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Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 3.2 A Nationalist Libya

This article focuses on the second of the scenarios depicting a total victory for one Libyan faction, where the nationalist coalition – loyal to a non-Islamist and nationalist government – is victorious and guides Libya towards a secular and nationalist state where Sharia is not a source of governance. In our previous scenario we detailed the scenario of an Islamist victory where the new government gradually, with different paths according to speed, implements Sharia law and puts Libya on the path towards an Islamic state.

Note: Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for those that supported the nationalist-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note those that supported the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafist will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.

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Sub-scenario 3.2 A Nationalist Libya

In this scenario, a “real victory” refers to the cessation of major hostilities resulting from a belligerents military domination of the other. Once a belligerent militarily defeats the other, it will be in a position to rebuild Libya as either an Islamist or secular state.

By achieving a real victory against the Islamist-dominated coalition and government, the nationalist coalition sets up its non-Islamist government and endeavours to organize the new Libyan state. This new government projects a secular-nationalist rule of law, and firmly opposes the use of Sharia law as a basis for legislation.

The nationalist government is determined to first secure the porous southern border. It knows it has two major options. Either it makes a deal with the Tuareg and Toubou to increase their representation in government and promises to address their other grievances if they secure the southern province to prevent jihadists from entering the country and assist in stabilization efforts throughout the Fezzan. Or, it exclusively pre-occupies itself with post-civil war affairs in the north and begins to ignore the Tuareg and Toubou. Both minority tribes in the south thus feel abandoned – the Toubou are angry that their alliance with the nationalist coalition did not result in a seat at the power table, or even a request for meaningful post-war assistance, while the Tuareg are afraid that they especially will be left out, considering their opposition to the nationalists during the war. In this case, the odds to see them deciding to split away from the Libyan state in protest and form their own tribal states, or to hold southern Libyan oil resources as collateral for political concessions – thus forcing the government to address the minority tribes increase. Considering both the value of past war alliances and the risks entailed by not doing so, the nationalist government finally chooses the first option.

The nationalist leaders start implementing a strict anti-Islamist agenda. Not wanting to include former adversaries that promoted a system alien to their beliefs and challenged their legitimacy, the new government takes measures to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction Party. In an effort to completely dismantle Islamist movements in Libya, the government arrests, charges, and prosecutes prominent Islamist politicians and militia leaders. It then welcomes those affiliated with Qaddafi’s regime to be involved in the new state, partly as a means to increase domestic legitimacy among the Qaddafists, but also as a means to consolidate power. This announcement draws much support from former Qaddafi officials and particularly Qaddafi’s tribe – the Qadhadhfa – who felt marginalized after the revolution and whose men and also some elders became a recruiting pool for the Islamic State in Sirte. Seeing this as an opportunity to restore some of their influence in the government, as well as seeing that the Islamist defeat leaves only the Salafist groups left to be targeted (to which many Qadhadhfa fighters belong), the pro-Qaddafi tribes that didn’t originally ally with the nationalists now shift their support to the new government.

Bolstered by the new government’s actions to ignore Sharia law, the Salafist groups denounce Libya as a kafir state and state their intention to destroy it. However, as far as the Islamic State is concerned, they are weakened by the loss of the pro-Qaddafi tribes, which spurs a renewed propaganda push to attract more foreign jihadists. Salafist groups that experience a surge of foreign jihadist recruits renew their insurgency against the Libyan government. Those which do not succeed in either attracting enough foreign recruits or local ones grow weaker and unable to hold territory as they did during the civil war. Thus, they shift from a more centralized semi-state with territory and governance to a decentralized underground terrorist organization that avoids conventional warfare, causes mass civilian casualties through terrorist attacks, and specifically targets security personnel, secular judges, and political and military leaders under the nationalist government. However, this renewed insurgency and its outcome would require new scenarios to fully understand its depth.

Meanwhile, the nationalist coalition and government struggles at first to gain international legitimacy. The Western powers tread lightly in regard to signaling open support for the new government – mostly to see the initial actions made by the new government that signify its national and international intentions. With the migrant crisis still a serious problem for the EU, it opens diplomatic relations with the nationalist government to work out a solution that would stem the flow of migrants from Libya’s shores. In a unilateral move that is the result of unsatisfactory solutions put forth by the EU, the United Kingdom offers assistance to Libya in an effort to counter the human-trafficking networks that significantly contribute to the migrant routes through Libya. (In an alternative sub-scenario, where the migrant crisis is already abated, the EU stands alongside the U.S. as they wait to see how the government sets the tone for stabilization and rebuilding). Meanwhile, Russia expands its ties with the nationalists and quickly negotiates arms deals with the government – knowing that the new Libyan military will need to be outfitted, while it allows Russia to further gaining influence with a new power in the Middle East/North Africa region.

General Haftar represents a strong anti-Islamist ideology in Libya, which appeals to Egypt and the UAE.

