The key players of the Libyan crisis

2018-05-30 16:20
Libya Chief of Staff, Marshall Khalifa Haftar, whose rival Libyan National Army dominates the country's east, stands at the steps of the Elysee Palace as he leaves with his delegation following the International conference on Libya. (File, AFP)

Libya Chief of Staff, Marshall Khalifa Haftar, whose rival Libyan National Army dominates the country's east, stands at the steps of the Elysee Palace as he leaves with his delegation following the International conference on Libya. (File, AFP)

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Since the 2011 ousting of dictator Moammar Gaddafi, Libya has been divided by a multitude of rival factions seeking to gain dominance in the North African nation.

Four key players were in Paris on Tuesday for a peace conference, where they agreed to work together to hold elections on December 10.

Fayez al-Sarraj

Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj is head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

He has been in the post since March 2016 and the GNC has the backing of numerous cities in the west, although it has failed to gain the confidence of parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Sarraj is supported in the Libyan capital by three militias, which are in charge of security in Tripoli and its surroundings.

Khalid al-Mishri

Khalid al-Mishri is the newly elected head of the High Council of State in Tripoli.

The body was part of the UN-sponsored deal signed in Morocco in 2015, which also led to the creation of the GNA.

The High Council is made up of ex-members of the Tripoli-based General National Council - who had been appointed in 2012 elections - and it is hostile to military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east.

Mishri is a member of the Justice and Construction Party, the country's wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Khalifa Haftar

Marshal Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country's east and also has a presence in the south.

On May 7 Haftar announced an offensive for the "liberation" of Derna, the only part of Libya's east out of his control.

The military figure is accused of wanting to impose a dictatorship and of being backed by foreign forces from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France.

Aguila Saleh Issa

Aguila Saleh Issa was elected parliamentary speaker after 2014 polls. The same year militias seized control of the capital, prompting the assembly to flee to the eastern city of Tobruk.

In the west, the General National Council has refused to step down to allow the exiled lawmakers to take up their seats.

Haftar says he takes his legitimacy from the Tobruk-based parliament.

Saleh is a former judge and has the support his tribe, al-Obeidat, one of the most powerful in eastern Libya.

Other actors

Observers have noted that numerous important actors who were not present in Paris.


The city of Misrata, which boycotted the peace conference, includes the most influential politicians and the most powerful militias of western Libya.

The militias are against Haftar, but divided in their approach to Tripoli's Government of National Accord.


Fighters from Zintan, south-west of Tripoli, were driven out of the capital in 2014.

They are hostile to Islamists and have made clear their support for Haftar.

Zintan militias control the oilfields of western Libya.

 The Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB)

The group is composed of Misrata militias and Islamist fighters who were driven from Benghazi by Haftar's forces.

The Amazighs

Areas under their control include the Ras Jedir and Dhehiba border posts on the frontier with Tunisia. They regularly protest their marginalisation by transition authorities.

 The Tuaregs

They control the borders with southern Algeria and part of the frontier with Niger.

The Tubus

Present in Sebha, 600km south of Tripoli, the Tubu people also operate along parts of the borders with Niger, Chad and Sudan.


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Read more on:    libya  |  north africa

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