All posts by Dr Helene Lavoix

Dr Helene Lavoix (MFin Paris, MSc PhD Lond), Director and Senior Analyst, is the founder of The Red (team) Analysis Society and a political scientist (International Relations) specialised in Strategic Foresight and Warning (SF&W) for conventional and unconventional security issues. She is the author of “What makes foresight actionable: the cases of Singapore and Finland” (confidential commissioned report, US government, November 2010), “Enabling Security for the 21st Century: Intelligence & Strategic Foresight and Warning” RSIS Working Paper August 2010, “Constructing an Early Warning System,” in From Early Warning to Early Action, European Commission, ed. DG Relex, 2008, “Detailed chronology of mass violence – Cambodia (1945 – 1979),” Online Encyclopaedia of mass violence, 2008 and the editor of Strategic Foresight and Warning: Navigating the Unknown, ed. RSIS-CENS, February 2011; etc. More on academia.edu. Listed on the public list curated by LSEImpactBlog: @LSEImpactBlog/soc-sci-academic-tweeters.

Greece and the BRICS Bank, a Forgotten Scenario?

The decision by Prime Minister Tsipras (e.g. The Guardian) on 26 June 2015 to consult Greek citizens in a referendum on their wish to accept or not the never-ending austerity measures demanded as part of the current bailout was obviously an unexpected move for Greece’s creditors. From the Greek government’s point of view, it was, however, a logical one considering the intransigence of the creditors, refusing to coGrexit, Greece, BRICS banknsider the plight of most of the Greek people, as well as considering the absurdity of measures that only end up ever-reducing the overall Greek national wealth, as again pointed out, for example, by Nobel-Prize economist Paul Krugman (“Greece Over the Brink“, The New York Times, 29 June 2015). It sent shock waves throughout Greece’s “creditors-system”.

Since then, officials compete to make declarations aiming at explaining with great difficulty that a referendum is wrong in a system that is meant to uphold democracy as a fundamental value and at convincing Greek people that the bail out with the famous IMF structural reforms and the austerity measures demanded by Europe are the only way forward, threatening the horrid consequences of default (e.g. President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, “press conference on Greece“, 29 June 2015). Negotiations, however, also continue (e.g. BBC News 30 June). Meanwhile, the media try to envision if we shall have a Grexit, i.e. an exit from the Euro zone, what could be the impact for the financial world, also underlining the terrible consequences for people.

There is, however, another potential scenario, which any foresight exercise should consider, and that, publicly at least, is not mentioned: Greece is not isolated, and there are other players, including financially, in the world than the IMF, and the European neo-liberal establishment.

Greece, the first country also bailed out by the new BRICS bank and fund?

Indeed, assuming on 5 July 2015 Greek citizens vote “no” to the austerity reforms as recommended by their Prime Minister, what if Greece were to be bailed out by the “$100 billion BRICS New Development Bank and … currency reserve pool worth another $100 billion” that is expected to be launched – what a synchronous timeline! – during the 8-10 July twin 7th BRICS summit and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia (RT, 26 June 2015)? This scenario obviously assumes that such bailouts will be part of the mission of the bank and potentially associated funds.

Considering the amount and repartition of the Greek debt (see chart Open Europe, “Who does Greece owe?”, BBC News, 30 June 2015), such a new bail out would be unlikely to cover the overall debt. However, we may assume it would to the least cover the IMF share, Greece maybe defaulting on this part of the debt.

Grexit, Greece, BRICS bank, EU
From Alexis Tsipras Flickr photos Taken on23 March 2015 – (CC BY-SA 2.0)

At the European negotiation table to help Greece would now sit not Lagarde and the IMF, but the head of the new BRICS Bank and, through him or her, Rousseff (Brazil), Putin (Russia), Modi (India), Xi Ping (China) and Zuma (South Africa). It would then be highly probable that the new BRICS bank would not ask for austerity measures as they offer a different socio-ideological model from the neo-liberal one.

