After evaluating scenarios involving failed peace negotiations, we shall conclude scenario 1, exploring paths towards a mediated peace, by evaluating sub-scenario 1.3 in this article – a scenario where peace negotiations, without an external mediator, lead to a signed peace treaty and transitional government.

Our focus here will be on the scenario where the actors reach such levels of exhaustion that they are willing to negotiate a peace, as noted by Luttwak (Foreign Affairs, 1999); and in this case, through negotiations involving exclusively Libyan actors, i.e. without external mediators. We shall discuss the scenario where the actors form a unity government and whether or not it makes progress towards stabilization, as well as the scenario where the actors fail to form a unity government and the two possible directions stemming from such an action. The organization of the whole series of scenarios for the future of Libya can be found here and are summarized in the graph below.

Scenarios 1: Towards Peace – continued

Summary of the previous phase-scenarios leading to scenario 1.3

The Council of Representatives and General National Congress agree to participate in negotiations for the sake of achieving peace and ending Libya’s civil war.

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Sub-scenario 1.3: Peace Negotiations, Without an External Mediator, Lead to a Signed Peace Treaty & Transitional Government

Considering the length of time since the start of the hostilities and related exhaustion, faced with escalating extremist threats, bankruptcy, military stalemates, disintegration of the Libyan state, and the threat of external intervention, the GNC and COR are compelled to negotiate terms for a peace treaty, and for this no external mediator is needed nor desired. The price tag for continued civil war – in the form of deaths, international intervention, exhaustion of funds to pay civil servants and armed coalitions, military gridlock, and increased Salafi expansion – becomes far greater than the price tag for a political settlement. Furthermore, peace negotiations mitigate concerns over international meddling in Libyan affairs. It is highly likely that attempts at peace negotiations without the intervention of an external mediator would only take place when both sides have exhausted their resources, or are coming close to this point, and reached a total military stalemate.

The peace agreement ends hostilities between the rival governments and establishes a transitional authority that aims to stabilize the country enough to hand off to a permanent unity government. For stabilization, the aim is to provide security (economic stability, military, law enforcement) first in order to take on secondary goals. Once in power, the permanent unity government focuses on making the state functional again and developing long-term sustainability.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 1.3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Level of resources available to each side. With dwindling or total exhaustion of resources, the governments and their armed coalitions will be unable to continue fighting and to control their territory, or at the very least, be unable to expand their territory. The exhaustion of each actors’ available resources means they will be more likely to negotiate and sign a peace treaty out of a lack of options. Crucial resources include manpower (how many fighters still willing to participate on each side that are not wounded or prone to desertion), food, water, munitions, fuel, transportation, and morale.
  2. Length of conflict and exhaustion of each side. The longer the conflict goes on, the more likely each side succumbs to exhaustion. Salafi groups’ attacks will increase the exhaustion levels of each side, as the rival governments and their coalitions divert resources and manpower to contain Salafi threats.
  3. Degree and length of stalemate. If their armed coalitions are at a complete standstill and have no other options, the Libyan governments will likely sign a peace agreement sooner rather than later. However, if the rival governments and coalitions shift to a war of attrition, the signing of a peace agreement will not come until both sides are at a total stalemate. The length of a stalemate will also affect the likelihood of this sub-scenario. If facing what looks like a temporary, lower degree stalemate, the armed coalitions could utilize the situation to re-strategize, re-arm, or attempt to acquire new partners. But if they face a prolonged stalemate, the rival governments will be more likely to sign a peace agreement after negotiations.
  4. The identity or political bias of a Libyan mediator. If Libya’s internal peace negotiations need an internal mediator, the identity or political leaning of the Libyan mediator would have a significant effect on the likelihood of this sub-scenario – it is thus necessary s/he can be trusted by all actors involved in the peace process. The religious, political, or tribal affiliation of the Libyan mediator could prevent opposing parties from attending peace negotiations, meaning that the parties would likely have to compromise simply to choose a negotiation mediator.
  5. The ability to negotiate without a mediator. If the governments cannot agree on or feel that they do not need a mediator, they must be able to negotiate themselves, which will increase the likelihood of this scenario.
  6. Indicators 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 for sub-scenario 1.1 also act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 1.3.1: The Actors Successfully Form a Permanent Unity Government

The transitional government takes on priority objectives, such as reestablishing a national tax system and expanding oil production to begin funding the bankrupt state, combating Salafi strongholds, containing any breakaway factions, as well as disarming and demobilizing militias – the success of which prevent the immediate need for international intervention. The transitional government postpones elections until it can sufficiently provide security throughout the country for an election day; at this point, all remaining resources and manpower are being utilized to combat Salafi threats and contain any breakaway factions (a result of resource and conflict exhaustion). Indeed all armed militias are incorporated in a larger Libyan army, which helps alleviating the risk to see break away groups. However, the ability of the transitional government to successfully form a unity government depends heavily on its level of exhaustion from conflict.

