Conflict in Libya: A Multidimensional Crisis: State of Play and Paths towards a Sustainable Peace

23 September 2021 | Policy Study | English


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Roger Albinyana, Director of Euro-Mediterranean Policies and Regional Programmes, European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed)

Based upon the Valletta Declaration of the Western Mediterranean Forum from October 2012, representatives of 33 research think tanks and public diplomacy institutions from the 5+5 Dialogue member states decided to establish a network called MedThink 5+5 at a meeting in Barcelona in May 2016. This conference was convened by the European Institute of the Mediterranean with the presence of the 5+5 Dialogue’s co-presidency and the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean.

A year later, in July 2017, a second MedThink 5+5 Forum was held in Lisbon in cooperation with the Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI). On this occasion, the meeting was opened by the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Algerian representative of the 5+5 Dialogue’s co-presidency, the Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union and the Deputy Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean. The conference served to consolidate the network as an appropriate platform for dialogue on the various thematic areas of cooperation within the 5+5 Dialogue. A broad range of thematic areas of cooperation within the 5+5 Dialogue was covered during the conference held in Lisbon, which led to the preparation of a second MedThink 5+5 policy study, this time entirely dedicated to the question of the stabilisation of Libya and its regional spill-overs.

Indeed, the fragile security question and the proliferation of armed groups in Libya have devastating consequences not only for its socioeconomic development but also amongst the neighbouring countries, and specifically but not solely those belonging to the 5+5 Dialogue on issues such as migration, human trafficking, transnational crime, energy security, violent extremism and so on. The path to Libya’s stabilisation is a precondition for stability in the region. Why then Libya if the 5+5 Dialogue has so far strictly limited its role to supporting other regional and international actors’ initiatives in the search for a political solution? Precisely because the position of the 5+5 Dialogue’s member countries has a converging line on what to do in Libya, the latter could eventually take on a higher profile by acting on this issue multilaterally as a group of countries, rather than nationally as individual countries.

Indeed, Libya is a sufficiently relevant issue on which the existing cooperation forged by the Western Mediterranean Forum can be strengthened and deepened without it losing cohesion and inclusiveness among its member states. Not least because Libya was a founding member of the 5+5 Dialogue and the Arab Maghreb Union and its membership has prevailed in spite of numerous setbacks in the recent history of the country.

This Policy Study aims to transcend the current stalemate with regards to the Libyan situation by identifying some policy proposals and recommendations, which could be implemented in the framework of the 5+5 Dialogue and beyond, though acknowledging that without a long-term strategy that fosters a rather holistic human security approach in the region permanent stabilisation will not be achieved.

To that end, this publication of the MedThink 5+5 network comprises four papers commissioned to selected scholars who took part in the session about Libya in the conference held in July 2017 in Lisbon and whose background organisations are associated with the network. Each of these papers tries to look at the political, social and economic conflict in Libya from different angles, encompassing the political and security conundrums in the short term or the socioeconomic development perspective in the long term. A fifth introductory paper sheds light on the need for the EU, and other multilateral fora such as the 5+5 Dialogue, to emphasise the human and developmental dimensions in the security response to key destabilising events in the Mediterranean region, including the Libyan crisis.

The publication of this Policy Study aims to disseminate the research on Libya conducted by experts from some of the think tanks associated with the MedThink 5+5 network, while redounding to the benefit of the 5+5 Dialogue. No doubt there is a very vivid and timely debate amongst academics on how far the cooperation mechanisms of the 5+5 Dialogue should be enforced in light of a framework that has been enduring and effective in the Western Mediterranean. Let us hope that the Libyan crisis provides new ground for more multilateralism among the Maghreb countries and those of the 5+5 Dialogue.

Introduction: Human Security, Stability and Cooperation: Basic Conditions for Co-Development?

Alexandra Magnólia Dias, Researcher, Instituto Português de Relacões Internacionais (IPRI), Lisboa


In consequence of the so-called refugee and migration crisis, Europe has transformed its international relations with the Maghreb. The two-decade long efforts of building a region tying the two sides of the Mediterranean have been undermined by the responses to the massive flows of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants and to the threat of transnational terrorism.

Empirically, the security dynamics of the Maghreb and the Sahel are intertwined. For both Tunisian and Malian citizens, security in Libya has become an issue of domestic security policy and concern. Citizens from North Africa have joined the ranks of ISIS as foreign combatants. A smaller percentage from the Sahel region have followed suit.

Furthermore, the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean have been connected throughout the history of international relations in this region beyond the security dimension. Indeed, North Africa and Southern Europe are interconnected in various dimensions, their histories are entangled and their futures will be the outcomes of their relations and responses to the common political, economic, social and security challenges they face. The leaderships and civil societies in this region will make history in their responses to the current security predicament. Whether their futures will be forged through cooperation, conflict and/or crosscultural exchange cannot be anticipated and remains contingent. What is clear is that their futures will be the outcomes of their relations and will be co-constitutive.

The paper seeks to address a set of questions. What should the EU political strategy prioritise in its quest to foster a human security approach towards the Mediterranean? How to ensure that stability and cooperation do not pose dilemmas in terms of contributing to a more just regional society? How to accommodate region building with the trajectories of the 5+5 Dialogue societies in the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean?

The first part of this paper will consider the Mediterranean world in terms of the cultural interface between European and North African civilisations. The aim of this section is to understand to what extent the commonalities between the two worlds have been consolidated or whether differences between the two worlds have been widening.

The second part of this paper will consider the dilemmas of region building in terms of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the external security challenges the European Union member states have brought to the forefront of public debate.

The paper rests on two assumptions that will guide the analysis and the final recommendations.

Firstly, regardless of Europe’s strategy and perspectives, and other external actors, the responses to the current security predicament will be local and will be locally and regionally negotiated by a myriad of actors, both state and non-state (Hüsken & Klute, 2015). Secondly, the military instrument alone will not bring about stability. Indeed, military action should only be a minor component of a larger political strategy (Ellis, 2004, p. 464; Bayart, 2017).

The Mediterranean World and the Cultural Interface between European and North African Civilisations

The Mediterranean has been the space par excellence where the ideas of the East met those of the West; it is a space of intersection between the Islamic and Christian worlds. Indeed, migration has brought the Islamic dimension back into European life (Coker, 1998, p. 102). Camus used the word tolerance to characterise the Mediterranean world (Hüsken & Klute, 2015, p. 101). However, the challenges and dilemmas to build and accommodate different expectations in multicultural societies within Europe have led to measures of entrenchment and closure rather than to openness and accommodation. The Muslim citizens within Europe and in the West have been further divided. The version of Islam they profess and practise will determine whether they are treated as “good” or bad “Muslim” (Mamdani, 2012). In addition, this distinction is increasingly dependent upon their country of origin and their willingness to discard public demonstrations of faith. The asylum crisis in Europe cannot be fully understood without bearing in mind EU member states’ various approaches to integrating citizens with different origins, ethnicity and professing different confessions. It is one of the policy areas where the domestic and the international are intertwined and the dilemmas of social engineering multicultural and multiconfessional societies have led to the reassertion of national identities in mutually exclusive templates. What are the orientations towards citizens trying to gain a right of access to Europe and/or the West? This is the object of the next section.

Beyond Faith as a Passport

The evolution of domestic and supra-national legislation within the EU conditioning the public display of religious symbols in public spaces and in the working environment cannot be separated from the debate around European Muslim female citizens’ determination to wear the veil. The European Court of Justice’s ruling of 27 March 2017 is the culmination of this trend legitimising employers’ right to determine whether employees are authorised (or not) to use the veil, crosses and/or other religious symbols. The tolerance and respect for religious freedom that are the basis of secular political systems are being undermined by the responses to terrorist attacks perpetrated by militant Islamist combatants on EU soil, pledging allegiance to ISIS.

In the US, one’s faith and/or country of origin is a condition of granting entry or not depending on where one’s home of origin is; this seems to be the case under the Trump administration’s Presidential executive orders 13769 (of 27 January 2017, revoked by the second executive order) and the subsequent one of 6 March 2017. The place of birth, regardless of dual citizenship (in the first executive order US citizens and holders of other passports who originally came from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Syria were targeted), combined with the religion he or she professes will eventually condition entry in the US from 16 March 2017. Despite the change of rhetoric in the second order, the association between the countries under scrutiny and the religion which much of their citizens profess – Islam – cannot be dissociated.

I also use faith as a passport metaphorically to describe the crossing conditions of both those who succeed and fail in reaching Europe via the Mediterranean. In this regard, concerns over order, stability and security have taken precedence over human rights, justice and solidarity. The asylum and migration crisis continues unabated and triggers divisions between Europeans and between Europeans and Africans. In the short term, this crisis widens the gulf between regions, creates resentment and hampers the longterm goal of co-development. The securitisation of human mobility across this region is of recent breed. The mobility and the movements across the Sahel and the Maghreb with the purpose of reaching Europe have contributed to the intertwinement of the two regions’ security dynamics. The insistence on the academic division between the two sub-regions (North Africa/Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa/Sahel) obscures and obstructs the need to find multilateral responses to transnational problems and challenges that enhance the triangular relationship between the Sahel, the Maghreb and Europe.

The Mediterranean Triangle: Southern Europe, the Maghreb/North Africa and the Sahel

European media coverage and public opinion have tended to look at Africa as a source. Firstly, as a source of valuable resources, such as minerals and energy in the more recent narrative of Africa as the rising continent (Bunce, Franks, & Patterson, 2017). Secondly, as a source of insecurity in terms of growing flows of irregular/undocumented migrants, epidemics and conflicts. Indeed, Europeans have tended to look at Africans out of material interest and/or fear. These representations have nourished a subordination of human rights and justice to order. Europeans show solidarity towards the Africans that they perceive as victims of poor health provision/care and poor governance when it comes to epidemics and conflict. Paradoxically, the flows of migrants and asylum seekers trigger either indifference or resistance, which is being capitalised on by political parties across Europe. Europe stands as the saviour and the fortress.

For Africans, their representations of Europe trigger the determination to face the risks of an uncertain journey of unpredictable outcomes. Indeed, in 2016 alone 4,500 people died or disappeared trying to cross the Mediterranean (Amnesty International [AI], 2014). Borders as a key element of national sovereignty have waned within the EU in parallel with their reinforcement towards the non-EU space. Geography has reasserted itself against those who believed the international system was heading towards a borderless world. Those who have made it to the other side of the Mediterranean did so with Faith as their passport.

The northern and southern Mediterranean’s shores, the Maghreb and the Sahel cannot escape their geographical predicament; these three sub-regions’ security dynamics are intertwined. Closing the borders and erecting walls will enhance identity and cultural differences and will prevent the emergence of an adequate response that considers the global, regional and local political arenas. In addition, it will work against the EU’s longterm goal of region building. This recognition is critical to developing a human security approach to address the security challenges within the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean Region and the Commitment to Human Security

In the context of the EU, since Javier Solana’s era human security’s visibility has declined. Solana’s successors as High Representatives, Catherine Ashton and Federica Mogherini, have not managed to keep it high on the agenda. In the recently launched EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, human security is mentioned four times (European Union, 2016). The words cooperation and security run throughout the document.

The section on the EU’s approach to the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa mentions several issues that correspond to a human security approach; specifically, border security, trafficking, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, water and food security, energy and climate, infra-structure and disaster management. However, since the so-called “Arab and African” uprisings, the daring idea of human security has become a taboo subject in the corridors of the African Union (AU).

Beyond the narrative of the need to promote a human security approach, the asylum and refugee crisis highlights the need to re-enforce this approach in relation with other frameworks, namely human rights and human development. It is imperative to bring together political, ethical and normative dimensions and look beyond Eurocentric perspectives of international relations. The response to the migration crisis across the Mediterranean overlooks human rights and exclusively focuses on border control and mobility prevention to the detriment of people/humans. The criticism of human rightsfocused civil society groups and transnational actors such as NGOs to this policy response converge on the recognition of one issue: the de-humanisation of the “other” (Mayblin, 2017). The human cost of fortress Europe does not go unnoticed but remains silenced in its external relations (AI, 2014). It is against this background that the next section will consider the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The EU, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and External Security Challenges

The EU embodied a set of norms, such as human rights/justice/democracy and transnationalism or cosmopolitanism. More recently, however, we have witnessed the subordination of human rights and democracy to stability and order, at the peril of compromising the long-term goal of contributing to more just societies on the two shores of the Mediterranean. Indeed, the EU in its political strategy towards its neighbours faces the challenge of reconciling democracy and security.

Towards the Future: Migrant Crisis and Human Mobility

At the current juncture relations between the two shores of the Mediterranean are central to our understanding of the likely evolution of the responses to the migration and refugees crisis. The movements across the Mediterranean appear as part of another crisis: that of the international refugee regime (Hammerstad, 2010) which preceded it. This section aims to look at migration beyond the crisis’ narrative and analytical lens.

In contrast to conventional wisdom, population movements and human mobility are not only a source of instability but also a source of prosperity for receiving countries and for the extended family in the countries of origin. This happens to be the case through diaspora formation linkages with the homeland due to remittances and other connections.