Indeed, none of the BRICS have an interest in a collapse of the Euro, as their aim is to favour a truly multipolar world (e.g. “‘BRICS key to multipolar world’- Putin“, The BRICS Post, 22 March 2013). Their interest is more likely to put an end of a U.S.-led unipolar world and thus to the supremacy of the U.S. Dollar, upheld by the Washington consensus, as we have followed here (see “Of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Petrodollars“, 16 April 2015;  “Risks on the USD supremacy“, 27 March 2014, etc.). Thus, the BRICS, assuming such a scenario occur, would probably initially try to negotiate by the side of Greece to see the latter remaining within the eurozone. They would, however, probably also be ready to welcome Greece fully in their fold should no other option be left open. During negotiations under this scenario, those who would be under tremendous pressure would be European leaders as, most probably, the U.S. would then do their utmost not to see Europe siding more with the new BRICS-led pole and less with them.

Is such a scenario plausible?

All the BRICS, promoting a true multipolarity, would also most probably encourage the emergence of a relatively strong Europe and European states, which would fully play an independent role on the world stage. This Europe would neither be subservient to the U.S. nor perpetually under the threat of a default. This Europe and its states are necessary to a multipolar world. The BRICS country, as explained above, would also have an obvious interest in further displacing the IMF.

For all the BRICS countries, and this is probably more particularly important for countries with a long history, i.e. Russia, India and notably China, being the ones to bail out another “old country” with a prestigious past would mean that the time of being despised, patronized and talked down to has ended and that they are not only fully equal partners at the table of nations, but also there with a strong position.

Grexit, Greece, BRICS bank, China
From Alexis Tsipras Flickr photos, Taken on February 19, 2015 – (CC BY-SA 2.0)

China, notably with its “one belt, one road” strategy certainly has an interest in seeing Greece not falling into chaos but becoming part of the belt, as explained by JM Valantin (“China and the New Silk Road: the Pakistani Strategy“, 18 May 2015; “China, Israel ad the New Silk Road“, 8 June 2015; The Red (Team) Analysis Society). Furthermore, China is already a serious investor in Greece (Silvia Merler, “China seeking to cash in on Europe’s crises“, Bruegel, 16 October 2014).

Grexit, Greece, BRICS bank, Russia
From Alexis Tsipras Flickr photos, Taken on April 8, 2015 – (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Russia has already signed a contract with Greece for its new Turkish Stream pipeline (RT, 19 June 2015), and, considering the continuous aggressive stance of NATO and the U.S. – be it considered as legitimate or not by the American-led side – (e.g. see the host of related articles in 25 June 2015 Weekly), as well as the European sanctions regarding Ukraine, may only have an interest in seeing the overall balance of power change on the European continent. It might also be an opportunity for Russia to show that it did really mean it wanted to build a cooperative world (among many statements, “‘Russia has no aggressive plans, will always prefer political settlement’ – Putin“, RT, 25 June 2015) and promote a peaceful Eurasian strategy (S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell, ed. Putin’s Grand Strategy:The Eurasian Union and Its Discontents, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, 2014), yet without authorising anyone to directly threatened its essential strategic and national interest, which, from the Russian point of view, led to the necessity to incorporate Crimea within the Russian Federation (e.g. Mearsheimer, “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault“, Foreign Affairs, Sept-Oct 2014).

The majority of Greek citizens as well as the current Syriza government and its deputies certainly would have interest in such a scenario, as it would potentially mean defaulting only for a small part of their debt and/or only temporarily, then being able to renegotiate a reimbursement of their debt under conditions that would not imply a slow disappearance of the country and the never-ending pauperisation of its population (among others, Krugman, ibid.).

On the contrary, the Greek oligarchs and those they have co-opted have no interest whatsoever in this scenario. Similarly, the Western proponents of the neo-liberal system and oligarchs may only see as a threat even the fact this scenario could be envisioned, as it shows that the hegemony of their ideology is fading.

Assuming world actors have really thought about this scenario, the battle for the heart and mind of the Greek people until Sunday is most likely to spare no means, including further negotiations as is the case on 30 June 2015 (see “Greece debt crisis: ‘Last-minute talks after new offerBBC News).

