Escalation in Libya – what is happening?

17.04.2019 - Article

The Libyan Army under the command of General Khalifa Haftar and the internationally recognised Government of National Accord are fighting for control of the capital Tripoli. Resumption of the UN-led political process is the key to resolving the crisis.

What has happened?

Libya has been in a difficult phase of political upheaval for years. The eastern part of the country has been under the control of the Libyan National Army, which is commanded by General Haftar, for a longer time, while the internationally recognised Government of National Accord controls the western part of the country around Tripoli. After also gaining control over southern Libya in recent months, the Libyan National Army launched an unexpected attack on Tripoli on 5 April. As a result, the National Conference, which was scheduled to take place from 4 to 16 April and to be chaired by the UN, had to be postponed. Libyan and international efforts to resolve the protracted political crisis peacefully are now at a crossroads.

Map of Libya
Map of Libya© picture-alliance/ dpa-infografik

What is being done?

The German Government is working with its partners in the UN Security Council, as well as in the framework of the EU and G7, to bring about de-escalation. A ceasefire and the resumption of an inclusive political process led by the UN and its Special Representative Ghassan Salamé are the only way to resolve the current crisis.
The Government of National Accord and General Haftar are not the only main players. Libya’s political landscape is extremely fragmented as a whole and dominated by a large number of militia, some of which are rivals. As a result, political dialogue provides the only hope for stability. All parts of the population and all regions must be represented.
A comprehensive political settlement is important because Libya, as a country rich in resources, could easily provide for its population of just under six million people. However, this would necessitate democratic, rule-of-law structures that would ensure ownership by the entire population.

Why is Libya important?

UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé briefs the UN Security Council during a meeting on Libya
UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé briefs the UN Security Council during a meeting on Libya© picture alliance / Photoshot

As a neighbouring country, Libya is also very important for Europe and Germany. Everything that happens there has a direct impact on Europe. IS occupied the coastal city of Sirte until the end of 2016 and still uses parts of the country as a safe haven.
Furthermore, although Libyans have not fled their country in large numbers so far, Libya is an important transit country on the route to Europe. The focus of attention is on the terrible conditions in the country’s detention centres. Along with its European partners, Germany supports improved care for refugees and migrants in Libya, stabilisation in the country and the political process. The German Government has provided funding of 248 million euros for these fields since 2014.


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