Libya. Since an agreement on a new national unity
government was signed during the mediation of the UN in
2015, a presidential council with its seat in Tunisia was
set up as a first step. In January, the Council presented a
proposal for Ministers to the Unity Government, with Fayez
al-Sarraj as the head of government.
As shown on
Digopaul.com, Libya has had two rival governments and parliaments since
2014: an Islamist-led government based in the capital
Tripoli and an internationally recognized government in the
port city of Tobruk in eastern Libya. The UN-backed unity
government was supposed to replace the other two, but when
the agreement was signed in December last year, only some of
the representatives from the two camps approved it and none
of the country's armed groups had been involved.
But with support from the EU, the UN, neighbors from
neighboring countries and leaders in ten Libyan cities,
Fayez al-Sarraj and six ministers, despite protests from
both Tobruk and Tripoli, set up a temporary headquarters at
a heavily guarded naval base in Tripoli in late March. To
the base, al-Sarraj and his ministers arrived by boat, since
the Islamist-led regime's leader Khalifa al-Ghwell closed
the airspace over the capital. In connection with the
arrival, the government in Tobruk warned "foreign parties"
to try to get the Unity Government (GNA) in place. In
Tripoli, al-Ghwell accused the GNA of being "infiltrators
who do not know Islamic law".
The situation was confused when, shortly after GNA's
arrival, the Tripoli-based government unexpectedly stated
that they would resign in order to "prevent bloodshed and
fragmentation". According to analysts, the oscillation was
due to the fact that the leaders in ten cities that had
previously supported the Islamist-led government changed
loyalty in the hope that the country's economy would
improve. Important bodies such as the central bank and the
state oil company NOC had begun to support al-Sarraj's
government, which, according to a politician close to
al-Sarraj, meant a severe blow to the Tripoli government,
whose armed groups' loyalty rests on bribery. "Some members
of armed groups are no longer paid and others fear the same
fate," said the politician, who wished to remain anonymous.
In January, IS conducted a series of attacks against two
of Libya's largest oil facilities, Ras Lanuf and Es Sider.
After the attacks, fighting broke out and over four oil
storage tanks caught fire, which according to the oil
company NOC led to the loss of around 1 million barrels of
The same month, at least 60 people died and nearly 200
were injured when a truck full of explosives detonated at a
police school in the city of Zliten in northwestern Libya.
IS took on the deed, which in the media was described as the
worst since the collapse of Muammar al-Khadaffi in 2011.
In February, the United States bombed an IS stronghold
near the city of Sabratha west of Tripoli. Nearly 50 people
were killed in the attack. Among them was Tunisian
Noureddine Chouchane, who is accused of being behind two
deadly attacks on tourists in Tunisia in 2015.
From the coastal city of Surt, which IS entered in 2015,
the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW)
reported abuse and unjust executions. A publication based on
interviews with residents of the city described "public
beheadings, bodies in orange overalls hanging from
scaffolding and masked warriors tearing people off their
beds at night and removing them". The interviewees also
talked about monitoring the residents with "spies on every
street" and punishing those who, for example, smoked or
listened to music. Even for the Muslims who followed IS's
despotic laws, according to HRW, the group suffered a
In May, for example, during a meeting in Vienna, the
United States, the EU, the Arab League and the African Union
decided to support GNA's request to purchase weapons to
fight IS. This made an exception to the arms embargo
applicable to Libya since 2011.
In the same month, a major offensive against IS began in
Surt, which intensified during the summer.
In August, the Libyan forces were backed by US combat
aircraft, which carried out upwards of 30 flight attacks
against IS targets in Surt for just over a week. A month
later, it was hopefully talked about "the last battle of
IS-controlled Surt", after Libyan government forces loyal to
GNA, with support from US attack aircraft, took control of
almost the entire city.
Alarming figures from the UN in August indicated that
over 2.4 million Libyans were in need of humanitarian aid,
while close to 300,000 children did not attend school and
nearly 350,000 Libyans were on the run in the country.
According to the International Migration Organization (IOM),
more than 270,000 migrants and refugees from other countries
were waiting on the coast of Libya to flee across the
Mediterranean to Italy.
In September, forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar took
control of the oil ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Zueitina
and Brega in eastern Libya, since forces loyal to GNA were
removed. Shortly thereafter, the United States and several
allies urged all military forces transferred to the oil belt
to withdraw immediately. In March 2015, Khalifa Haftar was
appointed Army Chief of the Tobruk Government.
With two months left of the year, according to UN refugee
agency UNHCR, 3,800 people had lost their lives in the
Mediterranean. The figure corresponds to the number of
deaths for the whole of 2015. In light of the fact that last
year there were around three times more people who flew
across the Mediterranean, the risk of death had increased
dramatically. One explanation was that more and more people
took the longer and more dangerous route between Libya and
Italy following the EU refugee agreement with Turkey in
March. Furthermore, the smugglers had started to use poorer
inflatables, which were also fuel-poor.
Like the smugglers, armed criminal groups benefit from
refugees by demanding ransom. In a report by Amnesty
International, migrants and refugees testified about being
subjected to torture, sexual violence and pure slavery in
overcrowded camps on the coast of Libya. According to
several testimonies, those who could not pay enough risked
being beaten or in the worst case risked murder.
In parallel, major rescue efforts were made on the
Mediterranean. At the end of August, the Italian coastguard
rescued several people during one and the same day over
6,500 people, 20 kilometers off the coast of Libya. In
October, a similar effort was made when over 5,600 people
were rescued during one day.
In December, Libyan security forces reportedly took over
the last remaining buildings from the IS terror group in the
coastal city of Surt.