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.
Six years on from its February 2011 revolution, Libya’s political scene is characterized by fragmentation and polarization. The constantly shifting political and military allegiances and contested legitimacy since 2014 have today resulted in three Libyan ‘‘governments’’ claiming legitimacy.
More than one year after the signing of the Libyan Political Accord (LPA) in Skhirat, implementation of the agreement is impeded by obstacles which now look insurmountable. Despite efforts by Western countries and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to empower the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA), major constituencies have continued contesting its legitimacy and refusing its authority.
The Egyptian military response through heavy air strikes on the cities of Darnah and Sirte – as a consequence of the kidnapping and beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts by a Libyan cell affiliated to the Islamic State (IS) in February 2015 – represents so far the peak of Egypt’s involvement in the Libyan affaire.
As the Trump administration assumes office, it faces a major challenge in Libya, where the country’s situation continues to deteriorate as an ongoing conflict worsens. The Libya Peace Agreement produced in 2015 by a UN-backed process, which established a Presidential Council and Government of National Accord (PC/GNA), is floundering. The PC/GNA has failed to garner credibility on the ground since landing in Tripoli almost a year ago and it has suffered from significant infighting.