The Libyan Civil War is a direct consequence of the power vacuum created following the death of the long-time strong man of Africa, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011. Since all opposition groups were oppressed for decades, the power shift presented an opportunity for both moderate and extremist factions to vie for power.
Eight years after Gaddafi’s death, Libya has been divided into spheres of influence by different groups and entities. A UN-backed government resides in Tripoli, whereas the UN-recognised parliament is based in Tobruk. General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), has consistently vowed to take the Capital, Tripoli. General Haftar and his LNA, subsequently, has military strongholds in Benghazi and eastern Libya. The Tobruk Parliament, also called the House of Representative (HoR) and the Tripoli Government, have been in a diplomatic stalemate from 2014 due to changing agendas of the Tripoli government’s militia. Henceforth, the two governmental bodies operate separately notwithstanding agreeing to several peace agreements. The HoR runs despite the Libyan Supreme Court’s ruling in 2014 that claimed elections were unconstitutional and thus, stressed that the legislative body should be dissolved. Despite this, the US, EU, and the UAE, have recognised the Tobruk-based parliament as legitimate
The HoR has historically strengthened their relationship with General Khalifa by making him the head of the army. This complicates negotiations when General Khalifa’s forces, the LNA and other militias loyal to him, are conducting campaigns to “liberate” Tripoli from the UN-backed government. Currently, the renegade General has managed to gain large swathes of territory under his control. France attempted to bring together the Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and General Khalifa to the negotiation table in another attempt to stabilize Libya, but despite agreements, no substantial gains have been made.
In addition to fighting among each other, these parties are also battling with extremist forces within the country who want a replacement for Gaddafi. The former UN-backed government, the General National Congress/Council (GNC), which still influences the current UN-backed government, the Government of National Accord (GNA), has backing from a coalition of secular and Islamist militias known as Libya Dawn. The Libyan Dawn and General Khalifa are allied groups with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaida. Recently, Libyan youth prefer to follow ISIS, thus, al-Qaida-allied groups are increasingly disbanding. The combined pressure from groups allied to the UN-backed Tripoli government and General Khalifa’s forces have resulted in monumental gains against the Islamic State in Libya.
The EU and the UN have been supporting peace negotiations in Geneva in 2020. Italy and France have invested in Libya since they believe if Libya is stable, it will reduce or stop the thousands of migrants crossing the sea from Africa to Europe via Libya. Additionally, both countries have oil companies there, thus they are fighting for their economic interests. France is supporting the UN-backed Tripoli government while ‘undermining’ the peace process by supporting General Khalifa militarily. Because Italy and France are part of the UN Mission in Libya, the UN efforts have been limited.
This power struggle has perpetuated a culture of violence and caused a humanitarian crisis. This crisis prevents civilians from accessing infrastructure, good health, quality education, stable electricity, consistent water, durable food security, and job security. All these have had severe impacts on the economy, oil production, law enforcement, and the justice system. Until the government factions concede power to one internationally and nationally recognised government, the war will not end.
Population: 6.649 Million (2018)
Refugees: 43,113 (UNHCR)
Displaced peoples: 401,836 (IMO)
Who are they: The Transitional National Council (TNC), which was formed on 27 February 2011 in Benghazi, announces itself as the sole representative for Libya. The council is composed of politicians, tribal leaders, former military officers, academics and businessmen. Based on their founding charter, the TNC aims to; 1) ensure the safety of the national territory and citizens, 2) coordination of national efforts to liberate the rest of Libya, 3) Support the efforts of local councils to work for the restoration of normal civilian life, 4) supervision of the military council to ensure the achievement of the new doctrine of the Libyan People’s Army in defence of the people and to protect the borders of Libya, 5) Facilitate the election of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution which will be put to a popular referendum, 6) form a transitional government to pave the holding of free elections, and 9) guide the conduct of foreign policy, and regulation of relationship with other countries and international and regional organisation. By the 23 March, TNC had established the Executive Board to execute the above aims of the TNC. The Executive Board was led by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, a Libyan politician who had served as the Minister of justice during Gaddafi’s presidency. The TNC was able to maintain stability for less than ten months. Protestors demanded transparency on expenditures, and for accountability on Gaddafi-era officials, including their removal from offices. Some protesters wanted the Sharia law to be recognized as the only law in Libya. One of the factions of protestors stormed into the NTC headquarters in Benghazi demanding changes. On 8th August, TNC official dissolved when it transferred its powers to the General National Congress (GNC) with Mohammed Ali Salim, a Libyan politician, as the acting Chairman of the GNC.
Who are they: General National Congress/Council governed Libya after the Transitional National Council (TNC) was disbanded in August 2012. The GNC, composed of 200 members, was formed following the July 7 elections. After the disputed June election, that resulted in the House of Representatives being chased out of Tripoli, GNC came back to power, under the leadership of Khalifa Ghweli. Ghweli’s government is sometimes referred to as the National Salvation Government (NSG) He enjoyed the support of powerful regional militias. As their strength grew, the UN-backed government was forced to flee from the city. Ghweli’s government does not control any relevant institutions in Tripoli after a vast majority of their members moved across to the State Council, a consultative body created under the Libyan Political Agreement. The NSG government still operates parallel to the GNA in Tripoli.
Who are they: Government National Accord (GNA) is the interim government created following the signing of the Libya Political Agreement. The government, under the leadership of Al-Serraj, officially took office in April 2016. The Government of National Accord (GNA) is meant to combine the Tripoli and Tobruk based governments into one but was rejected by Tobruk. The Presidential Council is part of the GNA.
Who are they: The Presidential Council was created following an agreement between Tobruk- based House of Representatives (HoR) and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNC) in 2015. The warring sides adopted the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) on 17 December 2015. Based on the agreement, the PC, which is a nine-member council led by Faiez al-Serraj, presides over the GNA. This means that the PC operates as the head of state and commander of the Armed Forces. The new government was quickly recognised as the sole representative of the Libyan people following the UNSC adopted Resolution 2259. The PC faces significant opposition from key figures such as the GNC’s president, Nuri Abu Sahmain, and HoR president, Ageelah Saleh, General Haftar and forces associated with the Libyan National Army, and armed groups in Western Libya.
Who are they: The aftermath of the June 2014 election was the Libyan government dividend into two; the Hours of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk and the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli. The HoR was chased out of the capital by militias loyal to the previous parliament, the General National Congress/Council (GNC). The HoR continues to operate and is recognised internationally despite the Libyan Supreme Court declaring that the creation of HoR during the June 2014 election was illegal and unconstitutional. The HoR was once again legitimised as the legislative authority by the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) but with the intention that they will be part of the Government of National Accord (GNA).
Target: As well as being in a political stalemate with the Tripoli-based government, HoR is fighting against extremist groups and other militia groups who are interested in controlling the oil wells and pipelines in the region. To maximise their efforts in the country, the HoR appointed General Khalifa, who has the strongest army out of all sides in the Libyan conflict, as the head of the Libyan military. General Khalifa forces are fighting against the Tripoli-based government and militias loyal to them, as well as Islamist groups.
Support and recognition: The HoR is recognised by the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, and Egypt.
Who is he: Khalifa Haftar is a rebel leader who challenges the rule of the UN-backed government or the Government of National Accord (GNA). Before the fall of Gaddafi, Haftar was among the soldier who fought alongside Col Muammar Gaddafi to remove King Idris from power in 1969. Following their successes, Gaddafi promoted Mr Haftar to Field Marshall and was promoted to led the Libyan forces in the conflict between Libya and Chad in the 1980s. The disastrous conflict led to him and his troops captured by the French-backed Chadians in 1987. Additionally, Gaddafi disowned his actions, maintaining his previous sentiment that no Libyan forces were in Chad. After his release from Chad, Mr Haftar went to exile in the USA. Many speculate that he maintained a relationship with the CIA since he lived near the CIA. Khalifa Haftar returned to Libya after Gaddafi was deposed from power and became a key commander for a makeshift rebel force in the East of Libya. Khalifa maintained a relatively low profile until February 2014 where he made a TV appearance detailing his plan to save Libya. He urged the citizens to rise against the Government of National Accord and General National Congress (GNC). He gained immediate support in Benghazi since the people of the city had become disenchanted with the total failure of the GNC and their inability to fight off the extremist groups gaining traction in the area. People of Benghazi supported Mr Haftar’s endeavours, especially after he launched Operation Dignity in May 2014 against the radical groups. By 2015, he was appointed as Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) by the House of Representatives (HoR). Within a year and a half, Commander Khalifa and the LNA were able to push out the extremist militants outside of Benghazi and other strongholds like Derna (which is 250KM east of Benghazi). Pushing the militants away from in and around Benghazi secured key oil terminals known locally as the Oil Crescent. General Haftar ordered his troops, the Libyan National Army (LNA), to advance towards Tripoli where the UN-backed government is housed on April 4th The push towards Tripoli has come on the eve of major territorial gain in other parts of the country. According to Prime Minister of Libya, Fayez al-Serraj, the move towards Tripoli is being interpreted as a pathway towards launching a coup against the government. Towards Tripoli, Khalifa has had to fight an umbrella group of the city’s most powerful militias who are affiliated with the UN-backed government.
Support and Funding: Many have speculated that Mr Khalifa Haftar enjoys the support of Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. The speculation about Saudi Arabia’s support seemed to be confirmed when the rebel leader flew to meet with King Salman before his offensive to capture Tripoli would start. Wall Street Journal says that the Saudi kingdom offered Millions of dollars to Khalifa to help him in his current campaign to Tripoli. France and Italy had a public falling out after it was reported that France provided tacit backing for Haftar which Italy, who supports the UN-backed government, disapproved. France support of LNA included airstrikes against LNA biggest opponents, the Chadian opposition fighters, in Southern Libya.
Who are they: Ansar al-Sharia is an al-Qaeda affiliate group operating in Benghazi, Derna, Sirte, Sabratha and other towns in the eastern and western Libya following the ousting of President Gaddafi. The affiliate branches operate independently. The Ansar al-Sharia branch in Benghazi, with the support of the Derna branch, is suspected of having orchestrated the attack on US consulate in September 2012 that killed the US Ambassador and three other Americans. The Ansar al-Sharia branch in Tripoli joined forces with Libya Dawn. In October 2014, Ansar al-Sharia in Derna pledged their allegiance to ISIS, which caused tension within the group. In November 2014, the group was listed as a foreign terror group by the UN. Ansar al-Sharia announced their dissolution, due to internal struggle and increased threat from various armed militias and General Khalifa’s forces, in June 2017.
Target: The United States blames the group for orchestrating the September 11, 2012 attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi that led to the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Leadership and fighters: The suspected leader, Mohamed al-Zahawi, was killed during clashes with General Khalifa’s LNA forces at the end of 2014.
