U.N. Special Representative for Libya Ghassan Salame indicated in a statement to the Security Council that a national conference should be convened at the start of 2019 to “create a space for Libyans to crystallize their vision for the transition and no longer be ignored by their politicians.” This follows a conference in Palermo, Italy, that brought together international partners and Libyan stakeholders to discuss the situation.

Salame’s framing suggests that the conference will seek to impose a new path, regardless of what existing institutions might want. In other words, Libya’s transition plan, established in 2012, is being rebooted following a painful lack of progress on a number of fronts.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘When foreign people come for visitors’ days, the guards give us good food, a good environment, sanitation.’ Refugees pray in a detention centre in Tripoli. Photograph: Ismail Zetouni/Reuters

I tried to reach Europe at the start of this year. We were in the boat for 26 hours, in the middle of the Mediterranean, and an Italian helicopter came to take photos. After that, the Libyan coastguards appeared to take us back to Libya, and they brought us to hell. Since then, I’ve been in a detention centre in Tripoli.

As of today, infected people here have gone three weeks without tuberculosis medication, and now we think all the men and boys have it. Doctors stopped showing up, they stopped the medicine, and we all live together. Even the guards don’t come near us, they tell others not to come close.…  Seguir leyendo »

Firefighters and rescuers respond after armed men stormed the headquarters of Libya's National Oil Company in Tripoli on 10 September. Photo: Getty Images.

Last month, the leaders of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) and the High State Council agreed a long-awaited package of economic reforms.

But, without accompanying structural reform they can at most offer a short-term fix.  The recent fighting in Tripoli illustrates the inextricable links between control over the distribution of state revenues and conflict. A sustainable political settlement must therefore include economic components.

Long-anticipated reform

One of the principal goals of the reforms announced on 12 September is to curb profiteering from the state’s resources by those who can access foreign currency at the official rate (1.38 LYD=1 USD) and sell at the black-market rate (currently 5.3 LYD=1 USD).  …  Seguir leyendo »

The bloody three month-long standoff over crude oil export terminals in eastern Libya earlier this summer served as a stark reminder that the  United Nations are nowhere nearer to finding a political solution than they were when they started nearly seven years ago. One often overlooked consequence of this bloody stalemate is that it casts a long shadow over Algeria and Tunisia with which Libya shares long and porous borders.

Seven years ago, Italian and Algerian officials warned France, the UK and the US of the huge risks for regional security were Libya to disintegrate. Backing the military operation, NATO paid no heed to such warnings, despite what had happened in Iraq since 2003.…  Seguir leyendo »

May’s municipal elections in Tunisia had many commentators speculating about the future of the country’s ongoing democratic transition. The results were roughly in line with expectations, with the “Islamist” Ennahda taking 27.5 percent of the vote, the “secular” Nidaa Tounes taking 22.5 percent and independent candidates taking 28 percent. At the same time, voter turnout, at 35.5 percent of registered voters, was disappointingly low.

Nonetheless, most observers agree the prospects for democratic transition in Tunisia are much better than they are for Egypt or Libya. Indeed, some have come to see the contrasting trajectories among post-Arab uprising countries such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt as inevitable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Libyan rebels gather on the outskirts al-Agila. (Nasser Nasser/AP)

For too long, the economic drivers of Libya’s conflict have received insufficient attention. But this may be about to change. Ghassan Salamé, the U.N. special envoy to Libya, has his sights set on targeting Libya’s “economy of predation.”

“I think this is the most important issue today in Libya,” he recently told Reuters. “It is, at least in my modest view, the heart of the matter in Libya.” He is right.

In Libya, networks of armed actors, corrupt business executives and politicians continue to find ways to make money through avenues such as the smuggling of fuel or people, the diversion of state resources and the growth of extremely profitable protection rackets.…  Seguir leyendo »

Six years after the uprising that brought an end to the Gaddafi regime, Libya is experiencing continuing political division and widespread insecurity which in turn has contributed to societal tensions and an array of economic challenges. The civil war that erupted in summer 2014 has resulted in significant loss of life and displaced over 400,000 Libyans inside the country, further straining public services but also fraying social cohesion. The presence of an estimated 300,000 foreign nationals -including refugees and migrants seeking to travel to Europe by sea- is another challenge and has also fed societal tensions. Conflict in different parts of the country has resulted in serious abuses and violations of international law, with indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, summary executions, torture and deliberate destruction of property reported since 2014.…  Seguir leyendo »

People protest slavery and slave auctions in Libya at a rally in Geneva, Switzerland, on Nov. 25. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/European Pressphoto Agency-EFE//REX/Shutterstock)

Last year, the world reacted in outrage to a CNN video showing black men being sold as slaves in Libya. Many of us in Africa joined in, feigning shock at a level of dehumanization that thrives variously in many of our countries. The gruesome experiences narrated by some of the migrants are similar, for example, to those of the typical domestic staff in places such as Nigeria.

Many middle- and upper-class Nigerian families hire people to work in their homes, carrying out tasks such as cooking, cleaning and babysitting. Known as “house help,” a good number are children sent by their parents to work, sometimes becoming the main breadwinners of their families.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tensions are rising in Libya after the de facto ruler of the country’s east, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, publicly dismissed the two-year-old international deal on how Libya should be governed. To neutralise the risk of new conflict, Haftar’s international and regional allies should forcefully condemn his attempt at undermining the UN-led peace process and urge him back to the diplomatic track.

