Claudia Gazzini

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) speak as they attend an inauguration ceremony of a new gas pipeline "TurkStream" on 8 January 2020 in Istanbul. AFP/Ozan KOSE

What happened in Moscow? 

On Monday, Russian government officials hosted Libya’s two rival leaders, whose respective military forces have been at war for nine months, in a bid to usher them toward a ceasefire agreement. One is Faiez Serraj, who heads the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli; the other is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, who leads a coalition called the Arab Libyan Armed Forces (ALAF), previously known as the Libyan National Army (LNA). Haftar’s coalition does not recognise the Serraj government, and in April launched an offensive to take control of the Libyan capital. Fighting has killed over 2,000 people, put Tripoli under siege by Haftar’s forces and sucked in several foreign powers.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat during the rescue of 147 illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, on 27 June 2017. AFP/Taha Jawashi

What are the latest migration figures from Libya?

Italian officials report that the number of migrants and refugees travelling from Libya along the Central Mediterranean route to Europe fell sharply in July and August 2017 compared to the same period last year. In 2016, approximately 160,000 people travelled on makeshift boats from Libya to Italy. Based on trends during the first six months of 2017, it appeared that these numbers would increase by 20 per cent. Instead, the number of crossings in July 2017 was half of what it was in July 2016, and in August, 20 per cent of what it was a year earlier.…  Seguir leyendo »

To understand the full extent of the impact of the civil war that has fractured the rest of the country into warring fiefdoms, it is critical to visit southern Libya. In April, I had my first chance in two years to get there. There are no commercial flights, no foreign aid missions and traveling 800km by car through a maze of militia-run checkpoints and eager kidnappers is simply not an option.

By a stroke of luck, I am offered a lift by one of the few organisations still operating in south Libya and one of the most important players there: the National Oil Corporation (NOC).…  Seguir leyendo »

On 2 May 2017, the head of Libya’s internationally recognised government, Faiez al-Serraj, and his major military opponent, General Khalifa Haftar, met for the first time in over a year. Crisis Group’s Libya Senior Analyst Claudia Gazzini says talk of a deal is premature.

What do you think of the reported UAE-brokered deal between Serraj and Haftar? Some describe it as a major breakthrough. Do you agree?

The fact that Serraj and Haftar met is undoubtedly a positive development and could signal the opening of new channels of communication. It has been more than a year since their last meeting in Libya.…  Seguir leyendo »

Fighting broke out again in Libya on 3 March 2017, with an attack on oil facilities in the Gulf of Sirte led by a new formation known as the Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB). Should the outside world be concerned?

The fighting is mostly local so far. The main parties are General Khalifa Haftar, the main military power in the east, whose forces seized the Sirte “oil crescent” in September 2016, and a group formed last year called the Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB), which is mainly based in western Libya.

The main risks are that the fighting could spread to the eastern port of Benghazi, Libya’s second city, the BDB’s stated objective; that oil exports and then oil production, already slightly down due to the clashes, could fall further at a time when the country is in dire need of cash flow; and that the violence could further damage efforts to knit back, in a more inclusive fashion, the eastern and western halves of Libya around the internationally recognised administration, the Government of National Accord (GNA).…  Seguir leyendo »

Clouds dot the skyline over Merj, in Eastern Libya, 16 July 2016. CRISIS GROUP/Claudia Gazzini

Libyans have seen rare glimmers of hope in recent months, with an uptick in oil exports and recent reverses inflicted on the jihadists of the Islamic State. But new fighting over the country’s oil crescent has upset precarious balances and threatens the country with a dangerous economic meltdown.

The new trouble began on 7 December, when a coalition of militias began an offensive to take control of the oil export facilities of the Gulf of Sirte, an area known as the “oil crescent” that is one of Libya’s main economic lifelines. The attacking forces moved from Jufra, south of Sirte, and advanced to Ben Jawwad, some 30 km west of Libya’s largest oil export terminal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Oil terminal of the Sirte Oil Company in Brega, Libya, in June 2016. CRISIS GROUP/Claudia Gazzini

What has happened on the ground in Libya?

Key crude oil export terminals in eastern Libya were seized on 11 September by General Khalifa Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA). This is a force opposed to the fledgling Presidency Council (PC) based in Tripoli in the west of the country, backed by the UN and also supported by the U.S. and UK.

At dawn on the first day of the Muslim Eid al-Kebir feast, Haftar’s LNA forces moved into Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil terminals and the Ras Lanuf petrochemical complex in the Gulf of Sirte. By the end of the day they also controlled Zuwetina export terminal, further east.…  Seguir leyendo »

Libyans hoping for an end to the conflict that has ripped their country into two warring halves can take some hope from the preliminary framework agreement signed at the U.N.-led talks in the Moroccan coastal resort town of Skhirat on July 11.

Everybody knows how hard it will be to bring this agreement to life, notably because one side refuses to accept it without amendments. Libya remains chaotic and fragmented since July 2014, with two rival sets of parliaments, governments and military coalitions. Islamic State and other extremists are expanding to fill the security void.

But before dismissing Libya’s chances of exiting its current mess, it is worth considering the hopeful signs the accord represents for Libyans wishing to end their year-old war.…  Seguir leyendo »

La estabilidad libia pasa por el éxito del acuerdo de Skhirat con la creación de un Gobierno de unidad nacional, basado en el consenso entre los partidos principales.

Los libios, deseosos de poner fin al conflicto que ha dividido su país en dos mitades enemigas, pueden sentir cierta esperanza después del acuerdo marco preliminar firmado en las negociaciones dirigidas por la ONU el 11 de julio en la ciudad costera marroquí de Skhirat.

Todo el mundo sabe lo difícil que será llevar este acuerdo a la práctica, sobre todo porque uno de los bandos se niega a aceptarlo si no se introducen varias enmiendas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lifting the arms embargo to help the Libyan military fight ISIL would sabotage UN-sponsored peace talks.

The United Nations is walking a tightrope in Libya. Last week, the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the latest non-state actor to emerge in the current chaos. Because of this threat, pressure is mounting on the UN to relax a four-year-old international arms embargo to allow weapons to be delivered to the Libyan military to fight the group.

This would be a terrible move: It almost certainly would scuttle ongoing talks brokered by Bernardino Leon, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Libya; dash any hope of a peaceful solution; and create fertile ground for jihadi groups to flourish.…  Seguir leyendo »