Why, then, if this scenario is plausible, is no one from the BRICS or from the Tsipras government hinting at this possibility? Why, on the contrary, does Russia seem to insist that it does not intend to lend money to Greece (Associated Press, “The Latest: Russia dismisses talk of lending money to Greece“, 30 June 2015)? As far as Russia is concerned, a bail out by the BRICS bank would not be done by Russia, thus technically they would not be lying. Yet, would they not have interest to give hope to the Greek people? Considering the global high level of tension, and the propensity to accuse Russia of propaganda, if the scenario imagined here were to succeed, then it would be important that the Greek people take their decision alone, without any suspicion of manipulation. Furthermore, from a lender’s point of view, it would also be important for the BRICS bank to be fully certain that the current Greek government has the support of its population. Indeed, even without as stringent austerity measures as those imposed by the current lenders and without the IMF cherished structural reforms, the road ahead would nevertheless most probably be difficult. The choice, thus, must remain with the Greek citizens.

The impact of such as scenario, should it happen, would be tremendous because, beyond the immediate and relatively sudden re-design of the monetary and financial conditions for Greece and the world, beyond a new serious severe blow to the supremacy of the U.S. dollar as upheld by the Washington consensus, it would imply that a socio-ideological model that is not the capitalist neo-liberal one exists, is viable and is chosen by a Western nation. Greece being the cradle of democracy, and the choice having been made through a democratic referendum, would multiply the potential strength and attraction of this new model.

The ongoing transition towards a future that is actively being created accelerates.

Featured image: BRICS heads of state and government hold hands ahead of the 2014 G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia. 15 November 2014 by Roberto Stuckert Filho [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 209 – 25 June 2015

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Each section focuses on signals related to one specific theme: world (international politics and geopolitics); economy; science; analysis, strategy and futures; technology and weapons; energy and environment. However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

Read the 25 June 2015 scan  

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Enhancing Foresight with the Temporal Dimension

How can we protect ourselves from risks is one of the key questions that so many actors, from citizens and the corporate world to governments are asking themselves and trying to answer. It is the main question with which the latest World Economic Forum (Davos) opens its video launching the 2015 Global Risk Report.

As a whole and generally, our abilities – if not willingness – to identify threats, and the assessment of their likelihood and impact improve. Nonetheless, one component of threat and risk assessment remains unconsidered, unnoticed, and neglected: time.

Time, the crucial orphan dimension

In the collective imaginary, space – as well as the search for specific individuals – attracts much more attention than time. How many films, of anticipation or not, depict war and crises rooms, or situation Continue reading Enhancing Foresight with the Temporal Dimension

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 208 – 18 June 2015

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Each section focuses on signals related to one specific theme: world (international politics and geopolitics); economy; science; analysis, strategy and futures; technology and weapons; energy and environment. However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

Read the 18 June 2015 scan  

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Understanding the Islamic State’s System – Means of Violence

As we seek to assess the Islamic State’s ability to create a real and sustainable polity, meanwhile understanding it better, we first focused on the overall structure of the Islamic State and its Khilafah, which can usefully be seen as a wilayat system. Then, we started analysing the top leadership constituted by the Calif (Khalif, Khalifa), the Shura Council and the Sharia Council, what these institutions mean and entail in terms of legitimacy.

Islamic State, Daesh, war, diwan, Khilafah, Dabiq, Istok, Chechen, North Caucasus, Jihadi
Islamic State Jihadi fighter in Istok #1, Al Hayat Media Center, 26 May 2015, p.10

Here, after having rapidly explained our methodology, using Max Weber’s (1919) classical distinction, we shall focus on the monopoly of the legitimate means of violence, i.e. military, security and police. With the next post, we shall deal with the extraction of resources as well as with all the other administrative agencies. Of course, legitimacy here is understood within the framework of the Islamic State and its Khilafah. We are not concerned with a hypothetical universal legitimacy, which would be a completely different discussion.  Continue reading Understanding the Islamic State’s System – Means of Violence

The Islamic State Recruitment Psyops – From the Balkans to France

Since we published our sub-series on the Islamic State psyops products and foreign fighters (The Foreign Fighters’ ThreatAttracting Foreign Fighters (1), 23 March 2015, and Foreign Fighters’ Complexes (2) 30 March 2015), new psyops products related to this theme have been released. Below is an update considering the new products, with implications in terms of geographical expansion and deepening of message for selected targeted audience. The list of the videos is given at the bottom of the post.

