Libyan coup
Part of Libyan Civil War (2015—17)
Libyan army forces in Tripoli
Libyan army column in Tripoli
Date 18—20 January 2015
Location Libya
Result Success of the coup
Libya Libyan parliament
  • Libyan National Army

Supported by:
Flag of Egypt Egypt
Flag of Iraq Iraq
Flag of Syria Syria

Libya New General National Congress
  • Libya Shield Force
  • Misrata brigades

Supported by:
Flag of Qatar Qatar
Flag of Bahrain Bahrain

Libya Khalifa Haftar
Commander of the Libyan Army
Libya Nouri Abusahmain
President of the GNC
7,000 soldiers 4,000 militiamen
Casualties and losses
24 killed, 68 wounded 46 killed, 89 wounded

The 2015 coup d'état in Libya was an overthrow of the New General National Congress, which was taken over by Islamist factions, by the Libyan National Army, in favor of the newly formed Council of Deputies (the Libyan parliament). It occurred on 18—20 January 2014, resulting in firefights between government and Islamist forces. It resulted in the expulsion of the Islamists from the government of Libya and forced them to leave Tripoli. Shortly after that, the Islamist factions, with support of various terrorist groups, and also Qatar and Bahrain, declared war on the parliament, beginning a second civil war.


Islamists taking control of GNC

At the beginning of 2014, Libya was governed by the General National Congress (GNC). Although Islamist candidates had not won a majority, the Islamist members had dominated the assembly after they succeeded in having Nouri Abusahmain elected president of the GNC in June 2013. He subsequently used his presidency to manipulate the GNC agenda to the advantage of Islamists, suppressing undesirable debates and inquiries by removing them from the agenda. In December 2013, the GNC voted to follow sharia law, and decided that "a special committee would review all existing laws to guarantee they comply with Islamic law."

He is perceived by some as linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, which he denies.

The GNC was the subject of considerable discontent for a variety of reasons.

Protests against Islamists

The GNC failed to stand down at the end of its electoral mandate in January 2014, unilaterally voting on 23 December 2013 to extend its power for at least one year. This caused widespread unease and some protests. Residents of the eastern city of Shahat, along with protesters from Bayda and Sousse, staged a large demonstration, rejecting the GNC's extension plan and demanding the resignation of the congress followed by a peaceful power transition to a legitimate body. They also protested the lack of security, blaming the GNC for failing to build the army and police. Other Libyans rejecting the proposed mandate rallied in Tripoli's Martyrs Square and outside Benghazi's Tibesti Hotel, calling for the freeze of political parties and the re-activation of the country's security system.

On 14 February 2014, General Khalifa Haftar ordered the GNC to dissolve and called 1 for the formation of a caretaker government committee to oversee new elections. However his actions had little effect on the GNC, which called his actions "an attempted coup" and called Haftar himself "ridiculous" and labelled him an aspiring dictator. The GNC continued to operate as before. No arrests were made.

Haftar launched "Operation Dignity", which lasted from May to September 2014. It was largely a failure, and resulted in little confrontations. The two sides signed a ceasefire on 25 September 2014, and things largely went back to the way they were before.

GNC relations with Islamist militant groups

Documents and other evidence showed that the GNC had links to various Islamist groups which operated in other parts of Libya, fighting the government forces. The GNC was supporting them, though not directly. Further protests continued, including one at Benghazi where more than ten thousand people attended. However, it was violently dispersed by police. The GNC continued to lose legitimacy in the eyes of the Libyan people.

Protests continued up to the end of 2014.

The coup

In the early evening of 18 January 2015, General Khalifa Haftar declared that the GNC is illegitimate and ordered Islamist parliamentarians to stand down as soldiers of the Libyan National Army loyal to him (and a parliament which he secretly helped form) would take them into custody. Many of the MPs refused to comply, and ordered the army to stand down. Many Islamist elements from the Tripoli police and also a few soldiers joined the various Islamist militia brigades that defended the GNC. General Haftar then ordered the National Army to take control of the capital and lock it down, arresting any Islamist politicians and killing them if they resisted. The Islamists then began moving forces towards Tripoli, but were kept from entering by ground forces troops loyal to Haftar and the parliament, who were able to easily repel their attacks.

However, militia forces inside the city, and the small Islamist elements of the police and army, began fighting back across the city. The National Army, joined by the mainstream Tripoli police, engaged in firefights with Islamists throughout 19 January. By the evening of that day, the parliament forces secured airport, Al Fatih University, outlying suburbs, Victory Park, and were fighting for the city center. In the military port, personnel of the Libyan Navy began leaving with weapons and engaged in firefights with Islamists. By early morning on 20 January, most of the Islamist militiamen were dead or had fled the city. Many politicians, including Abusahmain, fled Tripoli. By midday, the remaining militia fighters were routed. The troops outside the city launched an offensive against militias in surrounding areas that afternoon, and by early evening, most of the Islamists retreated from their positions.


The streets of Tripoli were quickly secured by the National Army and police, arresting any remaining Islamists. As the international community became aware of the event, the governments of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq announced that they supported the new Libyan parliament and recognized it as legitimate. Days later, their announcements were followed up by other nations who pledged their support to them as well. In that time, General Haftar prepared counterattacks against Islamist forces in the north as the GNC declared war against the new parliament, claiming it is illegitimate. It began the second civil war.