A new round of peace talks between Libya’s competing factions is taking place this week in Geneva, hosted by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). This is the second round of talks in the Swiss city this month after an initial meeting on January 14, and the Geneva process follows largely unproductive talks in Libya’s northwestern border town of Ghadames in September 2014.
For now, representatives of one of the two competing parliaments in the country—the Islamist-dominated General National Congress (GNC)—have declined to join any talks outside of Libya. Nonetheless, UNSMIL has stated that a future round of negotiations is expected in Libya at some point, which would include the GNC. There are also indications that pressure from the European Union, a major trading partner of Libya and end destination of Libyan oil, and the GNC’s primary international supporters, Turkey and Qatar, could lead the GNC to send a delegation to talks abroad in the near future.
UNSMIL and Libya’s international partners have clear objectives for the talks. They are seeking a lasting peace for the Libyan people, a government representative of the Libyan polity, and a resumption of oil extraction and exports, which will fund domestic reconstruction and institution building. For Libya’s numerous competing factions, these goals are acceptable and will be agreed to; however, domestic actors will strive to position themselves to maximize influence and power and to safeguard gains made during the 2014 conflict. The path toward any future unification or peace deal is therefore likely to be fraught with difficulty. Read more