• Revision ID 45168 REVISION
  • 2018-01-29 18:00:44
  • by Chuck Thompson (talk | contribs)
  • Note: Re-positioned timeline, general tweaks
  • Revision ID 45179 REVISION
  • 2018-01-29 17:36:22
  • by Jack Barton (talk | contribs)
  • Note: Updated timeline
 
   
Title Title
Hope fading for a fractured Libya after Benghazi bombing Hope fading for a fractured Libya after Benghazi bombing
Summary Summary
After progress stagnated in 2017, violence in Tripoli and Benghazi leaves hope for Libya at its lowest since the fall of Gaddafi After progress stagnated in 2017, violence in Tripoli and Benghazi leaves hope for Libya at its lowest since the fall of Gaddafi
Highlights Highlights
Content Content
<strong>A series of violent attacks across Libya in recent weeks have left dozens dead. While the attacks have garnered little attention in the West, observers told <em>WikiTribune</em> they illustrate a country in which a UN mediation process looks to be failing in the face of violent schisms. </strong>  <strong>A series of violent attacks across Libya over the past few weeks have left dozens dead. While they have garnered little attention in the West, observers told <em>WikiTribune</em> that they are illustrative of a country where a UN mediation process looks to be failing in the face of violent schisms. </strong>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Two car bombs in the Libyan city of Benghazi <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security/twin-car-bombs-kill-more-than-30-in-libyas-benghazi-officials-idUSKBN1FC2TC?il=0">killed an estimated 33 people </a>on the night of January 23. The previous week<a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-libya-security/at-least-20-dead-as-clashes-shut-airport-in-libyan-capital-idUKKBN1F410J?rpc=401&amp;">clashes in the capital of Tripoli</a>, left at least 20 dead, as armed groups fought over the city's only airport.</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Two car bombs in the Libyan city Benghazi <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security/twin-car-bombs-kill-more-than-30-in-libyas-benghazi-officials-idUSKBN1FC2TC?il=0">killed an estimated</a> 33 people on the night of January 23. The previous week <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-libya-security/at-least-20-dead-as-clashes-shut-airport-in-libyan-capital-idUKKBN1F410J?rpc=401&amp;">clashes in the capital</a>, Tripoli, left at least 20 dead, as armed groups fought over the city's only airport.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Violence of this nature has rocked Libya since at least 2014, and arguably since the fall of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muammar_Gaddafi">Muammar Gaddafi</a> in 2011. Clashes between myriad armed groups across the country occur regularly, particularly over resources and key assets, such as the capital’s airport.</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">To an extent, violence of this nature has rocked Libya since at least 2014 and arguably since the fall of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muammar_Gaddafi">Muammar Gaddafi</a> in 2011. Clashes between myriad armed groups across the country occur regularly, particularly over resources and key assets such as the capital’s airport.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Tim Eaton of UK think tank Chatham House told <em>WikiTribune</em>: "What we’re seeing across the country is a large number of actors that have territory and have access to a degree of political power. But there’s so many of them and none have been strong enough to control the whole country."</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Tim Eaton, of UK think tank Chatham House, told <em>WikiTribune</em>: "What we’re seeing across the country is a large number of actors that have territory and have access to a degree of political power. But there’s so many of them and none have been strong enough to control the whole country."</span>
[caption id="attachment_45153" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2018/01/29/africa/hope-fading-for-a-fractured-libya-after-benghazi-bombing/44649/attachment/1024px-demonstration_in_bayda_libya_2011-07-22/" rel="attachment wp-att-45153"><img class="size-medium wp-image-45153" src="https://www.wikitribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/1024px-Demonstration_in_Bayda_Libya_2011-07-22-620x414.jpg" alt="Demonstrations in Bayda, 2011 By ليبي صح (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons" width="620" height="414" /></a> Demonstrations in Bayda, 2011 By ليبي صح (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption] [caption id="attachment_45153" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2018/01/29/africa/hope-fading-for-a-fractured-libya-after-benghazi-bombing/44649/attachment/1024px-demonstration_in_bayda_libya_2011-07-22/" rel="attachment wp-att-45153"><img class="size-medium wp-image-45153" src="https://www.wikitribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/1024px-Demonstration_in_Bayda_Libya_2011-07-22-620x414.jpg" alt="Demonstrations in Bayda, 2011 By ليبي صح (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons" width="620" height="414" /></a> Demonstrations in Bayda, 2011 By ليبي صح (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
<h2>A country made of fractures</h2> <h2>A country made of fractures</h2>
Groups at play across the country are so diffuse that it's more useful to look at the lines of division, rather than key players or groupings, said Eaton.  The groups at play across the country are so diffuse that it is more useful to look at the lines of division, rather than key players or groupings, said Eaton.