Once it has the ability to begin funding the state again and sufficiently contain any remaining warring parties, notably the Salafis, the transitional unity government then focuses on holding secure elections throughout the country. Prior to elections, the former rival governments must agree on whether General Haftar or his successor would have a position in the permanent unity government or not and whether former Qaddafi officials would be included. With state funds flowing again, Salafi groups contained, and major voting centers secured, the elections take place peacefully and the results are not contested. The transitional unity government then transfers power to the permanent unity government. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Drafting Committee drafts an acceptable and inclusive national constitution, notably regarding the various Libyan tribes, which is adopted soon after.

This new peace remains highly fragile, particularly for the first months following it, as the members of the unity government work together while still managing tribal politics and have to act as quickly as possible yet well to solve the many challenges facing Libya. Due to the level of exhaustion resulting from the past conflict, the unity government struggles with stabilization, but continuously works to re-acquire and rebuild the resources needed for the stabilization phase. In particular, they must focus on economic restoration through increased oil production and the implementation of a national tax system while transforming the military and security forces as needed for stabilization.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 1.3.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Length of time to elect a permanent unity government. If the transitional government takes too long to coordinate elections for a permanent government – especially considering they are still exhausted from civil war – Libyans will begin to question the legitimacy of and accuse the transitional government of overextending its time-frame and authority. However, coordinating elections too early in the stabilization process will be equally, if not more, disastrous not only for the transitional government but also for the whole of Libya than overextending its time in authority. Elections that take place too early could negatively affect the stabilization process, including diverting precious resources to elections that are needed elsewhere and not having a fully transparent or fully functional election process, thus leading to disagreements and potential violence over the results. Furthermore, the election process by expecting parties or groups to oppose sometimes bitterly to win electors over may also destabilize the still fragile country. The likelihood of this scenario increases if the transitional government properly gauges the right time to hold elections.
  2. The ability to hold elections in a civil war-torn country. The transitional authority, via the national military, must be able to secure enough major areas in each region.
  3. Increased fear of international intervention. The transitional government is aware that the failure to form a unity government may lead to intervention by UN members or the Joint Arab Force. Thus, their fear of external interference increases the likelihood of being motivated in forming the unity government.
  4. Increased concern of partition. The ability to successfully form a unity government mitigates the risk of partition (sub-scenario 2.3) and the subsequent weakening of the state to properly combat Salafi threats.
  5. Increased fear of Salafi conquest. The transitional authority realizes that the failure to form a unity government will likely empower Salafi movements and possibly even lead to a Salafi conquest (scenario 4). Their increased fear of this scenario thus increases the likelihood of this sub-scenario occurring.
  6. Capacity of the unity government 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.
  7. 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 or tax collection, the government continues to pay the salaries of civil servants and military personnel.
  8. Successful integration of various militias and armed groups in a national army. After having sided with General Haftar and the Council of Representatives during the civil war, the military will need to be reformed and built up to be a more inclusive and stronger force with which to take on Salafi groups and secure the borders. Militias and armed groups that are willing to serve in the military should be integrated, while the others are disarmed, demobilized, and reintegrated into society. However, the transitional government must find a method to properly integrate militias and armed groups into the military, lest the military be undermined by fragmentation of once-autonomous factions.
  9. The re-forging of an encompassing ideology, such as the Libyan nation. If the Libyan people and their government rally around an encompassing ideology such as a united Libya, it may positively influence other indicators (particularly the successful integration of militias and armed groups into a national military), and thereby indirectly increase the likelihood to see this scenario occur.
  10. The level of the Salafi jihadist threat. Declining or divided Salafi groups in Libya enhances the likelihood of stabilization and a long-lasting peace. On the contrary, the increased presence or support of Salafi groups in Libya (depending on the failures or successes of Salafi groups in Mesopotamia) decrease the likelihood of this scenario being successful.
  11. Indicators 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 for sub-scenario 1.1.1 act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 1.3.1.1: The Unity Government is Able to Function and Make Improvements towards Stabilization

