How did we get here?

Conflict Timeline

  • February 2011 Uprisings

    Libya emerged from more than four decades of authoritarianism in 2011. Against the backdrop of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, popular protests against Muammar Gaddafi gained significant momentum on the ground in February 2011, a manifestation of the gradual erosion of the legitimacy of the Jamahiriya (a term coined by Gaddafi normally […]

  • Libya’s political and military arena post-2011

    Despite the NTC’s missteps, the political arena post-2011 opened up. Technocrats, former regime officials who defected, members of the Muslim Brotherhood and even leadership from the defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group embraced the new reality by forming political parties and running for office. However, this new “post-2011 political elite” inherited Gaddafi’s political culture. This manifested […]

  • A foiled coup amidst a geopolitical quagmire

    By late 2013, dynamics inside and outside the GNC had become problematic. Part of Tripoli’s civilian population was growing increasingly frustrated with the lawlessness that they associated with the presence of armed groups from outside the capital. The perception was that the defence and interior ministries had become conduits through which the armed groups derived […]

  • From coup to counterterrorism: the inception of Operation Dignity

    Three months after his televised attempted coup, on 15 May 2014, Haftar re-emerged on the scene in Benghazi and launched his Operation Dignity. “Karama” (the Arabic translation of Dignity) was advertised as a counterterrorism operation that sought to target extremist elements in Benghazi, but also to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists from Libya. In […]

  • Libya Dawn, elections and relocation of the HoR to Tobruk

    In Western Libya, the launch of Haftar’s Operation Dignity on 15 May 2014 was followed by Zintani armed groups storming the GNC parliament on 18 May to demand its suspension. The former military police officer whose forces were responsible for the attack – Mukhtar Fernana – read out a statement on behalf of the LNA […]

  • Institutional divide and the Government of National Salvation

    The relocation of the HoR to Tobruk in 2014 marked the beginning of the institutional political division. This rift had a ripple effect on the notion of sovereignty, which was then blurred. The manifestations of this rift were not confined to the political realm. Several of Libya’s sovereign institutions were affected, de-facto splitting as some […]

  • The UN-brokered Skhirat Agreement

    The UN brokered a political agreement in Skhirat in December 2015 that was designed to lead to the formation of a single unified government, the Government of National Accord (GNA). The GNA was to act as the executive branch of government and hold elections within two years. The agreement also stipulated that the High State […]

  • Macron’s La-Celle-Saint-Cloud meeting and Flawed Diplomacy

    In May 2017, Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar were hosted for political talks at La Celle-Saint-Cloud by France’s President Macron. This approach set a precedent that had repercussions on subsequent diplomatic attempts to resolve the Libyan conflict: creating a simplistic East/West and Sarraj/Haftar narrative. All subsequent internationally hosted conferences became focused […]

  • Haftar’s militarization of the economy and territorial expansion

    As Tripoli’s armed groups established their own cartel and revenue generation mechanisms, senior-ranking officers and commanders affiliated with the LAAF in Eastern Libya also began taking control of the economy through an entity dubbed the Military Investment Authority of Public Works (the MIAPW). In addition to the MIAPW, the LAAF also developed other sources of […]

  • Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli and Libya’s third bout of civil war

    Launch of Haftar’s offensive: On 4 April 2019, Haftar launched his operation “Flood of Dignity”, mobilising forces from Central and Eastern Libya towards Tripoli with the aim of militarily overthrowing the GNA. His offensive was launched the day the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, was visiting Libya as part of preparations for a National Conference […]

  • The Berlin Process

    On 19 January 2020, the German government hosted an international conference in Berlin to address international involvement in the escalating conflict and build support for a three-point-plan for a political solution presented by Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Ghassan Salamé. In attendance were Algeria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey, the Republic […]

  • The 5+5 Joint Military Commission

    On 8 February 2020, five-member delegations representing the GNA and the LAAF convened in Geneva under the auspices of the UN, in talks that the international community hoped would end in a ceasefire agreement. The formation of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (5+5 JMC) had been proposed by UNSMIL and was one of the agreed […]

  • The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum

    In February 2020, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2510, which welcomed the Berlin Conference. Pursuant to this, intra-Libyan talks were scheduled to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections in the shortest possible timeframe,” and the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) was formed. […]

  • Increased Accountability Actions in the US

    In 2020 the United States began to take a more aggressive posture in Libya. On 6 August 2020 the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) enacted sanctions against three individuals and a Malta-based company accused of smuggling. In November 2020 OFAC sanctioned Mohamed al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia for being “responsible for the murder of civilians […]

February 2011Post-2011201415 May 201418 May 20142015December 2015May 2017Early 20194 April 201919 January 20208 February 2020February 2020Mid-late 2020