Politically, there's the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Council_of_State_(Libya)">High State Council</a>, formed from former members of the 2014-elected <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_National_Congress_(2014)#National_Salvation_Government">General National Congress</a>. The <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Representatives_(Libya)">House of Representatives</a>, also known as the "Tobruk" government, is based in Benghazi and has the loyalty of the Libyan National Army, and its leader <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalifa_Haftar">Khalifa Haftar</a>.  Politically, there is the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Council_of_State_(Libya)">High State Council</a>, formed from former members of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_National_Congress_(2014)#National_Salvation_Government">General National Congress</a> which was elected in 2014. The <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Representatives_(Libya)">House of Representatives</a>, also known as the "Tobruk" government, is based in Benghazi and has the loyalty of the Libyan National army, and its leader <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalifa_Haftar">Khalifa Haftar</a>.
The Libyan Political Agreement of December 2015 was meant to form an accord between these rival assemblies, creating the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_National_Accord">Government of National Accord</a>. It was endorsed by the UN, but has never been formally ratified by the House of Representatives, so the "Unity Government" is still effectively made up of two rival groups.  The Libyan Political Agreement in December 2015 was meant to form an accord between these rival assemblies, creating the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_National_Accord">Government of National Accord</a>. It was endorsed by the UN, but has never been formally ratified by the House of Representatives, so the "Unity Government" is effectively still made up of two rival groups.
More divisions exist between a number of Islamist and secular political groups and between rival factions and armed groups fighting over land, power, and key resources.  There are other divisions between a number of Islamist and secular political groups and between rival factions and armed groups over land, power and key resources.
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Tobias Borck, of the Royal United Services Institute, </span>says it's almost impossible to summarize the different factions at play.  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Tobias Borck, of the Royal United Services Institute, </span>says that it is almost impossible to summarize the different factions at play.
"In the east you do have a clearly strongest militia," he said, referring to the "Libyan National Army."  "In the East you do have a clearly strongest militia," he said, referring to the "Libyan National Army."
"It isn't actually the national army," Borck said. "It's a strong militia that is itself fractured internally."  "It isn't actually the national army," Borck said: "It's a strong militia that is itself fractured internally."
The bombings in Benghazi are part of a broader effort by rival factions to undermine the idea that Haftar has control of the whole of Eastern Libya, said Eaton. The Tripoli clashes similarly run counter to any narrative that the UN-backed forces of the Government of National Accord have control of the country's capital. The bombings in Benghazi are part of a broader effort by rival factions to undermine the idea that Haftar has control of the whole of Eastern Libya, said Eaton. The Tripoli clashes similarly run counter to any narrative that the UN-backed forces of the Government of National Accord have control of the country's capital.
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Borck said the Benghazi attack was "more dramatic" than the ongoing instability in Tripoli, because Haftar's forces nominally have Benghazi "under control."</span>  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Borck told <em>WikiTribune </em>that the Benghazi attack was "more dramatic" than the ongoing instability in Tripoli, because Haftar's forces nominally have Benghazi "under control."</span>
&nbsp;  
[caption id="attachment_45157" align="aligncenter" width="618"]<a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2018/01/29/africa/hope-fading-for-a-fractured-libya-after-benghazi-bombing/44649/attachment/gaddafi-and-haftar/" rel="attachment wp-att-45157"><img class="size-full wp-image-45157" src="https://www.wikitribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gaddafi-and-Haftar.png" alt="Muammar Gaddafi By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released [Public domain], and Khalefa Haftar by By Magharebia [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons" width="618" height="341" /></a> Muammar Gaddafi By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released [Public domain], and Khalefa Haftar by By Magharebia [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]<span style="font-weight: 400;">Recent violence is "really been a continuation of clashes that have been going on, on and off, for the past few years," said Borck.</span>  
The "underlying instability" in Libya is essentially the outcome of a "non-existent state order," he said.  
