Libya was one of the states with the highest levels of political violence in Africa in 2017 with an average of nearly 2,400 conflict-related fatalities from 2011-2017. The Libyan crisis is characterised by three periods of instability. The popular uprising in 2011 led to a city-based revolt and the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime, giving way to a period of intensified political competition and polarisation. From 2012 to early 2014 rival armed brigades drove the transitional political process. In May 2014, widespread conflict re-erupted in the ‘Second Libyan Civil War’ after the rogue General Khalifah Haftar launched an insurgency against Islamist groups in the eastern city of Benghazi. 2017 witnessed a 20% reduction in conflict events compared to 2016, primarily driven by the ousting of Islamic State (IS) militants, who capitalised on the national-level discord to take a foothold in the central city of Sirte. General Khalifah Haftar’s ‘Libyan National Army’ continues to be the most active conflict agent, responsible for just under 20% of all conflict activity in 2017 and over 620 fatalities. Flashpoints of conflict centre around the capital, Tripoli in the west of the country and in Benghazi to the east. Incursions made by IS militants in 2016 led the conflict into Sirte and Qaddafi’s hometown but the group were routed from the city in December 2016 by a coalition of fighters backing the Government of National Accord (GNA). As a military stalemate took hold within and between the western and eastern-based governments, violence migrated into southern Libya, where Al Jufrah and Sabha experienced increased activity in 2017, becoming the proxy arena for political contestation. Local intra-alliance fighting surged in 2017 as the transitional GNA struggled to control its various affiliate militias in Tripoli and north-west Libya, where smuggling networks have proliferated. Interference by national and international actors has fuelled localised conflicts over power, influence and resources across the country hampering efforts to unify the country militarily and politically.

Key Figures

Time Period: 2011-01-01 (ongoing)
Number of Events: 9,054
Reported Fatalities: 21,201
Reported Civilian Deaths from Direct Targeting: 4,773
Number of Armed Active Agents: 281

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