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Research Paper

Dignity and Dawn: Libya’s Escalating Civil War

26 Feb 2015

In this Research Paper, ICCT Associate Fellow Dr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Nathaniel Barr provides a detailed examination of the armed conflict in Libya between the Operation Dignity and Libya Dawn military coalitions. The conflict erupted in May 2014, when Dignity leader Khalifa Hifter announced the launch of his campaign, which was aimed at ridding eastern Libya of Islamist militias, beginning with Benghazi. This offensive shattered a fragile status quo.

Revolutionary forces concentrated in the city of Misrata and Islamist politicians perceived Hifter’s offensive as a direct affront and, following parliamentary elections that these factions lost, the Misrata-Islamist bloc announced the launch of the Libya Dawn offensive, aimed at driving pro-Dignity forces out of Tripoli. More broadly, the Dawn offensive was an effort to change facts on the ground in order to ensure that the Misrata-Islamist bloc retained political influence.

The Dignity and Dawn offensives have contributed to the continuing political and geographic fragmentation of Libya. Libya now has two separate parliaments and governments, while much of the country has been carved into spheres of influence by warring factions. The Dignity-Dawn conflict has also caused a deterioration of security, which has played into the hands of a variety of violent non-state actors, including al-Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates that have capitalized on Libya’s security vacuum to establish bases of operation.

This report provides a blow-by-blow account of the military conflict between Dignity and Dawn forces, then assesses the implications of the Libyan civil war on regional security and potential policy options for Western states.

Read the Executive Summary.

Read the Research Paper.

On Thursday 12 March 2015, ICCT convened an evening seminar during with Dr. Gartenstein-Ross shed light on the complex situation in Libya. Find out more about the event.

How to cite: Barr, N. and D. Gartenstein-Ross. "Dignity and Dawn: Libya’s Escalating Civil War", The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism - The Hague 6, no. 1 (2015).