Migration has been both criminalised and since 9/11 securitised. The increase in people flows has contributed to the rise of fears related to the eventual intrusion of radicalised militants amongst irregular migrants and asylum seekers. Most of the perpetrators of the series of recent attacks on European soil were not refugees and/or undocumented migrants. In these attacks from France to Belgium, Germany, the UK and Spain, most of the perpetrators were either European citizens or non-EU citizens but residents in the EU (Te-Sat. EUROPOL, 2017, p. 6; Mújica, 2017, p. 10 and p. 14). Specifically, the attacks against fellow citizens at the Parisian concert hall Bataclan, as well as the Parisian Restaurants and Stadium, Brussels Airport and Metro, Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, Berlin’s Hospital, and other attacks in Wurzburg, Munich, Ansbach, Reutlingen, the French church at St. Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Berlin’s Christmas market, Westminster, Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Borough Market and Barcelona’s Ramblas are not only the acts and scenes of a long tragedy but the shocking manifestation of a deeper crisis in multicultural societies and in solidarity across and within regional international societies. However, we have witnessed the emergence of the securitisation of human mobility tying up international migration and transnational terrorism. The insistence on this approach will further compromise the space for dialogue and cultural interface between the two sides of the Mediterranean. The externalisation of the gate-keeping function to the European neighbours on the southern shore of the Mediterranean militates against the goal of contributing to the region’s stability. In the context of the Foreign Affairs Ministerial Declaration of the 5+5 Dialogue from Marseilles, the key constructive role that diaspora formations should play in changing the current misrepresentations and prejudices against the societies on the two sides of the Mediterranean is notable. The critical juncture begs rapprochement and re-engagement to foster trans-continental tolerance and solidarity. A changing approach to migration and a de-securitisation move towards human mobility are basic premises to region building and co-development.

Transnational Terrorism and Radicalisation: between Prevention and Counter- Radicalisation

At this critical juncture both northern and southern Mediterranean countries have experienced security challenges in relation to transnational militant Islamist movements, either as sources of origin for so-called religious combatants (Mujahedeen) and/or the target of terrorist attacks. This threat challenges both the EU and AU, as well as the 5+5 Dialogue countries, the Union for the Mediterranean and the Arab Maghreb Union. The presence and expansion of several types of transnational militant Islamist movements in Europe and Africa, namely Al-Qaeda and ISIS and their competition for regional affiliates in North Africa and in the Sahel (and beyond in the Horn of Africa and in the lac Tchad basin), demands international solidarity and cooperation in preventing and responding to radicalisation. In the face of this security challenge the intertwinement of the security dynamics of Europe, North Africa and the Sahel are striking. The member states’ strategies to counter radicalisation need to be forged in the long term and based on a trans-regional approach. ISIS’ capacity to mobilise adherents on both shores of the Mediterranean is unlikely to wane without rendering vulnerable groups resilient to radicalisation. The Foreign Affairs Ministerial meeting of the 5+5 Dialogue held in Marseilles on 28 October 2016 has rightly highlighted the need to expand international relations between the societies on the two sides of the Mediterranean encompassing the human, political, economic and cultural dimensions. The vision for the future generations is dependent upon the present achievements in terms of trans-continental solidarity in preventing and responding to radicalisation. For the purposes of the present paper, the domestic and transnational security challenges of Libya and the Sahel are a key priority among the several conflicts identified in the Marseilles conclusions. Furthermore, the document elects as key priorities: target-training for youth and insertion into the job market through the ENP and/or through the Union for the Mediterranean. In this regard, the political strategy is to favour multilateralism within this region and to escape trends towards applying EU bilateral approaches on a case-by-case basis. The Euro-Mediterranean University of Fez, the HOMERe programme to recruit and Med4Jobs have the potential to render vulnerable groups more resilient to radicalisation through the creation of opportunities beyond the risky route of irregular migration or precarious jobs.

Concluding Remarks

Historically, the Mediterranean region has functioned as a bridge between Europe and Africa. The refugee and migrant crisis has transformed the Maghreb into a buffer region which mediates pressures from Sub-Saharan Africa. However, this crisis cannot be dissociated from a much deeper and more meaningful crisis: that of the European political project. The latter shows us that globalisation and nationalism are not progressing necessarily in opposite directions. The externalisation of the EU’s borders advances hand in hand with its partnership with North Africa, revolving more around guaranteeing the former’s energy security and the latter’s stability. Paradoxically, economic globalisation and the reinforcement of national sovereignty in the face of the refugee and migration crisis advance in a mutually reinforcing fashion, shaking hands and breaking alternative political projects based on multiculturalism.

Unless the Marseilles recommendations of the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs from the 5+5 Dialogue’s countries of October 2016 are implemented, the widening gap in terms of cultural interface will undermine the two-decade long effort of building a Mediterranean region.

The overemphasis on the military response to the refugee and migrant crisis and to the transnational terrorist threat will backfire against the long-term goal of contributing to stability in the region. Indeed, the militarisation of the current strategy towards the southern Mediterranean and the Sahel has led to the subordination of human rights and democracy to stability and security. Authoritarian leaderships have not escaped the temptation to use anti-terrorism legislation to suppress opposition leaders and, hence, under the aegis of the struggle against terrorism the extant public space of opposition has been further compromised. Within the EU and the West, the growing discrimination of citizens based on the religion they profess will nourish militant Islamist movements’ capacity to capitalise on the resentment of vulnerable groups in Muslim groups within Western societies. Transnational militant Islamist movements, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, are not likely to be the last demonstration of political fundamentalism masqueraded under a religious narrative.

In the long run, the subordination of justice to order will contribute to less resilient societies on both shores of the Mediterranean and the current risks and security threats are not likely to wither away.


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Conflit libyen : la voie de la paix passe par la solidarité

Hatem Ben Salem


La crise libyenne, conséquence prévisible d’une opération militaire de l’OTAN mal préparée en vue de renverser le régime de Kadhafi, a d’importantes répercussions aussi bien au niveau national libyen que régional euro-arabe. Une véritable guerre civile étant en cours, il faut, à l’évidence, reconnaître la disparition de l’État unitaire en Libye et l’apparition d’une nouvelle donne sur le plan des équilibres géopolitiques et de la stabilité régionale (théâtre maghrébin, sahélien et euro-méditerranéen). À la charnière du Maghreb et du Machrek, porte d’entrée vers l’Afrique, riche en ressources énergétiques (pétrolières et gazières), la Libye occupe une position de carrefour stratégique tout particulièrement convoité. L’opération désastreuse de la France, de la Grande-Bretagne puis de l’OTAN a créé un véritable espace de chaos propice à la survenance de toutes sortes de menaces pour tous les pays de la région. D’aucuns estiment que les buts non avoués de cette expédition néocoloniale qui rappelle à tous les peuples de la région de très mauvais souvenirs étaient de s’assurer le contrôle des ressources pétrolières et gazières et d’évincer les puissances rivales, notamment la Russie et la Chine. L’implication du Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU par une résolution foncièrement illégitime a internationalisé le conflit mais sans apporter les garanties nécessaires à la protection du peuple libyen.

Bien que la situation soit aujourd’hui extrêmement mouvante et volatile, on peut observer schématiquement deux grandes forces qui se font face : les forces du Maréchal Haftar, l’Armée nationale libyenne, dominant la Cyrénaïque, soutenues par l’Égypte, les États- Unis, le Tchad, la France, la Russie et dans une moindre mesure la Chine, et le Gouvernement d’Union nationale dirigé par El Sarraj dominé par les puissantes milices de Misrata appuyées par le Qatar, la Turquie et certaines puissances occidentales, dont principalement la Grande Bretagne et l’Italie. Le Gouvernement d’Union nationale, reconnu par les Nations unies, tire sa légitimité du fait qu’il résulte de la signature de l’accord de réconciliation du 17 décembre 2015, adopté à Skhirat au Maroc. Cependant, l’accord a une limite majeure : il n’a pas été ratifié par le parlement de Tobrouk. Ainsi, les divisions n’ont cessé d’augmenter alors que la création du gouvernement de Fayez Sarraj devait justement réunir tous les Libyens. Si l’on rajoute à tous ces éléments la prolifération des nouveaux centres de pouvoir qui essaiment sur tout le territoire et qui font apparaître l’influence d’autres forces – tribus, clans, conseils municipaux – on comprend mieux les raisons pour lesquelles s’enlisent, depuis plusieurs années, les négociations de paix en Libye.

En effet, selon l’Accord politique libyen, une issue à la crise ne peut être trouvée qu’à travers une solution politique négociée que les Libyens auront souverainement choisie.

Dès lors, toute solution militaire et interférence étrangère dans les affaires libyennes, contribuant à complexifier le terrain politique, sont rejetées. Par ailleurs, il rappelle l’importance de la préservation de l’unité et de l’intégrité territoriale de la Libye. Aujourd’hui, la Libye scindée en trois entités elles-mêmes fracturées et divisées, mène une lutte acharnée pour maintenir son unité. Le pays est sur la corde raide en raison des clivages régionaux, tribaux, politiques et économiques qui hypothèquent toute possibilité de médiation et desquels ne ressortent que très peu de possibilités d’alliances. Il en résulte une situation que Florence Gaub qualifie de « déséquilibre de l’impuissance : personne n’est assez fort pour s’imposer, mais tous sont assez forts pour se nuire ». À cette conclusion, on pourra en rajouter une autre : en Libye tous les acteurs profitent de cette situation de chaos et ont, par conséquent, intérêt à ce qu’elle perdure. Ce constat peut, toutefois, être appelé à changer compte tenu des avancées sur le terrain des forces de Haftar et le probable choix de la solution militaire, dont les conséquences ne pourront qu’être désastreuses surtout si elle aboutit à la victoire d’un clan.

Les efforts de médiation internationale, visant le rapprochement des deux parlements afin de mettre fin à la guerre, ont démontré leurs limites. En fait, le processus était vicié à la base car l’approche et la qualité des médiateurs n’étaient pas proportionnées aux enjeux que représentait le drame libyen. De surcroît, la justification morale du rôle de l’ONU est loin d’être exempte de critiques. Comme nous l’avons souligné, les Nations unies, par le biais du Conseil de Sécurité – résolution 1973 – ont, en effet, légalisé une intervention militaire qui était, à la base, illégitime puisqu’elle ne prévoyait aucune protection de la population libyenne mais bien le renversement d’un régime politique en place.

L’exacerbation de la crise est telle que l’absence de l’autorité de la puissance publique pendant plusieurs années sur l’ensemble du territoire, a favorisé la multiplication de centaines de milices incontrôlables. Une situation qui a largement profité à la dilapidation des ressources naturelles et financières de l’État libyen et a permis la forte présence de l’organisation terroriste de l’État islamique. Le territoire libyen est devenu un foyer terroriste doublé d’un sanctuaire pour les « djihadistes » menaçant ouvertement la sécurité du Maghreb et du Sahel, notamment la Tunisie voisine. La solution négociée, à la crise, est devenue ainsi une véritable gageure.

La réunion des ministres des Affaires étrangères du « Dialogue 5+5 » du 28 octobre 2016 à Marseille, placée sous la présidence conjointe de la France et du Maroc, a permis de renforcer le dialogue et la coopération en matière de sécurité, à un moment où les crises régionales sont un sujet de vive préoccupation. À l’issue de cette rencontre, l’ambition clairement affirmée est de marquer la détermination des États membres à agir collectivement pour faire face aux défis de la région, notamment faire front commun contre Daech érigé en menace prioritaire, d’échanger sur les différentes crises régionales, de renforcer le dialogue sur les enjeux sécuritaires, et de rechercher des pistes communes de réponse à la crise migratoire que connaît actuellement la Méditerranée. Aucun résultat probant n’est, depuis, perceptible et malgré la dangerosité des menaces émanant du territoire libyen, on ne voit pointer aucune initiative du 5+5 à même de contribuer efficacement à une solution durable.

Impact régional de la crise libyenne

Sahel, Maghreb et Méditerranée forment des espaces interdépendants avec des développements inégaux inhérents à leur histoire et à leur géographie communes, caractérisés par de fortes influences et aux destins très liés. Ces théâtres constituent également un même prolongement travaillé par des forces et des logiques communes : la sécurité de l’un est étroitement liée à la sécurité des autres et réciproquement. Dans cette configuration, les Européens se retrouvent avec un Sud qui va au-delà de l’espace maghrébin pour englober le Sahel : toute cette immense région évolue, depuis l’effondrement de la Libye, vers une instabilité endémique. L’éclatement d’un foyer de guerre permanente au Sahel menace la stabilité et la sécurité des pays du Maghreb et de l’Europe de façon quasi-instantanée. Il n’est plus possible de poser la problématique du Maghreb en l’isolant du flanc sud sahélien. Une concertation permanente s’impose entre les pays du Maghreb sur le présent et l’avenir de la scène sahélienne. Elle est, aujourd’hui, inexistante compte tenu du blocage permanent qui caractérise le fonctionnement de l’Union du Maghreb arabe.

