European powers have struggled to devise a coherent strategy in Libya ever since long-standing dictator Colonel Muammar Qadhafi was ousted from power in a NATO-backed rebellion in 2011. The NATO mission, led by Britain and France – and initially opposed by Germany and Poland – led to a transferral of power to the National Transitional Council (NTC), and later to the General National Congress (GNC).
Whilst these institutions were recognised in European capitals, as political and military power in Libya splintered, so did consensus in Europe on how to respond to the deteriorating security situation and political impasse. Rather, European actors supported opposing power centres and have been accused of prioritising parochial interests – such as countering Islamic extremist terrorism and controlling migration flows – over long-term goals to foster national reconciliation and lasting peace.
A European Union?
In November last year, an agreement was reached in Tunis between Libya's warring factions in the 75-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), led by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on 24 December 2021. . In a rare display of unity on the Libya question, Britain, France, Germany and Italy released a joint statement on 23 November 2020 which 'welcome[d] the results of the […] Forum', called for 'Libyan parties to fully implement the ceasefire agreement', expressed 'full support to the UNSMIL led process' and called on 'all Libyan and International parties to refrain from any parallel… To read our full analysis, download the PDF below.
Anton Witchell-Chibber is a contributing global security analyst at Dyami. He recently graduated cum laude in Conflict Studies & Human Rights from Utrecht University and holds an undergraduate degree in International History & Politics from the University of Leeds. He has a specialist interest in Chinese foreign policy, alongside the connection between energy security and conflict, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East. He has spoken about the conflict in Libya at academic conferences in the UK.