"That's really where Libya has been since 2011, but especially 2014," said Borck. "It's quite depressing when you take a longer view."  
<h2>Momentum 'slipping away'</h2>  <h2>Progress stagnates</h2>
The UN's mediation plan is based on three stages, said Eaton. A timeline of events:
The first is meant to amend the Political Agreement so that both assemblies accept it.  
An amended Political Agreement might then be the basis for the Unity Government to arrange a conference to bring in groups that are currently marginalized.  
On this basis, new elections (stage three) can be held.  
"The truth is, we're still in stage one," said Eaton.  
Part of the difficulty is that the two political assemblies don't represent all of the country's armed groups. In addition, many of these groups benefit from the status quo.  
Against a backdrop of violence, Libya has also suffered from a liquidity crisis. Armed groups across Libya are making money from crime, particularly fuel smuggling. Reports of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-42038451">slave markets</a>, and <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-middle-east-32524737/inside-libya-s-people-smuggling-trade">people smuggling</a> across the Mediterranean, are part of a long-term financial crisis and rampant corruption.  
It's reasonable to assume the Libyan people are more concerned with the liquidity crisis than with issues Western powers typically focus on, such as combating terrorism and human trafficking, said Eaton.  
<span style="font-weight: 400;">"The international effort is trying to address this at a local, ground-up level," said Eaton. Because certain incentives and groups may favor the status quo, trying to move on to "stage two" is extremely risky. "If it doesn’t work where does that leave the UN process?" said Eaton.</span>  
In the meantime, Libya has<span style="font-weight: 400;"> "reverted to patterns of people avoiding making decisions," said Eaton. "The momentum’s kind of slipping away at the moment."</span>  
<h2>Libya timeline</h2>  
<ul> <ul>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">February 2011: At the height of the Arab Spring, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-protests/gaddafi-under-threat-as-revolt-hits-tripoli-idUSTRE71G0A620110221">violent protests break out</a> in Benghzai and spread to other cities, including Tripoli.</span></li>   <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">February 2011: At the height of the Arab Spring, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-protests/gaddafi-under-threat-as-revolt-hits-tripoli-idUSTRE71G0A620110221">violent protests break out</a> in Benghzai and spread to other cities including Tripoli.</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">March 2011: NATO <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya/nato-to-run-libya-no-fly-zone-but-not-all-action-idUSTRE7270JP20110324">authorizes a no-fly zone</a>. Organized rebel groups capture territory.</span></li>  <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">March 2011: NATO <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya/nato-to-run-libya-no-fly-zone-but-not-all-action-idUSTRE7270JP20110324">authorizes a no-fly zone</a>. Organized rebel groups capture territory.</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">July 2011: The <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends_of_Libya">International Contact Group</a>, a multilateral support network, recognize main opposition group, the National Transitional Council, as the legitimate government.</span></li>   <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">July 2011: the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends_of_Libya">International Contact Group</a>, a multilateral support network, recognized the main opposition group, the National Transitional Council, as the legitimate government, Gaddafi goes into hiding in August.</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">August 2011: Gaddafi goes into hiding.</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">October 2011:<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Muammar_Gaddafi"> Gaddafi is killed</a>.</span></li>  <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">October 2011:<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Muammar_Gaddafi"> Gaddafi is killed</a>.</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">January 2012: Fractures among rebel groups lead to clashes.</span></li>   <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">January 2012: fractures among the rebel groups lead to clashes.</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">March 2012: National Transitional Council <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/10/libya-split-between-militias">splits (<em>Guardian</em>).</a></span></li>   <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">March 2012: the National Transitional Council <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/10/libya-split-between-militias">splits (<em>Guardian</em>).</a></span></li>
