The drums of war being beaten by Egyptian President ʿAbdel Fattah al-Sisi in June 2020 ‒ in response to the Government of National Accord (GNA) forces’ advance on the Sirte-Jufra frontline towards Cyrenaica, Egypt’s declared red-line ‒ seem to have been set aside to favour a possible agreement between the parties, as a consequence of the ceasefire announced at the end of August by Libya’s UN-backed and internationally-recognised GNA.
In Libya, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are testing their ambitions as a middle power, exactly like they did - and are still doing despite extensive military disengagement - in Yemen. In both arenas, the UAE intertwines geopolitical and ideological goals: it needs strong proxies and trusted allies to achieve them.
Launched by the EU Council in the midst of the Covid-19 emergency, Operation Irini is the eleventh CSDP military mission, 17 years after the first EU “boots on the ground” in Macedonia. Irini's main task is to enforce the arms embargo on Libya, which was imposed by the UN since 2011 but unfortunately has never been effectively implemented as yet, thereby contributing to the peace process in the country.
The overlapping of civil and proxy wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen have gradually turned the wider Mediterranean into a land of conflicts, asymmetric threats and geopolitical challenges. In particular, the implosion of some coastal states of the southern shore has undermined the stability and legitimacy of the old regional system built in the post-Cold war. This shift has unequivocally stressed a new perception of the Mediterranean arena: an expanded and wider space turned in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
After the massive defeat of the Libyan National Army (LNA) at the hands of Operation Burkan Al-Ghadab (Volcano of Rage) - which supports the internationally recognized Government of Accord (GNA) - the new frontline is just west of Sirte, a city 370 km southeast of Tripoli and 350 km southwest of Benghazi, strategically located at the entrance to Libya’s Oil Crescent.
In Libya, the first days of June seemed like years for the number of significant events that occurred. In about a week, the forces loyal to the Tripoli government (General National Accord or GNA) pushed back the Libyan National Army (LNA) and its allies, led by General Haftar and linked to the Tobruk House of Representatives. Except for Sirte, their military advance roughly rolls the clock back to early 2019, when Haftar’s forces had virtually no presence in the Tripoli area.
Describing a decade of developments in North Africa is no simple task. The last ten years have offered each North African State its own redefining moment(s) to grapple with, making a case for observing their distinctive contexts and the complex processes stemming from the different choices and strategies adopted by these countries.
Both de jure and de facto, authorities in Libya will have to cope with the pandemic threat posed by COVID-19. The narrative of securitization that has characterized the public health response worldwide – particularly in the MENA region – is already being used by Libya’s competing dysfunctional governments.
One year from the start of General Khalifa Haftar’s offensive against Tripoli, the civil war in Libya is still raging despite continuous demands from the United Nations and the international community for a humanitarian truce to help combat COVID-19.