After having discussed the formation of a unity government, with this article we shall continue detailing the scenarios assessing the potential for a peaceful solution for Libya’s future within the next three to five years, suggest indicators to monitor their happenstance and progressively evaluate their likelihood. Our focus here will be on the scenario where an international peacebuilding mission is necessary to see the Libyan government and state progress towards stabilisation. The first possibility for the evolution of sub-scenario 1.1.1 was presented here (scenario “The unity government functions” – i.e. without international assistance, and then articulated around the ability or not to face the Salafi threats). The organisation of the whole series of scenarios for the future of Libya can be found here. The analysis and indicators below suggest that sub-scenario, considering international assistance, may be more likely to succeed  than the previous one, but not without its own set of issues.

Scenarios 1: Towards Peace – continued

Summary of the previous phase-scenarios leading to scenario

Following UN-facilitated diplomatic negotiations between the involved parties, Libya’s rival governments and armed coalitions reach a peace agreement. They unite to form a unity government, called the Government of National Accord (GNA). Having formed a new and united government, Libya’s leaders must now rule together and make improvements towards stabilization.

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Sub-scenario The GNA is Unable to Function Alone on the Path towards Stabilization

The Government of National Accord realizes that effective international assistance is necessary for stabilization. Considering Libya’s strategic location, potentially a source of multiple security threats, the international community agrees that the situation requires the deployment of a very large state-building mission. This is indeed a whole state that needs to be rebuilt. Throughout this phase, the international community establishes which nations will contribute personnel, while the GNA and international peacebuilding coordinators establish operational mandates for the peacebuilding mission. The GNA and peacebuilding coordinators also communicate with regional forces – such as the Arab League and its potential Joint Arab Force – to coordinate their possible involvement and its scope, including the possibility to only see regional organization, actors and force participating in the peacebuilding mission.

However, any form of an international force on the ground in Libya also comes with inherent dangers and difficulties. International troops on Libyan soil could possibly appear as an occupation force to some Libyans, such as the new Steadfastness Front (the hardliner breakaway factions of Libya Dawn), which could potentially torpedo the fragile stabilization process (Mezran, Atlantic Council, August 12, 2015; Marsad Libya, June 18, 2015). Furthermore, any actions that appear to be partisan and favoring certain regions or former rivals over others have the potential of destabilizing the whole process, as a result endangering the initial peace agreement. Thus, setting up from the start a continual monitoring system allowing the GNA and the peace-building coordinator to steer the actions of the peacebuilding force is of primordial importance.

This international coalition force differs from the international force in Scenario 2.1, as we shall see later, which is an intervention force as opposed to a peacebuilding force.

This phase ends once the peace-building mission starts operating on the ground.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Willingness of the international community to be involved in a Libyan peacebuilding mission. Before a peacebuilding mission is decided upon, the international community must first voice its willingness to contribute resources, troops, and administrative/diplomatic personnel to assist in Libya’s rebuilding process. Awareness and recognition of the strategic importance of stabilization in Libya will contribute to prompt the international community to become involved.
  2. Realization of the need for international support. The leaders in the GNA must realize the importance of international assistance and agree that a peacebuilding force is needed to work in tandem with Libyan military forces and government institutions to increase the likelihood of long-term stabilization. Without a realization or serious consideration of asking for international assistance, the GNA risks the collapse of the entire stabilization process before it makes any progress.
  3. Speed with which the peacebuilding mission is coordinated. The international community and the GNA must quickly begin coordinating nation contributions, logistical details and operational mandates for the peacebuilding force in order to deploy quickly and increase the likelihood of this scenario. Regional forces in particular (i.e. Arab League/Joint Arab Force) should be involved and a coordination involving all actors ensured to determine the best options for peacebuilding in Libya.
  4. Set of indicators to monitor a peacebuilding force. A continual monitoring system has an important role in the stabilization process, in that the GNA will monitor any breaches of operational mandates, while the GNA and the leadership of the peacebuilding mission – in agreement with the future mandate – will be able to steer the actions of the peacebuilding force to ensure progress. It also allows the contributing nations to see the situation on the ground, and thus, better coordinate with the GNA.