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates continue to support the nationalist government as it takes action to exclude Islamists from power and crack down on Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated supporters throughout Libya. Libya’s other neighbors also recognize the legitimacy of the new state and begin working with the government to make sure no insecure borders could lead to renewed insurgency. Having backed the Islamist government – whom they considered the legitimate government – and seeing the new government’s efforts to crack down on Islamist groups, Qatar and Turkey denounce the nationalist government.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 3.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The government’s level of priority to include minority tribes in the state. Once it begins functioning as the country’s sole political authority, the new government will take measures to first stabilize war-torn Libya, and then begin the rebuilding process. Depending on a variety of factors and agendas, the government could potentially prioritize other issues over the political inclusion of minority tribes; issues such as eliminating terrorist groups, ramping up oil production and exports, developing a new and united military, finding a solution to the massive migration problem, securing financial assets, and mitigating any existing financial crises.
  2. The tribes’ willingness to break away from the state in a partition. If the new government begins passing important legislation or drafts a new constitution without their full representation and blatantly ignores their political grievances, then the tribes could take action to form their own autonomous tribal states. A past indication occurred when the Amazigh tribe refused to recognize a Libyan constitution drafted by a constitutional assembly that lacked sufficient tribal representation because “we do not recognize those who do not recognize us,” (Nationalia, February 21, 2014). The Amazigh Council then announced its intention to create an Amazigh-only Parliament (Ibid.). A similar indication occurred when Toubou and Tuareg militia leaders “threatened to pursue regional autonomy for Fezzan” when one of the former Libyan transitional governments cancelled “fake” ID cards held by the Tuareg and Toubou (Lacher, Security Assessment in North Africa, February 2014).
  3. The tribes’ willingness to hold oil resources as collateral to gain full representation in the new government. An alternative to tribal partition in response to the lack of political inclusion or civil rights could take place in the form of holding resources as collateral. Considering oil production would be a priority for the new government, the takeover of oilfields, pipelines, or production facilities by tribes would impair the government’s ability to control its own resources needed to rebuild the country. The Libya Herald points out that the Amazigh, Toubou, and Tuareg are all “within striking distance from one sort of oil facility or another” (Zaptia, Libya Herald, July 27, 2016), making this action a real possibility for any of the minority tribes. Past indications occurred in October 2013 when armed Toubou tribesmen blockaded the Sharara oilfield (Lacher, Security Assessment in North Africa, February 2014); in late October 2013 when an Amazigh group occupied the Mellitah terminal and threatened to cut the gas flow to Italy if the Amazigh representation in the constitutional drafting committee was not increased (Pack and Cook, Majalla, December 9, 2013); a day later when a Tuareg group shut down the southern Sharara oilfield demanding “greater access to citizenship registration, development of local areas, and the reinstatement of local council members rejected by the central government,” (Pack and Cook, Majalla, December 9, 2013); and in December 2013 and January 2014 when the Toubou occupied the Sarir power station to “demand greater representation in Kufra’s municipal government,” (McGregor, The Jamestown Foundation, January 23, 2014).
  4. The existence of belief systems on the nationalist side that vary from fiercely nationalist to a milder version of the nationalist ideology, as well as the relative strength of their supporting groups. Once the nationalists achieve a real victory, there may be various levels of beliefs that impact the reach of the government’s anti-Islamist agenda. There are certainly those that are fiercely nationalist, like General Haftar, but there may also be factions of the nationalist coalition that see a risk in completely excluding the Islamists from a post-war Libya or view such actions as indicative of a dictatorship. Haftar’s Libyan National Army and Libya’s actual military forces appear to fall under Haftar’s fiercely nationalist ideology. Armed factions from Zintan are strong opponents of both the General National Congress and Islamists in general (Al Jazeera, June 2, 2014), so they too would probably rank closer to the side that wants to rid Libya of Islamist groups altogether. The other end of the spectrum – which fought in the nationalist coalition during the war but exhibits less willingness to embrace the nationalist ideology – is the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), led by Ibrahim Jadhran. In 2014, the government announced its agreement with the Council of Representatives “to work together and defeat Islamist terror,” (CIPPE, September 4, 2014). Two years later, Jadhran – who considers himself a moderate Muslim – has taken a middle ground. “We stood by the government, but at the time the National Congress started to lean toward the Islamists and the parliament [Council of Representatives] leaned towards the militarization of the state and the return of a dictatorship. So we saw that we were the only ones standing in the middle,” (Nathan, Politico, August 25, 2016). If the nationalist coalition defeats the Islamists, the Petroleum Facilities Guard would still exist. Since the PFG protects most of the country’s oil industry, it would probably be coerced into supporting the new government – even though the PFG provides little to no support for the strong nationalist ideology. The PFG has over 20,000 men in its ranks, which does not compare to the combined strength of the stronger nationalist factions (see Mitchell, Nationalist Forces I and II), but does have the potential to force a strong nationalist government to consider a less-extreme stance on an Islamist crackdown – especially considering that the PFG protects Libya’s most important source of income.
  5. Willingness of the new government to go beyond dissolving Islamist parties and crack down on prominent Islamist political and militia leaders. If leaders of the nationalist government are driven by a strict anti-Islamist agenda, they will be more willing to crack down on Islamists – in the same way that Egypt cracked down on Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood (Al Jazeera, December 29, 2013). A past indication highlighting a means of justification occurred when the nationalist government labeled Libya Dawn (the Islamist-dominated armed coalition supporting the General National Congress) as a terrorist group on the same level as Ansar al-Sharia (Wehrey and Lacher, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 6, 2014; St. John, Libya: Continuity and Change, May 15, 2015); which is identical to incidents when Egyptian authorities claimed that Islamists were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization (Al Jazeera, December 29, 2013).
  6. The level of inclusion of former Qaddafi officials. Contrary to an Islamist victory where the government would ban former Qaddafi officials from power, the nationalist government would likely allow Qaddafi officials to participate. During the civil war, the Council of Representatives took legislative action to allow former Qaddafi officials to be involved in politics, and made no effort to purge its military forces of Qaddafi military officers. Past indications occurred when the Council of Representatives revoked the 2013 Political Isolation Law that banned Qaddafi officials from participating in government (BBC News, February 2, 2015); when the nationalist coalition included “elements of the Qaddafi-era armed forces” (Watanabe, Center for Security Studies, June 21, 2016); and when the political advisor of the head of the Council of Representatives, Abdallah Atamna, confirmed that “some officers inside the army led by General Khalifa Haftar are supporters of Qaddafi” and that the Council of Representatives itself included “members and workers who are Qaddafi supporters,” (Libya Prospect, October 26, 2016).
  7. The willingness of pro-Qaddafi tribes to change their allegiance to the nationalist government. If Salafist groups – particularly the Islamic State – are being progressively defeated by the nationalist forces, and if the nationalist government announces its inclusion of former Qaddafi allies, the pro-Qaddafi tribes that had ties to Salafist groups will likely be more willing to shift their allegiance to the government. If the desire to regain political influence in the sole Libyan government (like these tribes had under Qaddafi’s regime) is strong, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  8. The ability of Salafist groups to reinforce their ranks. By denouncing the new nationalist government, the Salafists can launch a new propaganda campaign calling for jihadists to come to Libya and overthrow the kafir government in hopes of establishing a true Islamic state. Especially if the pro-Qaddafi tribes shift their support to the government, Salafist groups will face a shortage in fighters and may be forced to heavily recruit from outside the country. The ability to increase its ranks of fighters will allow Salafist groups to renew the insurgency.
  9. The level of territorial defeat that cause the Salafists to change strategy. Libya’s complex civil war has fostered an environment where Salafist groups can hold territory and govern the inhabitants as Islamic semi-states (notably Derna and Sirte). However, once the nationalist forces defeat the Islamists, the Salafist groups will be the last remaining opponents that hinder the reconstruction of Libya. If nationalist forces – possibly with the military support of external actors – launch military operations to reclaim Salafist-held areas and begin to make significant progress, there is the possibility that these groups could shift to a more decentralized, state-less strategy driven by assassinations and deadly attacks on civilian populations. Ryan and Johnston discuss the Islamic State’s progressive loss of territory and a similar strategic shift beginning to take shape (War on the Rocks, October 18, 2016). In their report on jihadist strategy and centralized vs. decentralized strategies (War on the Rocks, November 10, 2016), Clarke and Gartenstein-Ross discuss the strategy shift faced by ISIS leaders that Libyan Salafist groups would also face in the midst of territorial loss.
  10. Ability of the new government to integrate militias into the new military. If the new government continues to rely on a mix of military units and militias without integrating the latter under the same chain of command (the militias that were loyal to Operation Dignity) to fulfill the role of the military, the government risks losing the cohesion of its coalition, and therefore will not be able to sufficiently address the Salafist insurgency.
  11. Ability of the government to eliminate, or at least contain, the Salafist groups. In order to contain and eliminate this insurgency, the government will need a strong, centralized military and external assistance. A capable fighting force also needs a leader that can successfully destroy Salafist strongholds. A past indication occurred when General Haftar and his coalition successfully defeated and repelled Salafist groups from areas in eastern Libya, although at the alleged expense of excessive collateral damage (Chorin, Forbes, September 16, 2016).
  12. The level of support offered by external actors to help stabilize Libya. The United States and European Union will likely offer various types of support, particularly to address the massive migration problem stemming from Libya’s shores. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates will also likely assist the new nationalist government as part of their regional interest to undermine and ultimately prevent political Islamic movements from coming to power. The likelihood of a successful nationalist Libya increases as the level of support offered to the new government by the international community increases. However, countries like Turkey and Qatar – who are pro-Islamist and backed the Islamist coalition – will likely denounce the new government as illegitimate when it takes action to ban Islamist movements.
  13. The severity of the migration crisis. Europe’s migrant crisis will play a key role in how quickly the European Union recognizes the government’s legitimacy and offers support. If the number of refugees heading towards Europe significantly decreases by the time the nationalist government takes power, the EU may not be as quick to grant recognition without first seeing what type of government lies just across the Mediterranean (especially focused on the incorporation of democratic values). However, if the migrant flow remains steady or increases, Europe may forsake caution in order to gain the nationalist government’s assistance in mitigating the migrant flow from Libya.
  14. The UK’s willingness to act unilaterally to mitigate the migrant crisis. If the European Union is still experiencing a migrant crisis and has no viable solutions, the United Kingdom may act unilaterally to drastically reduce the number of migrants coming from Libya’s shores. A past indication occurred when the UK offered drones and warships to combat the human smuggling networks in Libya that facilitate the migrant flow (RT, May 18, 2015).
  15. The level of Russia’s desire to be involved in a post-war Libya led by a nationalist government. There are several incentives that could convince Moscow to play a large role in Libya after the nationalists achieve military victory. First, the new Libyan military would need to be rebuilt from the ground up, meaning significant arms deals and military training by foreign advisers. Second, Libya will need new technology to boost its oil production. Third, a friendly Libyan government may offer Russia the chance to expand its oil interests in the country. Fourth, Libya will need help rebuilding its entire country, which could offer Russia the chance to gain influence and acquire a key ally in the region. This could also gain Moscow the use of key Libyan ports in the Mediterranean. Past indications that support Russian incentives occurred when Russian companies had significant investments in Libya’s oil and gas sectors just prior to the 2011 revolution (which highlights the fact that Russia indeed has energy interests there) (Deutsche Welle, August 31, 2011); when Libyan oil producers set a meeting in Moscow with Russian companies to discuss Libya’s need for Russian technology in the oil industry (Sputnik, May 19, 2016); when Russia was the only country that was willing to print currency for the central bank branch under the nationalist government – despite the fact that a unity government already existed (Lewis, Reuters, June 3, 2016); when General Haftar made an official request to the Russian government to supply his military forces with weapons and military equipment (which highlights the serious potential for Russia to be the military supplier of a nationalist government) (Libyan Express, September 28, 2016); and when Russian military advisers allegedly arrived in eastern Libya to support Haftar’s nationalist forces – which may indicate Russia’s preference for General Haftar and the nationalist coalition (The Libya Observer, November 8, 2016).