Who are they: Libya Dawn is a coalition of pro-Islamist militias who were able to seize parts of the capital city of Tripoli and other coastal cities from Misrata in the summer of 2014. The groups that are part of Libya Dawn include, Ansar al-Sharia and its branches, al-Qaida affiliated groups in Tripoli, Libyan Revolutionaries Operations Rooms, Derna Mujahideen Shura Council, and Muslim Brotherhood branches. They are viewed as the “armed wing” of the General National Congress, the predecessor of House of Representatives (HoR). Their strongholds are Tripoli and Misrata.
Target: Libya Dawn targets any militia operating within the Tripoli and Misrata that is not allied to them. Also, they are in a constant battle with General Khalifa’s Libyan National Army (LNA) as they conduct their campaign to ‘liberate’ Libya.
Support: Libya Dawn benefits from the support from Qatar and Turkey, as well as local businessmen, Muslim Brotherhood, and Berbers.
Schisms: Reports that Libya Dawn is facing internal struggles. The Islamist groups under the umbrella cannot agree on who to ally themselves with, al-Qaida or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Ansar al-Sharia in Derna pledged their allegiances to ISIS in October 2014. The schism was aided by Libyan and foreigners ISIS fighters’ returnees in the spring and summer of 2014. According to analysists, radical youths prefer joining ISIS-allied militias.
Who are they: Though the origins of the Islamic State in Libya (IS-L) is disputed, their threat became noticeable in 2014 when extremist groups operating in Derna pledged their allegiance to ISIS. As they become more powerful, the fighters were able to maintain its base in Derna but also to make the Sirte their stronghold. Due to a campaign by militias allied to the government, IS-L lost its stronghold of Sirte only after controlling the city for a year and a half. Though they lost their stronghold, IS-L remains a relatively dangerous force due to their sleeper cells around the country. The UN warns of the extremist group’s ability to exploit the current political instability to expand their influence. IS-Libya is determined to maintain its presence in the country. Abu al-Mughirah al-Qahtani, an IS-L senior commander, said: “Libya has great importance because it is in Africa and south of Europe…it is also a gate to the African Desert stretching to a number of African countries.”
Targets: IS-L targets both government and rebel forces around the country. The group uses a combination of armed attacks and bombings to target its opponents, as well as conventional warfare, though rarely. Like other groups in the country, they kidnap foreigners as a way to keep cash flowing for their operations. Additionally, IS-Libya beheaded Coptic Christians prompting Egypt to conduct airstrikes in Libya. The Egyptian airstrikes were approved by the HoR-aligned government led by Prime Minister Abdullahi al-Thinni. Interestingly, the GNC government condemned the airstrikes, adding that they were “an assault against Libyan sovereignty.” The first known beheading came after ISIL seized the coastal city of Sirte mid-March of 2015. Other killings attributed to IS-L include the murder of Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlesman by a sniper. Egypt is not the only country conducting airstrikes against IS-L but also the US, and the Libyan National Army under the leadership of General Khalifa. The airstrikes have
Leadership and Fighters: The leader of IS-Libya is Adb al-Qadair al-Najdi though not much information about him. His predecessor was killed in a US airstrike. Foreign fighters from Yemen and Iraq are also in top leadership positions. The group has about 2000-3000 active fighters. It is believed that at least 800 of the current fighters are returnees from Syria and Iraq.
The UN Support Mission in Libya was created on 16 September 2011 through a UNSC resolution to support the transitional period with the Transitional National Council. The mission is led by Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG). The current SRSG is Ghassan Salame. UNSMIL is mandated to monitor and report human rights violations and abuses, support the process to secure uncontrolled arms and counterproliferation and coordinating international assistance and stabilisation of post-conflict zones. In 2015, the UN-brokered negotiations with various factions to reach a power-sharing deal. Negotiations included representatives of two rival parliaments, the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) ad Tripoli-based Government National Accord (GNC), as well as other independent participants. The new government was quickly recognised as the sole representative of the Libyan people following the UNSC adopted Resolution 2259
France, the other major European power vested in the future of Libya, is also interested in decreasing the migration of Africans to France as many migrants want to seek asylum or refugee status in the Western European country. Though the case, France covertly supports the two main opposing sides, the UN-backed government and General Khalifa. Unlike Italy, historically the relationship between France and Libya has not been pleasant due to their engagement in Chad Civil War and the possible involvement of the Gaddafi’s government in downing the UTA flight 772 in 1989. Following the death of Col Gaddafi, on one side, France, alongside Italy, played a critical role in uniting opposition groups to create the UN-backed government in Tripoli. On the other hand, France was supplying weapons and training to General Khalifa’s forces in Eastern Libya. France support of Mr Khalifa Haftar began in 2015 when he deployed advisors, clandestine operatives and special forces to eastern Libya while offering little support to the UN-backed GNA government. France did not acknowledge the speculations until July 2016 following the death of the French special forces in a helicopter crash near Benghazi. The maintained relationship with General Khalifa, despite opposition from European powers, resulted in the rebel leader’s decision to attend the France-led unity meeting in Paris on May 2018.
Italy, the former colonial power, is heavily involved in the UN-brokered peace deals since many of the migrants pass through Italy to go to Western Europe. Italy and Gaddafi’s government had also brokered agreements to curb illegal immigration in the 2000s, making the North African country a ‘buffer zone’ for Europe. In the agreement, Italy would increase its aid to Libya as long as President Gaddafi aggressively prevent migration into Italy. For these reasons, Italy has invested political capital, both officially and unofficially, into the Libyan crisis by hosting summits, peace conferences, and meetings. Their approach has sometimes been criticised since they sometimes bypass the Tobruk and Tripoli governments and work directly with local and regional representatives, members of civil society and tribal leaders. From an economic standpoint, Italy is protecting its oil interest in Libya through the company ENI.
Timeline of the crisis
15/16 February 2011: Violent protests break out in Benghazi – Inspired by the Arab Spring, protesters took to the streets of Benghazi to protest Gaddafi’s rule, though initially began by demoing Fethi Tarbel’s release. Fethi Tarbel is an activist most known for his work with families of the victims of a 1996 massacre at the notorious Abu Salim prison where more than 1000 prisoners are believed to have been executed. It is not surprising that the anti-Gaddafi protest since the area has traditionally distrusted Gaddafi. The protests spread to the towns of Bayda, Ajdaboya, Ziwiya and Derna with minor protests in the capital of Tripoli. By 20th February, 100 people are reported killed in four days of demonstrations in Benghazi. Protesters allege that the Libyan army fired live bullets into unarmed crowds of protesters. Human Right Watch said that the estimates being reported are conservative. With the protests intensifying, foreign journalists have been banned from entering the country and the internet service shut off for long periods to lessen the spread of information about what is happening in Libya. Al-Jazeera, who already had offices in the country, reports that the government had jammed signals at their offices. Col Gaddafi has not made any comment on the escalating violence while growing condemnation from Western leaders is mounting.
25 February 2011: Anti-Libyan government militia takes over Misrata city – An anti-Gaddafi militia, captures Misrata, a city in northwestern Libya and evicted force loyal to Gaddafi from the city. The militia was able to capture the city within four hours. The toppling of the Gaddafi forces led to street celebrations according to witnesses. Earlier in the week, an unspecified number of government forces and foreign mercenaries were killed after they stormed protesters near the city’s airport.
26- 28 February 2011: UNSC and EU Parliament impose sanctions on Gaddafi’s government and his family members – In a unanimous vote on 26 February, the UNSC agrees to impose sanctions against Libyan authorities. They also agreed to impose an arms embargo and freezing the assets of its leaders and several members of the Gaddafi family. Additionally, the council imposed a travel ban on Gaddafi and other senior figures of his administration, as well as some family members and relatives. On 28 February, the European Union introduced economic sanctions against Libya which went in effect immediately. The EU sanctions package includes an arms embargo, travel ban on Gaddafi and his closest advisors.
5 March 2011: The Transitional National Council (TNC) announces itself as the sole representative for Libya – The Transitional National Council (TNC), which was formed on 27 February 2011 in Benghazi, announces itself as the sole representative for Libya. The council is composed of politicians, tribal leaders, former military officers, academics and the business community. Between the announcement and July, several major powers recognise TNC as the sole representative of the Libyan people. On March 26 2011, Qatar became the second country and the first Arab country to recognise the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the sole representative of the Libyan people. The recognition came at a time where African and Arab countries alike are calling for Gaddafi to step away from his position. Additionally, the recognition came when French and British air forces conducted airstrikes against Gaddafi which Gaddafi officials claim have killed 114 Libyans. France recognised TNC on 10 March, Italy on 4th April and the US on 15th The Italian Foreign Minister, during the announcement, added that Gaddafi’s proposal to bring about the end of the Libyan Crisis was not credible. US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, said that the TNC offered important assurances including, the promise to pursue a process of democratic reform that is inclusive both geographically and politically and to uphold Libya’s international obligations. On 23 January 2012, Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, the Deputy Head of National Transitional Council (NTC), resigned after facing angry protesters in Benghazi. He is accused of opportunism since he defected from Gaddafi’s side too late. The protesters in Benghazi were not only protesting him, but the entire NTC’s inability to extend their power to Benghazi and protect them, as well as lack of transparency in the government. For more information, refer to the Transitional National Council section on Key Actors
15 March 2011: General Khalifa Haftar returns to Libya follow exile – Following a 22-year exile in the United States, General Khalifa returns to Libya to lead a rebel army in Eastern Libya. For more information, refer to General Khalifa section on Key Actors
19 March 2011: Gaddafi declares ceasefire in Libya, but fighting continues – The Gaddafi government declares an immediate ceasefire against all-democracy protesters through a televised statement by the Libyan Foreign minister, Moussa Koussa. Regardless of the speech, government forces were moving forward in its operations in the eastern city of Benghazi. In Misurata, the pro-government militia fired on the rebel-held city, claiming the lives of at least 25 people.
30 March 2011: Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa Defects and flees to United Kingdom – Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa Defects and flees to the United Kingdom through Tunisia. Koussa’s defection is a big blow to Gaddafi’s regime since he was one of his closest allies.
10– 11 April 2011: African Union proposes a roadmap to end conflict in Libya – The African Union proposed a roadmap to end the conflict in Libya. The road map contained a five-point plan which called for dialogue between the two sides, an inclusive transitional period, and political reforms which “meet the aspirations of the Libyan people.” The roadmap also called for an immediate ceasefire. Gaddafi accepted the proposed transitional road map. The Libyan opposition, the Transitional National Council, rejected the proposal, adding that any proposal that does not meet its vital demand will not be accepted. They demanded that Gaddafi step down from power. The international community stated their reservations about the AU proposal. The UK foreign secretary William Hague said that any ceasefire agreement must meet the terms of the UN resolution in full while Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, added that he believed that it’s unlikely that Gaddafi would respect any ceasefire.