Sub-scenario The GNA does not Receive Proper Assistance from the International Community – Back to Civil War

The international community fails to provide sufficient assistance to Libya’s new government in several ways. Note that any of the following factors by themselves – and worse when combined – can seriously impede the stabilization process, if not lead to total failure. The more inefficient the assistance, the more likely that Libya’s stabilization deteriorates and the country re-escalates back to civil war.

The peacebuilding force is not adequately tailored to the needs of Libya’s complex stabilization process and fails to properly prioritize the operational mandates in which it is tasked. Furthermore, the strategy was not well designed, with the international community expecting long-term stabilization in an unrealistic time-frame of a couple of years. The planners of the peacebuilding mission also fail to properly coordinate with regional forces, including the Arab League and possibly its new Joint Arab Force. The Arab League advocates for a regional peacebuilding mission, but its members disagree on strategy implementation – the result of their differing views and outright assistance for rival governments throughout the civil war (Murdock, Voice of America, August 27, 2015). The Joint Arab Force (if created at this point and allowed to assist the GNA) struggles with mission implementation and disagrees on which countries contribute to the Libya peacebuilding mission and how they are utilized.

The peacebuilding force is slow to deploy, while insufficient resources detract from its mandate and efficiency. Coordination between the GNA leadership and an international or regional peacebuilding force fails, and tension abounds. The operational mandates of the peacebuilding mission – primarily regarding the use of force – are too restrictive, especially considering the Salafi and hardliner breakaway groups threat to civilian populations. Without efficient international assistance, the GNA lacks proper support to handle the Salafi threats. The GNA struggles to simultaneously take control of the borders, contain and eliminate Salafi threats, and protect key infrastructure and civilian populations with a recovering military and lack of efficient external forces. As a result, the inefficient peacebuilding force exacerbates the already fragile first phases of stabilization, thereby contributing to a downward spiral back into civil war.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Speed with which the peacebuilding mission is deployed. Long, diplomatic discussions, as well as a long time-frame for the acquisition of sufficient resources while international members assemble their personnel contribution, can impede the ability of a peacebuilding force to deploy quickly. The inability to deploy quickly increases the likelihood of this sub-scenario, and the first phase of stabilization becomes significantly more vulnerable.
  2. Level of consistency between support pledges and what is actually deployed. Significant inconsistencies between what contributions are promised and what are actually deployed in a peacebuilding mission will slow deployment, hinder progress, and impede the GNA’s ability to properly confront Salafi threats.
  3. Efficiency of operational mandates. If operational mandates are not properly prioritized and tailored to Libya’s situation, the peacebuilding force will have a high risk of being misused, which will impede stabilization.
  4. Ability of the political authorities to make pragmatic decisions while accommodating various belief-systems. The inability to produce practical strategies and make pragmatic decisions regarding stabilization efforts will result in inefficiency and political stalemates, which would only serve to hinder Libya’s long-term stabilization. Furthermore, discrimination against certain belief-systems negatively affects the GNA’s ability to make united decisions.
  5. Level of civilian elements in the peacebuilding force. If the peacebuilding mission lacks civilian elements, notably to assist with the rebuilding of Libya’s ministries and other administrative structures, the peacebuilding mission faces a profound imbalance between security and political restoration, which will hinder stabilization.
  6. Rejection of international forces in Libya. Breakaway political or armed factions and possibly some tribes oppose the deployment of international forces on Libyan soil, and thus have the potential of disrupting the stabilization process – particularly if any such groups resort to violence. A past indication was the Steadfastness Front, comprised of some Misrata brigades and other Libya Dawn forces in the Tripoli region, that said it rejects “any diktats or commandments from outside imposed on the Libyan people which reduce our sovereignty” (Marsad Libya, June 18, 2015). Another past indication was the creation of a new political group called the Nidal Front, primarily created by former members of Qaddafi’s government. In its charter, the Nidal Front advocates the peaceful rebuilding of Libya, condemns terrorism and violence, and promotes regional stability while “bearing in mind the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states” – which may or may not reject the deployment of international forces in Libya (Charter of the Libyan National Nidal “Struggle” Front, September 18, 2015; Mustafa, September 20, 2015).
