Securing Peace in Libya

Photo Credit: United Nations Photo

Photo Credit: United Nations Photo

The violent struggle in Libya continue; Islamist groups, attempting to breathe life back into a cause that should have died in May (if not years ago), successfully managed to occupy Tripoli international airport in August and have continued to extend their control of the capital’s centre. Former members of the widely unpopular GNC (General National Congress) reconvened hoping to replace Council of Deputies, who won the elections in January by landslide. Libya’s bloody crawl away from fanatical government and state suppression towards representative government progresses slowly – it seems a lasting peace will only be realised if the forces supporting General Haftar, fighting against the Islamists are able to gain full control of the country.

To recap the events of the struggle so far-at the beginning of the year, Libya was controlled by the GNC – The assembly was controlled by Islamists, due to Nouri Abusham election as president of the GNC last December.

After his election, Abusham quickly worked to manipulate the assembly’s proceedings, pushing to legislate in accordance with Islamist interests, excising undesirable debates and inquiries from the Agenda. Then, in December the assembly voted to enforced Sharia law- deciding that a special committee was to be formed, which would examine all the current laws of Libya- aiming to ensure their concomitancy with Islamic law.

Over time, a sense of disaffection developed against the GNC- the group was thought to be channelling funding towards Islamist groups, allowing others to carry out their activities unchecked. Opponents of the GNC expressed fears that the assembly were allowing Islamic groups to carry out assassinations and kidnappings; the most notable of these being carried out by the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room, which included the kidnapping of Ali Zeidan, who was, at the time, the Prime Minister of Libya.

The GNC’s electoral mandate came to its end in January. However, the assembly voted to extend its own term by at least one year last December. In response, protests formed across the nation; reflecting the sense of consternation felt by the general public.

In February, General Haftar (of the Libyan army) demanded the dissolution of the GNC, calling for the formation of a caretaker government to oversee new elections. The GNC responded by branding him as an aspiring dictator dismissing his demands

The GNC’s refusal to dissolve led Haftar to initiate the recent civil war with Operation Dignity later (a series of air and ground attacks aimed at Islamist groups in Benghazi). Shortly afterwards Haftar announced that the GNC was no longer representing the Libyan people; stating his primary aim was to “purge” Islamist militants from Libya. However, on the 13 July, the mainly Islamist group Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) launched an offensive codenamed “Operation Dawn” on Tripoli International Airport, fighting continued throughout the next few months. Eventually the Islamists managed to occupy the airport.

Shortly afterwards, on 25 August, former members of the GNC who were not re-elected in 2014 reconvened and voted that they would replace the newly elected Council of Deputies.

The fighting, which so far has involved sweeping rounds of indiscriminate bombing, in and around residential areas, continues as the Islamists fight to regain control of Libya. Meanwhile, movements supporting Haftar show no sign of tending towards ossification. Peace for Libya is probably far from round the corner, but if peace is secured, it will only be likely to last if the interests of the civil war’s victors are in concert with the ideals expressed by the general public.

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