It is all the more important to consider these new products and impacts that some complacency of a sort appears to be developing in North America – and potentially Europe? – regarding the Islamic State: one could, somehow, accommodate a potentially winning Islamic State (e.g. Ronald Tiersky, “ISIS Could Win. Here’s What that Means“, 9 June 2015, RealClearWorld; Stephen Walt, “What Should We Do if the Islamic State Wins? Live with it“, 10 June 2015, Foreign Policy), probably because it is seen as not being a threat to America (e.g. Scott Beauchamp, “Red flags over green berets in Anbar province“, 11 June 2015, Al Jazeera Americas). This imagined victorious Islamic State would be contained within part of Mesopotamia (Tiersky, Ibid; Walt, Ibid.). Considering the aims of the Islamic State and its Khilafah and its constant efforts at expansion, of which these psyops products are a part, should such a complacency last too long and impact more than North America, it would have the potential to translate in a strategic mistake on a par with the one made with Hitler, Nazi Germany and the Sudetes.

Geographical expansion of target audience

What is most noticeable in the new products is the continuing emphasis on France as a recruitment ground. Meanwhile, the videos aimed at Muslim audiences and countries (a specific sub category we previously identified), have expanded to reach out to three to four new populations: Muslims in the Balkans (the video would deserve a specific analysis notably considering the incorporation of historical material as understood from a Khilafah point of view), Cambodian migrants – and Buddhists as the person featured is a convert – in Australia and Somali.

balkans scThe reaching out to the Balkans is notably worrying considering the instability and fragility in the region (witness the last troubles in Macedonia, for a summary, Wikipedia “2015 Macedonian protests“), its geographical location on the European continent, and the porosity of Europe’s borders (see for Kosovo, Shpend Kursani, Report inquiring into the causes and consequences of Kosovo citizens’ involvement as foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, Kosovar Center for Security Studies, April 2015).

The expansion of the geographical targets of the Islamic State psyops recruiting products, may also be seen with the online magazines published by Al-Hayat Media Center. Konstantinyyie, in Turkish, was launched on 1 June 2015 (for an analysis, see, for example, North Caucasus Caucus “The Conquest of Constantinople: The Islamic State Targets a Turkish Audience“, Jihadology.net), and Istok, in Russian, published first on 26 May 2015. They must now be added to Dar al Islam, in French, which now counts four issues (#4 published on 1 June 2015, see Jihadology.net).

Deepening according to geographical target audience

The framework we initially established to understand the motivations of the foreign fighters to join the Islamic State and its Khilafah has not fundamentally changed. We should, however, note the appearance of new arguments to promote recruitment, most probably developed in responses to brakes identified among specific audiences. This goes also hand in hand with the publishing of the country specific magazines mentioned above.

phto abu salman FrenchTaking the example of the efforts of the Islamic State to recruit and mobilise in France (video “The Story of Abu Salman French”), we find notably a new reference to a (questionable) compatibility of Salafi teaching and science, as well as an emphasis on the practical side and benefit of moving to live in the Islamic State. A very rosy picture of a quiet, comfortable and easy life is depicted, always beside the recognition of the qualities of the person who is meant to join. Death and martyrdom are there, of course, not stressed.

These latter points are a departure from the previously noted theme explaining that a meaningful spiritual life is more important than an easy material life. Meaningfulness remains emphasised, but with messages crafted to answer specific everyday life situations, here French problems of unemployment and impossibility to build a home considering real estate prices.

Considering the issue of persistent and rising inequalities in Europe (OECD, “Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising“, 2015), the Islamic State may well be increasingly successful in using such specifically crafted messages. It could also use this theme for recruitment in other countries hit by inequalities. The counter mobilisation answer, here, will most likely have to go much beyond counter-psyops, surveillance, blocking of internet media and de-radicalisation centers (e.g. RFI, “France to strengthen spies’ powers in new anti-terror law“, 12 April 2015) .

allegiance from dabiq 9 scWe should also underline creativity in the form of psyops products, with the creation of a song and its video clip (“Tend ta main pour l’allégeance/Extend Your Hand To Pledge Allegiance”), the music being then reused in the following video (“The Story of Abu Salman French”). The lyrics emphasise the usual Islamic State messages. The appeal of this video clip to a young – and less young – audience should not be ignored, as now, most of the population has lived most of its life with pop music and video clips.