<li>February 2014: <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/02/libyan-general-wants-parliament-suspended-2014214111452905729.html">Haftar launches a coup d'etat </a><em>(Al</em> <em>Jazeera</em>), but is unsuccessful. He then launches a campaign against extremist groups in Eastern Libya, leading eventually to his taking control of Benghazi, ultimately dividing the country.</li>   <li>February 2014: <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/02/libyan-general-wants-parliament-suspended-2014214111452905729.html">Haftar launches a coup d'etat,</a> <em>(Al</em> <em>Jazeera</em>) but it does not take place. He launches a campaign against extremist groups in the East, leading eventually to his taking control of Benghazi and the division of the country.</li>
<li>October 2014: <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31518698">Islamic State (IS) fighters seize Derna</a> in Eastern Libya.</li>  <li>October 2014: <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31518698">Islamic State (IS) fighters seize Derna</a> in Eastern Libya.</li>
<li>December 2015: Libyan Political Accord signed, with backing from the UN.</li>  <li>December 2015: Libyan Political Accord signed, with backing from the UN.</li>
<li>September 2016: Haftar takes control of key Eastern oil terminals.</li>   <li>September 2016: Haftar takes key Eastern oil terminals.</li>
<li>July 2017: IS driven from Benghazi.</li>  <li>July 2017: IS driven from Benghazi.</li>
<li>September 2017: UN Libya Envoy <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-assembly-libya/unveiling-new-libya-plan-u-n-sees-opportunity-for-peace-idUSKCN1BV2RK">sets out proposals</a> to amend the Political Accord.</li>  <li>September 2017: UN Libya Envoy <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-assembly-libya/unveiling-new-libya-plan-u-n-sees-opportunity-for-peace-idUSKCN1BV2RK">sets out proposals</a> to amend the Political Accord.</li>
<li>November 2017: CNN <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/specials/africa/libya-slave-auctions">investigation into slave auctions</a> in Libya prompts condemnation, but no action.</li>  <li>November 2017: CNN <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/specials/africa/libya-slave-auctions">investigation into slave auctions</a> in Libya prompts condemnation, but no action.</li>
</ul> </ul>
  [caption id="attachment_45157" align="aligncenter" width="618"]<a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2018/01/29/africa/hope-fading-for-a-fractured-libya-after-benghazi-bombing/44649/attachment/gaddafi-and-haftar/" rel="attachment wp-att-45157"><img class="size-full wp-image-45157" src="https://www.wikitribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Gaddafi-and-Haftar.png" alt="Muammar Gaddafi By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released [Public domain], and Khalefa Haftar by By Magharebia [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons" width="618" height="341" /></a> Muammar Gaddafi By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released [Public domain], and Khalefa Haftar by By Magharebia [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]<span style="font-weight: 400;">The recent violence is "really been a continuation of clashes that have been going on, on and off, for the past few years," said Borck.</span>
  There is an "underlying instability" in Libya, said Borck, that is essentially the outcome of a "non-existent state order."
  "That's really where Libya has been since 2011, but especially 2014," said Borck, "it's quite depressing when you take a longer view."
  <h2>Best made plans</h2>
  The UN's mediation plan is based on three stages, said Eaton. First to amend the Political Agreement so that both assemblies accept it. That can then be the basis for the unity government to set up a conference to bring in some partners who are currently marginalized, and isolate spoilers. On this basis, new elections can be held - the third stage.
  "The truth is, we're still in stage one," said Eaton.
  Part of the difficulty is that the two political assemblies do not represent all of the armed groups, and many of these groups are benefiting from the status quo.
  Against the backdrop of the violence, Libya has also suffered from a liquidity crisis. Armed groups across Libya are making money from crime, particularly fuel smuggling. Reports of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-42038451">slave markets</a>, and <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-middle-east-32524737/inside-libya-s-people-smuggling-trade">people smuggling</a> across the Mediterranean, should be seen in the context of a long-term financial crisis and rampant corruption.
  It is reasonable to think that Libyan people are more concerned with the liquidity crisis than those issues which Western powers usually focus on, such as combating terrorism and human trafficking, said Eaton.
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">"The international effort is trying to address this at a local, ground-up level," said Eaton. But while the incentives are overwhelmingly in favour of maintaining the status quo, trying to move on to "stage two" is extremely risky. "If it doesn’t work where does that leave the UN process?" said Eaton.</span>
  In the meantime, Libya has<span style="font-weight: 400;"> "reverted to patterns of people avoiding making decisions," said Eaton, "the momentum’s kind of slipping away at the moment."</span>
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