30 April 2011: NATO airstrikes target Gaddafi’s family members – Gaddafi’s government issued a statement saying that he had survived an airstrike in Tripoli conducted by NATO. Though he survived, one of his sons, Seif al-Arab Muammar el-Qaddafi, was killed, along with his three grandchildren who are believed to less than 12 years old. In a news conference, the government’s spokesperson said that the airstrikes are illegal and are direct operations to assassinate the leader of Libya. This NATO airstrike is the second in seven days targeting immediate family members of Gaddafi. NATO has denied the allegations from the government that the airstrikes intend to kill Gaddafi, adding that “all NATO targets are military in nature and have been linked to Gaddafi regime’s systematic attack on the Libyan population and populated areas.”
27 June 2011: ICC issues arrest warrants for Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullahi Sunessi – The ICC issues arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullahi Sunessi. They are charged with crimes against humanity committed against opponents of his regime. The UNSC voted unanimously on February 26 to refer the Libyan crisis to the ICC which led to the lead prosecutor Moreno Ocampo to launch a formal investigation days later.
21 August 2011: Rebels enter Tripoli with little resistance – Rebel factions marched into Tripoli and arrested two of his sons. Citizens of the capital city celebrated this move. They advanced to the Green Square, a space associated with pro-Gaddafi rallies, and removed posters of the Libyan leader. The rebel leadership announced that the elite presidential guard has defected and surrendered to them. Officials within the Gaddafi administration maintain that the fight was not over, adding that the two sides were still engaging in fighting.
15 September – 20 October 2011: Libyan Rebels begin operation to take Sirte from Gaddafi troops and loyalists – The Libyan rebels, under the General Khalifa’s National Liberation Army (NLA), launch an operation to take Sirte, one of the last major strongholds loyal to Gaddafi. Sirte is one of Gaddafi’s stronghold since it is his birth home and was hiding out there since the protests began. Heavy fighting ensued immediately upon the NLA had entered the city limits. The rebels started taking major installations including the airport, and government buildings. NATO airstrikes supported the rebel offensive. On 20th October, the NLA announced their victory and claimed that the city of Sirte is under their control. A few days later, the NTC announced that Libya has officially been liberated and under their control.
16 September 2011: UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is formed – For more information, refer to the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) in the Key Actors section
20 – 24 October 2011: Muammar Gaddafi is deposed and killed – Muammar Gaddafi came to power in 1969 following a successful coup against King Idris. He came to power with the desire to create a pan-Arab state governed under state-sponsored socialism and the nationalisation of all resources. In his more than the four-decade rule of Libya, he was always in constant struggle with the Western powers, who considered him a terrorist, especially after the Lockerbie bombing. The Lockerbie bombing was the shooting down of a commercial airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie under the alleged direction of Gaddafi. His death came on the last day of the Sirte offensive by the National Liberation Army (NLA) to capture one of Gaddafi’s stronghold. During the final hours of the assault, while he attempted to escape the area, he was captured by rebels. Based on cell phone footage, Gaddafi was alive when he was captured. The NTC announced his death hours later. Cell phone footage shows that he was beaten and shot on the head by rebels who then dragged his lifeless body through the streets as a sign of victory. The NTC vowed to launch an investigation to Gaddafi’s death, but no such report was ever published. The death of Gaddafi was celebrated with mass celebrations in Sirte, Tripoli and Benghazi. His death, as some of the residents explained, is a good sign and can usher in a new era. Gaddafi is buried in a secret location in the desert.
24 October 2011: Human Rights Watch report that the rebels are executing Gaddafi loyalists in Sirte – In a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, they claim that a week after the fall of Sirte to the insurgents, the National Liberation Army (NLA), executed loyalist prisoners and soldiers to former president Gaddafi. Allegedly no-one was spared, children, men and women. According to the reports, residents have been finding decomposing bodies throughout the city. HRW reports at least 267 executed loyalists have been found across the city while mass graves outside the city with at least 300 bodies have also been discovered.
1 November 2011: Libya names Interim Prime Minister – Abdurrahim El Keib has been named as the new interim prime minister after Mahmoud Jibril stepped down. El- Keib is expected to form a new cabinet within the next two weeks.
18 November 2011: NATO announces end of Libya mission – NATO formally announced the end of its military mission in Libya after a meeting with member states in Brussels. The decision is influenced by the UNSC decision to end the mandate that authorised military action in Libya. Since their mission started seven months prior, they bombed over 6000 targets.
19 November 2011: Gaddafi’s son arrested – Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son, was arrested in Ubari, in the south of the country. Zintan rebel fighters captured him. The Prime Minister, who hailed the militants, said he is confident that the fighters will take care of Saif al-Islam until he gets “proper justice” and a fair trial at a later date. The Zintan fighters announced that they will only hand over Gaddafi’s son once there is a proper government in place.
UNSC voted to unfreeze assets of Libya’s central bank which had been in the control of Gaddafi. Approximately $40 billion in cash and assets were frozen. The US also vowed to unfreeze another $30 billion in assets of the Central Bank and its subsidiaries, the Libyan Foreign Bank. The UK followed in the footsteps of the US and UN and announced they would unfreeze the $10 billion held in Britain.
Trial of Gaddafi Intelligence Chief, Buzeid Dorda, began in Tripoli. He, who was arrested in the capital on September 2011, is charged with conspiring to kill civilians, providing weapons for the purpose of killing civilians, conspiring to provoke civil war, denying people the right to protest, unlawful detention and abuse of authority. This case will be a testament to what the Libyan judiciary can do despite their limited capacity during the conflict.
National Transitional Council (NTC) hands over to the General National Congress (GNC), the new assembly that will govern Libya. This is seen as the first peaceful transition of power in over 40 years. The GNC is a 200-member legislative assembly. The assembly was elected on July 7 after it was postponed for technical and logistical issues.
Militants belonging to the Ansar al-Sharia overran the US consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The attack was specifically designed to be on the anniversary of 9/11. Following the attack, the Libyan army has been raiding several militia outposts operating in Tripoli and its immediate outskirts specifically targeting those groups that ally to the Ansar al-Sharia. Additionally, four suspects were arrested by Libyan security forces. In Benghazi, protesters seize the headquarters of the group in the city, forcing them to leave the city. The protesters are against the rising influence of al-Qaida in Benghazi. One of the suspected orchestrators, Karim Ahmed Essam el-Azizi, was killed in a raid in Cairo a month after the attack.
By October 15, Ali Zeidan, a career diplomat and long-time Gaddafi critic, became the new prime minister, a week after the last prime minister, Mustafa Abushagur was dismissed. He was dismissed after his choice of ministers was protested by both the assembly and the citizens. Protesters stormed the national assembly building, forcing the assembly to cancel the vote on a proposed coalition government, at the end of the month.
In the security front, the Libyan army has vowed to dissolve rogue militia operating within Tripoli. To operate within the city, a militia needs to come under the authority of the state. Any non-sanctioned militia operating checkpoints will be prosecuted.
A new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report details mass murder by anti-Gaddafi militias since 2011. The report implicates Misrata-based militias who captured and disarmed members of Gaddafi’s convoy and subjected them to brutal beatings. Following the dictator’s demise, at least 66 of his supporters were executed. Their evidence comes from video footage that shows the abuse and torture described in the report.
Bani Walid, the last stronghold belonging to Gaddafi loyalist, was captured by government troops. The year-long operation is essential for the government as they try to reimpose their authority over the country who face constant threats from tribes and armed militias. Though the government claims victory, the situation remains tense.
A suspected car bomb exploded outside a major hospital in Benghazi killing 3 and wounding 14. Senior ministers said that there is a possibility that the explosion was accidental rather than a bomb. The car that blew up was carrying explosive materials used in making anti-tank mines.
The General National Congress (GNC) passed the isolation law which bans all Gaddafi-era officials from ever running for office. This was seen as a victory for the government since they were able to distance themselves from the atrocities from the previous government and holding them accountable for their mistakes.
There has been an increase of kidnapping in Libya, targeting high profile officials. On July 29, unknown militia attempted to assassinate Libyan navy officials with a car bomb. On 10 October, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was freed several hours after being kidnapped by a rebel group operating in Tripoli. The rebel group, Libyan Revolutionary Operations Chambers, said the prime minister is corrupt, citing him issuing cheques to military guards who had been blocking oil refineries in eastern Libya. Additionally, the group said that the ‘arrest’ was due to the comments by US Secretary of State’s comments that Libya played a role in the arrest of Abu Anas al-Liby, an al-Qaida leader. On 18 November, Military governor of Benghazi escaped an assassination attempt when his convoy was attacked, killing one person and seriously wounding another in his entourage. The deputy intelligence chief was also reported to be kidnapped on the same day in Tripoli.
Province leaders announce a regional government named Barqa or Cyrenaica to challenge weak central authority in Tripoli who they believe have failed to unite the country. One of the tribal leaders that approve the move is the head of petroleum protection force in the region whose forces guard the biggest ports Ras Lanuf and es Sider. The leader of the new self-declared government is Prime Minister Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, an air force commander, who will govern four provinces in eastern Libya, Benghazi, Tobruk, Ajdabiya and Jebel Akhdar.
Libyan PM declared a 48-hour state of emergency in Tripoli following fresh clashes between warring factions and militias. Two days before the declaration, at least 40 people were killed by gunmen while protesting the dissolution of unlawful armed groups.
Libyan government announced three days of mourning after a suicide bombing killed 13 soldiers and cancellation of Independence Day celebration. The explosion took place at a checkpoint east of Benghazi which had received several threats since four people were arrested in November for carrying weapons, explosives, money and hitlist. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
A bomb was thrown over the school wall while children were playing at the playground of a primary school in Benghazi, 12 children were injured, 2 critically, by the attack. There was no immediate claim for the attack
1 million Libyans took to the polls to elect a panel to draft a new constitution. The 60-member committee will be given at least 120 days to drafter a new charter to lead Libya. To ensure a smooth voting process, the Interior Minister deployed more than 40,000 police to the 1500 polling station. The police were ineffective in some of the polling stations due to bombs and overnight aerial assaults. Additionally, the police were also attacked by unidentified gunmen. The attacks are not surprising since two Libyan militias, the Sawaiq and Qaqa, called on the parliament to hand over power two days before the vote.
Jordanian Ambassador, Fawaz al-Aitan, kidnapped in Tripoli by masked armed men who shot at his car, wounding his driver. The gunmen demanded the release of Mohamed Dersi, a Libyan jailed for life in 2007 for plotting to blow up the main Jordanian airport. The latest kidnapping is part of a series of abductions of key officials from the capital city. Earlier in the year, five Egyptian diplomats, secretary of Tunisia Ambassador to Libya and a South Korean trade official were kidnapped.