  7. Difficulties for Arab nations to effectively contribute to Libya’s stabilization. If they take part in the international peacebuilding force, regional forces such as the Arab League and its potential future Joint Arab Force face a potential struggle regarding the contributing troops per Arab country and their utilization. With some members of the Arab League supporting the former General National Congress and others supporting the former Council of Representatives, it is likely that political disagreement on contributing to a Government of National Accord that includes former members of each government will take place. Furthermore, the GNA may turn out to be a friendly regional government for some states of the Arab League, but not as much of a strategic interest for other member states. A past indication of this was the Arab League’s indefinite postponement on forming the Joint Arab League to combat the Islamic State in Libya, citing their “divided…views” on Libya’s civil war (Murdock, Voice of America, August 27, 2015).
  8. Spillover of political disagreements and increased tension between the bigger international actors. Current political disagreements and increased tensions between international actors, such as Russia and NATO or Russia and the U.S./EU have the potential of spilling over into the implementation of a peacebuilding mission in Libya. Furthermore, the mission’s ability to deploy and fulfill its mandates could be negatively affected if there is disagreement between China and Russia, on the one hand, Western nations, on the other, on the extent of international involvement and the details of operational mandates for each country. Past indications of disagreements between Russia, China, the U.S., and the EU include the Russian-Chinese opposition to the U.S. recommendation to sanction two Libyan leaders who impeded peace talks (DefenseNews, June 7, 2015) and Russia’s opposition to European requests for approval to seize suspected migrant-smuggling vessels in the Mediterranean, many of which originate from Libya (Sengupta, New York Times, September 15, 2015).
  9. Vulnerability to attacks. If the use of force by international personnel were too restrictive, this could make them more vulnerable to attacks by Salafi and hardliner breakaway groups – causing tension on, and possibly amongst, the contributing nations.
  10. Ability to control the borders. Control of the borders, primarily the Southern border, is crucial to Libya’s stabilization process. If the GNA and the peacebuilding force are unable to control the borders, they will be significantly less likely to stem the tide of illegal weapons, jihadists, illicit goods, and illegal immigrants. Being able to control the Southern border is key to the stabilization of Libya’s security, as it stops the flow of illegal weapons and jihadists to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups that still pose a threat.
  11. Ability to protect key infrastructure and civilian populations. Critical oil facilities and power plants that are vulnerable to attack pose a serious problem to restoring the economy and being able to provide critical social services. It is thus crucial to protect them; an inability to do so would take place in the form of attacks, which would be an indication that the stabilization process is endangered. A past indication was a series of attacks by Islamic State militants on Libyan oil facilities in early 2015. The jihadists killed several guards and destroyed important parts of the oil facilities, leading Libya to declare force majeure on eleven oil fields (Faucon and Said, Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2015). Another past indication was the Islamic State capture of a power plant near Sirte in June 2015 (Laessing, Reuters, June 9, 2015).
  12. Capacity of the GNA to fund its road to recovery, namely its ability to collect taxes on a national level, and increased oil production/exports to further its income. Stabilization will not be feasible without funding. If the government is not able to sufficiently collect taxes and increase its oil production, long-term stabilization becomes dangerously threatened. Even with international financial assistance, the stabilization process will potentially derail from the lack of non-permanent funding.

Sub-scenario The GNA Receives Proper Assistance, but the Long Road towards Stabilization is Still Fraught with Difficulty

The international community quickly, but thoroughly, organizes and launches a peacebuilding mission in Libya with a strong presence, effective mandates, and in proper coordination with Libya’s new government. The peacebuilding mission is specifically tailored to Libya’s stabilization needs and the international community ensures that the peacebuilding mission has sufficient resources to carry out its prioritized mandates. Meanwhile, the GNA and leaders of the peace mission have a clear and efficient line of communication with which to properly coordinate the peacebuilding personnel, GNA civil servants, and GNA military forces. The peacebuilding mission is subordinate to the needs of Libya’s government and people, and operates as a non-partisan force seeking to fulfill its basic mandates that are crucial to Libya’s long-term stabilization.