Les défis majeurs, terrorisme, crime organisé, conflits et flux migratoires, submergent la vaste région et démontrent à quel point le Maghreb, le Moyen-Orient et la rive nord de la Méditerranée sont interdépendants et sont directement affectés par les mêmes conflits. Cette situation est inédite dans l’histoire de la région et devrait, par conséquent, encourager toutes les parties, à étudier plus sérieusement les nouveaux objectifs de leur coopération sécuritaire.

Depuis le déclenchement du conflit en 2011, la Libye est devenue, en effet, une source de préoccupation tant pour le Maghreb que pour l’Union européenne, compte tenu des multiples défis sécuritaires et économiques qu’elle pose à la région et leurs répercussions en Méditerranée occidentale. Si les pays du Maghreb sont directement concernés par les mutations géopolitiques de la Libye, eu égard à leur proximité géographique, les pays de l’Europe n’en sont pas moins préoccupés à cause des enjeux économiques, sécuritaires et géostratégiques qui influent sur la région. En faisant face à ces défis communs transnationaux, Maghrébins et Européens gagneraient à s’engager dans une étroite coopération régionale dans l’espace saharo-sahélien qui, seule, permettrait de sauvegarder leurs intérêts, tout en aidant tous ces pays à éviter le spectre de l’« afghanisation ».

Dans cette logique, les pays voisins de la Libye ont réaffirmé, à l’issue de leur 11e réunion ministérielle tenue le 8 mai 2017 à Alger, leur engagement en faveur d’une solution durable à la crise libyenne, laquelle ne peut se réaliser « qu’à travers la solution politique que les Libyens ont souverainement choisie en signant l’Accord politique du 17 décembre 2015 ». Les ministres ont également exprimé leur « rejet de toute interférence étrangère dans les affaires de la Libye et de toute option militaire ».

De même, la Tunisie a initié, en février 2017, une médiation dans la crise libyenne. L’initiative qui associe également l’Algérie et l’Égypte consiste pour l’essentiel à soutenir le règlement politique inclusif en Libye et rejette toute solution militaire. Lors de cette réunion, les participants sont convenus de la nécessité de « continuer à oeuvrer inlassablement à la réalisation de la réconciliation nationale sans exclusive en Libye dans le cadre du dialogue inter libyen avec l’aide des trois pays et sous l’égide des Nations unies et à l’attachement à la souveraineté de l’État libyen et à son intégrité territoriale ». La Déclaration de Tunis du 20 février 2017 rappelle également l’attachement des trois États signataires à la solution politique en tant que seule issue à la crise sur la base de l’Accord politique libyen signé le 17 décembre 2015 qui reste le cadre référentiel. Ainsi, l’objectif de l’initiative est d’amener tous les protagonistes libyens au dialogue pour aplanir les litiges ayant empêché, jusque-là, la concrétisation de l’accord de Skhirat. Cette initiative a déjà le mérite d’exister mais le réalisme nous incite à croire qu’elle ne pourra pas avoir une influence décisive sur l’issue du conflit. Deux raisons expliquent notre pessimisme : d’abord, le manque de soutien international qui se comprend face à la multiplication des actions parallèles à la mission onusienne, ensuite, et c’est certainement la cause rédhibitoire, les objectifs contradictoires des deux puissances régionales que sont l’Algérie et l’Égypte, qui compliquent les contacts entre les différentes parties positionnant les uns au détriment des autres. Et ce n’est pas la récente rencontre des deux ministres des Affaires étrangères de ces deux pays qui pourra y changer quoi que ce soit. La France, en réunissant récemment les deux protagonistes à Paris, espère faciliter leur vision de l’avenir du pays mais c’est le positionnement sur le terrain qui, encore une fois, sera décisif et Haftar ayant l’avantage se déjugera à la première occasion, et l’accord de Paris ne sera qu’un autre mirage. Aujourd’hui, Haftar et El Sarraj sont de plus en plus conscients qu’un dialogue sérieux doit s’instaurer entre eux afin de limiter au maximum le rôle nocif des milices. En effet, il s’avère de plus en plus difficile de soupeser le poids militaire et de cerner les objectifs de la myriade de groupuscules armés qui sont, depuis 2011, le véritable obstacle à la paix en Libye. C’est la grande incertitude qui caractérise la situation en Libye et qui compliquera à l’avenir toute action internationale. Il devient, en effet, de plus en plus sûr qu’une partie de ces milices n’acceptera sous aucune condition de rendre les armes, ce qui rendra le recours à la force inévitable de la part de la communauté internationale.

Réponse à la crise migratoire

Le dilemme est vertigineux : comment endiguer la route migratoire de la Méditerranée centrale en traitant avec un État libyen qui n’existe que sur le papier ? Voilà quelque temps que les Européens, Italiens en tête, veulent conclure avec Tripoli un accord similaire à celui signé en mars 2016 avec la Turquie, en vertu duquel cette dernière s’engage à récupérer les migrants refoulés de Grèce. La Libye est la principale plateforme de migration vers l’Italie. L’écrasante majorité des arrivées sur la péninsule s’y organise à partir du littoral libyen, même si les migrants et candidats à l’asile sont pour la plupart des Africains subsahariens.

Néanmoins, il paraît difficile d’envisager une action efficace dans l’immédiat, et notamment une désorganisation des réseaux de passeurs, tant que l’instabilité et le chaos actuels persistent. Ainsi, les réponses européennes à la crise migratoire que connaît actuellement la Méditerranée, à l’instar de l’opération navale Sophia lancée en 2015 par l’Union européenne pour épauler la marine italienne, présentent un bilan plus que mitigé. Sophia, faute d’avoir accès aux eaux territoriales libyennes, est une opération à dominante humanitaire, plus que de contrôle et d’endiguement. Ajoutons à cela que l’absence d’État unitaire en Libye fait qu’y refouler des migrants risque d’être jugé contraire au droit international en raison de l’interdiction de renvoyer des personnes dans un lieu où leur vie est susceptible d’être mise en danger.

L’initiative « 5 + 5 défense » constitue un autre cadre de dialogue et de coordination à l’échelle régionale. Ce forum de coopération entre pays riverains de la Méditerranée occidentale réunit depuis 2004, cinq pays de la rive sud (Algérie, Libye, Mauritanie, Maroc et Tunisie) et cinq États de la rive nord (France, Italie, Portugal, Espagne, Malte).

Des concertations informelles sont organisées entre ministres de la Défense, ou chefs d’état-major des armées, pour penser les enjeux communs de sécurité. Les décisions se prennent par consensus, sur la base du volontariat, dans un esprit avant tout pragmatique, avec une économie de moyens. Quatre domaines sont privilégiés : la sûreté aérienne, la protection civile, la formation, et la surveillance maritime — avec une coopération en matière de sauvetage en mer, pillage des ressources, contrebande, immigration illégale, piraterie et terrorisme. C’est ce cadre multilatéral qui nous semble être le plus idoine pour traiter sérieusement la question migratoire. Par son format d’abord, le 5+5 est propice à une prise de décision rapide qui fait tant défaut à la lutte contre l’immigration clandestine. Ensuite, et compte tenu de la menace inhérente à tout déplacement humain massif et incontrôlé, le danger devient commun et le confronter exige non seulement la concertation mais aussi l’action. Aucune initiative unidimensionnelle n’est à même de régler la question migratoire. En plus des décisions urgentes d’endiguement, une nouvelle approche de la coopération internationale devient impérative. Certes, les 110 mille migrants entrés en Europe depuis janvier 2017 (chiffre de l’OIM) prouvent l’inefficacité de la politique de l’UE pour faire face à ce phénomène mais aucun succès ne peut être obtenu sur ce plan sans l’implication directe des cinq États maghrébins.

Focus sur la Tunisie

Les tensions et les menaces projetées par l’insécurité persistante caractérisant la scène libyenne ne peuvent être considérées comme périphériques ou étrangères à la sécurité nationale tunisienne : l’impact de la crise transcende les frontières libyennes et menace directement la Tunisie sur l’ensemble de son territoire.

Conformément à la Déclaration de Tunis du 20 février 2017, la Tunisie rejette toute interférence étrangère dans les affaires internes libyennes. La solution privilégiée devra être avant tout entre Libyens et Maghrébins tout en impliquant des États clés à l’instar du Tchad, du Soudan et du Niger. Sans réappropriation des clés de leur destinée par les pays du Maghreb, la voie est ouverte à un règlement imposé depuis l’extérieur par des puissances étrangères poursuivant des intérêts stratégiques qui les dépassent. Très inquiète d’une intervention militaire en Libye, la Tunisie redoute que le chaos ne déborde sur son territoire. Les ingérences étrangères multiplieront les foyers de tensions et de crises et le territoire tunisien ne manquera pas d’être impacté par effet induit. Dans ce contexte, la sécurité de la Tunisie et son essor économique sont intimement liés à l’évolution de la situation en Libye et dans toute la région maghrébine.

Les événements survenus dans son voisinage le plus immédiat ont accentué l’ampleur des défis auxquels la Tunisie, laboratoire de la démocratie dans le monde arabe, doit faire face au lendemain de la révolution. La disparition de l’État unitaire libyen, second partenaire économique de la Tunisie après l’Union européenne et source d’emploi non négligeable, constitue une catastrophe économique pour la Tunisie. La détérioration de la situation en Tripolitaine, se traduisant par la fermeture répétée du post-frontière de Ras Ajdir pour des raisons sécuritaires, a fait chuter de manière considérable l’écoulement des produits tunisiens par le marché libyen. Une fermeture durable des frontières affecterait directement les régions frontalières tunisiennes aux équilibres précaires vivant principalement des revenus générés par le commerce informel. Cet état de fait pourrait engendrer une flambée de violence et des révoltes sociales difficilement maîtrisables. L’instabilité libyenne représente ainsi une menace majeure quant à la consolidation du processus démocratique tunisien.

Par ailleurs, l’afflux de centaines de milliers de réfugiés libyens sur le territoire tunisien au fur et à mesure de l’intensification des combats a sérieusement affecté les équilibres internes tunisiens aussi bien du point de vue économique que politique. Par cet accueil, l’objectif poursuivi par la Tunisie était de préserver les relations futures avec un nouveau pouvoir à Tripoli.

Ainsi, dès 2011, la Tunisie a connu une « expérience » migratoire qui peut être qualifiée d’inédite et qui a impliqué des flux migratoires de différentes natures. L’exil massif de centaines de milliers de travailleurs migrants, de réfugiés et de demandeurs d’asile qui ont fui la Libye ont profondément bouleversé la donne migratoire dans la région. En effet, la crise humanitaire déclenchée par le conflit libyen s’est traduite par l’exode de centaines de milliers de travailleurs étrangers qui ont fui les combats, mais aussi par le départ de plusieurs milliers de familles libyennes fuyant les bombardements de l’OTAN. Les étrangers qui se trouvaient dans l’est de la Libye se sont enfuis en direction de l’Égypte, mais la majorité des migrants vivaient dans la partie occidentale du pays, ce qui les a conduits à fuir par la frontière tunisienne.

Quant à la sécurité nationale tunisienne, l’acuité et la gravité des menaces projetées par le théâtre libyen sont multiples : soutiens divers de groupes terroristes libyens ou réfugiés en territoire libyen à des mouvements radicaux tunisiens, base de repli, d’entraînement et d’organisation pour des groupes terroristes tunisiens, infiltration d’éléments terroristes, d’armes et de trafics divers, enlèvement et assassinat de ressortissants tunisiens, exportation des combats entre différentes factions libyennes en Tunisie à la faveur des Libyens résidant en Tunisie constituent autant de dangers auxquels sont confrontés les autorités tunisiennes.

À ce propos, les sanglantes attaques djihadistes de Ben Gardane constituent un spectaculaire débordement du chaos libyen dans cette région limitrophe du Sud-Est tunisien et illustrent les difficultés de Tunis à sécuriser sa longue frontière commune. Ces violences, marquant une extension de la zone de conflit armé jusque-là cantonnée à la Libye, interviennent alors que la Tunisie fait régulièrement état de son inquiétude à propos de la situation en Libye. Craignant que le conflit libyen ne déborde sur son territoire, Tunis a creusé une tranchée le long de sa frontière, et des conseillers militaires occidentaux ont entrepris de former les unités de garde-frontières tunisiens. En effet, la jonction entre des groupes terroristes présents en Libye et des cellules dormantes en Tunisie pourrait déboucher sur des attaques multiples harcelant et dispersant les forces de sécurité et l’armée nationale. L’exacerbation des tensions et des conflits entre milices visant à s’assurer le contrôle des richesses du pays, des trafics et du pouvoir politique sur fond de sécessionnisme et de montée en puissance des islamistes radicaux et du terrorisme menace durablement l’unité de la Libye et la stabilité de la Tunisie, notamment des régions frontalières aux équilibres ethniques et sécuritaires fragiles. Par ailleurs, si les forces hostiles aux islamistes en Tripolitaine cèdent, toute la région frontalière s’érigera en sanctuaire pour les djihadistes tunisiens d’Ansar Al Charia et les djihadistes tunisiens de retour d’Irak et de Syrie. Leur force de frappe et leur capacité de nuisance en seront décuplées. La Tunisie devra s’assurer le contrôle de verrous stratégiques tout le long de la frontière, d’où l’importance de la mise en place, en cours, d’une surveillance électronique des frontières avec la Libye.