Libyan National Army inspection posted on the Government of Libya Facebook page, 10 March 2014

After representatives are elected to the new permanent unity government, the government focuses its efforts on fully stabilizing the country and re-building the state, which has not yet achieved full economic stability and still contains warring parties such as very few breakaway armed factions turned bandits and criminals and the Salafi groups. First, the unity government continues disarming and demobilizing militias that do not wish to integrate into the armed forces, as well as reforming and building up the military, in order to develop a cohesive and coordinated structure with which to take on Salafi groups. It then proceeds to eliminate the Salafi threats from Libyan soil while simultaneously securing all the borders and Southern Libya to prevent more jihadists from entering the country. The unity government also makes progress in expanding economic stability, primarily through the oil sector.

The unity government works to rebuild state institutions and social services that were disrupted during the civil war. The rebuilding of state institutions that are inclusive and not prone to domination by particular groups plays an instrumental role in stabilization and state-building. This would also allow Libya to find a permanent solution to the refugee crisis that emanates from its shores. Without proper state institutions, state funding, and secured borders, the mass of refugees would continue to pose a problem for both the rebuilding state and the European Union.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 1.3.1.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The ability of the government to continue rebuilding and strengthening the military. Although the transitional government initiated the rebuilding process, the permanent government will need to continue monitoring the integration of militias and other armed groups into the national military. It will also need to continue strengthening the military with training, updated equipment, and quality weapons in order to best combat Salafi threats.
  2. The level of inclusiveness in the rebuilt state institutions. The exclusion of particular tribes or groups and the domination of other tribes or groups in state institutions have the potential to destabilize any progress so far. By developing inclusiveness and power-sharing within the state institutions, the unity government increases its ability to function and make improvements towards stabilization.
  3. The level of the Salafi jihadist threat. Declining or divided Salafi groups in Libya enhances the likelihood of stabilization and a long-lasting peace. On the contrary, the increased presence or support of Salafi groups in Libya (depending on the failures or successes of Salafi groups in Mesopotamia; e.g. Islamic State decline in Syria may cause them to divert jihadists and resources to Libya) decrease the likelihood of this scenario being successful.
  4. Indicators 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 for sub-scenario 1.1.1.1 act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 1.3.1.2: The Unity Government is Unable to Function and Make Improvements towards Stabilization

After the transitional government hands over authority, the newly elected unity government is unable to properly function and begins to struggle with making improvements towards stabilization. Any progress made by the transitional government to contain Salafi groups is rendered useless as the unity government fails to build up the military and eliminate Salafi threats, thus failing to remove a significant threat to the stabilization process. Furthermore, the government is unable to fully secure Libya’s borders, which negatively impacts the refugee crisis and allows jihadists to more easily enter the country. Still dealing with the exhaustion and damage done by the civil war, the government struggles to provide long-term economic stability as oil production stalls or decreases and foreign investment fails to expand as a result of continued threats from Salafi groups. The new government is also unable to rebuild state institutions, or alternatively, rebuilds state institutions that are dominated by favored groups or tribes.

Destruction in Benghazi posted on The Libya Observer Facebook page, 16 May 2015

Faced with these obstacles, the political cohesiveness that had been required to form the unity government begins to fragment and leaders revert back to political rivalries as the state fails to make progress towards stabilization. In an attempt to expand their power, breakaway factions and Salafi groups exploit the weak government’s inability to function. Lastly, the new government’s inability to secure the borders and provide economic stability undermines any permanent solution to the refugee crisis in Libya.

