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 »

L’Angleterre vient de subir trois attentats en moins de trois mois. Bilan : plus d’une quarantaine de morts, des dizaines de blessés, et un traumatisme généralisé. Le pays est blessé, indigné, marqué au fer brûlant du terrorisme mondialisé.

Et comme pour les deux attentats de Londres, l’attaque suicide commise à l’Arena de Manchester le 22 mai par le jeune kamikaze d’origine libyenne, Salman Abedi, s’est imposée aux médias du monde entier. Du nord de l’Angleterre aux côtes libyennes, l’onde de choc fut retentissante. Images en boucle et micros-trottoirs ont accompagné d’interminables discussions sur cet événement alors que les récitals d’experts et les casuistiques politiciennes ont psalmodié la nuisance du terrorisme international.…  Seguir leyendo »

While the attention of the West is largely focused on Russian efforts in Syria, Moscow has been strengthening its presence in other parts of the Middle East to fortify its position as a key international player. Notably, Russian involvement in the Libyan civil war has increased substantially since 2015. It provides political support and military assistance to General Khalifa Haftar, who controls the eastern part of Libya, and helped him to wreck the UN-led Libyan agreement of 2015 aimed at launching a reconciliation process. But Moscow is also involved in the diplomatic settlement of the conflict between the main factions – Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army and the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).…  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 »

Seis años después de la caída del coronel Muammar el-Kadafi, Libia sigue atrapada en el conflicto y el caos político. Desprovisto de toda autoridad central o estructura de seguridad nacional, el estado libio ahora existe sólo de nombre. Es hora de una nueva estrategia -que Estados Unidos debería respaldar activamente.

Sin duda, Libia tiene un gobierno reconocido internacionalmente: el Gobierno de Acuerdo Nacional (GNA por su sigla en inglés), nacido del Acuerdo Político Libio de diciembre de 2015, firmado en Sjirat, Marruecos, bajo los auspicios de las Naciones Unidas. Pero ese gobierno no sólo recibió un voto de no confianza de la Cámara de Representantes basada en Tobruk en agosto pasado, sino que hoy es cuestionado enérgicamente por otra entidad con sede en Trípoli, el Congreso Nacional General (CNG), controlado en gran medida por grupos islamistas.…  Seguir leyendo »

A year ago, Fayez al-Serraj, prime minister of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), along with seven members of the Presidential Council, entered Tripoli on a naval frigate. That it was perceived as a victory for Serraj to simply enter the city that is the nominal seat of his government underlined the challenges he faced.

Twelve months on, little has changed. The GNA has little authority and limited legitimacy in the eyes of many Libyans, and is dependent on a group of Tripolitanian militias for its protection. A corresponding void in international engagement has contributed to a rise in conflict between armed groups, provided an opportunity for Russia to step in and emboldened the competing Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar in the east.…  Seguir leyendo »