Several people wounded when armed men fired at parliamentarians during a special assembly session to elect a new prime minister. It’s unclear who is responsible for the attack or what is the motive of the attack, according to one of the MPs. The attack came a month and a half after the parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), voted to oust Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. Abdullah al-Thinni, who voted to be interim prime minister after Zeidan’s dismissal, resigned from his position two weeks before the attack citing threat to his life and his family. When the gunmen attacked the parliament, the MPs were voting between Ahmed Maetig, a well-known businessman and Omar al-Hassi, a figure that has good connections with the Islamist groups in the city.
Various armed groups, including extremist groups, are fighting for control of Benghazi. The city of Benghazi began as a stronghold for General Khalifa, but as time went on, small pockets of the city were controlled by armed militias and ISIS-allied groups. Thus far, fighting is limited between General Khalifa- allied forces and other rebel and Islamist groups. General Khalifa vowed to ‘liberate’ Benghazi of what he calls ‘terrorists’ in operation dubbed “Operation Dignity.” Like in Tripoli, the armed groups aim to control critical installations such as the airport, oil pipelines, airbases, and government buildings. General Khalifa’s campaign was not too successful as armed groups, by the end of July, were controlling the majority of the major installations in the city while the General only controlled the airport. Also, General Khalifa urged Turkey and Qatar nationals to leave Benghazi, saying that both countries are supporting armed groups in the city. Turkey evacuated its citizens in the city, as well as in Tripoli, out of fear of retaliation.
Since June, fighting within Benghazi has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Many have died as a result of an air raid conducted by forces loyal to General Khalifa. To tip the favours to their sides, the rebel and Islamist groups have turned to suicide bombings, targeting soldiers and militias loyal to General Khalifa. Most of the blasts have managed to kill more than 20 soldiers and militants at a go. Clashes have also driven an estimated 280,000 people out of their homes, with at least 100,000 heading towards Tripoli. The diplomatic community has been calling for an immediate end to the unrest but with no success. Egypt and UAE are being accused of funding various factions with the city.
Gunmen once again attack the Libyan parliament, this time demanding the suspension of congress and hand over of power. The gunmen identified themselves as loyalists to General Khalifa. Heavy fighting between the gunmen and forces loyal to the government ensued. As the fighting continued, a statement on behalf of General Khalifa was read on television, saying that the parliament should stop their activities. The statement added that the parliament should hand over power to a 60-member body elected to rewrite the Libyan constitution. Days after the announcement, Zintan fighters, rebel fighters allied to General Khalifa, increased the number of militants to Tripoli and began an offensive against the Tripoli government.
Various groups, including extremist groups, are fighting for control of Tripoli. Armed groups fighting in Tripoli include the Zintan fighters, who are allied to General Khalifa, and Libya Dawn, an alliance of several Islamist armed groups. One of the critical installations that each group is interested in obtaining is the Tripoli International Airport. For this reason, the airport is frequently targeted by mortar fire and rockets for several hours a day. Zintan fighters had had firm control of the airport for three years before the battle for Tripoli began. Fighting for the airport has led to severe damage to the airport, as well as the death of at least 11 civilians. By October, Libya Dawn, a militia from Misrata in western Libya, controlled large parts of Tripoli. Casualties have increased significantly as the battle for Tripoli continued. The fighting has forced hundreds of thousands of Libyans to flee from Tripoli. In just the first three weeks of October, the UN reported that over 100,000 had been displaced and another 150,000 are attempting to flee the country as migrant workers and refugees.
The battle for Tripoli has led to many countries, as well as the UN, to vacate their staff from the city due to the increased instability. After the US abandoned their embassy in Tripoli, militias stormed the embassy as a sign of victory. Though the UN has asked their staff to vacate the city, they have stepped up their efforts to end the conflict. The UN-brokered talks aim to bridge the gap between warring groups that support the two rival governments and parliaments following the June election. Libya Dawn, as the strongest militia operating in Tripoli, rejected UN talks unless its opponents are all disarmed, and their leaders arrested. Without the cooperation of Libya Dawn in the UN-brokered talks, it’s unlikely that fighting will stop, let alone the ceasefire to be obeyed.
President Obama announced the capture of Abu Khatallah, a key suspected linked to the deadly attack on US consulate in 2012 that killed the US ambassador.
29 November 2017: Federal Jury clears Libyan man over US diplomatic compound in Benghazi – Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a Libyan man, has been cleared of the most serious charges in connection with the deadly attack on a US diplomatic compound in Libya’s Benghazi attack. He, who has been awaiting trial since 2014 following his capture, was charged with orchestrating the September 11, 2012 attack that killed the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. He was acquitted of 14 charges but convicted on four terrorism-related charges. His trial began on October 2nd,
Following the change in the transitional constitution, Libya is set to hold elections on 25 June in 1600 voting stations around the country. The 25 June election is the third legislative election since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. Libyans are choosing from the 1628 candidates contesting for 200 seats in parliament or the House of Representative (HoR). The HoR is meant to replace the General National Congress which has become ineffective due to a political deadlock within the parliament. 42% of the 1.5 million registered voters turned out for the election, according to the election commission. The number of registered voters is less than half of the number of Libyans who registered to vote in 2012. Many citizens chose not to register, viewing the process as a waste of time. Rebel and armed groups brought an added problem during the election period since, despite calls for a ceasefire, gunfire could be heard near polling stations. On 22 July, the parliamentary election results were announced, with the election board naming only 188 out of the 200 members. The 12 members would be announced later since there was a delay from some of the electoral districts due to fighting. The parliament had an increase of nationalist and Muslim Brotherhood – leaning members.
Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni’s government and the House of Representative (HoR) was forced out of Tripoli by Libya Dawn, an Islamist group originally from Misrata in western Libya. The government, henceforth, relocated to Tobruk. Following the expulsion from Tripoli, al-Thinni has been on a quest to rebuild his government but with little success due to a deadlock with the parliament who has been rejecting his suggestions for a new cabinet.
- Meanwhile, A rival government remained in Tripoli composed of the members of the previous parliament, also known as the General National Congress (GNC), who are supported by Libya Dawn. The GNC elected Islamist-backed Omar al-Hassi as the Prime Minister of the Tripoli-based government and replaced the HoR with a new parliament.
Human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis was gunned down in Benghazi. Witnesses say that the assailants wore military uniforms when they attacked her at her home. She was pronounced dead that the hospital.
Pentagon believes that Egypt and UAE have been conducting covert airstrikes in Libya. The first alleged airstrike took place the weekend of 21st This accusation comes from the alliance of Islamist and Misrata militias, i.e. Libyan Dawn Forces. Egypt and UAE have categorically denied the reports. Egypt added that they are “not involved in any military activity and does not have any military presence on Libyan territory.”
In a meeting in Madrid, representatives of the Tobruk government, as well as representatives of 15 neighbouring nations, have unanimously rejected the idea of military intervention to restore stability to Libya.
This decision comes at a time when information about foreign countries either supporting armed groups or conducting independent airstrikes in Libya. Sudan military plane was intercepted earlier in the month loaded with ammunition in Libyan airspace. The Sudanese government response to the incident was that they were carrying equipment for a joint Libyan-Sudanese state border force. The Libyan government believes that the equipment and ammunition were meant to arm Islamist rebel groups in Kufra, a border town with Sudan. Few weeks before this incident, the Pentagon revealed that Egypt and UAE are conducting secret airstrikes in Libya.
Pro UN-backed government militias recapture territory in Benghazi, which is the stronghold for General Khalifa. The territory recovered belonged to Ansar al-Sharia, a radical extremist group. During the two weeks offensive, at least 254 people have been killed, according to medical sources in the city.
Libya’s supreme court rules that the general election held in June were unconstitutional, therefore, the country’s parliament and the government should be dissolved. The court ruled that the march amendment to the transitional constitution that allowed the June election to take place was illegal. The dispute about the June election resulted in two rival government/parliaments, the Tripoli and Tobruk based governments. Powerful militias from the western Libyan city of Misrata deployed their fighters to control part of Tripoli and supported the Tripoli-based government.
ICC referred Libya to the UNSC for not handing over Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son for trial. ICC insists that he should stand trial on charges relating to the repression of the 2011 uprising that toppled his father. Gaddafi is being held by a militia in Zintan who have refused to hand him over to the Tripoli-based government due to their lack of trust.
AFRICOM Commander, in a briefing for reporters, said that ISIS has set up training camps in eastern Libya. The training camps are “mainly about people coming for training and logistic support right now.” He continued to say that they currently don’t know about the command and control network.
Mohamed al-Zahawi, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia armed group, died of wounds he sustained while fighting pro-government troops several months ago. His death comes two months after the UNSC added the group, its decentralised groups in Benghazi, and Derna, to its list of terrorist groups
For more information, refer to Ansar al-Sharia section in Key Actors
The Tobruk-based government dropped the law barring Gaddafi officials from holding government positions. The law was initially passed in May 2013 when the Tobruk HoR was part of the General National Congress (GNC). The law specifically stated that the officials could not hold leadership roles in country’s state firms like the national oil corporation, its universities and judicial bodies.
At least seven civilians, including 3 children, were killed in Egyptian airstrikes in Derna. The airstrikes come after IS-Libya claimed responsibility for kidnapping and beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.
IS-Libya claims responsibility for deadly attacks in Quba in an apparent retaliatory attack against Egypt’s airstrikes. IS-Libya conducted two attacks, one where an attacker drove an explosives-packed ambulance into a petrol station while motorists were lining up. Twin suicide bombers detonated vehicles next to the house of the parliament speaker and security headquarters. The attacks killed 45 and injured at least 70.
General Khalifa has been sworn in as Libya’s army chief by the UN-recognized House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk. As he was sworn in by the Tobruk based Prime Minister, Abdullahi al-Thinni, General Khalifa pledged to continue to fight against ‘terrorism’. Analysts are concerned that the move by the Tobruk government can escalate the tension between the Tripoli and Tobruk governments.
- IS-Libya clashed with an armed group loyal to the Islamist ‘Libya Dawn’ alliance in the city of Misrata. The IS-Libya erected checkpoints on the highway to oil-rich Sidra when deadly fighting between the two sides ensued. IS-Libya dispatched an estimated 500 fighters to the city to proceed with the expansion of their territory. IS-Libya has also been increasing the number of attacks in the city.