The use of music and songs in war and in nation-building is obviously not new, as national anthems and military music show. The Islamic State is there adapting it to its needs. However, the Islamic State’s use of classical devices should not lead to the conclusion that the Islamic State is not dangerous. On the contrary, by being able to identify and implement important symbolic tools, besides knowing how to combine smart military tactics e.g Laurent Touchard “Organisation Tactique et Méthodes de Combat De l’Etat Islamique” (Conops, 20 May 2015), or building a polity (see our current series “Understanding the Islamic State system”), the Islamic State shows its capabilities in war as in state-building. What matters is not to do something new or fancy or high-tech, what matters is to do what is right to achieve one’s ends. Failing to see it may imply an inability to devise a proper and timely answer.

Islamic State recruitment psyops products – 1 April to 11 June 2015

  • The Story of Abu Salman French, 7 June 2015 – Raqqa media Center
  • Honor is in Jihād: A Message to the People of the Balkans, 4 June 2015 – Al Hayat media Center
  • “A message to Muslims in Somalia”, 21 May 2015 – Al-Fourat Media center (Affiliated? – Somalia)
  • “Extend Your Hand To Pledge Allegiance” (Tend ta main pour l’allégeance), 18 May 2015 – Al Hayat media Center
  • “Stories From the Land of the Living: Abū Khālid al-Kambūdī from Australia”, 21 April 2015 – Al Hayat media Center

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 207 – 11 June 2015

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Each section focuses on signals related to one specific theme: world (international politics and geopolitics); economy; science; analysis, strategy and futures; technology and weapons; energy and environment. However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

Read the 11 June 2015 scan  

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 206 – 4 June 2015

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Each section focuses on signals related to one specific theme: world (international politics and geopolitics); economy; science; analysis, strategy and futures; technology and weapons; energy and environment. However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

Read the 4 June 2015 scan → 

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Scenarios for the Future of Libya within the Next Three to Five Years

Now that we have identified and understood the actors in Libya’s civil war (see State of Play), we may outline the various scenarios regarding Libya’s future within the next three to five years. A civil war with two rival governments, armed coalitions, jihadists, and various tribes creates a complex climate, and we have constructed initially four primary scenarios, which, with their sub-scenarios, could plausibly play out, and thus set the course for Libya’s future, while also, to the least, impacting the fate of the region.

Here we shall briefly present each main scenario and the first level of sub-scenarios and explain why they are plausible. Throughout the following posts, we shall develop scenarios and sub-scenarios through their narratives. The initial ordering of the scenario may change and/or be presented differently as our foresight analysis progresses. We shall assess the likelihood for each scenario as well as develop indicators to monitor the possibility of their occurrence, or more exactly, of the happenstance of a similar scenario, as a scenario is an ideal-type for a defined range of real-life situations. At the end of the process we shall present the whole definitive set of scenarios.

The initial scenarios for the future of Libya within the next five years are summarized in the following graph.

This chart shows the scenarios for Libya within the next three to five years. Click for larger chart. – (c) Jon Mitchell for The Red (Team) Analysis Society

By utilizing our methodology to identify scenarios in case of war (a specific instance of the overall way to build scenarios for international and national security issues – Lavoix, “Scenarios and War“, Red (Team) Analysis, December 30, 2013), we determine the main plausible scenarios that might come about, based on Libya’s current civil war status.

As explained there, this logical approach observes that war may only evolve in two possible ways: continued war and the end of war. If war continues, it can either continue with the same terms or with different terms, depending on dynamics. If war is to end, there are several ways to reach a conclusion, including a successful peace. In that case, the state can be conquered by an external player, the warring parties can exhaust their will to fight and peace ensue, one of the involved actors may achieve victory over the others – and thus takes control – or a peace agreement can be brokered by external forces, which can either result in failure, a fragile success, or a complete success and subsequent peace (for the possible evolution of war, see notably Luttwak, “Give War a Chance“, Foreign Affairs, 1999).

