senussi, for ordering attacks on civilians in Libya. In August 2011 rebel forces advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli, taking control of strategic areas, including the city of Zwiyah, the site of one of Libyas largest oil refineries. Rebels soon advanced into Tripoli, taking over some areas of the capital on August 22. The next day, rebel forces established control over most of the city and captured the Bb al-Azziyyah compound, Qaddafis headquarters. Rebels raised Libyas pre-Qaddafi flag over the compound while jubilant crowds destroyed symbols of Qaddafi, whose whereabouts were unknown. By early September rebel forces had solidified their control of Tripoli, and the TNC began to transfer its operations to the capital. Qaddafi remained in hiding, occasionally issuing defiant audio messages. In the few remaining cities under loyalist control, rebels attempted to negotiate with loyalist commanders to surrender and avoid a bloody ground assault. In late September rebel forces began to advance into Ban Wald and Surt, the two remaining strongholds of Qaddafi loyalists. On October 20 Qaddafi was captured and killed in Surt by rebel fighters. (For coverage of unrest in Libya in 2011 and the aftermath in 2012, see Libya Revolt of 2011.) The TNC struggled to establish a functional government and exert its authority in the months that followed the fall of the Qaddafi regime. Local rebel militias that had fought autonomously during the uprising, especially those in western Libya, were reluctant to submit to an interim government formed in eastern Libya with little input from the rest of the country and were suspicious of some TNC officials past ties to the Qaddafi regime. The militias refused to disarm, and skirmishes between rival militias became commonplace. Elections to choose the members of a 200-seat assembly, the General National Congress (GNC), were held in July 2012 in spite of occasional outbursts of violence caused by local and regional power struggles. The National Forces Alliance, a secular party led by Mahmoud Jibril, a former TNC official and interim prime minister, won the largest number of seats. New concerns about Libyas stability arose in September 2012 when members of the militant Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia launched a surprise attack on the U.S. consulate in Banghz, killing four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. Within the GNC there were disputes over the assemblys functions and mandate, and boycotts threatened its overall viability. The divisions between armed groups continued to deepenwith steadily increasing bloodshedas the central government proved unable to control even those that were nominally aligned with government ministries. In an episode that seemed to encapsulate the disordered state of Libyan politics, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was briefly kidnapped in October 2013 by militia members aligned with the ministries of defense and the interior. He was quickly released unharmed. Groups also sought to exact concessions from the central government by disrupting oil production, its main source of revenue. Strikes by disgruntled oil workers caused fluctuations in production in early 2013. Later in the year, a militia commanded by Ibrahim Jathran, a former rebel commander, seized several oil terminals and demanded greater autonomy and a greater share of oil revenues for eastern Libya. Jathrans attempts to sell oil independently from the central government were thwarted in 2014 when the U.S. Navy seized a tanker carrying oil from one of the ports under his control, and he was ultimately forced to relinquish the oil facilities he held. Attacks on oil infrastructure by a variety of armed groups continued, however, and oil revenues fluctuated accordingly. In May 2014 Khalifah Haftar, a general acting without authorization from the central government, led forces under his control in a campaign dubbed Operation Dignity against Islamists and other groups aligned with Islamists in eastern Libya. Haftar also condemned the GNC as dominated by Islamists, and fighters loyal to him made an unsuccessful attempt to seize the parliament building in Tripoli in May. In June a new national assembly was elected to replace the GNC, whose 18-month mandate had officially expired in February. Security concerns and voter disillusionment held turnout to less than 20 percent. The election delivered a resounding victory for liberal and secular candidates, although the viability of the new assembly, called the House of Representatives, remained uncertain. The emergence of Haftars Operation Dignity had the effect of heightening polarization between Islamist-aligned and non-Islamist forces, pushing the country closer to a new civil war. In western Libya a coalition of armed groups opposed to Haftars Operation Dignity began to appear in mid-2014. Operating under the name Libya Dawn, the new coalition was largely Islamist in orientation, and it rejected the authority of the newly elected House of Representatives in favour of the outgoing GNC. In August, with the backing of Libya Dawn militias, members of the GNC convened in Tripoli and declared themselves the legitimate national assembly of Libya. The House of Representatives, meanwhile, convened in the eastern city of Tobruk under the protection of Haftars troops. The absence of central authority in Libya created an opening there for the militant extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Fighters from the groups core territories in Iraq and Syria began to arrive in early 2014, and by the summer of 2015 the group had taken control of the central coastal city of Surt. In 2016 a coalition of western militias confronted ISIL with the help of U.S. air support, dislodging them from Surt and the surrounding area. ISIL fighters remained active, though, operating scattered small desert camps and staging occasional attacks. In December 2015, delegates from Libyas rival factions signed a UN-brokered power-sharing agreement in Skhirat, Morocco, establishing a Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by a prime minister and a nine-member presidency council drawn from constituencies and factions throughout the country. Although the GNA received recognition from the UN Security Council as the legitimate government of Libya, it struggled to consolidate its authority in both the eastern and western halves of the country. In the east the House of Representatives, aligned with the forces of General Haftar, refused to endorse the GNAs proposed ministerial appointments, and in the west the GNA met with resistance from GNC-associated factions. In September 2017 the UN Support Mission in Libya announced an effort to amend the 2015 agreement, with the goal of creating a workable arrangement for sharing power between the opposing factions. By the end of the year, though, prospects for an agreement looked dim, especially after Haftar gave a speech in December in which he dismissed the legitimacy of the GNA and hinted that he would seek the Libyan presidency for himself.

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Libya 2018: Best of Libya Tourism – TripAdvisor

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