Bibliography

Feature Photo: Posted on the Council of Representatives Facebook page, May 30, 2016

Adam Nathan, “Militiaman who became Libya’s oil kingpin,” Politico, August 25, 2016

Aidan Lewis, “Separate banknotes symbols of Libyan disunity, financial disarray,” Reuters, June 3, 2016

“Amazigh Supreme Council boycotts Libyan Constitutional Assembly election,” Nationalia, February 21, 2014

Andrew McGregor, “Tripoli Battles Shadowy Qaddafists While Tribal Rivals Fight Over Southern Libya,” The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor, January 23, 2014

Colin Clarke and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, “How Will Jihadist Strategy Evolve as the Islamic State Declines?” War on the Rocks, November 10, 2016

“Egypt widens crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, December 29, 2013

Ethan Chorin, “A ‘Rogue’ General is Breaking Libya’s Stalemate,” Forbes, September 16, 2016

Frederic Wehrey and Wolfram Lacher, “Libya’s Legitimacy Crisis,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 6, 2014

“Gaddafi supporters and Haftar” Libya Prospect, October 26, 2016

“Haftar asks Russia to lift arms embargo and to apply the Syrian scenario in Libya,” Libyan Express, September 28, 2016

Jason Pack and Haley Cook, “Breaking the Libyan Oil Blockade,” Majalla, December 9, 2013

“Libya Needs Russian Technology to Return Country’s Oil Industry to Normal,” Sputnik, May 19, 2016

“Libya revokes bill which banned Gaddafi-era officials from office,” BBC News, February 2, 2015

“Libya’s former rebels to keep oil flowing amid Islamist surge,” CIPPE, September 4, 2014

Lisa Watanabe, “Libya – in the Eye of the Storm,” Center for Security Studies, June 2016

“Mapping Libya’s armed groups,” Al Jazeera, June 2, 2014

“Migrant crisis: UK offers drones, warships to help tackle human traffickers in Libya,” RT, August 26, 2015

Patrick Ryan and Patrick B. Johnston, “After the Battle for Mosul, Get Ready for the Islamic State to go Underground,” War on the Rocks, October 18, 2016

Ronald Bruce St. John, Libya: Continuity and Change, Routledge, May 15, 2015

“Russian experts are supporting Haftar’s forces via Egyptian-Emirati assistance,” The Libya Observer, November 8, 2016

“Russian business interests are casualty of Libyan conflict,” Deutsche Welle, August 31, 2011

Sami Zaptia, “A wider political settlement is a prerequisite to increased Libyan oil production? Analysis,” Libya Herald, July 27, 2016

Wolfram Lacher, “Libya’s Fractious South and Regional Instability,” Security Assessment in North Africa, February 2014

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 3.1 An Islamist Libya

In our previous article we detailed three sub-scenarios of combined partition and spill over where Libya disappears as such through the creation of three new states, while consequent weaknesses is the cause of spill over to neighboring nations. We thus concluded the series of scenarios 2, which depicted a continuing civil war but with different terms, i.e. change of terrain or actors (see Mitchell, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya Within the Next Three to Five Years,” June 1, 2015; and Lavoix, “How to Analyze Future Security Threats (4): Scenarios and War,” December 30, 2013). This article focuses on the first of the two possible scenarios detailing a total victory in Libya, either by the Islamists or the nationalists. Scenario 3.1 and its sub-scenarios will discuss a total victory by the Islamist government and armed factions, where Libya becomes an Islamist state ruled by Sharia law. In scenario 3.2 and its sub-scenarios, we shall discuss a victory by the nationalist government and its coalition.

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Note: Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for those that supported the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note those that supported the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafist will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.

Sub-scenario 3 – A Real Victory in Libya

In this scenario, a “real victory” refers to the cessation of major hostilities resulting from a belligerent’s military domination of the other. Once a belligerent militarily defeats the other, it will be in a position to rebuild Libya as either an Islamist or secular state.

After achieving military victory, the triumphant government begins the stabilization and peacebuilding processes necessary to rebuild the Libyan state. The victorious government faces the arduous tasks of uniting the country, finding a solution to control the various militias, preventing a renewed insurgency by the vanquished, and achieving both domestic and international legitimacy.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of exhaustion suffered by each side. Heightened levels of exhaustion will decrease the likelihood of a real military victory and increase the likelihood of a peace settlement or uniting under a unity government.
  2. The level of resolve by each side to achieve a military victory instead of submitting to a peace agreement. Considering the Islamists’ level of hatred for General Haftar, and Haftar’s hatred for Islamist groups, both sides have a high level of resolve to achieve military victory. The higher the level of resolve, the more likely this scenario is to occur.
  3. The level of each side’s military strength. If one side is able to continue recruiting fighters, increase its troop strength levels, and gain advantages with air and ground power while the other side progressively loses military strength, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  4. The ability of one side to make territorial gains. A real military victory depends on the conqueror’s ability to take and hold territory. Territorial gains by one side and consequential territory loss by the other increase the likelihood of scenario 3 occurring.
  5. The level of military assistance provided by external actors. External military assistance has a large impact on the battlefield. Depending on the level of support, the likelihood of this scenario increases. Past indications occurred when Turkey and Qatar allegedly provided arms and political support to the Islamists (Kirkpatrick and Schmitt, The New York Times, August 25, 2014; Tastekin, Al-Monitor, December 4, 2014), while Egypt and the United Arab Emirates provided military assistance to the nationalists (McGregor, Terrorism Monitor, September 5, 2014; Wenig, The Washington Institute).
  6. The presence of extremist groups that are opposed to both sides. If extremist groups fighting both coalitions have a strong presence in Libya, both the Islamists and nationalists will have added complications to achieving a military victory. Groups like the Islamic State force both sides to divert military forces and other assets – thus decreasing the likelihood of this scenario. A past indication occurred when the Islamic State stronghold in Sirte forced both the Islamist and nationalist coalitions to divert forces to prevent the Islamic State from gaining additional territory and launching attacks on their populations (Kadlec, War on the Rocks, June 23, 2016).