Our mutually exclusive scenarios build on these logical outcomes, adapted to the Libyan case.

Scenario 1: Towards Peace (All but the Salafi groups)

Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon, talks to the press at a round of Libyan peace talks.

Libyas actors (excluding the Salafi groups) take the road towards peace. In a first case, they achieve an external brokered peace, as could happen with the current United Nations-led negotiations (Scenario 1.1).

Indeed, on the ground, although the armed coalitions of both governments still maintain military positions and launch attacks, the political leaders are pursuing the road towards peace by participating in UN-facilitated peace talks (UN News Centre, April 29, 2015).

In a second case, main actors reach a point of internal exhaustion from conflict (Scenario 1.2) – thus creating the opportunity for a more organic peace, which would most probably then be finally brokered through an international conference.

This latter scenario is all the more plausible – but we shall come back more in detail to the evaluation of likelihood in forthcoming posts – that an increasing number of Libyan leaders and politicians are calling for an end to the conflict and the creation of a unity government (Kirkpatrick, April 13, 2015), as a result of internal exhaustion from war.

The dynamics of the two sub-scenarios should be noted, as the second makes the first increasingly possible.

Scenario 2: Continuation of Civil War

Libyas civil war continues, either on the same terms or different terms – depending on actors and factors. We shall mainly focus on the evolution involving different terms for our scenarios (as continuation of the civil war with the same terms will evolve into peace – see above – victory, or conquest – see below)

Following the logic of our methodological “Scenarios and War” post, to see one actor achieve “objectives and interests” thus influencing the end of the war, the terms of Libya’s civil war must be changed. As we have analysed the various objectives of the actors throughout our previous series on the actors, we shall use this analysis to imagine how the terms of war could be changed to the advantage or disadvantage of this or that actor. The presentation and titles of the sub-scenarios below are only tentative and may change as we shall revise their organization in the course of the analysis, for example to consider various cases of interventions and spill over.

Scenario 2.1: Intervention

External forces intervene in Libya, and their aim is not conquest. In a first case, we have an international intervention accepted by the UN and thus representative of the current International Community. The crucial variable, here, is the degree of acceptance of the intervention by as many states as possible, i.e. not opening the way to retaliation or counter-intervention. In the second case, an ad-hoc coalition of states, according to interests, intervenes to support one side in the ongoing conflict.

The various types of interventions, with which alliance, will be detailed in the various sub-scenarios.

An Egyptian fighter jet leaves its hangar to launch air strikes against Islamic State militants in Libya.

There are indeed a host of plausible interventions considering the current actors and interests. For example, the existence of the new Joint Arab Force, although some analysts doubt its ability to actually be effective (see Wehrey comment in Yahoo News article, March 31, 2015), has enhanced the plausibility of an intervention in Libya, as suggested by Aaron Reese of the Institute for the Study of War. However, according to former deputy foreign minister and ambassador in Egypt Abdullah al-Ashaal, there are too many divisions between the nations involved in the Joint Arab Force to be able to form a united military force (Murdock, March 31, 2015). Even if the military force is united, “conflicting alliances could escalate the fighting,” – a possibility that could certainly play out in Libya, considering the divided backing of the General National Congress (GNC) and Council of Representatives (CoR) (Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia support CoR, while Qatar supports the GNC) (Ibid; Mitchell, “Nationalist Forces II,” December 1, 2014; Mitchell, “Potential International Intervention in Context,” February 16, 2015).

Meanwhile, NATO has taken note of the security risk on its southern flank in Libya, although it is not preparing for a military role in any future interventions, thus far, which would make such an intervention currently improbable (but not implausible; furthermore, over the next five years, the likelihood to see such an intervention happen will change). The organization is waiting on an improved “security situation in Libya” before it can approve any requests to “help train Libyan security forces” (Croft and Karadeniz, May 12, 2015). However, countries may also choose to act outside NATO, as, for example, France and Italy have expressed serious concern over security issues stemming from Libya’s instability – specifically the possibility of Islamic State militants posing as migrants and crossing the Mediterranean into Italy (Ross, February 18, 2015; AFP, February 21, 2015). The EU may then be or not be involved in a future intervention.

