Later this month Egypt will witness its third presidential election since 2012. With only two candidates and very limited competition, there is no doubt that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is looking at a second term in office. The cornerstone of the Egyptian president’s first term in office was countering terrorism and radicalization. It is fair to say that Egypt’s war against terrorism and radical/jihadist Islam had an impact on numerous domestic policies as well as on Egypt’s foreign policy.
The “Libyan Political Agreement” (LPA) is the somehow controversial outcome of the month-long, United Nations-sponsored negotiations between various Libyan stakeholders in Skhirat, Morocco. It was signed on December 17, 2015 and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council a few days later. The LPA is the foundation of the current stabilization efforts led by UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé, strongly supported by Italy, France, UK, the U.S. and many other nations.
The years preceding the Arab Spring were rather calm ones for the armed forces of the Arab world: two major conventional campaigns (Iraq 2003 and Lebanon 2006) barely involved the military, and terrorism was mostly under control in Algeria and Yemen. Elsewhere all was quiet on the Arab front. The Arab Spring changed this in more ways than one: to start with, it turned the militaries of Tunisia, Syria and Egypt into political actors, and split those of Yemen and Libya in two.
Since 2011 the Libyan crisis has moved from being a domestic dispute to assuming increasing importance at the international level. Today it represents a crucial issue affecting global security. The intervention of external actors in the Libyan crisis was mainly driven by a desire to direct the transition towards outcomes that would best meet their own political and economic interests.
Accordingly, each external player tried to support one specific faction, favoring either the Parliament in Tobruk, upheld by Khalifa Haftar, or the Presidential Council headed by Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli, the latter being legitimized by the UN as well as by local militias in both Misrata and Tripoli.
This report analyzes the troublesome re-building of Libya with a focus on the specific role played by international actors (neighboring and Gulf countries, European nations, Russia and the US) which make it more of an international rather than a domestic issue.
After the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, many different actors – political and military; Islamist and not; tribal, local, domestic, foreign and transnational – are competing with one another for power and hegemony in Libya. What are the main forces at play today, and what are they trying to achieve? To tackle this issue and have a better understanding of the situation, we offer a brief guide to the major domestic players “on the ground”.
Nowadays, the Mediterranean region’s balance of power is challenged by several conflicts and actors. Russia has taken advantage of this complex and fluid situation, becoming a key actor, expanding its military involvement, and building up political relationships. A key step in this process has been Russian involvement in the Syrian conflict since September 2015. While this was a surprising development, the paper argues that it is nonethless consistent with Russia’s regional interests and its renewed foreign policy.
This evening, the EU heads of state and government will meet in Malta to discuss the "external dimension of migration". The spotlight will be put on the Central Mediterranean route and, particularly, on Libya. The aim is to step up cooperation with the Libyan authorities in order to implement immediate measures to "stem migratory flows, break the business model of smugglers and save lives".
Fighting at Tripoli’s international airport was still under way when, in July 2014, the diplomatic missions of European countries, the United States and Canada were shut down. At that time Italy decided to maintain a pied-à-terre in place in order to preserve the precarious balance of its assets in the two-headed country, strengthening security at its local headquarters on Tripoli’s seafront. On the one hand there was no forsaking the Mellitah Oil & Gas compound, controlled by Eni and based west of Tripoli.
After the 1969 revolution, Libya’s previously close links to the United States quickly deteriorated. At the same time Muammar al-Gaddafi sought closer links to the Soviet Union. The clear majority of the equipment of the “Armed Forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” originated from the Soviets or the Eastern Bloc. Many of the officers of all services were educated at military training facilities of the Soviet Armed Forces. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia remained as one of Libya’s key allies.
During 2016 and in the first few weeks of 2017, it has become clear that General Khalifa Haftar is gaining support both locally and internationally. Egypt, the Emirates, Russia, and France, all played a role in strengthening his power.