Sub-scenario 3.1 An Islamist Libya

Mohamed Hassan Swaan. President of Libya’s Justice and Construction Party

The Islamist government – dominated by the Justice and Construction Party (considered an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood) – gradually begins directing Libya towards an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. If the government decides to increase its domestic legitimacy with Libya’s mixed population of secularists, Islamists, Arabs, Tuareg, Amazigh, and Toubou, it allows secular liberal freedoms to exist, and allows the tribes to maintain their tribal courts and councils. Despite being allowed to maintain their tribal governance, the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou tribes continue to be marginalized in the Islamist government. Libya’s new government works to keep the peace between the tribes in the south, but does not make an effort to fully include the minority tribes. However, if the Islamist government is pressured enough to immediately make Libya a strict Islamic state, it removes secular liberal freedoms and attempts to impose Sharia on tribal courts and councils. Considering the tribal beliefs and organization of the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou (see Mitchell, Tribal Dynamics and Civil War I, II, and III), as well as their inability to match the military strength of the government, the tribes feel forced to submit to a Libyan Sharia state – and thus progressively turn again, with time, towards insurgency.

Once the Islamist government takes power, Turkey and Qatar are among the first states to recognize its legitimacy – considering their interest in supporting Sunni Islamist governments. The EU and U.S. also recognize the new government as a way to prevent spill over and act as a bulwark against Libya’s extremist groups. Not wanting a Muslim Brotherhood state as its neighbor, Egypt expresses its opposition to the legitimacy of the new Islamist government.

After initiating steps to implement Sharia law, the Libyan Islamist government immediately passes a binding law that excludes anyone once affiliated with Qaddafi’s regime from obtaining any positions in local or national government as well as the court systems and armed forces. Following the passage of this political exclusion law, the new government takes legal action to exclude military officers and politicians that were steadfastly loyal to General Haftar. To protect the integrity and cohesion of its new political system, the Islamist government fills its various ministries with leaders that were loyal throughout the civil war – notably those from the Islamist and Misrata factions. In response to being excluded from ministerial positions, Haftar loyalists protest the new government, and eventually join small guerilla movements that continued on after military defeat. This leads to scenarios that we shall detail later.

Followers of Ansar al-Sharia (a Salafist group) protest in Benghazi (2012)

Although the Islamists differed from the Salafists during the conflict, they worked together to defeat the nationalist coalition. With the nationalists defeated and the Islamist government in power, the Salafist groups demand the strictest interpretation of Sharia be immediately implemented throughout the country. If the government follows the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy of gradualism (see The Clarion Project’s special report on the Muslim Brotherhood) and has the necessary amount of force to protect itself against a Salafist insurgency, it decides to refrain from immediately implementing strict Sharia law in Libya. However, if it cannot afford to repel a brutal insurgency by a variety of strong Salafist groups, the Islamist government capitulates and decides to make Libya a strict Sharia state.

This scenario can thus evolve in two outcome scenarios. In the first scenario, the government is strong enough to maintain a state that includes liberal freedoms at first, and then gradually transitions to an Islamic state. However, once the state reaches a point where all Libyans must adhere to strict Sharia law, the tribes and secularists begin turning towards insurgency. In the second scenario, the government is forced to immediately implement strict Sharia law by the threat of a deadly Salafist insurgency, which hastens a return to insurgency, however in a weakened, hidden way at first.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 3.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of power that the Justice and Construction Party hold in the government. If the Justice and Construction Party holds the majority of the seats in the new government, the likelihood of an eventual strict Sharia scenario increases, nonetheless following the gradual policy favoured by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, if the National Forces Alliance gains more power than the Justice and Construction Party, the likelihood of this scenario decreases. The National Forces Alliance is the main contender to the Justice and Construction Party in the Islamist government; it “rejects political Islam”; and recognizes Islam as a source of law, but maintains a more liberal stance on the rights of non-Muslims (Thorne, The Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 2012). A past indication occurred when the National Forces Alliance took the majority of seats in the General National Congress during the 2012 election (Karadsheh, CNN, July 18, 2012). However, as the Islamist obtained a military victory, everything will depend upon their willingness to allow for power-sharing, first, and, second, upon the remaining strength and capabilities of the defeated factions to still act as a political force (see indicator 7).
  2. The willingness of the new government to allow secular liberal freedoms to coexist with Sharia law. If the Islamists want to increase domestic legitimacy in a complex population, it makes an attempt to create a flexible Islamist state where secular liberal freedoms and Sharia coexist – although this would be a very complicated endeavor and too complex to detail here. After the Arab Spring, Tunisia successfully created a new constitution that made Islam that official religion of the state and still allowed secular liberal freedoms (Kranz, The Gate, January 20, 2015), but the dynamics of Libya’s post-civil war environment may severely complicate attempts to create a similar mixed system.
  3. The willingness of the government to allow tribes to retain their councils and court systems. If the Islamists want to gain legitimacy among the Amazigh, Tuareg and Toubou tribes, they will not impose Sharia, and instead allow them to maintain their tribal councils and courts as their source of law for personal status issues.
  4. The government’s level of tribal inclusion in the political system. By not giving the tribes full representation in the political system, the Islamist government risks losing any and all legitimacy with the minority tribes. A past indication occurred when these tribes felt underrepresented in the Constitutional Drafting Committee and protested the General National Congress that did not allow them more representation (Minority Rights Group International, State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2014 – Libya, July 3, 2014).
  5. Level of pressure on the new government to implement strict Sharia law. Once the Islamist government takes power, the Salafist groups will likely demand an immediate implementation of strict Sharia law across the country. Considering the Islamists’ (i.e. Muslim Brotherhood) long-term strategy of gradually progressing to a strict Sharia state by winning the hearts and minds of the people (see The Clarion Project’s special report on the Muslim Brotherhood; and MEMRI’s Special Dispatch No. 3969 on implementing Sharia in phases), the government is not willing to submit to the Salafists’ demand. The only way the government might be pressured to speed up its implementation process is if it were threatened by a significant Salafist insurgency and could not survive another civil war.
  6. The international community’s willingness to recognize the Islamist government as the legitimate government. If the international community recognizes the legitimacy of the new Islamist government, the stabilization and peacebuilding processes will likely benefit as a result of assistance from other countries. The willingness to recognize the new government depends on the level of democracy incorporated in the new Libyan state, as well as a state’s view on Islamist governments. For example, Egypt’s experience with the Muslim Brotherhood (BBC News, December 25, 2013) will likely cause the Egyptian government to withhold recognition of an Islamist Libyan government. The EU and U.S. will be more willing to recognize its legitimacy if the new government holds democratic elections and appears to oppose Salafist’s calls for strict Sharia law. Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, and Chad would likely recognize this Islamist government – particularly if it took steps to crack down on spill over.
  7. The willingness to exclude former adversaries from government. The Islamists’ level of hatred and opposition to General Haftar may significantly increase their willingness to exclude his loyal supporters from political roles. If the government does not pass legislation on excluding Haftar loyalists, it may simply fill ministerial positions with faithful allies, such as politicians and military leaders from Misrata and Tripoli. The new government may also take steps to exclude former Gaddafi supports from political positions. If it doesn’t actively take steps to exclude Gaddafi officials, its loyal supporters may protest and force the government to do so. A past indication occurred when the General National Congress passed the Political Isolation Law (allegedly under duress) to prevent former Qaddafi supporters from participating in local or state government (Full Text: Libya’s Political Isolation Law, May 16, 2013; Abadeer, Muftah, May 9, 2013).
  8. The level of commitment to a gradualist strategy in spite of Salafists’ demands to immediately implement Sharia law. If the Islamist government is willing to risk a Salafist insurgency to maintain its gradualist strategy of implementing Sharia, the likelihood of this scenario increases. However, this largely depends on its ability to protect the people from a Salafist insurgency (see indicator below), as well as what phase the government is in regarding their gradualist goals of a Libyan Sharia state and the overall Caliphate. The less phases achieved by the government in gradually implementing strict Sharia law will likely keep them committed to a gradualist strategy. If they are in the later stages of gradualism, they may be more likely to rush the last stages in order to avoid tension with the Salafists.
  9. The ability of the government to protect itself against a Salafist insurgency. If the Islamist government does not have a functioning military or enough loyal armed groups at its disposal, it will not be able to sufficiently protect the Libyan people from a Salafist insurgency. If that is the case, and if the government decides it cannot afford another civil war, it may capitulate and turn Libya towards a strict Islamic state.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Misrata fighters pose outside the Ouagadougou Conference Hall in Sirte after capturing it from Islamic State forces, posted on The Libya Observer Facebook page, 10 August 2016