- Meanwhile, in Derna, IS-Libya’s territorial sovereignty is being challenged by General Khalifa’s forces. Egyptian and Libyan airstrikes have also targeted the city. In the last quarter of 2014, the Islamic Youth Shura Council, operating in Derna, pledged their allegiance to ISIS, which strengthened their foothold in the city. Human Rights Watch indicated that many of the fighters fighting in Derna are foreigners from Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt.
General Khalifa announced his forces have launched an offensive to ‘liberate’ Tripoli. The announcement comes just weeks after the Tobruk based government appointed the General as the head of the military. His troops have been deployed to southern Tripoli in an attempt to seize control of the city. The UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, condemned the attack, saying “if it is a major operation, then it will clearly have an impact on the dialogue.”
IS-Libya claims suicide bombing that killed seven in Benghazi. A VBIED drove into an army checkpoint in the Lithi district of Benghazi, killing five soldiers and two civilians. The attack took place as a representative of the Tripoli and Tobruk based government were holding a meeting to discuss the six-point proposal by the UN aimed at ending the conflict. The Tripoli government conducted airstrikes on suspected IS-L positions. Before the attack, there has been an escalation of attacks between General Khalifa’s forces and IS-Libya fighters.
The UN-backed government in Tripoli launched offensives to retake the eastern city of Benghazi from various factions. The Tripoli government is supported by Majlis al-Shura, an umbrella of powerful armed groups in Tripoli.
As the forces loyal to Tripoli-based government pushes through Benghazi, Al-Shura council fighters, which the al-Qaida allied group Ansar al-Sharia are part off, and General Khalifa’s forces have been heavily fighting.
Abdullah al-Thinni, the Tobruk-based Prime Minister, under the House of Representatives, says he survived an assassination attempt after gunmen opened fire as he left a parliamentary session. Before the assassination attempt, protesters had gathered at the seat of parliament at a naval base in the city, to demonstrate the inefficiencies related to the government.
A court in Libya has sentenced Saif al-Islam, the son of Gaddafi, to death by firing squad. He was convicted in absentia, alongside eight other senior members of the former regime. They were found guilty of war crimes and suppressing peaceful protest during the revolution. Saif al-Islam has been held by former rebel group in Zintan that opposes the Tripoli government. The rebel group refused to hand him over since they do not trust the Tripoli government.
The UNSC has approved EU naval operations to seize and dispose of vessels operated by human traffickers. Additionally, six EU warship which will be patrolling the international waters will catch and arrest human traffickers as a way to curb the flow of refugees into Europe.
At least five people are confirmed dead and another 30 injured when rockets were fired upon protestors. The protestors were demonstrating against the UN-proposed peace deal, according to local medics. 15 days before the attack and demonstrations, the UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, had presented a list of names to head the power-sharing government, though both warring governments rejected the proposed names. The Tripoli-based government said they would prefer if the earlier draft would be reconsidered. Though both sides rejected the list, the UN envoy said that the process will go on, and he will not allow for “small groups and personalities to hijack the process.” Western and Arab states welcomed the proposed list of names of the power-sharing government.
The Pentagon confirmed the death of Abu Nabil, the leader of the Islamic State in Libya. The airstrike took place on November 13 in the city of Derna. The US maintains that the airstrike will “degrade IS-Libya’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya and planning an external attack on the US.” Abu Nabil, an Iraqi national, is also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi.
The Skhirat agreement aims to establish a single Government of National Accord (GNA) ad national institutions which would ensure broad representation. The agreement is between the two rival parliaments and governments – the UN-backed General National Congress (GNC) and Western-recognized House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk. The agreement calls for the creation of a 17-member cabinet, headed by current Prime Minister of UN-backed government Fayez al-Serraj. Additionally, the government calls for the creation of a 9-member Presidential Council who were given responsibility for selecting the national unity government.
The Skhirat began in 6 March 2015: Latest UN-sponsored peace talks on Libya begin in Morocco. Latest UN-sponsored peace talks begin in Shkirate, Morocco. The talks aim to end the political stalemate between the Tripoli and Tobruk based governments, with the intention of ending the conflict. The peace talks took place just three days after the Tobruk government gave a green light for its representatives to attend UN-brokered talks. The talks began when tensions were high since the Tobruk based government had dispatched warplanes to carry out airstrikes in Tripoli. During the talks, both sides agreed to halt airstrike until the peace talks ended three days later. Also, before the talks, the Tobruk government had urged the UN to recognise them as the sole representative of the Libyan people. Moreover, just before the peace talks, the Tobruk government appointed General Khalifa as the Army chief. The process to create a new unity government was a year-long process with several peace conferences held in European and middle eastern cities that resulted in numerous signed agreements. The two rival governments could not agree on key issues such as elections and size of the Presidential Council. The UN envoy to Libya, Bernardo Leon, urged both sides to accept a way forward due to the rising influence of IS-Libya. Internal struggles in both camps, which included the resignation of representatives, also slowed down the process of reaching an agreement.
Libya’s Presidential Council announces Unity Government. The new government, as stipulated in the Shkirat agreement, aims to unite the country’s warring factions under a UN-backed plan. The Presidential Council, which was given the authority to create the new unity government, operates from Tunisia. Interestingly, only 7 out of the 9 members singed the document that named 32 ministers, one of whom is a woman.
25 January 2016: Libya’s parliament rejects UN-backed Unity government: Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament, House of Representatives (HoR), voted against the UN-backed unity government with rival authorities based in Tripoli. 89 out of 104 members of the parliament rejected the UN-sponsored unity Presidential Council. The HoR called for the boycott of two current members of the Presidential Council, Ali al-Gotrani and Omar Al-Aswad.
February 2016: Libya’s Presidential council names Ministers of the new UN-backed government: Before their arrival to Tripoli, the Presidential Council named a list of 18 ministers who would be part of the GNA. Interestingly, the PC refused to put their signatures on the proposed government. The latest list differed from the list they had submitted on 19th January which named 32 ministers. The previous list, which was rejected by the Tobruk-based parliament, was signed by seven out of the nine members of PC.
Two Serbians working at the embassy, who were kidnapped in November 2015, are believed to be among the 49 killed in US airstrikes on a suspected IS-Libya training camp. The airstrike was targeting Tunisian Noureddine Chouchane, the alleged mastermind for two attacks on tourists in Tunisia in 2015 which killed dozens. The two kidnapped Serbians worked as a communication officer and driver for the Serbian diplomatic envoy in Libya. They were abducted when their envoy, which the Serbian ambassador was part of, was ambushed near Sabratha.
Following the signing of the agreement on December 2015, the UN-backed government, Government of National Accord (GNA), has officially moved to Tripoli to ‘govern’ the country. GNA returns to Tripoli, from Tunisia, despite threats from rival factions in the capital city. Their arrival was met with sporadic gunfire. Members of the Presidential Council, which is tasked with creating the new unity government, came by sea to set up a temporary seat of power at a naval base. Libya’s new UN-supported Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj threatened to send names of 17 politicians, militia leaders, and religious figures to INTERPOL and UNSC for “supporting terrorism” if they continue to “impede the democratic transition.”
Reports indicate that the new unity government might be disarray after the unrecognised Tripoli Prime Minister Khalifa Ghweil refused to stand down. Khalifa Ghweil, the leader of National Salvation Government, urged his ministers not to stand down in a statement. The statement said that “given the requirements of public interest…you are requested to continue your mission in accordance with the law.” The statement also issued a warning against any of the ministers who decide to work with the new government. This new statement is contrary to previous reports that the National Salvation Government had accepted to join the unity government.
For more information about National Salvation Government, refer to its section in Key Actors
Eritrean Medhane Yehdego Mered, the alleged people-smuggling kingpin has been extradited to Italy. The 35-year-old, who was arrested in Sudan two weeks prior, is accused of smuggling people through Libya. His accomplice, Ethiopian-born Ermias Ghermay, is still on the run. According to the lead prosecutor, Mered is being investigated for aiding undocumented migration to Europe since 2012 and possible banking fraud for the transfer of funds to pay for the people smuggling. The investigation into Mered indicated that he had paid $45,000 in one occasion to Libyan officials to facilitate the removal of refugees out of prison so that they can make their journey to Europe.
Fighting between pro-government forces and IS-Libya over Sirte continues. In one of the bloodiest days this month, the battle left at least 36 dead and almost 150 wounded. Most of the deceased were pro-government forces. Though they have suffered major losses, they have been rapidly capturing ground west of Sirte at the end of May and are slowly advancing to the centre of the city. Most importantly, they have recaptured part of the “700 neighbourhood” which is where IS-Libya had positioned themselves due to the tall buildings. Earlier in the month, the forces captured two barracks, as well as a bridge and an intersection that lead to the western entrance of the Sirte. They had also captured Garadabiya air base as part of their campaign to capture the city from IS-Libya. In addition to capturing key instillations, militias loyal to the UN-backed government have captured coastal towns near Sirte. In August, Pro-government forces, who are mainly from the nearby city of Misrata, recapture IS-Libya headquarters in Sirte, the Ouagadougou complex. The pro-government militia, known as Al Bonyan Brigade, were supported by US airstrikes, known as Operation Odyssey Lightning, which began 1 August. The offensive will continue until the entire city is under the control of the UN-backed government.
France, American and British operate from the Benina base near Benghazi. The foreign militaries, who claim to be allied to the UN-backed government, say they are in the area to monitor IS-Libya’s progress in the city. Though the foreign militaries claim that they are in Libya supporting the UN-backed government, information has been presented to show that they are also supporting forces loyal to General Khalifa, who controls sections of Benghazi. Le Monde, a French newspaper, revealed that the French have been providing intelligence that led to the killing of IS-Libya, Aby Nabil, in Derna in November 2015, by LNA troops. In addition to the expose, air traffic control recording, released at the beginning of the month, indicate that the foreign militaries shave been coordinating airstrikes in support of General Khalifa. The airstrikes target General Khalifa’s enemies; some are Islamists while others are political adversaries. On 26 July, the UN-backed government condemned French military involvement in the Libyan conflict. This condemnation came after France confirmed that their special forces have been operating in the country, without the knowledge of the recognised government. France was forced to admit this after three of their soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Libya during an intelligence-gathering operation. The plane is believed to have been shot down by an “Islamic militia.” In November, a Libyan media house obtained audio recordings where US pilot speaking with the control tower of General Khalifa-controlled airbase. The incident is believed to have taken place between June and August.
Military offensives by forces loyal to General Khalifa to control ports in Libya’s oil crescent began on 11 September. According to Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), who are in charge of protecting oil terminals, General Khalifa’s forces attacked at Zeuitina, Ras Lanfu and Es Sider ports to the east of Sirte. By 14 September, Khalifa’s forces had captured oil port of Brega. With a firm hold on Brega, Khalifa and his forces have seized four oil ports in total. According to the military sources within the UN-backed government, this means that the general now controls the vital oil installations in Libya. The International Community and the UN-backed government condemned General Khalifa’s offensives both in the oil crescent. PFG attempted to retake some of the ports from the militias but were unable to do so.