The peacebuilding force works in conjunction with indigenous security forces to protect civilians from Salafi threats and breakaway factions under the former Dawn of Libya or Nationalist coalitions, as retaliation or collateral damage from continued conflict may be prevalent by the more hardliner groups in Operations Dawn and Dignity. They also strive to protect human rights and investigate human rights abuses perpetrated during the civil war. The peacebuilding force assists the GNA and military leadership in transforming the Libyan military into an efficient and inclusive force that reports solely to the GNA, while helping to integrate Libya’s many militias into the military or disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating them into society, thus removing more opportunities for armed groups to destabilize the peacebuilding process. During its transformation, the Libyan military is properly armed to take on Salafi threats left in Libya. At this point, the UN has lifted the arms embargo on Libya and allows the GNA to import heavy weaponry in the fight against the Islamic State. This could provide the opportunity for peacebuilding forces to protect civilian populations and key infrastructure around Salafi strongholds, leaving the Libyan military to fully eliminate Salafi threats on its own. The GNA is successful in eliminating Salafi threats with the assistance of international forces, coupled with the lifting of the UN arms embargo and the bolstering of the Libyan military. The peacebuilding mission also works with the GNA to secure crucial oil facilities and key power-producing facilities, which facilitate the ability of the government to provide social services and boost the economy. Lastly, a peacebuilding mission assists in the securing of the porous Southern border, which significantly hinders the flow of jihadists, weapons, and illegal migration into Libya. Libya’s tribes, particularly the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou, are fully integrated with power sharing accepted by each of them – further improving the securing of Southern Libya and the defusing of inter-tribal conflict.

With proper international assistance, Libya’s new government is better able to handle the priorities of stabilization, but the road is still fraught with difficulty. The international force comes with a serious risk of impairing the very peace agreement that it is tasked with protecting, but it also is very necessary in light of Libya’s precarious stabilization phase in which political, military, and tribal rivals attempt to rebuild their nation. Thus, the international peacebuilding force operates under strict mandates with clear goals, and is seen as a complement to the Libyan government’s stabilization agenda rather than an imposing force with an international or regional agenda.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Speed with which the peacebuilding mission is deployed. Contributing nations are quick to support a peacebuilding mission and quickly assemble their resources and personnel for deployment.
  2. Efficiency of operational mandates. If operational mandates for the peacebuilding force are properly prioritized and tailored to Libya’s stabilization needs, the likelihood of progress increases.
  3. Level of consistency between support pledges and what is actually deployed. Such consistency will improve the stabilization process by allowing for quicker deployment and sufficient resources/personnel for the peacebuilding force, as well as defusing any tensions that would rise as a result of broken pledges.
  4. Level of civilian elements in the peacebuilding force. The ability to rebuild Libya’s ministries increases if civilian elements have a strong presence within the peacebuilding force. Rebuilding Libya with a balanced civilian-military peacebuilding force is necessary to achieve long-term stabilization.
  5. Ability to control the borders. If Libya’s military and elements of the peacebuilding force are able to secure the borders, then the influx of jihadists, illegal weapons, illicit goods, and illegal immigrants will drastically decrease – allowing the GNA and peacebuilding force to more efficiently combat Salafi threats and make progress towards stabilization.
  6. Ability to protect key infrastructure and civilian populations. If given sufficient resources and clear mandates, the peacebuilding force will be able to provide efficient assistance to the GNA in protecting key infrastructure and civilian populations. Secured oil facilities and power plants can then be used to restore the economy and provide crucial social services.
  7. Ability of the political authorities to make pragmatic decisions while accommodating various belief-systems. The ability to produce practical strategies and make pragmatic decisions regarding stabilization efforts will result in efficiency and avoiding political stalemates, thus contributing to Libya’s long-term stabilization.
  8. Set of indicators to monitor the ability to form a functioning justice and law enforcement system. Justice and law enforcement would have to be re-implemented on a national scale, with the clear exception of areas controlled by Salafi groups. Such measures would be a primary action to restore law and order in the civil war-torn country.
  9. Set of indicators to monitor the level of state control over security forces and militias. Tight control over security forces ensures the legitimate monopoly of violence and is crucial for a functioning state. For example, it is needed for the protection of crucial infrastructure, as well as accountability to the central government rather than favouring local or regional political agendas. Failure to reign in the militias would result in the pursuit of local or regional objectives, as well as a high risk of a continued insurgency. A past indication was units of the Petroleum Facilities Guard defecting and seizing oil assets for a federalist agenda (see Mitchell, “Nationalist Forces I”). The state, with assistance from the international mission, must monitor all militias to see what happens to those not integrated into security forces. Militias that pursue counter-stabilization objectives, such as seizing critical infrastructure or allying with Salafi groups, should be contained.
  10. Increased conflict between Salafi groups. Increased coordination and coalitions between Salafi groups will hinder the government’s ability to fight them more effectively. However, divisions between Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliates would greatly benefit the Libyan military and peacebuilding forces. A past indication was the Islamic State group in Derna driven out by al-Qaeda affiliates in the city (PatonInternational Business Times, June 15, 2015).
  11. International efforts elsewhere against Islamic State. It is worth noting that international efforts to fight the Islamic State elsewhere may also impact Libya’s fight against Islamic State groups within its borders by hindering Salafi momentum and external organizational assistance.
  12. Capacity of the GNA to fund its road to recovery, namely its ability to collect taxes on a national level, and increased oil production/exports to further its income. Stabilization will not be feasible without funding. Thus, the government must be able to collect taxes while simultaneously increasing its oil production in order to have a sufficient budget that can properly fund stabilization efforts. If necessary, international financial assistance is made available to ensure the funding of stabilization, notably at the start of the process.
  13. Ability to pay civil servants and military forces before reaching bankruptcy. Civil servants and military forces are necessary to preserve what is left of the country, initiate and then pursue a stabilization process; thus, their salaries cannot be cut off as a result of looming bankruptcy. Whether through oil export funds, tax collection, or international financial assistance, the government will need to continue to pay the salaries of civil servants and military personnel.

