The city in the Middle : fragile stability and future opportunities in Libya’s Sirte


Libya has since April 2019 been witnessing its third civil conflict in eight years. The conflict was sparked when the General Command of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces attempted to wrest control of the capital from actors loosely affiliated with the Government of National Accord. While the fighting has continued in and around Tripoli, with neither side able to gain a decisive victory, there have been concerns elsewhere in the country that the conflict over the capital could precipitate increased violence in other areas. For the people of the port city of Sirte, recent airstrikes and a build up of military forces in their vicinity increased fears that the fragile stability attained following the city’s liberation from the Islamic State organisation in December 2016 was under threat. However, despite Sirte’s strategic importance to both sides of the current conflict, its delicate stability has been maintained. Through a thorough analysis of the specificities of Sirte city and the factors that have contributed to preserving stability, this paper interrogates whether positive dynamics at the city level can by built upon by policymakers addressing the Libyan crisis.