En dépit des multiples initiatives visant un règlement politique de la crise libyenne, dont l’initiative tripartite portée par la Tunisie, le temps semble être à la parole des armes avec un risque d’embrasement généralisé du théâtre libyen, notamment du sud et de la Tripolitaine, voisine de la Tunisie. L’attaque de la base de Brak Al-Shati contrôlée par le Maréchal Haftar, le 18 mai 2017, en constitue un exemple probant. Violant le cessez-lefeu relatif aux opérations militaires se déroulant dans le sud, disposition découlant de la rencontre d’Abou Dhabi du 2 mai 2017 entre les deux principaux protagonistes de la crise en Libye, la 3e force de Misrata a commis un véritable massacre, le plus important depuis l’année 2012.

L’interférence de puissances étrangères aux intérêts radialement opposés complique, aujourd’hui, beaucoup plus la situation et rend une résolution pacifique de la crise de plus en plus improbable. L’actuelle crise du Golfe pourrait, toutefois, créer une nouvelle donne géopolitique impactant directement sur la Libye si l’issue du bras de fer actuel débouche sur la défaite, même morale, d’un acteur clé mais très contesté en Libye : le Qatar. Les réactions de la Turquie, qui perd nettement du terrain avec les défaites récurrentes des milices qu’elle soutient, n’influenceront pas l’issue du conflit mais pourront, à l’avenir, constituer des handicaps à l’aboutissement de futures négociations inter-parties.

La défaite militaire imminente de l’État islamique porte également en elle des menaces directes sur la stabilité de toute la région sahélo-maghrébine et des mesures de défense concrètes doivent en urgence être adoptées à l’instar de la mise en place, dans le cadre du 5+5, d’une force d’intervention à même de parer à toutes les éventualités. En effet, un nombre indéterminé – mais probablement à chiffrer en milliers – de terroristes ont pu se replier sur le Sud libyen faisant ainsi jonction avec les groupuscules terroristes sahéliens. Cette situation inédite, compte tenu du nombre important de terroristes, aura les conséquences les plus graves pour tous les États de la région et un scénario à la syrienne n’est pas à écarter. Face à cette menace imminente, aucune stratégie, même au niveau du 5+5, n’est élaborée. Plus inquiétant encore, l’Italie puissance méditerranéenne et membre fondateur du 5+5, prend une initiative militaire unilatérale et très hasardeuse. De toute évidence, lutter efficacement contre les flux migratoires ne peut pas se faire à travers l’occupation des eaux territoriales libyennes car les risques de débordement sur les pays voisins sont plus que certains et peuvent devenir incontrôlables.

La crise libyenne et ses répercussions désastreuses sur la région euro-méditerranéenne sont incontestables. Malheureusement, la posture qui consiste à laisser aux Libyens le choix de décider du sort de leur pays, à ce stade, apparaît comme totalement contreproductive. Un engagement franc et massif de la communauté internationale est impératif aujourd’hui. Il doit, en tout état de cause, faire évoluer la position européenne, exclusivement focalisée sur la question migratoire. Tout rêve d’externalisation ou de création de « hotspots » est irréalisable dans les conditions du chaos actuel. Toute initiative armée unilatérale ne peut que compliquer la donne et entraîner toute la région vers l’insécurité et l’instabilité. Si la situation se dégrade encore plus, les Nations unies ont l’obligation morale d’actionner tous les moyens garantissant le respect de la légalité internationale y compris celui du recours au chapitre VII de la Charte. C’est une option qui devrait être envisagée au moins comme carte de négociation mais également comme gage de l’engagement déterminé de la communauté internationale et du sérieux des décisions qui devraient être prises pour faire face à la menace de désagrégation de toute la région.

En conclusion, les choix d’un règlement pacifique et définitif du conflit libyen sont limités mais une issue positive peut être objectivement envisageable. Elle devra indubitablement sous-tendre, en plus des efforts internationaux de règlement, une nouvelle politique de coopération fondée sur une prise de conscience que, pour la première fois dans l’Histoire, tous les États méditerranéens subissent la même menace terroriste. L’insécurité devient, aujourd’hui, un « destin » partagé qui nécessite, une fois pour toutes, l’acceptation de l’idée que l’avenir commun des deux rives de la Méditerranée est désormais scellé pour de très longues années et que les voies menant à la stabilité et à la prospérité passent par une nouvelle définition de la solidarité.

A Hard Diplomatic Transition in Libya: What Response from the EU and the 5+5 Dialogue?

Roberto Aliboni


In mid-2017, no political solution seems in sight in Libya. General Khalifa Haftar, the leader of those who oppose the institutions the United Nations (UN) established with the December 2015 Agreements in Skhirat, has undoubtedly consolidated his position. He controls the Tobruk House of Representatives (HoR) the parliamentary institution elected in 2014 and then integrated in the Skhirat Agreements. The House denies its vote of confidence to the governmental institutions set up in Skhirat and thus prevents the Agreements from being fully enforced. Furthermore, Haftar has firmly occupied the “oil crescent” since autumn 2016, has expanded his military clout in central Libya, and in the first days of July declared victory over Islamists in Benghazi after 36 months of fighting (even though that does not seem to be completely true).

However, most observers continue to believe that there cannot be any military solution to the Libyan crisis because no party to the conflict has the resources to obtain it and Haftar’s military success, past a certain point, would raise a strong “revolutionary” coalition of forces against him. Victory is not really attainable in Libya and, were a military solution forced upon it, this would surely be the source of new conflict.

That a military solution is neither possible nor desirable is also what international diplomacy believes. In this respect, the UN has been engaged since 2014 in the mediation that produced the Skhirat Agreements with its new institutions, i.e. the Presidential Council (PC), the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the High State Council (HSC), and has appointed Fayez Serraj at their head as the chairperson of the PC.

In its endeavour, the UN has been supported by a considerable array of other international and regional organisations that are also seeking a diplomatic and political solution to the crisis: the “Quartet for Libya”, comprising the UN, the League of Arab States (LAS), the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU); the ministerial meeting of Libya’s neighbouring countries (besides Libya: Algeria, Egypt, Niger, Sudan, Chad, Tunisia, as well as the LAS and the AU); and the AU High Level Committee on Libya, which meets at the level of heads of state and government. More recently, an informal group made up of the governments of Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia has emerged.

So far, however, these efforts have not succeeded in making the parties compromised on a political and more inclusive solution. That is why, in mid-2017, no political solution seems in sight in Libya.

Against this background, this paper takes into consideration the evolution of the UN mediation strategy in the Libyan domestic context, the corrections the UN and other actors are trying to effect on the strategy in the framework of the current diplomatic transition, and the external factors conditioning the Libyan crisis. It then looks at the policies that could be undertaken to try to overcome the current stalemate and create the conditions for a political solution to the crisis and how the EU and the Western Mediterranean countries’ “5+5” Dialogue – of which Libya is a member – could contribute to such a solution.

A Centrist Platform in Libya: the UN Strategy

The rebellion against Gaddafi’s regime received wide international support from Western powers. After fostering regime change in Libya, though, the latter did not want to engage in any nation-building, leaving the task to the Libyans and the UN.

After the 2012 elections, however, the highly fragmented Libyan society failed to build a working democracy. Libya as a nation has inherited strong political fragmentation from the regimes of both the monarchy and Gaddafi. Already evident during the revolution, this fragmentation was seriously worsened in 2012-2013 by the decision of the first governments of national unity to place militias on the state payroll, while leaving them at the service of different factions under their own commanders rather than integrating them into the ranks of a new national army. This hardened fragmentation and made political leaders more and more dependent on military commanders, setting the conditions for an impervious post-revolutionary crisis that entered its sixth year in 2017 and – as already pointed out – does not seem about to be resolved.

Between 2012 and 2014, this state of fragmentation evolved into a political stalemate which pitted an intransigent revolutionary front – in which Islamists of different ilks were playing a leading role – against a more moderate front of revolutionaries (those who had taken part in the revolution after defecting from the regime, such as Mahmoud Jibril), and both against an anti-revolutionary front represented by conservative forces assembled by General Khalifa Haftar in Cyrenaica.

The stalemate deteriorated into a civil war in Tripolitania and Benghazi during the summer of 2014. While Haftar remained on the sidelines, starting to wage his drawn out war against Islamists in Benghazi, the central clash took place in Tripolitania between the militias of Misrata and Zintan, representing hard and moderate revolutionaries respectively.

The clash led to Misrata’s revolutionary dominance in Tripoli and the withdrawal of the Zintanis. However, fragmentation inside these two fronts and the weakness of political leadership with respect to military commanders prevented both from acquiring any effective national leadership.

In the context of this once again stagnating balance, UN mediation, initiated in the fall of 2014, was an important turning point as it “prompted conciliatory forces from both sides to detach themselves from hardliners” (Lacher:144) and allowed for a centrist political platform to emerge in Libya on which diplomacy could seek to build a diplomatic solution.

The emergence of this centrist platform changed the Libyan political setting. On one side of the centre was a heterogeneous constellation of revolutionary, nationalist and Islamist hardliners brought together by their unwillingness to accept any compromise and thus strongly opposing the UN platform, albeit for an array of different reasons. On the other side, an ever self-reinforcing and more coherent Haftar (who, unlike other Libyan actors, is in control of both the military and political leaders) was also opposing the UN platform as part of what he sees as a broad Islamist alignment which lumps together moderate factions represented in the PC and the GNA – such as the Muslim Brothers – and national Jihadists such as Ansar al-Sharia.

In December 2015, the UN centrist platform gave way to the Libyan Political Agreement, whose contents were included in the Agreements signed in Skhirat. However, these agreements were unable to stand up to the opposition from the flanks, partly because international diplomacy failed to take the time to consolidate and enlarge the platform by building the country-wide moderate majority needed for it to succeed against its many enemies. There is no doubt that the UN pressured the Libyans involved in the negotiations into signing the Agreements even though the conditions for their actual implementation were still not there.

As a consequence, during 2016 and the first part of 2017, the PC and the GNA struggled to assert themselves without succeeding in any way. They did manage, however, to form the Higher State Council, a kind of consultative chamber established in Skhirat, which in fact has emerged as an actor favourable to the UN centrist platform. However, the HoR, the parliament elected in June 2014 and subsumed in the Skhirat institutional system, consistently refused to give its vote of confidence to the GNA. In truth, this came as no surprise, as the HoR has meanwhile fallen under the sway of General Haftar and his ally, the speaker of the House, Aguila Saleh Issa, no less ambitious than the former.

In conclusion, at the end of 2016, it clearly appeared that Libya had succeeded in its strategy of setting out a political centre with a view to pushing hardliners to the margins, but not in making it work. So it was again a stalemate.

Correcting the Strategy

For this reason, since the end of 2016, international and regional diplomacy as well as various Libyan political parties have been attempting to reform the Skhirat strategy with new proposals and initiatives. While the strategic objectives remain the same, these attempts are seeking to correct the Agreements with a view to making them suitable for achieving a substantive national solution.

The basic change introduced by the international diplomacy is that a solution to the stalemate needs to be grounded in a compromise between Serraj and Haftar, a demarche embedded in the mantra that says that Haftar has to be part of the solution. This demarche has been coupled with a proposal supported by internal and regional actors, in particular by Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia to appoint two commissions, from the HoR and the HSC respectively, and engage them in a dialogue with a view to fostering inclusion and providing consensus from the bottom up.

While the two commissions were actually appointed, not without difficulties, by the end of June 2017, the compromise between Serraj and Haftar is being pursued by means of summit meetings in which different reforms are considered on both political and institutional grounds, such as accommodating Haftar in the current GNA as the supreme military leader, albeit under civilian oversight; reducing the PC to three members and including Haftar in it; defining the role of the two parliamentary commissions; planning elections; and proceeding with a reform of the security sector, etc. These proposals were considered in three summits: in Cairo in February 2017, in Abu Dhabi in May and in La Celle Saint-Cloud, near Paris, in July. None of them produced firm results, but the summit in France, under President Macron’s patronage, yielded a Declaration which, although not signed, is detailed and sets out a sensible agenda.

The roadmap presented in Saint-Cloud tracks the plan presented by Serraj on 14 July, in his capacity as PC president. In this roadmap, the specific proposals put forward so far are judiciously brought together in a rational sequence which would be concluded by holding parliamentary elections and introducing presidential ones – meaning a shift towards some kind of a presidential republic in Libya.

The first steps would be a reduction of the present PC from nine to three members and the separation of the PC chairperson’s functions from those of the GNA prime minister (both currently carried out by Serraj). This new leadership, in collaboration with a committee formed from the HoR and HSC commissions mentioned above, would prepare for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018 (“as soon as possible,” according to the Saint-Cloud Declaration) in coordination with the National Election Commission.