Amanda Kadlec, “All Eyes on Sirte: Beating the Islamic State, but Losing Libya,” War on the Rocks, June 23, 2016

Andrew McGregor, “Egypt, the UAE and Arab Military Intervention in Libya,” Terrorism Monitor, Volume 12, Issue 17, September 5, 2014

“Article on Muslim Brotherhood Website: Implement Shari’a in Phases,” The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Special Dispatch No. 3969, July 5, 2011

Caroline Abadeer, “Full Text: Libya’s Political Isolation Law,” Muftah, May 16, 2013

Caroline Abadeer, “The Libyan General National Congress Ratifies Political Isolation Law,” Muftah, May 9, 2013

David D. Kirkpatrick and Eric Schmitt, “Arab Nations Strike in Libya, Surprising U.S.,” The New York Times, August 25, 2014

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

Elliot Friedland, “Special Report: The Muslim Brotherhood,” The Clarion Project, June 2015

Erica Wenig, “Egypt’s Security and the Libyan Civil War,” The Washington Institute

Fehim Tastekin, “Turkey’s war in Libya,” Al-Monitor, December 4, 2014

John Thorne, “Neither liberal nor Islamist: Who are Libya’s frontrunners?” The Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 2012

Jomana Karadsheh, “Liberal coalition makes strides in historic Libyan election,” CNN, July 18, 2012

Jon Mitchell and Helene Lavoix, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya within the Next Three to Five Years,” The Red Team Analysis Society, June 1, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1),” The Red Team Analysis Society, April 13, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (2),” The Red Team Analysis Society, April 20, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (3),” The Red Team Analysis Society, May 11, 2015

Michal Kranz, “The Tunisian Miracle: A Marriage of Moderate Islam and Secular Democracy,” The Gate, January 20, 2015

Minority Rights Group International, “State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2014 – Libya,” July 3, 2014

“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, December 25, 2013

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2.4 Partition and Spill Over

In our previous article, we detailed a partition scenario where Libya splits into independent states along tribal and provincial lines, as well as a north-south axis, and in the one before, we focused on various possible spill over. This article focuses on a combination of the two cases, partition and spill over scenarios. In the first scenario, the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou tribes outright declare independence and break away from the Libyan state, which leads to significant spill over in Algeria, Niger, and Chad. In the second scenario, Libya is partitioned along provincial lines, which leads to spill over in all directions. In the last scenario, Libya splits apart along a north-south axis located through Sirte, and bordering countries experience similar spill over.

Provincial: Provincial refers to Libya’s three provinces – Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan

Note: Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for those that supported the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note those that supported the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafist will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.

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Sub-scenario 2.4 Partition and Spill Over

Unresolved political grievances, exclusion from political power, tribalism, lack of faith in a unity government, economic insecurity, and the lack of security contribute to Libya’s partition. Libya is partitioned into mini-states that each pursue its own interests and don’t participate in a cohesive security plan, while surrounding countries begin to experience spill over. A combination of partition and spill over significantly alters the region, and draws neighboring countries further into Libya’s conflict and instability.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.4 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The stability level of bordering countries. If bordering countries suffer from instability, they are more susceptible to spillover effects than more stable countries. The lower the stability level of a state, the more likely this scenario will occur. For example, Niger is already plagued by Boko Haram, institutional weakness, lack of development, and a deteriorating political climate, which makes it highly susceptible to experiencing spillover from the Libyan conflict (Jezequel and Cherbib, International Crisis Group, February 19, 2016; Melly and Shepherd, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 19, 2016).
  2. The strength of transnational tribal ties. As discussed in Tribal Dynamics and Civil War I, II, and III, tribalism plays a significant role in Libya. Any conflict involving the Tuareg or Toubou runs the risk of spilling over throughout the region – considering their tribal ties extend across various state borders in North Africa. Conflict between the Tuareg and Toubou over vital smuggling routes, in particular, increases the likelihood of spillover.
  3. The length of the war in Libya. The longer the war in Libya continues, the higher the likelihood that it spills over. The length of war increases the number of refugees, potentially allows Salafist groups the time to expand their capabilities, and creates a demand for transnational arms and militant smuggling.
  4. The level of exhaustion from years of conflict. The longer the conflict continues, the more likely the involved actors succumb to exhaustion. Higher levels of exhaustion from conflict increase the likelihood of the competing sides to settle for partition, rather than full victory.
  5. Willingness to partition Libya into independent states, rather than unite as one people. If the rival governments are more willing to partition the country and Libyan people rather than unite for the sake of Libya’s future, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  6. Indicators 2, 3, 4, and 5 of sub-scenario 2.3 act here in a similar way.
  7. Indicators 2 and 3 of sub-scenario 2.2 act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.4.1 Partition Along Tribal Lines, Spill Over in Bordering Countries

Libyan and Amazigh flags flying side by side

As discussed in our previous article, the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou tribes increasingly see that their involvement in the conflict is helping preserve a Libyan state that fails to include them. With ideas of autonomy progressively escalating to independence, the tribes decide to declare full independence from Libya and establish their own tribal states ruled by tribal councils and courts. As a result, southern Libya is partitioned away, and a small Amazigh state in the north is carved out.