The latest row started on 17 December, the second anniversary of the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), when Haftar, the commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) that dominates eastern Libya, announced that he considered the LPA to have expired.…  Seguir leyendo »

It has been almost three months since UN Special Representative for Libya Ghassan Salamé launched his ambitious 12-month action plan for Libya. Salamé’s programme seeks to amend the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) that spawned the Government of National Accord, pass a constitution and hold presidential and parliamentary elections.

That timeline always looked ambitious. Salamé has had some notable successes, re-establishing the UN’s lead in negotiations and resuscitating a dormant political process. But now he faces the challenge of convincing Libyan powerbrokers to focus their efforts on succeeding in elections rather than fighting a drawn out battle over amendments to the LPA.…  Seguir leyendo »

After years of ignoring the sale of human beings in Libya, leaders from Europe and Africa have been making a grand show of shock and indignation.

After CNN released a report about migrants being sold into slavery while attempting to cross the Mediterranean, French President Emmanuel Macron rushed to denounce the Libyan government. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian threatened Tripoli with sanctions if the country did not move quickly to investigate the abuses. Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari said it was appalling that “some Nigerians [in the footage] were being sold like goats for a few dollars.”

As many observers have noted, however, slavery existed in Libya long before the CNN report.…  Seguir leyendo »

Whatever one thinks of the initial military engagement leading to the eventual downfall of the country’s leader Muammar Qaddafi, there is no doubt that the international community failed Libya after the intervention. Today, Libya is a quasi-failed state, with multiple governments competing for legitimacy. Its accumulated wealth, its oil and a residual Libyan nationalism seem to be all that keeps the country from further fragmentation. This increasing power vacuum has turned Libya into a conduit for desperate migrants trying to reach the shores of Europe. In the absence of a well-functioning state, criminal interests exploit human misery, all the more so as people smuggling remains one of the few viable activities in a collapsed economy.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’onde de choc créée par la diffusion de la vidéo de CNN sur la «vente» de migrants en Libye, ne doit pas se perdre en indignations. Et il ne faut pas que les crimes révélés occultent un malheur encore plus vaste, celui de centaines de milliers de migrants africains qui vivent et travaillent depuis des décennies, en Libye et au Maghreb, dans des conditions extrêmes d’exploitation et d’atteinte à leur dignité. Par ailleurs, ces véritables crimes contre l’humanité ne sont, hélas, pas spécifiques de la Libye. A titre d’exemple, les bédouins égyptiens ou israéliens – supplétifs sécuritaires de leurs armées – ont précédé les milices libyennes dans ces pratiques qu’ils poursuivent toujours et qui ont été largement documentées.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »

Le sort des migrants et des réfugiés présents en Libye interpelle à nouveau l’Europe et ses représentants. Car au-delà d’une politique funeste obsédée par le désir de repousser toujours plus loin les gens à l’extérieur des frontières européennes, quitte à obstruer les opérations de sauvetage en Méditerranée, la France et des membres de l’Union européenne (UE) entretiennent un réseau criminel.

En Libye, il est de notoriété publique que le système de détention des candidats au refuge sur le sol européen est abject. Pour appeler un chat un chat, il consiste en une entreprise prospère d’enlèvement, de torture et d’extorsion. En choisissant sciemment de contenir à tout prix les migrants en Libye, la France et les gouvernements de l’UE légitiment un tel système.…  Seguir leyendo »

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan militant Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli. The court claims that Werfalli — who operates under the Libyan National Army (LNA) — committed the war crime of murder over a series of brutal executions. With so many deserving perpetrators around the world, why go after Werfalli and what might this mean for Libya and the ICC itself?

The ICC has sought to address atrocities in Libya since the U.N. Security Council referred the country to the court in 2011. That includes its ongoing and tumultuous struggle to prosecute Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam.…  Seguir leyendo »

La décision est sans précédent. La Libye vient d’annoncer, le 10 août, qu’elle interdit tout navire étranger près de ses côtes. Elle crée – sinistre farce – une «zone de recherche et de sauvetage» où les navires ne pourront pas pénétrer sans autorisation, voire sans «demande expresse» des autorités libyennes, en particulier pour les bateaux des «ONG qui prétendent vouloir sauver les migrants». Le commandant de la base navale de Tripoli qui a fait cette martiale annonce s’irrite de ceux qui «manquent de respect aux garde-côtes et à la marine libyenne»

En clair, la Libye interdit aux ONG de travailler dans cette région de la Méditerranée, bien au-delà de la limite des 12 milles de ses eaux territoriales.…  Seguir leyendo »

The meeting convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to find common ground on a solution to Libya’s crisis may prove to be a platform to relaunch a political process, or it may be a road to nowhere. The efforts of Ghassan Salamé, who officially took up his post last week as the UN’s new special representative for Libya, will have a significant say in determining which.

Salamé chaired the Paris meeting, and has extensive experience of the UN system, having worked with the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq and as a senior adviser to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. His experience of the fractious Lebanese political scene, as minister of culture, is also likely to be instructive.…  Seguir leyendo »

For years now, opportunists of all stripes, local and international, have tried to profit from Libya’s seemingly endless instability by disrupting its oil production.

The latest incident was triggered by the recent, sudden souring of relations between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain on the other. One of the several groups that purport to be Libya’s rightful government is using that dispute as a pretext to seize control of the country’s oil and gas exports: It has accused the National Oil Corporation, the internationally recognized body responsible for managing these resources, of working in the service of Qatar by diverting oil revenues to it via an N.O.C.…  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 »