Will this roadmap manage to set the conditions that the compromise international diplomacy is looking for? While the proposals put forward in Cairo and Abu Dhabi were regularly rejected by Haftar, the General appeared more conciliatory in Saint-Cloud and days after the summit expressed himself in favourable terms about establishing a presidential republic in Libya. No doubt Haftar would compete in presidential elections to gain the supreme role he and his supporters long for. However, Serraj’s roadmap and the favour it is apparently receiving from Haftar’s side have raised alarm in Misrata. By co-opting Haftar’s party, Ahmed Maitig, Vice-Chairman of the present PC, and Abdulrahman Swehli, Head of the HSC, feel it would marginalise the Misratan forces, the very forces that have so far strongly contributed to supporting Serraj, the centrist platform and UN mediation. They suspect that this may be the price to pay for compromise. As the newly emerging institutional framework could ultimately entail the dissolution of the HCS, presently a point of force in the hands of Misrata, and the three-member PC in charge of the transition currently indicated does not include anybody from Misrata, they might be right.

All this begs the question whether the strategy based on the Serraj-Haftar compromise is the right road to achieving inclusion and stabilisation in Libya. While summitry needs to be based on a balanced relationship to lead to reliable compromises, the balance in Libya is neatly in favour of Haftar. He leads a relatively coherent camp, whereas the opposite camp is extremely fragmented and Serraj has little political authority over his allies. While Haftar is a recognised military leader in Cyrenaica, sitting beside Serraj at the negotiating table are stone guests representing a heterogeneous bunch of militias. Furthermore, while the General is a proxy supported by regional and international powers grossly interfering in Libyan affairs, all Serraj enjoys is the international community’s political support. A strategy based on a compromise between Haftar and Serraj would have to explain how Serraj can make sure the compromise will be accepted by his fellows in Tripolitania.

In this respect, the most important challenge to the current diplomatic transition is that most groups and forces among the moderates adhering to Serraj’s government and the Libyan political centre fostered by the UN do not trust Haftar and therefore do not want a compromise with him. While compromises between today’s centrist forces and some hard-liner groups are plausible, the centrist forces cannot accept any compromise with what they see as an anti-revolutionary force aimed at imposing another strongman at Libya’s helm.

So, in case a compromise were to prevail, it would be a tough sell. Many of today’s moderate forces would join the non-moderate forces now opposing Serraj for the sake of the anti- Gaddafi revolution they still believe in. As a result, the centrist platform would fade, if not collapse. The eventuality of such a development is now emerging after the summit in Saint- Cloud, after it clearly surfaced in the context of the military clashes that occurred in the Libyan central region of Jufra and Sebha in spring 2017. In that context, while (and because) Serraj was seeking a compromise with Haftar – between Cairo and Abu Dhabi – his Defence Minister and the Misratan Third Force under his command coalesced with the Benghazi Defence Brigades against Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army.

In conclusion, the diplomatic strategy for a compromise between Serraj and Haftar is the right one to pursue only on the condition that Serraj and his centrist platform are strengthened to such a point that the compromise will not disrupt the centrist platform and foster the resurgence of a revolutionary trend. To reach this objective, diplomacy should not be pressed as it was in Skhirat, but must be given time. By the same token, it must not care only about the internal political and military balance but also about external conditions. For this reason, before coming to a conclusion, a brief look at the international context of the Libyan crisis already referred to in various passages above seems in order.

The External Context of the Crisis

When it comes to Libya, there are no significant territorial issues or ethnic overlaps involving neighbouring or other countries’ interests. The involvement of external countries is related to their national security or their international/regional power and the way this is affected by the conflict for government in Libya. This traditional state of affairs is complicated, however, by the transnational trends of conflict currently crossing the region. These trends generate complex transborder networks of patrons/clients and – as noted by Lynch (2016) – turn internal conflicts into conflicts by proxy. These complicating factors contribute to rendering the Libyan conflict less amenable to solution – not unlike other cases in the region.

The prospect that broadly unites international actors with respect to the Libyan conflict are the spill-over effects deriving from the absence of a Libyan state; that is, from Libya as an ungoverned space: in particular the penetration of Islamist extremism in and its external projection from Libya, and the expansion of criminal organisations’ trafficking, from drugs to illegal migration and arms. Libya’s neighbours, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali and Chad, are concerned about extremists from Libya joining their own insurgencies or unrest. European countries also fear that terrorism and trafficking can take advantage of the Libyan vacuum and spill over into their territories. These shared concerns are reflected in the broad support for the UN’s attempts to promote a political solution to the crisis – a solution grounded in national consensus and a Libyan government able to bring back order to the country and security conditions to its external relations.

The same international actors, united in achieving a political solution by means of UN mediation, are divided when it comes to the crisis’ drivers, in particular to Islamism. According to the UN and many of the governments supporting its mediation, political Islam is highly differentiated and can range from various kinds of extremism to potentially democratic actors. This is why the Muslim Brothers are represented in both the PC and the GNA. In contrast, for several Libyans and external actors Islamism is invariably an extremist actor, the Muslim Brothers being no exception, threatening security or regimes’ legitimacy or both. Hence the alliances between external and internal actors acting as proxies of foreign governments or regional trends.

The real problem for UN mediation, which includes moderate Islamists, comes from governments that put all Islamists in the same basket of extremism and terrorism, and therefore struggle against them either directly and/or through Libyan proxies. There are two different positions, both unfavourable to UN mediation: (a) the governments that lump all Islamists together as extremists the “lumpers”, as Lynch (2017) calls them, such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which in fact support Haftar, himself a big lumper, against the moderate-Islamist-inclusive Skhirat framework; (b) and the governments Lynch’s “splitters” which support the Skhirat framework and the participation of the Muslim Brothers and other moderate Islamists in its institutions, yet use Haftar as a proxy in their actions of counterterrorism against local and transnational Jihadists. As means make a difference to the ends, the use of Haftar is strongly affecting the Libyan conflict and its possible solution.

At present, while Qatari and especially Turkish interference has a marginal impact, effective and dangerous interference is coming from Egypt, the UAE, other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and Russia in the form of the strong military and political support for Haftar and the coalition of interests that has grown around him in Cyrenaica. Also dangerous is the support the USA, France and the United Kingdom have lent Haftar and other proxies in their struggle against Jihadism in Libya. If support tied to counterterrorism is not framed in a coherent strategy serving both anti-terrorism and UN mediation, the latter may be strongly hurt by the former.

In the previous section, we pointed out that Libyan internal dynamics are strengthening Haftar and weakening the UN and its centrist platform. Because of the Skhirat Agreements’ poor performance, the UN is becoming a lame mediator. Interference and ambiguities from outside have provided a major contribution to these negative dynamics. As internal and external factors in the Libyan crisis are strongly intertwined, any solution requires external interference and ambiguities to be taken into attentive consideration along with internal drivers of conflict.

What should be done? Europe and the 5+5 Dialogue

In an interview with Le Monde on 29 June 2017, the new French Foreign Minister Jean- Yves Le Drian (who was Minister of Defence under Hollande) summarised President Macron’s policy on Libya by saying, “Le cadre doit rester celui di Skhirat mais il faut en infléchir l’architecture sous l’égide de l’ONU et avec le parrainage des Etats voisins. Comme le premier ministre Sarraj, le général Haftar fait partie de la solution,” thus confirming the current international diplomacy’s mantra and the official strategy illustrated in previous sections.

Clearly, European governments – like others in the UN – have a vision of the evolution in Libya that is more optimistic than the one presented in this paper. Governments’ visions, as they have better and more information than analysts, need to be respected and the analysis presented in this paper could be mistaken. However, to be on the safe side, it would be better to consider what should be done in case the pessimistic view prevails. This is why this paper puts forward some suggestions as to what the Europeans should do in the framework of their relations with Mediterranean partner countries, as well as the members of the Western Mediterranean “5+5 “ Dialogue, of which Libya is part.

1. As argued above, the reform of the Skhirat Agreements looks remarkably like a standstill. General Haftar is clearly acting in a “winner-takes-all” perspective. He does not really seem to have any intention to come to a compromise and will agree to share the agenda only if and when it coincides with his objectives and those of his patrons. At the same time, Haftar’s inclusion in the Skhirat process can only split the centrist platform, reawakening the revolutionary perspective and rousing the winds of new infighting. Therefore, the solution to the Libyan crisis should stand behind efforts to strengthen the centre rather than include Haftar in it. The strategy should aim at including Haftar in the solution only after the centre is duly strengthened. In the short term, however, the objective, to be achievable, has to be less about strengthening the centre than preventing it from falling apart. In this respect, two related policies must be pursued: (a) to prevent hostilities from resuming in central-southern Libya and areas south of Sirte, and (b) most of all, to reassure Misrata and its leaders that current talks with Haftar are not aimed at sidelining them. If the local war that has been brewing in central Libya since the end of 2016 is resumed and expanded, the current political balance in Tripolitania will collapse and whatever political process there is will be swept away. To stem such a development the international diplomacy should stop or at least contain Haftar’s external supporters, as Egypt and the UAE, on the one hand, and restore the necessary trust within the moderate coalition in Tripoli.

2. To restore trust in Tripoli and prevent the present political centre from splitting and splinters from joining forces with hardliners, the UN and European governments should:

a. Issue a firm declaration confirming UN and international support for the Skhirat Agreements, their institutions and their leadership mandate to Serraj. To be more specific, they must make it clear that the process and the roadmap drafted in La Celle Saint-Cloud remain under strict UN oversight and are not to be understood as a pact between Serraj and Haftar independent of the UN and international tutelage; similarly, the French mediator must avoid acting on his own account and leave leadership and the last word to the UN;

b. Confirm, in particular, that the principle of civilian oversight over military authority must be incorporated in any future compromise; in other words, the impassability of Skhirat Agreements’ Article 8;

c. Confirm the current political balance in the Skhirat Agreements’ institutions and assure their support for Misrata’s moderate components preserving and retaining their weight in the process leading to a solution and in the solution itself. While a reduction of the PC members in the transition towards the elections is positive, the composition that is insistently being put forward – Serraj, Haftar and Saleh Issa – is a recipe for splits and conflicts: there can be no doubt that a member from Misrata must be included in it. It may be added that the inclusion in the “short” PC of the HoR speaker but not the HSC chairman does not reflect the institutional balance set out in Skhirat and the reasons on which it is grounded. Therefore, it too will stir conflict.

d. Give room and prominence to the deliberations of the two commissions appointed by the HoR and the HSC with a view to expanding the political debate with respect to Serraj-Haftar summitry and the focus on what is seen in this paper as a mistaken target;

e. Initiate, in deeds, a programme to reform the security sector, starting with halting transfers from the Central Bank to the commanders and paying salaries directly to individual soldiers and militants; in this same perspective, the National Guard, instituted recently under the authority of the PC President, should be strengthened they performed well in recent clashes in Tripoli with militias opposing the PC and the GNA regaining the Mitiga airport for public use and contributed distinctly to rejecting ongoing attacks to the PC from Islamist hardliners such as Ghwell.

3. Several measures are also needed to make the international context more fitting with the UN action the European countries are supporting:

a. The role of regional diplomacy needs to be strengthened; the group of large neighbouring countries set up in 2014 is less effective than the recent small trio composed of Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia. Within this trio, there is no doubt that the two members from the Maghreb have a more balanced vision of Islamism and its different streams, which are reflected in their security policies and internal politics. While Algeria and Tunisia are no less concerned than Egypt by extremism and Jihadism, they acknowledge moderate Islamism and its role. For that reason, they are more neutral than Egypt with respect to internal developments in Libya, and therefore good candidates for mediating effectively. While not excluding Egypt, it would be better if they were to take over the leadership of regional mediation, thereby contributing to moderate Cairo’s stance and initiatives.The European countries and the EU should encourage Maghrebian leadership in the Libyan crisis. By the same token, it would help if the “5+5” Western Mediterranean Group took an active role in supporting the UN and regional mediation by resuming and structuring the initiative of the Spanish government which called a special “5+5” ministerial meeting for that purpose on 17 September 2014. The Group’s members, who converge very much upon what to do in Libya, should take on a higher profile and, for once, implement the policies they agree upon as a Group rather than leaving it up to members whether or not to act nationally. The “Maghrebisation” of the regional diplomatic initiative, because of the special ties with Europeans in the “5+5” Group, the Union for the Mediterranean and the EU itself, needs to become a primary objective of both Euro-Maghrebian political cooperation and the Maghreb’s role in the region.

b. It is necessary to enter into a Maghrebian and European dialogue with Egypt with a view to providing Cairo with alternative security partners and diminishing its security dependence on the Gulf and Russia. The Europeans and the Maghreb countries must cooperate to create the military and political conditions for reassuring Egypt, thus modifying its security policies towards Libya and making Libyan proxies less necessary for Egyptian security. European countries should stop supporting the UN and its shared solutions to the crisis with their right hand, while supporting their own national interests with their left. In other words, this measure requires a more effective political solidarity on the part of both the Maghreb and Europe countries.

c. European counterterrorism policies, especially those of France, should be less bilateral and framed instead in European/EU and/or Euro-Maghrebian cooperation. They should be coherent with the shared UN action to stabilise and pacify Libya.