This scenario has the potential to ultimately lead to a return to civil war, and to drag Libya towards being a failed state. It leads to scenarios 1.3.2.1 and 1.3.2.2 below.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 1.3.1.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of political fragmentation affecting stabilization efforts. Disagreements over stabilization efforts or new legislation increase political fragmentation within the unity government, ultimately impairing its ability to function and make improvements. Political fragmentation potentially results in breakaway political factions.
  2. The levels of oil production and foreign investment that are needed for economic stabilization and expansion. If oil production stalls or decreases, the government loses funds from its most important revenue stream. Furthermore, the hesitance from foreign companies and nations to invest in the country as a result of Salafi threats increases the likelihood of this scenario.
  3. The ability to control the borders. If the unity government is unable to control its borders, then it will continue to be undermined by arms smuggling, jihadist routes through Southern Libya, and the influx of refugees. Such issues impair the unity government’s ability to function and regain control of the country.
  4. The ability to rebuild the military. Without continuing to build up and strengthen the national military, the government struggles to take on both the Salafi threats and secure the borders.
  5. A lack of sufficient forces and weaponry to combat Salafi threats. Securing the rest of the country while simultaneously combating Salafi forces will require a substantial force, both in numbers and weaponry. Lacking in these areas will only prolong the insurgency and hinder the stabilization process. The UN lifts the arms embargo, allowing the unity government to import the necessary weaponry to eliminate Salafi threats.
  6. The inclusiveness of state institutions. State institutions exclusively controlled or influenced by particular tribes or groups will likely anger the less-favored groups and undermine the stabilization process.
  7. The level of the Salafi jihadist threat. The increased presence or support of Salafi groups in Libya (depending on the failures or successes of Salafi groups in Mesopotamia; e.g. Islamic State decline in Syria may cause them to divert jihadists and resources to Libya) increases the likelihood of this scenario.

Sub-scenario 1.3.2: The Actors Fail to Form a Permanent Unity Government

The transitional government struggles with priority objectives and cannot secure proper funding for stabilization by failing to re-implement a national tax system and expand oil production, as well as struggling to contain Salafi groups and breakaway factions. These failures prevent the transitional government from holding national elections and forming a permanent unity government. The level of exhaustion incurred by the civil war contributes to these failures. Unable to make progress for elections, and thus remaining in power, the transitional government is accused of incompetence and overstepping its mandates. With a lack of state funding and cohesive forces, the transitional government either faces a return to civil war, or succumbs to Salafi conquest (see below).

It is important to note that the failure to form a permanent unity government and combat Salafi threats may enhance the likelihood of an international intervention in Libya.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 1.3.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of political cohesiveness. Politicians opposed to aspects of the permanent unity government framework can undermine the formation of the government – even more so if they break away from the main political groupings that support a unity government – and thus form political opposition factions.
  2. The level of interest for a partitioned Libya. If a partition movement gains traction, the actors may reject the formation of a permanent unity government and advocate for a partitioned Libya (sub-scenario 2.3) – possibly along provincial lines, tribal lines, or a combination of both.
  3. Capacity of the unity government to fund its road to recovery. Stabilization will not be feasible without funding. If Libya is already bankrupt at this point and the transitional government cannot make enough economic recovery to fund the next phase, the unity government will be unable to fund stabilization on its own – thus increasing the likelihood of this scenario.
  4. The ability to hold elections in a civil war-torn country. The transitional authority, via the national military, must be able to secure enough major areas in each region. The inability to secure these areas will increase the likelihood of this scenario.
  5. Length of time to elect a permanent unity government. If the transitional government takes too long to coordinate elections for a permanent government – especially considering they are still exhausted from civil war – Libyans will begin to question the legitimacy of and accuse the transitional government of overextending its time-frame and authority. However, coordinating elections too early in the stabilization process will be equally, if not more, disastrous not only for the transitional government but also for the whole of Libya than overextending its time in authority. Elections that take place too early could negatively affect the stabilization process, including diverting precious resources to elections that are needed elsewhere and not having a fully transparent or fully functional election process, thus leading to disagreements and potential violence over the results. Furthermore, the election process by expecting parties or groups to oppose sometimes bitterly to win electors over may also destabilize the still fragile country. The likelihood of this scenario increases if the transitional government holds elections too soon or too late.
  6. Improper integration of various militias and armed groups in a national army. The transitional government improperly integrates militias and armed groups into the military by allowing them to serve in the same units as when they were autonomous during the civil war – thus increasing the likelihood for fragmentation with the military’s ranks.
  7. The level of the Salafi jihadist threat. Declining or divided Salafi groups in Libya enhances the likelihood of stabilization and a long-lasting peace. On the contrary, the increased presence or support of Salafi groups in Libya (depending on the failures or successes of Salafi groups in Mesopotamia) decrease the likelihood of this scenario being successful.
  8. Indicators 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 for sub-scenario 1.1.2 act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 1.3.2.1: Back to Civil War

