Rival Libyan politicians signed a deal on a unity government despite opposition on both sides, in what the United Nations described as a "first step" towards ending the crisis. December 17, 2015, Skhirat, Morocco. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Rival Libyan politicians signed a deal on a unity government despite opposition on both sides, in what the United Nations described as a "first step" towards ending the crisis. December 17, 2015, Skhirat, Morocco. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

The struggle to unify Libya continues, with various domestic actors posing obstacles to United Nations-sponsored efforts. In the meantime, conflict continues to plague the center of the country as militants linked to the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) continue to take control of territory and threaten the critical oil processing and export sites in the Gulf of Sirte. This has raised further concern among the international community, members of which are discussing a wider military involvement to reduce a threat that might extend into Europe.

Representatives of Libya’s two rival parliaments and governments, the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) and Tobruk- and Al-Baida-based House of Representatives (HoR) engaged with the UN-talks through 2015. The talks were fruitful and the parties agreed to the wide-ranging Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in December. This accord offered a chance of regaining a semblance of stability and beginning the path towards reunification.

That optimism was swiftly quashed in January when HoR representatives voted against the agreement on a Government of National Accord. Despite agreeing to the deal in principle, these representatives disputed Article 8 of the agreement, which would hand command of the military to the new government’s Presidency Council. There was also opposition to the size and makeup of the proposed cabinet. Given these grievances, it is unclear why the accord was originally approved. The reasons for now opposing it appear directly linked to positions of General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the HoR’s Libyan National Army. Read more