With Libya’s southern trade routes as their only economic base (with the exception of the El Sharara oil field), the Tuareg and Toubou states clash for control. This continued conflict between the two tribes – now independent states – spills over to the Tuareg and Toubou in Niger, Chad, and Algeria. Some of the Tuareg in Algeria cross over to help their tribesmen in Libya, while Toubou fighters from Niger and Chad cross into Libya as well.

Furthermore, economic dependence of the new tribal countries on the trade routes allows spill over of drugs, arms, illicit goods, and jihadists into Chad, Niger, and Algeria. Tensions increase when the bordering countries deploy more forces to secure their sides of Libya’s border. With Tuareg tribes in Algeria and Niger wanting to expand the Tuareg state, as well as Toubou tribes in Chad and Niger wanting to expand the Toubou state in former southern Libya, these bordering countries face growing tribal movements that threaten their country’s stability and borders. Similar to the Northern Mali conflict in 2012, conditions are created in Algeria, Niger, and Chad that lead to open insurgencies by the tribes; however, these are new conflicts and would require new scenarios to fully understand their depth.

Tribal conflict and subsequent insurgencies in northern Niger, southeastern Algeria, and southwestern Libya may temporarily disrupt the migrant flow that goes through Ghat. In that case, migrant flows might shift to smuggling routes through Algeria and Egypt. Even if tribal partition and subsequent conflict temporarily disrupt migrant routes going through southwestern Libya, continuing conflict between the Islamists and nationalists prevent them from fully controlling the masses of migrants already in northern Libya that are poised to cross the Mediterranean.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.4.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of reliance on the southern trade routes. If trade routes offer the sole form of economic sufficiency and prosperity, it is highly likely that spill over will occur as a result – whether in the form of jihadists, drugs, arms, migrants, or illicit goods. According to Global Risk Insights, “the Fezzan region is at the core of this booming lawlessness” (Global Risk Insights, August 28, 2016), which supports our notion that independent tribal states in Fezzan will lead to spill over.
  2. Control of the El Sharara oil field. If one of the new tribal states gains control of the El Sharara oil field and is able to exploit it for economic gain, total reliance on the trade routes may be mitigated – which could decrease the levels of resulting spill over. However, one tribe’s control of the oil field could simultaneously spark tribal conflict over its control, thus leading to tribal spill over. A past indication occurred when Tuareg and Toubou fighters – backed by Misrata and Zintan, respectively – fought for control of the oil field in 2014 (Al Jazeera, December 5, 2014).
  3. The level of conflict that can shift migrant routes. If tribal conflict significantly escalates to a regional level with tribal fighters coming from Algeria, Niger, and Chad, it may cause migrant smugglers to avoid the major routes through Ghat and instead pursue migrant routes through Algeria and Egypt. Pursuing alternative migrant routes increases the likelihood of this scenario occurring.
  4. Indicators 1-6 of sub-scenario 2.3 act here in a similar way.
  5. Indicators 1-4 of sub-scenario 2.3.1 act here in a similar way.
  6. Indicators 1-10 of sub-scenario 2.2.2 act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.4.2 Partition Along Provincial Lines, Spill Over in Bordering Countries

After reaching a military stalemate, but not wanting to submit to a government dominated by the enemy, the Islamists, Misratans, nationalists, and tribes look for an alternative. With faith in their own abilities to fulfill state functions, and having no hope for a unity government, the competing sides partition Libya along provincial lines and declare self-governing states (see Mitchell, “Sc 2.3 Libya’s Partition” for an in-depth narrative on provincial partition). In this case, the Tuareg and Toubou tribes agree to share power if it means having their own state in southern Libya.

Although the Tuareg and Toubou tribes share power in the Fezzan province, they are still economically dependent on the trade routes. This allows jihadists, migrant smugglers, drug smugglers, and arms smugglers to operate freely – crossing the borders of Libya’s neighbors and going into Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. The tribal state’s dependence on the trade routes causes smuggling rates to drastically increase. Once smugglers and jihadists cross over into the northern and eastern provinces (now “states”), they spill over into Europe, Egypt, and Tunisia. As the new states of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica prioritize the removal of Salafist threats, jihadists begin to shift their operations to bordering countries. Tunisia – which is already particularly susceptible to Tunisian-born jihadists returning from regional conflicts – begins to see an increase in terrorist attacks as jihadists migrate from northern Libya. Jihadists also begin to spill over to Algeria, Niger, Chad, and Egypt to join with other Al-Qaida or Islamic State groups. Egypt works with the eastern state of Cyrenaica to secure Egypt’s western border (see further details in sub-scenario 2.4.3). With Egypt’s assistance, nationalist forces in Cyrenaica are able to put heavy pressure on Salafist groups, which cause Salafist groups in the Sinai to support their fellow jihadists in Libya by increasing their attacks against Egypt.

With the three states of former Libya focused on building their own states, clashing over natural resources, and attempting to put down rivals, the migrant crisis continues to expand. Not having the ability or not wanting to waste precious funding on migrant masses, the northern and eastern states allow migrants on Libya’s shores to cross over into Europe. Unless Europe provides resources to help the new Libyan states deal with the large numbers of migrants, migrant spill over ensues and further exacerbates Europe’s migrant crisis.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.4.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The ability or desire to care for and contain migrants on Libya’s shore. With security efforts, the rebuilding of critical infrastructure, and the provision of basic social services likely taking priority after a partition, the new states would not have the ability or desire to care for and contain roughly 235,000 refugees and migrants on their shores. The lack of ability or desire to care for migrants can be seen in Libya’s current migrant detention centers, where detained migrants are reportedly “coerced into hard labor, beaten by guards, and cramped into tiny cells with little food or water…” (Alfred, Huffington Post, May 27, 2016). Without European assistance or pressure, it is likely that these conditions for migrants would persist after partition.
  2. The willingness of Europe to provide assistance in containing the migrant flow. If the European Union is willing to provide assistance to the new Libyan states to contain the migrant flows, the likelihood of this scenario decreases. A past indication occurred when the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding to help train Libyan coast guard and naval forces in preventing illegal migration across the Mediterranean (STRATFOR, August 24, 2016).
  3. Indicators 1 and 2 of sub-scenario 2.4.1 act here in a similar way.
  4. Indicators 1-6 of sub-scenario 2.3 act here in a similar way.
  5. Indicators 1 and 2 of sub-scenario 2.3.2 act here in a similar way.
  6. Indicators 1-10 of sub-scenario 2.2.2 act here in a similar way.
  7. Indicators 1-7 of sub-scenario 2.2.3 act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.4.3 Partition Along North-South Axis, Spill Over in Bordering Countries

The primary difference between this scenario and 2.4.2 is that the tribes maintain their alliances with the competing governments and agree to the east-west split, rather than form their own tribal states (see Mitchell, “Sc 2.3 Libya’s Partition” for an in-depth narrative on partition along a north-south axis). Furthermore, smuggling trends will not inflate to levels that would be seen in a 2.4.1 or 2.4.2 scenario where tribal states are reliant on the trade routes for state income. Rather, a partition along a north-south axis would allow the western Libya state to tap into oil resources and commercial trade instead of relying on smuggling.