With international assistance, sub-scenario is more likely to succeed than sub-scenarios and The amount of conditions necessary to see this happening are such, however, that the likelihood we currently assess for this scenario is only “likely”. In our forthcoming post, we shall conclude sub-scenario 1.1 with the case where, despite the signature of a peace treaty a GNA cannot be constituted and evaluate sub-scenario 1.2 (Peace Negotiations, Brokered by an External Actor, do not Lead to a Signed Peace Treaty).


Featured Photo: United Nations “Egyptian Peacekeepers at Work in North Darfur, Sudan” [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr September 26, 2011

Ajnadin Mustafa, “Qaddafi exiles set up new political group,” Libya Herald, September 20, 2015

“As Libyan political talks resume, UN envoy urges parties to set aside differences, agree unity government,” UN News Centre, August 27, 2015

Benoit Faucon and Summer Said, “Libya Declares Force Majeure Over Oil Fields in Central Region,” The Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2015

Callum Paton, “Isis in Libya: Islamic State driven out of Derna stronghold by al-Qaeda-linked militia,” International Business Times, June 15, 2015

Charter of the Libyan National Nidal “Struggle” Front, September 18, 2015

Heather Murdock, “Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force,” Voice of America, August 27, 2015

Ulf Laessing, “Islamic State seizes power plant near Libyan city of Sirte,” Reuters, June 9, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces I,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, November 3, 2014

Karim Mezran, “Libya: Half an Agreement is Better than No Agreement,” Atlantic Council, August 12, 2015

“Russia, China Block UN Libya Sanctions,” DefenseNews, June 7, 2015

“Salah Badi creates ‘Libya Dawn 2’ as Libya Dawn 1 crumbles,” Marsad Libya, June 18, 2015

Somini Sengupta, “Russia Resisting Europe Request for Tough U.N. Anti-Smuggling Step,” New York Times, September 15, 2015