21 – 27 Mar: US drone strikes target AQIM while UN Envoy concedes LPA amendments are unlikely

Mar 27, 2018 | International actors

On 24 March, the US military undertook drone strikes targeting a house near Ubari, allegedly killing two militants that belonged to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Contradicting the US statement, local Libyan news sources have suggested that as many as five militants were killed by the strike near the Sharreb neighbourhood. This was followed by an alleged group of militants decapitating two bodies and then taking the remaining three with them in a white Hyundai Verna. This is the 9th declared airstrike by US forces in Libya in the last 14 months. However, this is the first that explicitly targets al-Qaeda rather than ISIS operatives.

On 22 March, the UN Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame gave his briefing to the UN Security Council from Tripoli. Salame conceded that there was little prospect of the first stage of his 2017 Libya Action Plan – an amendment to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) leading to a final unified government before elections – being achieved as timelines for a referendum on the constitution and national elections draw nearer. In his address, Salame stated that the UN Action Plan does not require the LPA amendments and the closer the timeline comes to elections the less relevant the amendments become.

In addition, Salame revealed that a ‘National Conference’ – the second stage of his Action Plan, with elections theoretically being the third – would be held in mid June, after Ramadan.