Meetings in Cairo are taking place to discuss intervention plans for Libya, with France and Italy possibly partnering with an Arab force (Mustafa, May 10, 2015; SputnikNews, May 11, 2015; Eurasia Security Watch, March 4, 2015).

Scenario 2.2 Spill over

Here, we shall see the Libyan conflict extending and the theater of war reaching other countries, either currently peaceful, such as Tunisia, Niger, or further afield Italy, for example, or joining – as is already the case – with other ongoing wars, such as the war in Mesopotamia (Syria and Iraq). A best way to organize these scenarios will be sought.

Scenario 2.3: Partition

We broadly have two cases. First, Libya embraces federalism, with a possible division along provincial lines (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, Fezzan). In the second case, the country breaks up, most probably along tribal lines.

The two regional governments in Cyrenaica – the Transitional Council of Cyrenaica and the Political Bureau of Cyrenaica – have already initiated federalism in Libya by announcing Cyrenaica as a semi-autonomous region (see Mitchell, “Nationalist Forces I,” November 3, 2014). Federalism in Libya could gain support and possibly turn into an option, provided that Libya’s federalist leaders present a more cohesive political agenda (see Eljarh, September 4, 2014).

As far as the second case is concerned, tribal declarations threatening secession on the one hand (see Tribes II and III), the strong regional component observed throughout the conflict which might be seen as nothing else than division along various Arab tribes lines, make this scenario plausible.

Scenario 2.4 Spill over and partition

This scenario will be a mix of the two previous scenarios.

Scenario 3: A Real Victory in Libya by a Local Group of Actors?

Any of the main group of actors is considered as able, plausibly, to achieve victory. The narratives will examine the impacts, while the indicators compared with the situation in the ground will help determine the likelihood for each case.

Either the General National Congress (GNC), including its armed coalition – Dawn of Libya (Scenario 3.1) – or the Council of Representatives (CoR), including the Libyan military and Nationalist forces (Scenario 3.2), achieves victory. Then, in each case, either the victor succeeds in stabilizing the situation and peace follows, or finally fails and we are back to civil war.

The plausibility for these scenarios is created by the fact that some leaders have expressed their preference for military victory rather than negotiated peace. Both Abdulrahman Swehli, a Misratan politician, and General Haftar, the leader of Libya’s military and Operation Dignity, have stated their preference for a military solution that would permanently decide the victor (Kirkpatrick, April 13, 2015; Al Jazeera, April 15, 2015).

Scenario 4: Salafi Conquest

Although we previously noted that, currently, conquest was outlawed, the Islamic State is currently obeying different sets of norms (see H. Lavoix, “Worlds War,” “Ultimate War,” and “Monitoring the War against the Islamic State or against a Terrorist Group?“). Furthermore, its competition for preeminence with notably Al Qaeda also impacts what the latter could do (see “Worlds War“). As a result, conquest of a sort is back on the international agenda, even if it is engineered through local groups. Note that, in terms of timeline, this scenario and its sub-scenarios will follow from the continuation of war with different terms, and, possibly also lead to war, also with different terms.

We thus have two plausible scenarios here. First, Libya succumbs to conquest by Al Qaeda (Scenario 4.1), whilst, second, we witness an Islamic State conquest (Scenario 4.2).

Indeed, Al-Qaeda has an established presence in regions of Southern Libya, and also has affiliates in Northern Libya such as Ansar al-Sharia (see Mitchell, “Islamist Forces II,” January 26, 2015). If Al-Qaeda is to offset the expanding Islamic State influence in Libya, it will likely need to draw increased support from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, notably Al-Qaeda in Tunisia, while also defeating the other actors. It may need to assert its influence on the Libyan battlefield in its battle against the Islamic State and other actors.