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L’impact sécuritaire des groupes djihadistes en Libye et dans la région maghrébo-sahélienne

Béligh Nabli


La chute de Mouammar Kadhafi, le 20 octobre 2011, a signé la fin de l’unité de façade que le dictateur avait réussi à établir en Libye. La fragmentation du territoire et de la population, ainsi que l’absence d’un véritable appareil d’État, sont apparus au grand jour. Une réalité structurelle qui a rapidement accéléré la dégradation de la situation sécuritaire. Les autorités de transition n’ont pas réussi à désarmer les milices combattantes et à bâtir une armée nationale libyenne. La Libye post-Khadafi est synonyme d’incapacité des nouvelles forces politiques à s’inscrire dans le cadre d’un agenda politique commun, de prolifération et d’institutionnalisation de milices armées, d’essor des trafics (d’armes, d’hydrocarbures, d’êtres humains…) de nature criminelle et d’implantation de groupes djihadistes qui ont su exploiter les divisions des grandes familles tribales (en s’appuyant notamment sur l’esprit de revanche de khadafistes déchus). Ces maux s’entretiennent les uns les autres et constituent une source de déstabilisation de la région Maghreb-Sahel, au sein de laquelle le territoire libyen est devenu le principal foyer du djihadisme. La Libye est devenue ainsi une nouvelle terre de djihad, pour poursuivre l’extension du Califat et menacer directement l’Europe, à moins d’une heure de vol de ses frontières sud.

Dans ce contexte de crise systémique, ce n’est que très progressivement que les pays voisins de la rive sud et nord de la Méditerranée occidentale ont pris conscience de l’intérêt national que représente la situation sécuritaire libyenne. Leur coopération bilatérale et multilatérale s’est développée et accélérée à la fois pour tenter de relancer le dialogue politique intra-libyen et apporter des solutions à la crise migratoire et sécuritaire. Des progrès restent néanmoins à faire sur le plan de la coordination de leur action respective. C’est pourquoi le Dialogue 5+5 est susceptible de démontrer aujourd’hui toute son utilité en tant que cadre d’échange informel et de rapprochement en vue d’une stratégie commune et efficace à l’égard des groupes djihadistes implantés dans le pays et dans la région maghrébo-sahélienne.

Les groupes djihadistes en Libye : facteur aggravant de l’instabilité-insécurité au Maghreb-Sahel

La Libye post-Khadafi se caractérise notamment par la présence disséminée de groupes djihadistes à la fois d’origine locale (comme le Groupe islamique combattant en Libye, le Conseil consultatif des Révolutionnaires et le Conseil consultatif des Moudjahidine, qui sont nés dans des villes bien déterminées : Derna, Benghazi et Ajdabiya) et intégrés dans les principaux réseaux terroristes transnationaux (Ansar Al-Charia, Al-Qaëda et Daech) qui donnent une capacité d’influence remarquable aux combattants libyens. De fait, la Libye est devenue la base principale d’exportation du terrorisme djihadiste en Afrique du Nord.

Toutefois, le phénomène djihadiste n’est pas né en Libye avec l’insurrection populaire puis la chute du régime Kadhafi en 2011. La « première génération » de djihadistes libyens naît dans les années 60 et 70. À leur retour de la guerre en Afghanistan, ces djihadistes libyens ont connu des parcours différenciés. La mouvance salafiste djihadiste, qui est apparue dans les années 1980, s’est cristallisée autour du Groupe islamique de Combat libyen (GICL), qui comptait lutter contre le « régime d’apostat » du Colonel Kadhafi et s’inscrire dans la nébuleuse du djihadisme mondial. Les combattants qui réussirent à réchapper des violentes répressions du régime libyen (à la fin des années 1990) rejoignirent notamment Al-Qaïda en Afghanistan. Mais dès 2006, le GICL renouvela son appel au djihad contre le Guide libyen et procéda, par la même occasion au rapprochement avec le Groupe salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat, genèse de l’actuel AQMI. Le rapprochement et la coopération entre AQMI et le GICL (qui se sont concrétisés par la présence de combattants libyens dans des camps notamment dans le sud de l’Algérie) a donné une dimension régionale au djihadisme libyen.

Si le phénomène djihadiste existait donc avant l’insurrection de 2011, celle-ci a créé à la fois un mouvement de cristallisation et d’expansion du phénomène : le territoire libyen est devenu rapidement un espace de ralliement et une base de repli pour l’implantation ou la reconstitution (logistique, militaire et idéologique) des forces djihadistes de la région maghrébo-sahélienne.

Une branche libyenne d’Ansar al-Charia (fondée par Mohammed al-Zahawi) est ainsi née entre août et septembre 2011. Très rapidement, et sous la pression de l’intervention militaire occidentale, ce groupe s’est développé à l’échelle infranationale (à travers une déclinaison en sous-branches locales avec Ansar al-Charia Derna et Ansar al-Charia Benghazi) et régionale-transnationale (liens noués avec Al-Mourabitoune et Ansar al- Shari’a-Tunisie).

Dès avril 2014, la création du mouvement Majilis Choura Chabad al-Islam, par des djihadistes libyens de retour de Syrie, va rendre la situation encore plus complexe notamment à la suite de leur allégeance en octobre de la même année à l’organisation Daech qui était jusqu’alors implantée en Irak et en Syrie. Cette allégeance va permettre à l’autoproclamé calife Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi de contrôler la zone de la ville Derna.

Avec l’annonce en 2014 de l’extension du califat à la Libye, des liens effectifs se sont tissés entre les théâtres syrien et irakien et les différents groupuscules terroristes égyptiens (Sinaï), tunisiens et libyens qui se traduisent notamment par l’envoi d’émissaires et les échanges de combattants. La propagande efficace de Daech en Libye attire essentiellement des combattants locaux (tunisiens et égyptiens notamment) ce qui en fait encore la plaque tournante du terrorisme en Afrique du Nord. Les activités terroristes liées à la Libye se retrouvent en Tunisie, Égypte, Tchad mais aussi jusqu’au Mali ou au Soudan.

Après avoir réussi à étendre son emprise sur le croissant pétrolier libyen – de 250 kilomètres, de l’Ouest de Syrte à l’Est de Ras Lanouf – Daech ne dispose plus d’assises territoriales solides et homogènes en Libye : son implantation y est nettement plus éclatée et éparse, même si sa zone d’influence tend à se prolonger vers le Sud libyen. Le 6 décembre 2016, au terme de l’opération « Bouniyan Marsous », les djihadistes de Daech étaient chassés de Syrte, ville qu’ils avaient conquise en 2015. Une victoire qui est due plus à la mobilisation-coalition de milices armées – principalement issues de Misrata –, et au soutien aérien de l’armée américaine, qu’à une quelconque armée nationale libyenne.

Les forces de Daech n’ont pas disparu pour autant : elles se sont dispersées sur le territoire libyen, dans le sud-ouest du pays essentiellement. Or la situation de carrefour de cette région entre les groupes armés de Daech, qui se sont réfugiés pour une partie dans le sud ou l’est de la Libye après la perte de leur fief, à Syrte, et le mouvement de Boko Haram, qui se replie au nord du Nigéria proche du lac Tchad, tend à affirmer et à favoriser le développement de cet espace comme un véritable « hub terroriste » selon la formule de Jean-Yves Le Drian, alors ministre français de la Défense. Dans un futur proche, cette zone pourrait être le point de jonction entre les troupes de Daech au nord, qui pourraient être amenées à se déplacer dans le sud de la Libye étant donné leurs revers militaires, et celles de Boko Haram ou bien d’AQMI, en déroute au Mali. Ce mouvement est susceptible de créer un véritable sanctuaire terroriste.

L’existence de camps d’entraînement dirigés par AQMI et Ansar al-Charia permet notamment de centraliser les recrues, qu’elles viennent de Libye mais aussi d’Algérie, du Maroc ou de la Tunisie. Cette réalité fait courir un risque sécuritaire majeur pour les pays d’origine au moment de leur retour. AQMI envoie dans le sud de la Libye un de ses groupes armés au Sahel pour pouvoir récupérer des armes et établir des liens avec les combattants libyens. Plus largement, une connexion s’est nouée entre les djihadistes libyens et les groupes terroristes implantés au Nord-Mali. L’invasion de cette région par les groupes islamistes djihadistes est une conséquence directe de la guerre en Libye, synonyme d’afflux d’argent (issu des nouvelles routes de contrebande ouvertes à travers le désert en direction de Tripoli, de Zintan ou de Benghazi, voire vers l’Europe) et de matériels militaires (armes, véhicules et les munitions) issus des casernes des forces loyalistes. Près de 40 % du matériel des groupes terroristes qui combattent au Mali proviendrait des stocks d’armes libyens (voir le rapport parlementaire français cité en bibliographie). La crise libyenne a non seulement renforcé AQMI dans la région du Sahel, mais elle a nourri la fusion de groupes armés au sein du Mouvement national pour la libération de l’Azawad (MNLA), qui s’est à son tour rapproché de Ançar Dine.

Outre le Mali, la crise libyenne a renforcé la porosité des frontières avec ces voisins du sud, en particulier le Niger. En effet, la frontière entre la Libye et le Niger est très poreuse et, facteur aggravant, les forces armées nigériennes ne peuvent que très peu la contrôler. Elles sont massivement déployées à la frontière sud pour contrer les infiltrations des éléments de Boko Haram et à la frontière ouest pour faire face aux conséquences de la crise malienne. En effet, les groupes djihadistes chassés du Mali par l’armée française et repliés dans le Fezzan libyen passent régulièrement à travers le nord désertique vers le Mali et la Mauritanie, mais durant leur transit, ils menacent les différentes mines d’uranium d’Arlit. Les déplacements des terroristes entre le sud de la Libye et la bande sahélo-saharienne sont en outre facilités par un corridor stratégique : la Passe de Salvador, qui est située à la triple frontière de l’Algérie, du Niger et de la Libye, où transitent de nombreux trafics (drogue, contrebande, etc.).

La Libye a toujours joué un rôle-clé qui tient à l’influence héritée de l’ère Kadhafi et à la centralité de sa position géographique, étant donné qu’elle est au centre de plusieurs espaces de crise. En contenant les différends locaux dans des limites empêchant une guerre ouverte, Kadhafi a joué le rôle de soupape de sécurité. La disparition du leader libyen a eu un impact certain sur une stabilité régionale relativement fragile. De même, le colonel Kadhafi était un médiateur dans les conflits armés de la région, que ce soit au Tchad, où il a facilité la signature des accords de paix avec le Mouvement pour la Démocratie et la Justice, ou au Mali, où il a fait appliquer les accords d’Alger, mais également au Niger, où la rébellion de 2007 a été jugulée. Si l’insurrection libyenne n’a pas été à l’origine des crises sahéliennes, elle les a indubitablement exacerbées.

La résolution de la crise sécuritaire libyenne est intimement liée à une stabilisation de l’ordre politique national. Si celle-ci dépend d’abord de la volonté et de l’action des acteurs proprement libyens, les forces politiques de reconstruction du pays doivent pouvoir s’appuyer sur le soutien des États voisins et des instruments régionaux de coopération et de coordination idoines, dont le Dialogue 5+5.

La nécessité de renforcer la coopération et la coordination des pays de la Méditerranée occidentale en vue de la stabilisation-sécurisation de la Libye

Si un ordre politique stable en Libye ne saurait émerger sous la menace de groupes armés et terroristes, inversement, une intervention purement militaire (qui plus est si elle est d’origine extérieure) ne permettrait pas d’établir la sécurité et la stabilité dans le pays. L’Europe, au nord, et le Maghreb-Sahel, au sud, seraient les premiers à payer les conséquences migratoires, politiques et sécuritaires d’une solution militaire. En Libye, le défi sécuritaire, en général, et djihadiste, en particulier, suppose une réponse de nature politique que les pays voisins de la rive sud et nord de la Méditerranée doivent soutenir individuellement et collectivement. La recherche d’un retour à la stabilité, et donc à la sécurité, est en effet de l’intérêt de tous les pays de la région de la Méditerranée occidentale.

Si l’accord de Skhirat (Maroc) en 2015 avait permis de faire naître une dynamique politique avec la nomination et l’installation à Tripoli, à l’Ouest du pays, d’un chef de gouvernement d’entente nationale, Fayez al-Sarraj, reconnu par la communauté internationale, celle-ci fut rapidement confrontée à la montée en puissance du maréchal Haftar, homme fort de la Cyrénaïque, à l’est du pays, engagé à la tête d’éléments de l’Armée nationale libyenne soutenue politiquement par l’Égypte et les Émirats arabes unis. Aucun des deux gouvernements actuels ne dispose de l’autorité nécessaire pour exercer son pouvoir sur l’ensemble du territoire national et rétablir une paix durable. Pis, l’opposition entre les deux hommes forts de Libye que sont Fayez al-Sarraj et le maréchal Kalifa Haftar cristallise la division politique et territoriale du pays en deux blocs antagonistes qui se disputent la légitimité politique, sur fond de clivage territorial et tribal.