Members of a militia group allied to Libyan UN-backed government have retaken control of the coastal city of Sirte from the IS-Libya. IS-Libya has been in control of the city since 2015. The number of civilians who are trapped in the city during the government advances are still uncertain. It is believed that there were 6000 IS-Libya fighters. The operation to reclaim the city of Sirte started in May. Following months of fighting, the city is in the rubble, with many of the houses, banks, mosques and hospitals destroyed. Since IS-Libya took over the city in 2015, ¾ of the population have fled.
Following through with his promise of driving Islamist forces out of the Benghazi and its neighbourhood, Libyan National Army (LNA) forces have drive out Ansar al-Sharia out of Qanfouda district. LNA claims that they have freed more than 60 people from captivity. Ansar al-Sharia has presence in Al-Saberi and Souq al-Hout districts in Benghazi.
The surprise meeting between General Khalifa and UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez occurred in the United Arab Emirates. During the two-hour meeting, the two rivals discussed army-related amendments to an agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015. They also discussed the reduction of the members of the Presidential Council from nine to three with the two leaders as part of the council, as well as the head of the House of Representatives, Aquila Saleh.
Libyan Foreign Minister, Mohamed Siyala, said General Khalifa could be Libya’s army chief if he recognises the UN-backed government as the only authority. This announcement came just a week after General Khalifa and Fayez al-Serraj met in the United Arab Emirates.
At least 141 people, mostly soldiers loyal to General Khalifa, were killed in an attack on Barak al-Shat airbase in southern Libya. LNA allege that militias loyal to UN-backed government carried out summary execution following the assault. Tripoli government denied allegations that they had ordered the attack and said it would set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegation.
International NGOs, SOS Mediterranee, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children and Jugend Rettet, allege that Libyan coastguard opened fire at the refugee boats. About 70 people jumped into the water after they heard the gunshots which endangered their lives further. Additionally, the aid organisations say that two Libyan coastguard officers stole mobile phones and money from passengers.
Egypt carries out 6 airstrikes at camps near Derna where armed men responsible for a deadly attack on Coptic Christians are believed to have trained. The attack on Coptic Christians, which took place a day before the airstrikes, resulted in the deaths of 28 people in Minya province in Egypt. ISIS-Sinai province claimed responsibility for the attack.
Ansar al-Sharia armed group announced its own dissolution, adding that they have been “weakened” by fighting in Benghazi. The group has suffered heavy losses that wiped out its leaders and decimated its fighters. LNA had intensified their offensives to oust Ansar al-Sharia fighters from their remaining strongholds in Benghazi.
The Lebanese national, Ghassan Salame, previously serves as political advisor to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), where he played a critical role in bringing together Iraqi factions to the negotiation table. He also served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General (2003-2007, 2012), and as a member of the Commission on Rakhine State (Myanmar) chaired by Kofi Annan. He was also a professor of International Relations at Science-Po and founding Dean of its Paris School in International Affairs.
General Khalifa announced that they had taken full control of Benghazi from rival armed groups. Their campaign to claim Benghazi began three years ago. In a televised speech, he assured people of Benghazi that the city has “entered a new era of safety and peace.” Many soldiers of LNA died during the battle of Benghazi; many of them from landmines, according to a military force. Before officially taking over the city, the pro-government forces in the area, Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) retreated from the area which allowed LNA to take over.
Following talks in Paris with French President Macron as the mediator, Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj agree to commit to the term of the ceasefire while agreeing to fresh elections. Ghassan Salame, the new Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSML), was present at the meetings. The discussion between the two warring leaders ended with a 10-point joint declaration where the leaders acknowledged that the “solution to the Libyan crisis can only be a political one and requires a national reconciliation process involving all Libyans.”
The human rights group, Human Rights Solidarity (HRS), which is based in Tripoli, called for urgent action to stop what they call mass killing in Benghazi. Their allegations come just days after six bodies were found a dumpster in Shabneh neighbourhood in Benghazi. The six bodies showed signs of torture with bullet holes in the head and chest areas. Five of the six bodies were identified by family members who say that the victims were “kidnapped by military forces. “The rights group concluded that the bodies were recently dumped since the blood was still running for some of the bodies. HRS added that this is the third incident in the last month where they have found dumped bodies around the city.
US government says that a suspect linked to the 2012 Benghazi attack, Mustafa al-Imam, has been captured in Libya. He will face justice in the US where he was charged with killing or conspiring to kill a person during an attack on a federal facility, providing material support for “terrorists” and using a firearm in connection with a violent crime.
Reports from various sources indicate that there is a thriving ‘slave trade’ where African refugees and migrants bought, sold and murdered in Libya. These reports show photos of and videos of migrants and refugees being auctioned off as merchandise. According to a human trafficker, many refugees and migrants are held for ransom or forced into prostitution and sexual exploitation to pay their captors and smugglers. The smugglers’ murdered some of the migrants and refugees in the open desert. Those who die are never identified, and many end up being buried without names or proper graves.
These reports have enraged the international community, many urging the Libyan government to take urgent action to end the practice. The Libyan ambassador to the UN promised the international community that the claims would be investigated. French Ambassador to the UN urged the UNSC to impose sanctions on people and entities involved in the slave trade in Libya. Additionally, Libya reached a deal with EU and AU leaders, which will allow the emergency reparation of refugees and migrants facing abuse in detention camps in the country.
Amnesty International accuses European governments of knowingly exposing thousands of refugees and migrants to torture and abuse in their efforts to curb migration. They add that since late 2016, the EU member states, particularly Italy, have implemented a series of measures aimed at closing off the migratory route through Libya and across the central Mediterranean. Amnesty adds that by doing so, the EU countries are not taking into consideration the migrants and refugees trapped within Libya. Those trapped in Libya are subjected to remain in detention centres where they held indefinitely and routinely exposed to severe human rights violations, including torture.
General Khalifa says that since the UN-backed government agreement was renewed only once after its approval by the UN, it is obsolete. He added that since it was not renewed to operate from 17 December 2017, all institutions created by this agreement are void. He added that these institutions “have not obtained full legitimacy since the first day they started working.”
A residential district in Benghazi wa shit by two car bombs, killing 34 people and wounding 87. The first bomb took place outside a mosque as worshippers were leaving evening prayer and the second, the more powerful of the bombs, went off minutes later as rescue workers and security forces arrived at the scene. There is no immediate claim for responsibility.
Libyan commander, Mahmoud al-Werfalli, has handed himself to ICC officials following the release of his arrest warrant in August 2017. He is accused of the alleged summary execution of dozens of people. The ICC has been placing pressure on General Haftear to hand him over to the tribunal. Al-Werfali is a member of an elite unit of the LNA. His arrest did not seat well with some of the citizens and military officials alike who took to the streets to protest immediately after he turned himself in.
A UN-leaked report discusses the findings of the embargo violations in Libya. The report says armed groups in Libya continue to receive foreign support from nations. Additionally, UN member states, especially Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, continue to sell or supply arms to Libya. Egypt is also accused of conducting airstrikes in Libya that support General Khalifa’s ambitions. The report also implicated armed groups fighting in Libya. The report detailed how pro-Haftar groups are kidnapping and torturing journalists, activists and religious figures in Eastern Libya.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of former president Gaddafi, announced that he plans to run for president in the scheduled December 2018 election. Saif’s, who was released from prison in June 2017 where he was found guilty for war crimes and sentenced to death but was pardoned, whereabouts are unknown. His spokesperson said that he is Libya and is interested in becoming part of the political process. He can run for a government position after the UN-backed government revoked the law passed in 2013 that banned Gaddafi-era officials from holding public office in 2015.
Islamic State in Libya claims attack on Libya’s electoral commission headquarter in Tripoli which killed at least 12 people and injured several others. Those killed included three officials and four security officers. The attack started when two suicide bombers denoted his suicide vest then armed assailants stormed the building. The headquarters were registering voters before the election expected at the end of the year.
General Khalifa’s troops have entered Derna city. It’s disputed who controls the city as al-Qaida linked and IS in Libya groups have held the city, but the LNA have besieged the city for two years. The LNA has been on the mission to take the city since 7 May 2018 when the soldiers began conquering the outskirts of the city, marching towards the centre of the city. Egypt announced they conducted airstrikes against the Derna Shura Council, who recently changed their name to Derna Protection Forces, in Derna. The government said that the airstrikes are retaliatory airstrikes for the bombing of the Coptic bus in Upper Egypt. In the process, two LNA soldiers were killed in a car bomb, and another was abducted from a checkpoint. Once entering the city centre, intense fighting took place between 7 and 28 June 2018. The citizens of the city have been asking the LNA to allow people with a safe exit from the city. By 9 June, over 2000 families had been displaced, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Libya transports the bodies of the 20 Coptic Christians to Egypt who were beheaded in 2015 by ISIS militants. The group released a video showing the beheading in 2015, which Egypt and the Coptic Church confirmed the authenticity, which caused international outrage. The 20 men were kidnapped int two separate attacks in December 2014 and January 2015 from the coastal town of Sirte.
Four parties have agreed to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on 10 December. This agreement comes after days of negotiations held in the French capital. The four parties are; 1) the UN-backed Tripoli government, 2) the HoR Tobruk-based government, 3) High Council of State, Libya’s highest consultative body, formed from the 2012 parliament and 4) Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army. Though the parties have agreed to hold elections, it’s important to note that nothing was signed during the meeting. It was more a verbal agreement to set dates. This agreement also comes weeks after the Islamic State attacked Libya’s electoral commission headquarters in Libya.
- On June 11, the new Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini blocked the Aquarius refugee ship carrying 629 refugees and migrants, 123 of whom are unaccompanied minors and 7 pregnant women. The boat is operated by the European charity SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders. In his statement, the Interior Minister, who is from the far-right League party, said that Italy would say no to human trafficking and illegal immigration. Italy has told the boat operators to dock in Malta, but Malta has also refused for the boat to dock there.
UNHRC commented on the situation, urging EU countries to allow the ship to dock and deal with the “wider issues” later. Germany said that EU countries need to fulfil their humanitarian responsibilities. Following discussions, Spain has offered safe harbour in the eastern port of Valencia. Though MSF officials were thankful to Spain, they say it is preferable to dock at the closest port since the journey to Spain is an extra four days. 500 of the 629 migrants and refugees on board the Aquarius were transferred to two Italian coastguard and navy vessels, which will help transport them to Spain.
