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Libyan Civil War - 2015

Libyas warring factions agreed on an agenda" to form a unity government, AFP reported 16 January 2015, citing UN officials. After two days of UN-brokered talks in Geneva, the participants agreed on an agenda that includes reaching a political agreement to form a consensual national unity government and the necessary security arrangements to end the fighting, a statement read.

Islamist militia coalition Libya Dawn on 25 April 2015 rejected a call by special UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon to take part in a dialogue to end the ongoing crisis in the country. "Libya militias strongly reject Leon's call. This call must stop and the leaders must not comply with it, as it aims to increase division between the rebels and the leaders and weaken them for the benefit of the coup," a statement by the information office of Libya Dawn militias said.

Reports in early 2015 indicated that armed conflict between Libya Dawn and Operation Dignity had spilled over to southern Libya. In early March 2015, fighting broke out in Barak al-Shati between the Misrata Third Force brigade and armed groups drawn largely from the local Al-Megharba and Al-Qadhadhifa tribes. Negotiations between Misratan and Zintani elders resulted in the military base in Barak al-Shati being placed under local control of the Libyan National Army. Fighting between Tabu and Tuareg armed groups continued in Awbari, particularly focused on control of key oil facilities, roads and Government buildings, with Libya Dawn and Operation Dignity military coalitions seeking to influence tribal leaders. Despite various ceasefire agreements, clashes had not abated.

Throughout 2015, insecurity in the east remained very high, with large-scale fighting or repeated security incidents in most major towns. Such insecurity threatens the wider region. In Benghazi, LNA continued its operations against neighbourhoods controlled by the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and affiliated groups. The stalemate from late 2014 largely persisted, notwithstanding the announcement by General Haftar of a new operation, Hatf (Doom), on 19 September 2015. From September, LNA launched air strikes on Benghazi (and other towns) on an almost daily basis. Its air force also continued to target vessels suspected of transporting arms off the eastern coast.

Within Benghazi, LNA attacks targeted the areas of Laythi, Sabri, Suq al-Hut, Gwarsha and Bu Atni and included the use of heavy artillery in an urban setting.

The Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and affiliated groups focused their attacks on the same front lines, together with Bu Hadimah and Benina airport. They continued their systematic use of improvised explosive devices and landmines, claiming military and civilian lives, including during demining operations. The Shura Council continued its use of heavy artillery in an urban setting. The mortar shelling of a peaceful protest in Kish Square from territory controlled by the Shura Council left nine people dead and dozens wounded.

ISIL has an operational presence in Benghazi, as shown by a series of claims, through its media outlets, of attacks, often in the form of suicide improvised explosive devices, against LNA.

Clashes in the West continued into 2015, and included a military offensive by Warshafana forces to regain areas in the Warshafana tribal belt, including around Al-Aziziya. Intermittent clashes continued, but a range of ceasefire agreements negotiated in 2015 reduced the intensity of clashes in western Libya.

Direct clashes between the two major military alliances in Libya, LNA and Operation Fajr, continued into early 2015, but had stopped by the end of April. The Operation Fajr offensive in the oil crescent against Petroleum Facilities Guard and LNA forces continued until March, after which Operation Fajr disengaged. In Tripoli, the western region of LNA ceased its attempts to liberate the capital at the end of April and signed ceasefire agreements with some Operation Fajr components. Nevertheless, widespread insecurity was continuing in the west, east and south as at early January 2016.

When Misratan forces withdrew from Sirte (citing a lack of support from Tripoli authorities and other elements within Libya Dawn), the groups pledging allegiance to ISIL took control of the city. June 2015 witnessed repeated airstrikes by Misratan forces. In Derna, heavy fighting took place in June 2015 between the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council and groups pledging allegiance to ISIL who were ejected from Derna but remain present in surrounding areas. Operations have been carried out by Operation Dignity in the area around Derna. Egypt and the United States of America also carried out airstrikes targeting groups pledging allegiance to ISIL.

In August 2105 General Khalifah Haftar threatened tribes of eastern Libya that he would replace them with African fighters (i.e. mercenaries) if they did not comply with his request to provide more fighters. Darfuri interviewees indicated that that might have happened. A significant number of Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi combatants were reported to be fighting around Kufrah. Other Darfur-based armed groups were approached by officials in Tripoli to reinforce Operation Fajr forces.

In August 2015, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya described the situation in the east as a war of trenches with no imminent end foreseen. As at December 2015, hostilities were still ongoing.

Local conflicts that erupted in the Fazzan region and Kufrah immediately after the Libyan revolution have persisted. Military authority lies mainly with tribal, criminal and extremist groups. In addition, the absence of State authority has created an opportunity for regional interference. Competing authorities in Tubruq and Tripoli have increased existing tensions by building alliances with local groups.

By late 2015 the political and security challenges in Libya presented an opportunity for groups associated with Al-Qaida, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), listed as Al-Qaida in Iraq, Ansar al Charia in its various reiterations, the Organization of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al Mourabitoun to opportunistically exploit and complicate an already difficult situation on the ground.

Following the creation of the Sumud Front in Tripoli in June 2015, there were continuing reports of strong ties between its uncompromising military leadership and the GNC political leadership, effectively continuing the hi-jacking of the capital and thereby preventing Libyas stabilization. The GNC leadership has disengaged from the political dialogue and subsequently boycotted the LPA signing ceremony on 17 December.

The existence of a large group of HoR members in favor of the LPA was further confirmed when reportedly 88 of them attended the 17 December signing ceremony in Skhirat. Throughout December 2015, President Saleh continued his opposition to the LPA and formed an unlikely alliance with GNC President Sahmain by attending several meetings of their parallel dialogue initiative.

While Ansar al Charia Derna (AAD) and Ansar al Charia Benghazi (AAB) seemed to have weakened since the establishment of ISIL in Libya, AQIM, Al Mourabitoun and Ansar Al Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T) continued to use the country as a rear base for their operations in the region. The leadership of ISIL recognized the situation in Libya as an opportunity to establish a new foothold outside its current area of control in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Since 2013, the country has experienced several waves of Libyan returnees, which also formed the backbone of the newly established ISIL in Libya. In addition, the country continues to attract foreign terrorist fighters in significant numbers from North Africa. While currently concentrated in its stronghold in Sirte, ISIL could seek local alliances to expand its territorial control, also entailing the risk of motivating additional foreign terrorist fighters to join the group in Libya.

The pronounced rivalries between groups in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq that are associated with Al-Qaida, for example, the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant and ISIL, were not initially replicated with the same ferocity in Libya. Regarding the financing of Libyan armed groups, government salaries continued to be paid to enlisted combatants, regardless of their human rights record or their ties with spoilers or terrorist groups. Armed groups and criminal networks have further diversified their sources of financing, including through kidnapping and the smuggling of migrants, oil derivatives and subsidized goods, as well as profits from foreign currency exchange schemes.

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Page last modified: 12-03-2016 19:25:43 ZULU