Dans cette quête de compromis politique entre les deux parties antagonistes, le 25 juillet 2017, les deux hommes ont été réunis à Paris pour agréer (mais non pas pour signer) une feuille de route – qui rappelle la validité des accords signés en 2015 à Skhirat sous l’égide des Nations unies – dans laquelle ils s’engagent à un cessez-le-feu ouvrant la voie à une réconciliation nationale et à un processus électoral dans la perspective du printemps 2018. Derrière le succès diplomatique du président français Emmanuel Macron, une double remarque s’impose : d’une part, l’initiative française n’a pas assez associée les autres États appelés à jouer un rôle décisif dans la sortie de crise libyenne (c’est en particulier le cas de l’Italie) ; d’autre part, l’accord obtenu sous l’égide du président Macron reste plus virtuel que réel sur le terrain : les antagonismes demeurent politiquement et militairement. Ce même constat était intervenu à la suite de l’accord de Skhirat, conclu au Maroc (le 17 décembre 2015) – sous l’égide de l’ONU – par les délégations issues des deux camps politiques rivaux. Les Nations unies s’y sont lourdement investies : la médiation de l’organisation onusienne a ouvert un canal de discussions sur des arrangements intérimaires de sécurité.

Si la résolution de la crise libyenne suppose une mobilisation et une coopération des États voisins, elle dépend d’abord des acteurs locaux. En d’autres termes, il revient aux Libyens d’assurer leur propre stabilité et sécurité, avec l’appui de la communauté internationale et régionale. Cet impératif place les États membres du Dialogue 5+5 face à leur propre responsabilité. Sur ce plan, la prise de conscience a été relativement tardive à se traduire en acte. Ainsi, dans le domaine de la lutte contre le terrorisme, lorsque l’UMA avait proposé dans le cadre de la douzième réunion des Ministres des Affaires Etrangères du Dialogue 5+5 à Tanger, en octobre 2015, d’établir une stratégie commune entre les pays membres l’idée avait suscité peu de réactions de soutien de la part des délégations…

Il faut s’interroger sur les potentialités d’une intensification des relations dans le bassin occidental de la Méditerranée, dans un cadre à privilégier, qui regrouperait les pays les plus motivés sur des projets à dimension territoriale et sécuritaire. Si cette coopération devait s’accroître, faudrait-il l’insérer dans le cadre de l’Union européenne, en tant qu’espace privilégié de coopération transnationale, avec des perspectives qui ne seraient pas offertes aux autres PSEM ? Le caractère informel du dialogue 5+5 doit être conservé, mais il pourrait être judicieux d’isoler les pays du Maghreb au sein de la politique de voisinage pour prendre en compte leurs besoins spécifiques.

Non seulement les pays de la Méditerranée occidentale sont directement concernés par la situation libyenne (et par ses conséquences multiformes), mais ils ont à disposition un cadre idoine (le Dialogue 5+5) pour définir et mettre en oeuvre une telle stratégie commune. Or force est de reconnaître, que cet outil a été utilisé que trop tardivement et insuffisamment. Dans un premier temps, les États membres de la rive nord se sont par trop contentés d’un appel à la stabilisation et à la transition politique du pays, manquant ainsi de clarté et de fermeté face à l’aggravation rapide – mais prévisible – de la crise libyenne.

Certes, avec la multiplication des attaques terroristes en Afrique du Nord et en Europe, la détérioration de la situation au Sahel et la pérennisation de la crise migratoire, l’identification d’un intérêt commun à coopérer et à agir s’est imposée. On a ainsi assisté à une concertation informelle régulière en format dit P3+5 (France, États-Unis, Grande-Bretagne, ONU, UE, Italie, Allemagne, Espagne) et à des contacts fréquents à Tunis entre la MANUL et la Délégation de l’Union européenne en Libye (repliées dans la capitale tunisienne). Certains pays comme l’Espagne ont rapidement fait du dossier libyen une de leurs priorités. Outre la médiation menée sous l’égide de l’ONU par Bernardino León, l’implication espagnole s’est traduite par l’organisation d’une conférence sur la Libye le 17 septembre 2014 à Madrid en format 5+5, avec les pays voisins et les organisations régionales.

L’ordre du jour de la 13e réunion ministérielle du Dialogue 5+5 de la Méditerranée occidentale qui s’est tenue le 13 octobre 2016 à la villa Méditerranée (Marseille) a été dominée par la situation sécuritaire dans la région, la lutte contre le terrorisme et la radicalisation, avec en particulier en toile de fond les crises libyenne et syrienne, l’Irak, le Sahel. D’ailleurs, le dossier libyen a ainsi donné lieu à une intensification progressive de la coopération au sein du Dialogue 5+5, y compris en matière de défense.

Dans le cas de la Libye, il est possible d’imaginer un accompagnement des futures autorités à travers des actions de conseil, de formation et d’équipement, pour qu’elles puissent assurer, au plus tôt et au mieux, leur sécurité et celle de leur population. Bien entendu, ce soutien ne pourra se mettre en place qu’à la demande des Libyens et dans un cadre juridique international approprié. Cette perspective ouverte par l’accord de Skhirat est confortée par les dernières positions exprimées par la communauté internationale.

Le Communiqué conjoint de la réunion du Quartet international (composé de l’Union européenne, de l’Union africaine, de la Ligue arabe et des Nations-unies) pour la Libye, le 23 mai 2017, a souligné la volonté commune de coordonner leurs efforts pour faire avancer le processus politique et la transition démocratique en Libye. Si l’hypothèse d’une intervention militaire étrangère est exclue (la Libye est un pays souverain et, il est à ce stade hors de question pour les Libyens que la sécurisation du pays soit assurée par des éléments étrangers), un même consensus se dégage sur la nécessité d’un accord politique intra-libyen, dans le respect de l’unité de ce pays.

Les paramètres de cette solution sont fournis par l’accord de Skhirat : inclusion des acteurs, démocratie, compromis, prise en compte des spécificités régionales, vision nationale et institutionnelle de l’avenir de la Libye. Si une telle position s’avère raisonnable, elle interroge les moyens à disposition du Quartet pour assumer sa stratégie. Il conviendrait d’impliquer plus directement l’ensemble des voisins directs de la Libye, en faisant ainsi évoluer le Quartet pour la Libye en Quintet, ce à travers la participation en son sein d’une délégation du Dialogue 5+5. Directement concernés, les membres de ce cadre informel sont en effet parmi les plus à même de jouer un rôle d’appui en vue du rapprochement des protagonistes de l’échiquier politique libyen. Car il ne faut pas réitérer l’erreur de 2011 en laissant les Libyens gérer seuls la transition, mais ils doivent en assurer la responsabilité et direction.

Si le Dialogue 5+5 doit s’investir encore davantage dans ce dossier, celui-ci s’inscrit dans un temps long et continu. C’est pourquoi cette enceinte informelle fonctionnant de façon efficace pourrait se doter d’un organe exécutif sous la forme d’un secrétariat, qui n’aurait pas pour autant vocation à institutionnaliser le 5+5. En ce sens, la Libye, qui symbolise aujourd’hui les limites de l’intégration régionale sud-sud et nord-sud, pourrait marquer in fine la relance d’un projet d’intégration régionale méditerranéen.


AMELINE N. ; BAUMEL P. ET GLAVANY J. (2015). Rapport d’information sur la Libye, Assemblée nationale

BRAUN H. (2014). « Le dialogue 5+5 et son volet défense : une coopération à promouvoir »,, 18 avril 2014.

LAURENT S. (2013). Sahelistan, Le Seuil

MARTEL A. (2016). La Libye, des Ottomans à Daech 1835-2016, L’Harmattan

NABLI B. (2015).Géopolitique de la Méditerranée, Armand Colin

OUANNES M. (2014). Révolte et Reconstruction en Libye, Paris, L’Harmattan,; « Les milices en Libye : obstacle majeur à la reconstruction de l’État »,, 2016

Libya Seeking Security and Stability: Socioeconomic Factors for Reconciliation

Mustafa El Sagezli


Despite the outbreak of armed conflicts, Libya remains a country of high importance for the 5+5 Dialogue and the Euro-Mediterranean region as a whole. With its unique location in the centre of North Africa, its abundant natural resources and its young human capital, Libya can contribute to the prosperity of the Euro-Mediterranean region. However, the fragile security context and the proliferation of armed groups have devastating consequences on its social stability and economic development. While Libya is currently engaging in the process of “Nation Building”, further plans should be implemented in order to re-construct the legacy of the damaged economic and social infrastructure and to sustain the pillars of the new democratic state. The process of “Nation Building” or “State Building” requires a minimum level of reconciliation and national unity in order to create a robust common ground for negotiating a long-term sustainable peace. This implies the broad participation of the local communities in order to strengthen the sense of the local ownership of the process. The interaction with the regional and international actors is also a key factor to reach the common goals of stability and development within the Euro-Mediterranean region.

This paper provides an analysis of the factors that contributed to the fragility of the socioeconomic context and its consequences on the social, political and financial fabric of the society. It also suggests the political reconciliation and the development of the private economic sector through SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) as tools to ensure the success of the peace process and the implementation of the reintegration programmes.

The Fragility of the Socioeconomic Context: Causes and Consequences

The Socioeconomic Grievances

Since 1969 the economy of Libya has been the victim of continuous misuse of public funds and national wealth for the individual interests of the political leadership. The policies of nationalisation had a devastating impact on the economy and have blocked the private sector. The post-revolution government did little to ameliorate the economic situation and had shown no willingness to implement major reforms. The dependence on the loans from the Central Bank and unstable oil revenues, along with the instability, has put the economy at stake.

The economy is considered “the lifeblood” of the Libyan state (Danvers, 2016). Thus, the degradation of the economic situation is synonymous with the collapse of the state (Danvers, 2016). Libya is currently suffering from a serious economic crisis. Although the production of oil has increased during the year 2017, it remains only two thirds of its potential (The World Bank, 2017). This means that oil revenues are not sufficient to cover high budget expenditures and consumption-driven imports (The World Bank, 2017). The budget deficit remains high at 52.7% of GDP (The World Bank, 2017). The deficit was financed through loans from the Central Bank of Libya which has resulted in the increase of the domestic debts that reached 100% of GDP in 2016 (The World Bank, 2017). Additionally, “inflation reached unprecedented levels in 2016 leading to substantial loss in real purchasing power of the population” (The World Bank, 2017). Its rate attained a high of 31.10% in July of 2016 and 27.20% in March of 2017 (The World Bank, 2017). This has created favourable ground for the expansion of the black market (Trading Economics, 2017). The attempts to keep prices low failed. The deterioration of government finance has made it harder to control prices and to fuel subsidies (The World Bank, 2017).

With the nationalisation of the private sector in the seventies, the majority of Libyans became employees in the public sector. Consequently, the state budget has been burdened by public wages. During Gaddafi’s regime, revenues from hydrocarbon production were allocated to salaries and poor public services. The distribution of the remaining oil income was regulated by Gaddafi, the “Guide of the Revolution”. Military spending accounted for a large part of the state budget. Although the post-revolution government took power after the free elections, it was not able to make effective reforms and rebuild the economy. With the outbreak of the conflicts, priority was given to stability and security over the economic development goals. Due to the financial and economic crisis, and with the government-supported salaries being “the largest drain on the Libyan budget” (Danvers, 2016), wages have declined by 8% (Danvers, 2016). This urgently calls for alternative choices to be created through strengthening and developing the private sector where only 4% of Libyans work (Danvers, 2016). The crisis is aggravated by the lack of diversity in economic resources and the dependence of the Libyan economy on limited resources. In fact, “oil and gas, or hydrocarbon, production is the key to Libyan economic stability” (Danvers, 2016). The oil industry accounts for over 90% of the government’s budget (Schauseil, 2014). Thus, the decrease in oil production leads to the collapse of the economy as a whole. The fight over control of hydrocarbon resources has further resulted in the physical destruction of the infrastructure (Schauseil, 2014). The division in the political power between two governments and the proliferation of armed groups and militias who are driven by financial motives made the situation more complicated. The attacks of the Islamic State have destroyed Libya’s oil industry (Schauseil, 2014). The situation becomes more complex and fragile with the legacy of non-functional institutions left by the Gaddafi regime. Building the new state from scratch is the biggest challenge facing the Libyan revolutionaries.

The institutional framework is weak and the public sector bodies are not working. The engine of the public administration is completely damaged. The political crisis has aggravated the situation and the existence of different groups attempting to take over political power has impeded the efforts to establish trustworthy and efficient state institutions (Schauseil, 2014). The military institution is fragile and does not have the required capacities to keep peace and security and to enforce respect for the law. Under the Gaddafi regime, the military was not empowered, equipped and well-trained as a national independent institution to serve the goal of ensuring national security. Instead, it was manipulated to serve the individual interest of Gaddafi and his entourage (Bennor, 2015). The security agencies have also been left “fragmented and volatile” due to the former regime’s policies and the current fighting (Human Rights Watch, 2014). The police have proved to have little capacity to enforce the laws. This has facilitated the emergence of localised militias (Molesworth & Newton, 2015). The conflicts have further weakened the institutional framework when the “serious shutdown of the basic judicial and prosecutorial” bodies took place in 2014 (Molesworth & Newton, 2015).

