There was a moment around 2016-2017 where I felt like I almost understood a bit of what was happening in Libya…that moment has since passed. But I’d like to get back to following the country a bit more closely. Obviously, what happens in Libya affects the Sahel in various ways.
Here are a few things that caught my eye recently.
First of all, several notable books on Libya have come out this year. Here are two:
- Wolfram Lacher, Libya’s Fragmentation: Structure and Process in Violent Conflict, I.B. Tauris
- Ulf Laessing, Understanding Libya Since Gaddafi, Hurst
Second, here are some recent articles and posts on different key topics:
Reuters Libya Newsroom, “Libya’s Haftar Pulls Back East as Tripoli Offensive Crumbles,” June 5. The lede:
Forces loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised government took the last stronghold of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar near Tripoli on Friday and advanced further south, capping the sudden collapse of his 14-month offensive on the capital.
Military sources in Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) said their forces had withdrawn from the town of Tarhouna towards Sirte, far to the east, and al-Jufra airbase in central Libya.
The discovery of mass graves in Tarhouna (map) is a story worth following closely. Here is an Amnesty researcher:
Wolfram Lacher, SWP Berlin, “The Great Carve-Up: Libya’s Internationalised Conflicts after Tripoli.” From the introduction:
The yearlong offensive on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar’s forces has suffered fatal setbacks, and Libya’s conflicts are changing shape. Russia’s and Turkey’s attempts at carving out spheres of influence are bound to collide with the interests of other foreign powers and with the fluidity of Libya’s political landscape. Haftar could face increasing challenges to his authority over eastern and southern Libya. Rivalries within the anti-Haftar alliance will also return to the fore. Foreign intervention and the deep rifts that the war has inflicted on Libyan society will be the key obstacles to a political settlement. Western states should focus on preserving Libya’s unity and countering Russian influence as a matter of priority.
Although by no means the sole actors in Libya’s complex and fragmented landscape, in the face of a near absent state, tribes are dominating certain towns and areas, are engaging in fighting, and are having a direct impact on the conflict through their alliances with key power brokers. At the same time they are also important social actors, providing refuge and protection while also pushing for reconciliation, especially at the local level. While they may be complex entities whose functions cut across the political, security, economic, and social realms, they still play an important role and will be critical to any future solution for the country.
Rema el-Fellani and Waleed Khaleefha, “Political Divisions in Libya’s Epicentre Impede the Fight Against Covid-19,” MEDirections Blog, June 10. One portion:
The current situation in Sebha is considered critical because of the poor health infrastructure in the southwest and a lack of well-equipped hospitals. There is a risk of overcrowding the Sebha Medical Centre, the region’s only medical facility equipped to receive and treat coronavirus patients, in the event that the pandemic enters the fourth phase and the Barkuli Centre is full. Furthermore, Sebha’s location 750 km from Tripoli and a lack of transport infrastructure make it logistically difficult for the city to receive aid and medical supplies from other regions in a time of war.
Abigail Corey and Esra Elbakoush, “Amid Libyan Crisis, Two Hostile Towns Build a Basis for Peace,” United States Institute of Peace, June 1. A quote:
The need to work through civil society, and from the grass roots, is amplified by Libya’s lack of a truly national government, El-Kebir says. The grassroots progress between Batn al-Jabal and Nalut is just the latest in a string of cases in which activist Libyan citizens, many of them women and youth, have organized to solve problems and build peace in divided localities.
Finally, who can resist sharing this?