Misrata militia member near the Tripoli International Airport posted on the Good Morning Libya Facebook page, 20 July 2014

By failing to form a permanent unity government, the transitional government breaks down into either the former rivalries or along regional and tribal lines – resulting in the re-escalation of civil war. With a return to civil war and the breakdown of political authority, this would be a rather extreme scenario of state collapse, such as Somalia.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 1.3.2.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The willingness of the GNC and COR actors to continue with a transitional government. If one or more of the main parties refuse to continue participating in the transitional government and return to former rivalries and coalitions, the country will likely return to civil war.
  2. The level of tension with tribal and local political leaders. If a transitional government fails to make progress and a permanent unity government cannot be established, tribal and local political leaders may resort to resurrecting their local militias and using their own councils to solve their own issues.
  3. The breakdown of state institutions. The lack of state funds, as well as the governments’ refusal to re-negotiate, leads to the breakdown of state institutions including crucial ministries and the military. This further contributes to the failed state, which is dominated by militias and regional political authorities that seize control in light of the power vacuum.
  4. The level of the Salafi threat. If Salafi groups exert constant pressure on the transitional government and deny them the necessary respite to unite and work towards stabilization, the likelihood for this scenario increases.

Sub-scenario 1.3.2.2: Conquest by Salafi Groups

The failure to form a unity government, combined with the levels of exhaustion, leads to possible conquest by Salafi groups. With the lack of government leadership and progress, the armed forces that oppose Salafi groups lose their cohesiveness and are in turn weaker, which allows conquest by their Salafi enemies. Furthermore, the descent towards a failed state fosters an environment that favors terrorist organizations and their external supporters.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 1.3.2.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Level of resources available to the transitional government. With dwindling or total exhaustion of resources, the transitional government will be unable to continue fighting Salafi threats and control the borders. The exhaustion of resources means it will be more susceptible to Salafi conquest.
  2. The allying of Salafi groups in Libya. Seeing the GNC and COR’s failure to form a united government and the fragmentation of political and armed groups, the Salafi groups unite in a concentrated offensive to conquer Libya.
  3. The military situation in Syria and Iraq. Progress against the Islamic State in these countries could in turn increase the amount of jihadists in Libya. Past instances of indications related to this indicator were that Libya was a launching point for jihadists traveling to Syria and Iraq, but they were eventually encouraged to travel to Libya instead of these battlefronts (DettmerVOA News, February 19, 2015). Thus, progress against Salafi-jihadists in those regions could increase the number of Salafi-jihadists within Libya’s borders and contribute to a Salafi conquest. However, alternatively, success in Mesopotamia by the Islamic State could galvanise Islamic State fighters in Libya as well as freeing resources to support the Islamic State wilayats there.
  4. Inability to control the borders. An ineffective transitional government and insufficient military forces allows arms and jihadists to freely flow into Libya. More porous borders will allow Salafi groups to gain strength in numbers and to receive organizational support from external Salafi groups. A past indication is organizational support from Boko Haram to the Islamic State in Libya, where Boko Haram sent approximately 80-200 jihadists to the Islamic State stronghold in Sirte, Libya (The Clarion Project, August 26, 2015).
  5. Ability of Salafi groups to ally with other breakaway armed groups. Allying with hardliner breakaway groups may increase their strength and coordination against the formation of a permanent unity government.
  6. The willingness of the international community to send forces to Libya. At this point, Libya is a failed state. Thus, international forces will either hesitate to get bogged down in Libya, which enhances the likelihood of this scenario – or alternatively, the international community coordinates a strong mission to eliminate Salafi threats emanating from the country, which decreases the likelihood.

In our forthcoming post, we shall begin to evaluate scenario 2.1 – where external forces intervene in Libya.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: A celebratory photo in Msallata, Libya by Iason Foounten/United Nations [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr

Edward N. Luttwak, “Give War a Chance,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 1999

Jamie Dettmer, “IS Urges Jihadist Attacks on Rome,” Voice of America, February 19, 2015

The Clarion Project, “Boko Haram Sends up to 200 Fighters to Join ISIS in Libya,” August 26, 2015

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