Corruption has also been a huge problem that has contributed to the destruction of the institutional infrastructure. There was a pattern of systematic corruption which was not only concentrated in the higher state institutions but also in all social and economic domains (Khan, 2013). The financial and investment sectors have witnessed the heaviest corruption (Khan, 2013). The level of corruption has hindered any attempts to establish effective and competent institutions and has left a burdensome legacy of dysfunctional bodies for the transitional process. The centralisation of the government and the lack of communication and cooperation between the state institutions and the local communities contributed in creating a climate of instability and opened the room for the proliferation of armed groups and militias (Agency for Peacebuilding, 2016).

The centralisation crisis was aggravated with the lack of local governments. The legal framework was not mandated to empower provinces and to allow them to provide services to their local communities. Enabling community asset ownership and the participation of local communities in the decision-making process are key factors to promote good governance and to mitigate the centralisation and corruption issues. Leaving the different components of Libyan society outside the political and transitional scheme generates a feeling of marginalisation and confiscation of the revolutionary demands. It further evokes incentives for local regions to prove their existence and to enforce their claims through violence. Further, the insecurity and lack of adequate regional institutions made difficult the communication between the local communities and central institutions, on the one hand, and among tribes, on the other. The lack of understanding and communicational gaps fuelled tensions and led to the closure of the oil harbours by Ibrahim Al-Jathran and his federalist militias (Nathan, 2016). According to the National Oil Corporation (NOC), Libya lost more than one hundred billion dollars (Libya Prospect, 2016). The militias explained that their purpose is to fight against the centralisation of power and wealth in the capital and to enable the fair distribution of oil revenues in favour of the marginalised regions such as Cyrenaica. Thus, building communication bridges between regions, implementing a strategy for equal distribution of national resources and allowing broad participation in the decision-making process are fundamental pillars for social cohesion and building peace.

Proliferation of Armed Groups and Militias

The inability of the governments after the revolution to implement the Disarmament, Demobilization Reintegration (DDR) programme to reintegrate, demobilise and disarm militias has led to the proliferation of armed groups and weapons. The ex-revolutionary groups who were surveyed and interviewed expressed their willingness to join the reintegration programmes in 2012 (The Libyan Programme for Reintegration and Development [LPRD], 2015). However, in 2014 they became associated with newly established militias. This was driven by the following reasons:

– Losing faith and trust in the government due to its inability to fulfil the high expectations of the population after the revolution

– The failure of a prompt and effective implementation of the DDR programmes

– The political, regional, tribal and ideological differences and grievances that contributed to fuelling the military conflict

– The spread of extremist ideologies influenced by ISIS and Al-Qaeda rhetoric

– The intervention of regional actors through military support.

These reasons, along with the past legacy of misuse of public funds and bad governance, created incentives for the spread of violence and the emergence of local armed militias. The outbreak of conflicts and the proliferation of armed groups and militias including the Islamic State have blocked the production of hydrocarbon and destroyed the investment sector. The instability and lack of security had devastating consequences for foreign direct investment. Indeed, security is one of the concerns for foreign and national investors as it facilitates the implementation of investment and maintains it in the long term. Ensuring security and stability reassures investors and provides key incentives for them to set up their projects. Hence, security is crucial to oil the wheels of the private sector and contributes to the creation of a dynamic job market. With the absence of security in southern Libya, the lack of life opportunities made young people an easy target for armed groups and Al-Qaeda-affiliated recruiters. The activities of these groups and militias have been facilitated, on the one hand, by the poor economic and social conditions and, on the other, by the inability of state security forces to maintain control and keep the peace (Braithwaite & Rashed, 2014). The regional actors have also played a substantial role in fuelling the conflicts. In fact, widespread use of foreign mercenaries was reported. The militias and guerrillas from neighbouring countries have provided a strong supply of mercenaries (Schauseil, 2014).

Dialogue with armed groups and DDR programmes are the best option for the Libyan government to overcome security problems and to mitigate the proliferation of militias. In fact, recently, the Government of National Accord (GNA), in the Paris Joint Declaration released on 25 July 2017, has emphasised the importance of DDR programmes for the peace process [1]. This Declaration brought together Khalifa Haftar and the GNA President Fayez AlSaraj and it was supported by the French President Macron.

Addressing the Socioeconomic Crisis

The Process of Reconciliation and State Reforms

It becomes obvious that the transition towards a democratic and peaceful society is not possible without reaching a minimum level of reconciliation and consensus. This materialised in the national dialogue in 2015 led by the UN, which brought together different political movements from the East and the West of Libya to discuss and design the features of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). Although the dialogue was considered a positive initiative, it did not reflect a broad participatory process since several parties to the conflict did not take part in the negotiations. No sustainable peace can be made possible without the inclusion of all leaders of armed groups. The participation of these leaders is fundamental as long as they show genuine willingness to promote the norms of democracy, peace and human rights. The challenges facing Libya during the conflicts and transitional phase should be addressed through the creation of a favourable political climate that reflects national unity. This agreement seeks to solve the internal conflicts and sets up a minimum level of national reconciliation through forging the idea of a unified government and common ground (International Crisis Group, 2016). In fact, granting security and order in political terms requires setting up a functioning and unified government (Danvers, 2016). The Joint Communiqué of the Quartet Meeting on Libya emphasises the need to restore and re-establish relations between the different national factions including those who did not take part in the negotiations on the LPA (Joint Communiqué of the Quartet Meeting on Libya on 23 May, 2017). All the factions of Libyan society should see themselves as stakeholders in their state. We should reinforce the attachment of society to the state and strengthen the feeling of national identity.

Long-term reconciliation and development cannot take place without satisfying the urgent need to set up solid pillars of positive peace. This requires taking into account the importance of the local ownership approach in the peace-building process. This localbased approach implies that the peace process should be responsive to the needs, demands and perceptions of the local population. Further, along with the process of political negotiations, a parallel process of consultation should be set up in order to enable a broader participation of all members of the local community. In addition to the formal elite-driven process, it is necessary to take into consideration the cultural particularities of the social fabric and to initiate a restorative peace process that includes tribal mediators to solve conflicts firstly hot-spot by hot-spot in order to reach the national level (Braithwaite & Rashed, 2014). Social and tribal connections should be restored in order to repair the damages caused to social cohesion (Bennor, 2015). This is a key factor in order to reach broad consensus, to avoid any rejection of the conflict resolution and, hence, to guarantee non-recurrence of conflicts. In economic and development terms, peace and social cohesion are preconditions to improving macro-stability and restoring basic public services through enabling humanitarian assistance and fulfilling the basic needs of the local community (The World Bank, 2017).

The reconciliation and peace process should be strengthened through reform programmes that seek to empower the state institutions and make them trustworthy. In fact, the focus should be on the Central Bank of Libya (CLB) and NOC. These key institutions should be kept largely neutral due to the sensitivity and importance of their functions. The NOC ensures the production of oil and secures its revenues used by the CLB to pay salaries for the whole of Libyan society. Any individual control or political competition over these institutions may prevent some members of Libyan society from accessing their wages. Such a context can easily create a sense of economic and social injustice and fuel the conflicts (Molesworth & Newton, 2015). Thus, the equal allocation and distribution of resources should be guaranteed to all.

For the peace accord to be successful, it should include all components of Libyan society. It should also produce a roadmap for the state-building process. The mechanisms of DDR and Security Sector Reform (SSR) along with the decentralisation and fair distribution of wealth are key pillars of sustainable peace and stability.

The importance of decentralisation should be taken into consideration while shaping the features of the new state. It is crucial to engage with local communities and to ensure a responsive representation of all factions of society (Molesworth & Newton, 2015). Further, to ensure an effective functioning of state institutions and to provide equal opportunities in the private sphere, the local communities as well as the state should work in tandem to fight against structural corruption, while comprehensive anti-corruption campaigns should be launched. The legal framework should also be subject to serious reforms in order to ensure the integrity and transparency of the financial and investment sectors.

SMEs as a Tool for Rehabilitation and Reintegration

A combatant or a revolutionary is a person who is courageous enough to carry a weapon and put her/his life at risk to defend certain goals or beliefs. As courage is also crucial to launch private initiative and entrepreneurship, this aspect should be invested in to enable the integration of ex-revolutionaries in socioeconomic life and to support them to set up their own start-up through SMEs. The “Tumuh” (Ambition) project is a good illustration of the positive impact that reintegration through SMEs can bring to society. An interview with ex-fighters showed that 43% of them are willing to start their own small business and to lay down their arms (LPRD, 2015). The project provides training, mentorship and sponsorship in order to enable them to set up their small business successfully.

Furthermore, the dominance of non-state actors and militias should be reduced through the rehabilitation of ex-fighters and including them in the state institutions. “A citizen of a modern democratic state governed by law […] should be given the opportunity of rehabilitation and inclusion into society” (Lister, 2015). Ex-combatants who missed out on school and who took part in the conflicts should not be excluded because they lack the professional and educational profiles. Their integration within civilian life is beneficial for them and for the state. Their exclusion from the job market can create a feeling of marginalisation and victimisation and encourage them to re-join the militias. It is crucial to provide attractive alternative economic opportunities for fighters in order to encourage them to lay down their weapons and to join demobilisation and reintegration programmes (Molesworth & Newton, 2015). This can be achieved through supporting the private sector in order to generate more employment opportunities and to provide favourable and solid ground for the creation of SMEs (Molesworth & Newton, 2015). SMEs play a crucial role in the diversification of the private sector and enable the creation of job opportunities. People can invest their different backgrounds and capacities in the domain of SMEs. Supporting SMEs implies the facilitation of access to loans for microenterprises and SMEs. It should also include the increasing trade supply lines and provision of small capital loans. To do so, the laws regulating the level of bank financing for SMEs should be reformed in order to sustain the private sector. A special focus should then be put on poor and middle classes in order to provide them with the necessary tools to enter the economic market. The legal framework should be amended to be investment and SME-friendly for all social classes. In order to open more opportunities, it is necessary to provide the vocational and professional training for people who have limited educational and professional capacities.

Since the state alone cannot achieve the required level of economic and financial prosperity, there is a need to work in tandem with civil society organisations to foster the rehabilitation and reintegration processes (Agency for Peacebuilding, 2016). The civil society sphere should include businessmen who can provide support for local initiatives and SMEs and who can contribute to the reform of the institutional and legislative framework to make it investment friendly (Agency for Peacebuilding, 2016). Public-private consultation mechanisms should be put in place in order to enable interaction and cooperation between the private sector and governmental institutions (Agency for Peacebuilding, 2016). The demobilised ex-fighters should also have access to supportive social and economic networks that provide guidance and support. This should be further strengthened by establishing an education infrastructure that promotes the idea of entrepreneurship. Access to comprehensive, holistic and quality education should also be provided for all.


Libya is currently facing an unstable and fragile transitional phase. However, the country has the willingness and potential capacities to build a new democratic and transparent system that will contribute to the prosperity and development of the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Socioeconomic development through SMEs can facilitate the stabilisation of the country and success of the transitional phase. The support of the Euro-Mediterranean and 5+5 Dialogue’s partners is crucial to accomplish these goals. Libya seeks the support mainly in the following sectors:

1- Education, capacity-building and knowledge transfer

2- Scientific research and studies in economic mapping, policies and legislative development.

3- Smart partnerships between the Euro-Med private sector and Libyan SMEs and industries

4- Joint SME funds, programmes and ecosystems.

These partnerships are beneficial for both sides. They are crucial to sustain the capacity of Libya to rebuild the state institutions and the economy. The Euro-Mediterranean countries, the members of the 5+5 Dialogue and the international community have the real opportunity to establish a successful partnership with Libya in order to enable the transition toward a stable prosperous state. The challenges for Libyan society are predominantly of a structural nature: proliferation of organised armed groups and militias, institutional incapacity, unemployment and lack of sustainable livelihood options and opportunities to engage in decision-making processes. National dialogue and reconciliation is a key factor in the stability and economic development of the country. The Joint Communiqué of the Quartet Meeting on Libya introduces further processes in order to enable the transition towards a democratic and reconciled society and to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law. The Joint Communiqué insists on the necessity to initiate a process of accountability (Joint Communiqué of the Quartet Meeting on Libya on 23 May, 2017) in order to fight against impunity and to hold accountable those who were responsible for serious human rights violations. Accountability has a deterrence effect that impedes any future attempt at the use of violence. It also restores trust in the state institutions and in the political elites. The Communiqué also highlights the importance of the constitution drafting process that should be carried out in a prompt and effective manner in order to provide a solid constitutional basis for the protection of and respect for human rights (Joint Communiqué of the Quartet Meeting on Libya on 23 May, 2017). The constitutional process should also be participatory in order to satisfy the aspirations and expectations of the local community and to enable their contribution in shaping the pillars of the new state.

Finally, due to the limited capacities and resources of Libyan society, support should be provided by the regional and international institutions, such as the League of Arab States and EU, in order to foster and maintain the stabilisation, peace and development of the new Libyan state (Joint Communiqué of the Quartet Meeting on Libya on 23 May, 2017).


[1] Article 7 of the Declaration states that “We will make all efforts to integrate fighters who so wish into the regular forces and call for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the others into civilian life. The Libyan army will be made up of lawful military forces ensuring the defence of the Libyan territory in compliance with Article 33 of the Libyan political agreement.”


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