Similar to sub-scenario 2.4.2, the competing sides are exhausted by civil war, but are unwilling to unite under one government. With the support of the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou, the rival governments partition Libya along a north-south axis – with the axis starting in Sirte and going through to the southern Libyan border.

Similar to the previous sub-scenario, the two new Libyan states are unwilling or unable to accommodate the large groups of migrants on their northern shores, and thus allow them to spill over to Europe. Furthermore, the two states are focused on destroying Salafist strongholds within their respective borders, which inadvertently causes spill over in all directions. As Salafist strongholds come down, jihadists begin migrating to neighboring countries with Al-Qaida or Islamic State groups – such as Algeria, Niger, Tunisia, and Egypt.

To secure its western border, Egypt invests heavily in the eastern Libyan state’s security forces – likely in the form of training and weapons. As Libya’s Salafist groups come under extreme pressure by the nationalist forces, Wilayat Sinai begins to increasingly attack Egyptian targets in retaliation for Egypt’s assistance to the eastern Libyan state. The cooperation between the eastern Libyan state and Egypt focused against Salafist groups prompts Wilayat Sinai to put out a global call of support for its struggle against Egypt. Unless Egypt withdraws its military support of the nationalist government and its new state, spill over from Libya increases Egypt’s instability.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.4.3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The ability of the new states to provide alternate economic opportunities to southern tribes. Since the Tuareg and Toubou will be included in the new states, they will be able to benefit from the economic opportunities in the north – at least more so than if they had their own tribal states. If the new states invest in economic development for the tribes, and or include them in the economic benefits of oil exports, the tribes would be less reliant on smuggling routes. As a result, there would be less spill over from the smuggling routes, and the likelihood of this scenario would decrease.
  2. Indicators 1 and 2 of sub-scenario 2.4.2 act here in a similar way.
  3. Indicators 1, 2, 3, and 5 of sub-scenario 2.3 act here in a similar way.
  4. Indicators 1-3 of sub-scenario 2.3.3 act here in a similar way.
  5. Indicators 1-10 of sub-scenario 2.2.2 act here in a similar way.
  6. Indicators 1-7 of sub-scenario 2.2.3 act here in a similar way.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Photo posted on King Robbo Twitter page, 21 September 2016

“A fierce battle for control in Libya’s desert,” Al Jazeera, December 5, 2014

Charlotte Alfred, “Libya is Saving Migrants at Sea, only to Trap Them in Dire Conditions on Land,” Huffington Post, May 27, 2016

Jean-Herve Jezequel and Hamza Cherbib, “Presidential Elections in Niger: Tense Climate, Uncertain Future,” International Crisis Group, February 19, 2016

Jon Mitchell, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2.3 Libya’s Partition,” The Red Team Analysis Society, September 12, 2016

“Libya, EU come to an Agreement on Migrants,” STRATFOR, August 24, 2016

“Libya’s Collapse is Changing North Africa,” Global Risk Insights, August 28, 2016

Paul Melly and Ben Shepherd, “Stability and vulnerability in the Sahel: the regional roles and internal dynamics of Chad and Niger,” Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 2016

The Libyan War Spills Over to Egypt, Algeria, Niger and Europe – Scenarios for the Future of Libya

This article is the second of our series focusing on scenarios depicting the range of spillover that could stem from the Libyan war. In our previous article, we detailed two scenarios of spillover that initiate a renewed war encompassing more than just Libya. We discussed a case of spillover in one direction – where Europe is drawn into this renewed war, as well as spillover in two directions, where Algeria and Niger are also drawn into the war. In this article, we shall conclude the spillover scenarios with a contagion taking place in all directions (west towards Algeria, south towards Niger, east towards Egypt, and north towards Europe).

It is important to note our choices for spillover sub-scenarios. There are many combinations that could occur under spillover conditions, but we have chosen three examples that maybe considered as ideal-types with particular country cases for the sake of brevity: spillover in only one direction (north towards Europe), spillover in two directions (Algeria/Niger), and spillover in all directions (Algeria/Niger/Egypt/Europe). Spillover in all directions, of course, is not limited to just Algeria, Niger, Egypt, and Europe – it can also include Tunisia and Chad. For the sake of brevity, we chose one country in each direction for this scenario. Furthermore, the intensity of and response to spillover plays a key role in these sub-scenarios. The renewed war – now encompassing new actors outside of Libya – is altered significantly as intensity and response levels rise. However, we shall only briefly outline these scenarios, as they are fundamentally new conflicts and would require new scenarios to fully understand their depth.

Migrant/Refugee: For the purposes of the spillover scenarios, we have chosen to use the BBC’s use of the term migrant, which refers to people migrating to other countries that have not yet received asylum (BBC News, March 4, 2016). However, we use the term refugee when referring to Libyans fleeing the discussed conflict.

Note: Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for those that supported the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note those that supported the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafist will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.

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Sub-scenario 2.2.3 Conflict Spills Over in All Directions (Algeria, Niger, Egypt, and Europe)

Smuggling operations crossing the Libyan-Algerian border expand as conflict continue to rage. Islamist militants also utilize the smuggling routes to infiltrate Libya from Algeria and join Salafist groups there. As Algeria increases the security of its border region with Libya, Islamist militants turn to join extremist groups already operating in Algeria, while spreading to other now easier routes, both north, using the sea and boats and south to Niger. Furthermore, conflict between the Toubou and Tuareg tribes over the lucrative smuggling routes causes their kinsmen from Algeria, Niger, and Chad to cross into Libya, while Salafists move even more freely to and from Libya – thus turning the Southern Libya conflict into a regional conflict between tribal forces. See Mitchell, “Libyan War Spills Over to Europe, Algeria, and Niger – Sc 2.2 (1) – Scenarios for the Future of Libya” for a more detailed spillover scenario in Algeria that has already been discussed.

Niger begins to experience spillover from the Libyan conflict as Toubou and Tuareg cross from Niger into Southern Libya. The severity of tribal conflict in Southern Libya determines whether or not conflict breaks out between the Tuareg and Toubou within Niger’s borders. Facing significant pressure in Libya, as well as the threat of international intervention, jihadists begin relocating their operations to Niger. Considering Niger’s instability and already existing threat of Boko Haram, which leads wilayat Gharb Ifriqiyyiah for the Islamic State (see Lavoix, “At War Against the Islamic State – A Global Theatre of War,” updated June 20, 2016) and operated initially essentially in southern Niger – notably in Diffa and Bosso (see June attacks – UN News Centre, June 6, 2016; Donovan, UNHCR, June 7, 2016), the increase of jihadists arriving from Libya prompts a serious military response and increased operations near the Niger-Libyan border. See Mitchell, “Libyan War Spills Over to Europe, Algeria, and Niger – Sc 2.2 (1) – Scenarios for the Future of Libya” for a more detailed spillover scenario in Niger that has already been discussed. Nonetheless, the Salafist fighters coming from Libya and those controlling the South increasingly connect.