A Libyan criminal court sentenced 45 people to death over murder of demonstrators in Tripoli in 2011. They are accused of opening fire on dozens of rebel forces during the uprising that brought the defeat, and eventual killing, of Colonel Gaddafi. In addition to the 45 death sentences, 54 people were given 5-year jail sentence while another 22 were acquitted of all charges relating to deaths of demonstrators.
Thee UN-backed Tripoli government declared a state of emergency following intense fighting in the capital city. Currently, the struggle is between local militia and al-Kani tribal fighters from Tarhouna, southeast of Tripoli. Interestingly, both sides are allied to the UN-backed government. Over 30 people are reported dead in just a few days.
Five days later, the UN announced that UN says that rival militias factions fighting in Tripoli have agreed to a ceasefire. This comes after 47 people killed in the violence and other 1800 families displaced according to WHO. The agreement of the ceasefire also comes when militias in western Libya were able to hold to the terms of the ceasefire for only several hours.
Fighting between militias allied to UN-backed Tripoli government and General Khalifa, which began on August 26, has cost the lives of 96 people, some of whom are civilians. The constant gun battles, which has so far been localised in Southern Salah al-Din district, has made it difficult for aid agencies to reach the affect families. The fighting has violated the September 4 UN-brokered ceasefire deal.
Eastern Libyan authorities have resumed the investigation of the unexplained killing of a rebel commander, Abdel Fattah Younes, during the 2011 uprising that toppled Gaddafi. The investigation came from a direct command from Haftar himself to the military prosecutor in the region to “immediately and urgently reopen the investigation. Though the family of the slain commander needs to know what happened to him, the contentious case risks stirring new tension between forces loyal to General Khalifa and UN-backed administration in Tripoli. A previous investigation has implicated Ali Essawi, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Transitional National Council, whose case was later dropped. The renewed efforts to investigate began as a result of Ali Essawi’s appointment as the Economy and Industry Minister by PM Fayez al=Serraj.
Rebel leader Khalifa extends an olive branch to rival UN-recognised government. He said that he will not seek to topple the Tripoli-based government and will wait for the elections aimed to take place in early 2019. Previously, the elections were to take place on 10 December 2018 but did not take place due to time constraints. Khalifa’s statement was made at the Italian-led peace conference, which he had indicated that he would not participate in, where the two rival leaders met for the first time since the May 2018.
Also, at the peace conference was HoR government head, Aguila Saleh and Khalid al-Mishri, the speaker of the upper chamber of parliament in Tripoli. Regional governments, Egypt and Tunisia, were present at the conference, as well as European and American counterparts.
Upon inspection of the Souq al-Khamis migrant detention centre in Khoms ran by Libya’s Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM), scribbles can be seen on the wall to warn incoming arrivals. The scribbles on the wall include, “Where is UNHRC?” “Libya is a market of human beings,” “Who comes to this house, may God help you.” The scribbles on the wall are further proof to support previously released documentaries and reports that illustrate sustained abuse. According to al-Jazeera, they have received multiple reports and conducted interviews with 7 migrants who were present at the detention centre that show that the guards at the centre are selling refugees and migrants to smuggling groups.
IS-Libya Fighters stormed the Libya foreign ministry building in Tripoli killing at least 3 people, including a senior civil servant, while 10 others were injured. The fighters stormed the building following a car bomb explosion near the ministry, which forced security forces to rush to the scene. A suicide bomber then ambushed the security forces while another suicide bomber who died when his explosives prematurely detonated.
Members of the UN-backed GNC government and House of Representatives (HoR) government based in Tobruk met in Benghazi following a four-year impasse between the two sides. One of the topics discussed the coordination of security efforts, including sharing their security databases. The meeting was seen as a step in the right direction since they were able to meet without any international mediators’ present, though the meeting only took place due to pressure from the international community.
Fighting broke out over the future of Libya’s largest oil field, al-Sharara field, between forces loyal to UN-backed government and Libyan National Army under general Khalifa. The fighting begins just two days after Khalifa’s LNA said that they seized the oilfield without any resistance. The al-Sharara fields produce 315,000 barrels of crude a day, about a third of Libya’s total current output. The field was closed by the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) since December when local tribes seized the field. They demanded the Tripoli government do more to lift the area out of poverty.
Following the attempted escape of 150 males detained at the Tripoli’s Triq al-Sikka detention centre, as many as 30 of them, including minor, allege to be tortured at an underground cell. Witnesses say the guards at the cell beat the migrants and refugees with sticks and metal bars. International Rescue Committee confirmed that two detainees were taken to the hospital, but the spokesperson said the organisation could not confirm how they were injured.
General Haftar ordered his troops, the Libyan National Army (LNA), to advance towards Tripoli where the UN-backed government is housed on April 4th The push towards Tripoli has come on the eve of major territorial gain in other parts of the country. Towards Tripoli, Khalifa has had to fight an umbrella group of the city’s most powerful militias who are affiliated with the UN-backed government. According to Prime Minister of Libya, Fayez al-Serraj, the move towards Tripoli is being interpreted as a pathway towards launching a coup against the government. Additionally, the UN condemned the “silence” of his intentional allies. He warned international allies that if they are divided in action, history might repeat itself like in 2011. Though PM Al-Serraj feels that the international community has remained silent, the G7 has called all parties to half all military activities. The UNSMIL has been trying to broker a ceasefire between the parties involved but with no luck. UN-Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, flew to Benghazi for talks with General Khalifa in attempts to stop the renewed fighting in Tripoli.
A month after the operation had started, at least 500 people had b7een killed and 2000 more injured while another 75,000 people were displaced. The numbers are expected to rise after Khalifa ordered his troop to redouble their efforts, to “teach the enemy a great and bigger lesson than the previous one.” Tripoli residents are trapped in the city as they cannot move due to the frequency of airstrikes from both sides and the armed conflict on the ground.
Tunisia authorities claim that they have stopped more than 20 armed Europeans attempting to cross the country from Libya. In the recent incident, an armed group of 13 French nationals driving 4X4 vehicles with diplomatic license plates were caught crossing one of the crossings. The French citizens were denied entry after failing to disclose the entirety of its arms inventory. The French Embassy in Tunis commented on the situation, saying that the individuals are part of a security detail attached to the French diplomatic mission in Libya. In a previous incident, the 11 European nationals from different countries tried to enter Tunisia through the sea using two rubber lifeboats. Upon their arrest, the Tunisian navy confiscated their weapons.
A BBC investigation reveals evidence of alleged war crime in Libya perpetrated by self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA). The investigation is based on widely shared videos, and photos shared on social media platforms. The investigation claims that the LNA is coming war crimes since international law states the desecration of bodies and posting of images online for propaganda constitutes a war crime.
Libya’s Prime Minister Feyez al-Sarraj calls for national elections in 2019 to end the war. During the press conference, he proposed the creation of a Libyan congress aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. This will involve the creation of a roadmap for the parliamentary and presidential election which would be held in Tripoli at the end of the year. This press conference as he and his administration await for the arrival of Libyan National Army (LNA) troops, under the leadership of General Khalifa, who are advancing towards Tripoli.
A UN reports indicate that two airstrikes hit Tajoura centre, a migrant detention camp in Tripoli, killing at least 53 migrants and injured another 130. One of the airstrikes struck an unoccupied garage, and the other hit a hanger which housed at least 120 migrants. According to the UN, in addition to the airstrikes, Libyan guards guarding the detention centre fired their guns towards the migrants who tried to flee following the airstrikes. Both the UN-backed government and rebel leader Khalifa Haftar blame each other for the attack. UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that the airstrikes could constitute a war crime.
The UN-backed Libyan government claim that the United Arabs Emirates are behind the airstrikes that killed at least 53 people. The Interior Minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bashaagha, said that their proof is that their technicians and pilots were able to discern the sound of the plane that conducted their airstrike. He added that the UAE had previously bombed Tripoli, an allegation that the UAE has denied.
Following the attack, the Tripoli-based GNA government says that they are considering closing all detention centres in Libya and release all refugees and migrants, citing safety concerns.
France has denied breaching the UN and EU arms embargo after four of its anti-tank missiles were located at a militia base loyal to General Khalifa. The missiles were discovered when a militia loyal to the UN back government overran the camp. Though France denies reaching arms embargo to Libya, they admit that the weapons belong to them. The statement said that “the weapons were for the protection of forces undertaking intelligence and counter-terror missions.”
Opposing sides, UN-recognised Tripoli government and General Khalifa’s Libyan National Army (LNA), in the Libyan conflict have agreed to a UN-sponsored temporary Eid al-Adha truce. General Khalifa’s spokesperson announced their willingness to abide with the ceasefire.
A car bomb in front of a shopping mall and bank n Benghazi resulted in the deaths of 3 UN staff and 2 mission staff. According to Libyan National Army (LNA), allied to General Khalifa, two of the UN staff killed were UNSMIL guards. About ten others were wounded by the attack, including children, the spokesperson of the LNA added. The bombing comes after an agreed ceasefire between all sides for the observation of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. No group has claimed responsibility.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres says he fears Libya will end up in a “full civil war” unless moves are soon made to end the conflict. He urged all parties of the conflict to stop using explosive weapons, including aerial bombing, in populated areas. He also expressed his concern about the presence of many foreign fighters and mercenaries in the Libyan conflict. UNSG comments came days after UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) issued their report of what has been happening over the past year in Libya.
Italian police arrested three people in connection with trafficking, kidnapping and torturing migrants and refugees departing from Libya to Europe. The three arrested are from Guinean national, aged 27, and two Egyptian citizens, aged 24 and 26. According to witnesses, the three men ran a prisoner’s camp in Zawiya in Libya where they would hold captives until ransom was paid in full.
General Khalifa reaffirmed his willingness to engage in dialogue after repeatedly rejecting UN-sponsored talks. Unsurprisingly, his show of support came after Libyan recognised Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj called the General a “war criminal” during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York. Though he favours dialogue, the added that it would not be possible to engage in dialogue “as long as terrorist and criminal militias control Tripoli, probably referencing al-Sarraj-supporting militias in Tripoli.
As a follow up on the MOU signed between Italy and the UN-recognised Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), a migration deal has been signed. The agreement follows the framework agreed upon in February 2017 which restricts arrival of migrants and refugees into Italy from Libya. Human Rights institution have voiced their dislike of the agreement
Al-Jazeera investigation uncovers arms from Egypt, Russia and UAE are part of General Khalifa’s arsenal. According to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Interior Minister, Fathi Bashaga, General Khalifa benefits from Benghazi directly borders Egypt. The investigation obtained secret Egyptian Foreign Ministry documents dating to May 26, 2017, that shows the facilitation of Sudanese militia deployment to Libya with Cairo’s help. Additionally, the journalists were able to document frequent trips of an Egyptian military cargo between the two countries.