The Islamic State is already present in Libya, as seen in our previous posts “The Islamic State Advance and its Impacts” (Mitchell) and “Towards Understanding the Islamic State – Structure and Wilayat” (Lavoix). Its presence is growing everyday, as recently seen with the conquest of Sirte airport (BBC News, 29 May 2015) and several suicide bombers attacks in Misrata (Reuters, 31 May 2015), t the point that the GNC in Tripoli called for a general mobilisation against the Islamic State (AFP, YahooNews, 1 June 2015).  Conquering Libya, or at least vital parts of it, would also provide the Islamic State as a “gateway” to Southern Europe (Sherlock and Freeman, February 17, 2015). Such a conquest will require a sizeable force, but if the Islamic State recruitment throughout Libya increases, in addition to the arrival of foreign fighters (Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Dairi claims 5,000 jihadists have arrived to join Islamic State and Ansar al-Sharia – Moore, March 3, 2015), the possibility to see this scenario take place may increase. Meanwhile, the Islamic State’s forces in Libya will most probably continue expanding by allying with other extremist groups, as noted by Squires and Loveluck (February 18, 2015).

The next post will start detailing the scenarios.

Bibliography

Featured Image: “Rebels Heading for Tripoli” by Surian Soosay [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

Adrian Croft and Tulay Karadeniz, “Focus on Islamic State and Libya as NATO foreign ministers meet,” Reuters, May 12, 2015

AFP, “French PM: Jihadists in Libya ‘direct threat’ to Europe,” The Times of Israel, February 21, 2015

Awad Mustafa, “Arab Chiefs To Meet on Libya Intervention,” Defense News, May 10, 2015

David D. Kirkpatrick, “As Libya Crumbles, Calls Grow for Feuding Factions to Meet Halfway,” The New York Times, April 13, 2015

Edward N. Luttwak, “Give War a Chance,” Foreign Affairs, July 1, 1999

Eurasia Security Watch – No. 333, March 4, 2015

“Experts caution reality check on joint Arab force,” Yahoo News, March 31, 2015

Heather Murdock, “Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge,” Voice of America, March 31, 2015

Helene Lavoix, “How to Analyze Future Security Threats (4): Scenarios and War,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, December 30, 2013

Helene Lavoix, “Understanding the Islamic State’s System – Structure and Wilayat,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, May 4, 2015

Helene Lavoix, “The Islamic State PSYOPS – Ultimate War,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, February 9, 2015

Helene Lavoix, “The Islamic State PSYOPS – Worlds War,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, January 16, 2015

Helene Lavoix, “Monitoring the War Against the Islamic State or Against a Terrorist Group?” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, September 29, 2014

Jack Moore, “5,000 Foreign Fighters Flock to Libya as ISIS Call for Jihadists,” Newsweek, March 3, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “State of Play – Islamist Forces I,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, January 26, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “The Islamic State Advance and Impacts,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, March 9, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “State of Play – Nationalist Forces I,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, November 3, 2014

Jon Mitchell, “State of Play – Nationalist Forces II,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, December 1, 2014

Jon Mitchell, “Potential International Intervention in Context,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, February 16, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War II,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, April 20, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War III,” The Red (Team) Analysis Society, May 11, 2015

“Libya’s Haftar ‘betting on military solution’,” Al Jazeera, April 15, 2015

Mohamed Eljarh, “The Federalist Movement in a Deeply Divided Libya,” Atlantic Council, September 4, 2014

Nick Squires and Louisa Loveluck, “Italy warns Islamic State is allying with Libyan Islamist groups,” The Telegraph, February 18, 2015

Philip Ross, “ISIS Threat To Italy: Islamic State In Italy Sparks Fears In Europe, But Experts Caution Restraint,” International Business Times, February 18, 2015

Ruth Sherlock and Colin Freeman, “Islamic State ‘planning to use Libya as gateway to Europe’,” The Telegraph, February 17, 2015

“Top Arab Generals Plan Libyan Intervention; Will France & Italy Join?” Sputnik News, May 11, 2015

UN News Centre, “Draft political deal for Libyan parties is ‘work in progress,’ UN envoy tells Security Council,” April 29, 2015

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 205

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals…This issue is unedited (direct access to raw, unsorted, crowdsourced information).

Read the 28 May scan → 

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.