A UN investigation says that Jordan, Turkey, Sudan, UAE regularly violate the UN arms embargo on Libya by providing weapons to both sides. Turkey sold drones to the GNA, a purchase that was defended by the government, saying that they haven’t received any real support from their allies, therefore needed external help. The same investigation claim that Russian mercenaries have been deployed to the frontline to assist General Khalifa’s forces. Sudan, under the direction of Lt General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, has sent at least 1000 Rapid Support Forces to Libya to support General Khalifa in July. The UAE provides General Khalifa with an advanced air defence system installed at the al-Jufra base near the city of Gharyan.
EU issued a statement calling for the “immediate release” of Siham Sergiwa, a politician part of the Tobruk-based House of Representative and prominent women’s rights activist who was kidnapped in Benghazi four months earlier. The family of the activist claim that she might have been kidnapped by forces loyal to General Khalifa who controls the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
An airstrike on a biscuit factory in Tripoli’s outskirts kills 10 and wounds 35. Malek Merset, a spokesperson for the Tripoli-based Health Ministry, said at least 33 migrant workers, mostly from Niger and Bangladesh, have been taken to the hospital for treatment. It is unclear who is responsible for the attack.
UN Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) boss, Ghassan Salame condemned the attack, adding that the attack can constitute a war crime. He said that LNA’s increased of airstrikes with the use of unguided bombs are causing civilian casualties.
Senior US officials, led by US Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, met with Libya’s General Khalifa to discuss steps towards ending his offensive on Tripoli, the US state department announced. In a statement released by the State Department, the officials voiced their concern about Russia’s exploitation of the conflict. The comments on Russia come a time where reports indicate that Russian mercenaries have been fighting alongside General Khalifa’s LNA. The meeting with General Khalifa was a continuation of the meeting held in Washington DC at the beginning of November.
The meeting was held a day after Libyan official allied to General Khalifa’s LNA apologised for accidentally shooting down the US drown over the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Two days prior to the shooting of the US drone, General Khalifa had declared Tripoli a “no-fly zone, where flying is totally prohibited without prior coordination with the General Command of the armed forces.”
On of the airstrikes in Tripoli killed at least five children and 10 others wounded. The second airstrike killed nine children and two women in a drone attack in the southern town of Murzuq. The UN-backed government, GNA, accused General Khalifa’s LNA of conducting those airstrikes.
Officials within the UN-recognised government, GNA, are planning to confront Moscow over the alleged deployment of Russian mercenaries to fight alongside General Khalifa. GNA claims that there are between 600 and 800 Russian mercenaries, part of Wagner Group, in Libya. According to government officials, Russia has bee moving from Syria to Egypt and then to Amman to Benghazi
12 December 2019: Haftar’s “final battle” for Tripoli
Haftar announced the beginning of a new offensive in what he said would be the “final battle” for the capital. Speaking on Al Arabiya TV, he said “Today we announce the decisive battle and the advancement towards the heart of the capital to set it free …advance now our heroes,” Reuters reported
Euronews reported LNA seized a vessel with several Turkish crew members. Al Jazeera added that the ship and crew were released two days later.
Using the Mitiga and Misrata International Airports, fighters of the Turkish- backed Syrian rebels, Sultan Murad Division, and Sham Legion fought for the GNA at a camp called “Al-Takbali” in the Salah al-Din camp area in southern Tripoli.
BBC reported an airstrike on a military academy in Tripoli by the LNA that killed at least 29 cadets and wounded 24. This was confirmed by the GNA. In response, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense stated: “We strongly condemn the attack by Haftar’s forces, the enemies of peace, on the Military Academy in Tripoli aiming to realize their unlawful intentions. Details from the Libyan Herald revealed the UNSMIL equally condemned the attack.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the death of one of the militants that were deployed to Libya to fight with the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces.
In news from Aljazeera, Khaled al-Mahjoub, a spokesman of Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), said the fighters captured “all the districts surrounding the city”, including al-Qardabiya airbase, before moving towards the city center. According to The Libya Observer, for several weeks, Haftar’s forces have been launching sporadic attacks on Sirte with several air attacks by UAE drones. These have resulted in several deaths from the Sirte Protection and Security Force thereby causing some to retreat.
UNSMIL convened a meeting of 19 Libyan economic and financial experts representing diverse Libyan interests. This was held in Tunis as part of the intra-Libyan component of the Salame three-point peace plan aimed at campaigning for stability.
Putin admits Russia’s influence in the Libya Civil war. A process ceasefire agreement was has been supported by Germany and Italy for a Russian–Turkish peace process The Libya Observer reported. Shortly after General Khalifa Hafter accepted to sign the ceasefire agreement, he left Moscow rejecting the accord with the GNA leader Fayez-al-Sarraj claiming the deal “ignores many of the Libyan army’s demands”.
After five international preparation meetings over several months, the Berlin Conference for the political leaders of states alleged to have violated the arms embargo on Libya and of other major international powers took place in Berlin on 19 January 2020, intending to stop international involvement in the Libyan conflict. This conference launched the second component of the three-point peace plan and was attended by both Serraj and Haftar but they didn’t participate directly in the main talks, because they refused to be in the same room as one another. Anti-Haftar protesters (150 people) held posters near the Berlin conference venue with some quotes like “Haftar kills Libyan children”.
Reports from UNSMIL have revealed several violations of the signed arms embargo during the previous ten days, as there have been “numerous cargo and other flights [had] been observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country providing the parties with advanced weapons, armored vehicles, advisers and fighters.”
To agree on which practical details as it relates to monitoring and strengthening the existing ceasefire, the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission of 5 senior GNA-selected military officers and 5 senior LNA officers started meeting in Geneva on 3 February in the military track of the intra-Libyan component of the Salamé 3-point peace process convened.
Thomson Reuters reports revealed a second 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission which started a negotiation round in Geneva.
A devastating LNA attack on Tripoli harbor resulted in the suspension of the negotiations in Geneva. However, the UNSMIL added that 5+5 military track of negotiations continued in Geneva.
The United Arab Emirates is suspected to have provided arms to support the LNA led by Khalifa from mid-January 2020 to early March 2020. Reports have it from the Guardian that the UAE is believed to have shipped more than 100 deliveries, totaling about 5,000 metric tons, to Haftar’s forces, via aircraft flights some from military bases in the UAE and others from the UAE’s airbase in Assab, Eritrea. Though the shipment contents are not identified, suspicion has it that arms, ammunition, artillery, and communication equipment could be included. UN deputy special envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams and Moncef Kartas, the retired UN weapons inspector for Libya, said there had been “no respect for the UN arms embargo, absolutely none,”.
News from The Libya Observer was that the political track of the Libyan peace process started in Geneva among 20 Libyans, from both the Tobruk-based and Tripoli-based parts of the HoR and the independent persons’ group selected by UNSMIL. The Libya Herald added talks were held by 13 HoR representatives from both the Tobruk and Tripoli branches, 13 HCS representatives and 14 UNSMIL-selected independent Libyans, for a total of 40.
Syrian fighters sent to Libya by the Turkish military have been defecting to Europe in their numbers. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights this week reported that nearly 40 Syrian mercenaries who were recruited by the Turkish Army have also fled to Italy.
On the northwestern coast, LNA captured Zelten, al-Assah, Al-Jamil, and Riqdalin. Still, in recent news from AlmasdarNews, this resulted in them attempting to push on the Ras Jdir area near the Tunisian border.
Operation Peace Storm is launched by Sarraj who claims pro-GNA forces will counter-attack against LNA troops.
In Sorman, Sabratha, Regdalin, Ajaylat, Aljmail, Al Assah, and Zaltan towns, GNA forces recaptured the western Libyan coast which re-connects to the Tunisian border from LNA, DAILY SABAH reported.
With Ankara providing the firepower, the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli is poised to gain the upper hand against an eastern military commander backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Russian mercenaries, Bloomberg reported.
Though one of the first cities to announce its’ solidarity with commander Khalifa, Mustafa al-Mujai, a spokesman for the forces affiliated with the Government of National Accord (GNA), said their forces are advancing towards the city of Tarhuna from 5 axes AMN News Desk wrote. AA news added claims from the GNA that they have captured 102 pro-Hafter fighters and seized heavy military equipment, advancing against forces loyal to the warlord Khalifa Haftar. GNA forces also captured the axes of Al-Twaisha and Salah al-Din south of Tripoli.
A spotted UAE drone was downed GNA claims. “Our forces successfully shot down an Emirati drone south of Misrata city, It was a Chinese-made drone equipped with guided missiles,” said Mohammed Kanunu, the spokesman for the GNA-led Burkan Al-Ghadab Operation (Volcano of Rage).
The north airbase in the town od Al-Aqrabiya was captured after LNA launched a counter-attack from al-Watiya airbase.
The most contentious issue between them appears to be a scheme suggested by Saleh on this same day when Haftar made his call on the Libyan people to “express” themselves. According to Crisis Group, Saleh proposed to form a three-member Presidency Council (with one representative for each of Libya’s three historical provinces) that would appoint a new unity government to replace the current Tripoli-based council headed by Prime Minister Faiez Serraj; the House of Representatives in Tobruk would continue as Libya’s sole legislative body, and be charged with appointing a committee to draft a new constitution.
Libyan critics said Haftar’s political declaration has only reinforced the notion that he cannot be a partner in negotiations. By giving them yet another reason to continue to fight him, Haftar’s latest gambit risks further perpetuating this tragic war, Crisis Group wrote.
New facts from Reuters have it that spokesman for Libya’s eastern-based forces, Ahmed Mismari announced that they will cease fire for Ramadan after suffering setbacks during weeks of intense fighting against Libya’s UN recognized government. Mismari publicly said in a television broadcast that the ceasefire came at the request of the international community and “friendly countries”.
Still from Reuter’s reports, the GNA responded to Haftar’s unilateral declaration of a ceasefire truce by rejecting it and saying it will keep fighting.
Mustafa al-Majai, a spokesman for the Libyan government’s Volcano of Rage operation, said the base is no longer a threat. He added an operation to seize the base from militias loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar is still going as planned.”Some of our soldiers were martyred in an air attack by UAE fighter jets that took off from Al-Jufra airbase,” said Majai. The GNA claimed to have successfully encircled the base and they claimed two enemy Grad Rocket launch vehicles destroyed and various ammunition vehicles.
Middle East Monitor added that the GNA also claimed to have captured points south of Tripoli.
How can you help?
- Global NGOs such as UNICEF, UNHCR, the World Food Programme, International Medical Corps, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies all operate in and for Libya, and are considered trustworthy charities to donate to, although the option to donate does not always include specific countries.
- Kafaa Development Foundation is an NGO that works with other international and national NGOs to foster community development in Libya (including youth, health, and education development), in the wake of the humanitarian crisis created by the civil war.