Posted on the Official Page for the Military Spokesman of the Armed Forces Facebook page, 30 May 2016

Meanwhile, considering the presence of Islamic State groups already in the Sinai, the spillover from Libya causes greater instability throughout Egypt. Smugglers utilize routes through the Libyan-Egyptian border to covertly transfer drugs, migrants, militants and weapons – all of which undermine Egypt’s stability. The porous border between the two countries allows Salafist groups to move fighters and weapons between strongholds in Libya and the Sinai. General Haftar increasingly uses Egypt’s assistance to train his forces and to receive weapons. As a result, Islamic State militants target remaining Egyptian migrant workers in Libya. Meanwhile, their Salafist brothers in the Sinai begin to increasingly attack Egyptian targets in retaliation for Egypt’s assistance to Haftar’s forces. Wanting to expand their operations and keep pressure on rivals, al-Qaeda affiliates in Libya escalate their attacks on Haftar’s forces in the east, as well as Egyptian forces along the border. Attacks by Salafist groups forces Egypt to militarily strike back in Libya in a series of operations – effectively opening up a second front in its fight against terrorism (Libya to the west, and the Sinai to the east). The target proves however elusive as it now moves increasingly easily also to the south. To retain Egypt’s support, Haftar’s forces exert additional pressure on Salafist groups as punishment. As the nationalists put intense pressure on these Salafist groups, militants are smuggled into the Sinai region to bulk up their group’s capabilities against Cairo. Wilayat Sinai makes a general call to their global supporters to join their war in Egypt, with tremendous impact on an already dwindling tourism.

If Egypt successfully closes its border and prevents weapons and militants from infiltrating, there is the risk that Salafist groups already in Egypt will launch increased attacks against border security targets in order to disrupt their efforts. However, if Egypt is unsuccessful in closing the border, Salafist groups in Libya and the Sinai will be able to reinforce each other with fighters and weapons – depending on the need in each country. Regardless of success or failure to close the border, spillover from the Libyan conflict permeates Egypt, which increases its instability and draws Egypt into the renewed war.

The migrant flow from Libya into Europe increases as Libyan actors forsake some state functions – such as border security – in order to bolster their frontline forces. Salafist groups utilize the migrant flows to smuggle jihadists into Europe to carry out attacks. These jihadist cells originating in Libya begin targeting European populations as an alternative to fighting mounting pressure in Libya. Two new routes to Europe are now opened, one from Algeria and one from Egypt, taxing European capabilities to deal with the rising threat. Furthermore, the deployment of European advisers and Special Forces in support of Libyan actors against Salafist threats also results in jihadists attacking European targets. If Europe is unsuccessful in stopping the migrant flow, it continues to experience terrorist attacks emanating from Libya. If successful, Europe changes the conflict in Libya. With less opportunity to infiltrate European countries, jihadists begin to increasingly target the government and military officials of the other Libyan actors. This, in turn, forces the Islamists and nationalists to focus more on the Salafist groups. With the migrant flow stopped, the refugees and migrants stuck in Libya cause further instability in the coastal regions, join armed groups as an alternative, or head to neighboring countries – all of which affect spillover and the war in Libya. See Mitchell, “Libyan War Spills Over to Europe, Algeria, and Niger – Sc 2.2 (1) – Scenarios for the Future of Libya” for a more detailed spillover scenario in Europe that has already been discussed.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.2.3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The ability of militants to use smuggling routes to infiltrate Egypt. The likelihood of this scenario increases if militants are able to infiltrate Egypt through smuggling routes. With civil war in Libya to the west and Egypt dealing with a Sinai problem to the east, militants are more easily able to utilize established drug, migrant, and weapons trafficking routes to infiltrate Egypt (AhramOnline, October 2, 2015).
  2. The ability of Egypt to effectively patrol its border. With Libya not able to secure its side of the border, the responsibility falls to Egypt to secure the entire border. Already having to deal with jihadists in the Sinai, Egypt will likely not be able to secure the entire Libyan-Egyptian border, which allows smuggling rings to profit by moving drugs, weapons, migrants, and militants to and from Libya. A previous indication of Egypt’s attempt to secure the border occurred when it increased its ground and air presence on the border, as well as reached an agreement with the U.S. in 2015 on a “Border Security Mobile Surveillance Sensor Security System” along the Egyptian-Libyan border (Nkala, DefenseNews, July 26, 2015; Muhlberger, AhramOnline, January 27, 2016).
  3. The stability of Egypt. Egypt’s internal stability determines how much it will be affected by spillover from Libya. The level of economic and political stability, as well as terrorism in the Sinai region, all affect Egypt’s overall stability. Past indications affecting its stability occurred when Egypt’s economy faced currency depreciation and a decrease in tourism and investment (Karuri, Africa News, July 4, 2016); as well jihadist groups continuing an insurgency from the Sinai region (STRATFOR, June 29, 2016).
  4. The level of pressure on Salafist groups to migrate operations towards Egypt. If the Islamists, Misratans, and nationalists put enough pressure on Salafist groups to the point of destroying them completely, the jihadists will likely be more willing to shift their operations to Egypt, which increases the likelihood of this spillover scenario. Geographically, the Salafist hotbed of Derna is very close to the Egyptian border and will most likely be the origin of jihadists fleeing into Egypt if this indication occurs.
  5. The willingness of Egypt to support Haftar and his forces. Egypt’s level of willingness to support Haftar and provide military assistance to his forces will play a role in the Salafists’ level of retaliation. The likelihood of this scenario increases the more Egypt directly supports Haftar. Past indications occurred when Egyptian President El-Sisi called on international support for General Haftar and his National Army (Middle East Monitor, March 18, 2016); when Egypt armed Haftar and the Libyan National Army (Dettmer, Voice of America, May 17, 2016; Toaldo and Fitzgerald, European Council on Foreign Relations, June 15, 2016); and when Egypt offered military training and intelligence assistance in 2014 to the forces under the Tobruk government – which included Haftar and his forces (Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces (2),” December 1, 2014).
  6. The Salafists’ level of retaliation towards Egypt. The level of Salafists’ retaliation towards Egypt is rooted in Egypt’s assistance for the hated General Haftar. The more Egypt supports Haftar’s forces, the higher the level of retaliation. In Libya, Salafists will likely target Egyptian migrants or Egyptian security personnel on the border. Salafist groups operating in the Sinai will likely carry out attacks within Egypt as retaliation for events in Libya.
  7. The willingness of al-Qaeda to intensify its presence in Libya and Egypt. If al-Qaeda begins to lose influence as a result of pressure from other Libyan actors, it may try to intensify its presence in Libya. Furthermore, if instability continues to increase in Egypt, and if Islamic State groups in the Sinai are seeing greater success, al-Qaeda may attempt to increase its presence their as well. In either case, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  8. Indicators 1-8 of sub-scenario 2.2.1 also act here in a similar way.
  9. Indicators 1-10 of sub-scenario 2.2.2 also act here in a similar way.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Still from “New ISIS Video Shows Recruits Training in Sinai Peninsula, Egypt,” April 4, 2016

“Assessing the Jihadist Threat in Egypt: The Sinai Peninsula,” STRATFOR, June 29, 2016

“Attacks by Boko Haram continue in Niger’s Diffa region, forcing more people to flee – UN,” UN News Centre, June 6, 2016

“Egypt’s army sometimes operates beyond border to ‘chase smuggler’: Libyan FM,” Ahram Online, October 2, 2015

Helene Lavoix, “At War Against the Islamic State – A Global Theatre of War,” The Red Team Analysis Society, November 23, 2015

Jamie Dettmer, “Will Arming Libya’s ‘Unity’ Government Escalate Conflict?” Voice of America, May 17, 2016

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces (2),” The Red Team Analysis Society, December 1, 2014

Ken Karuri, “Egyptian pound facing another devaluation as dollar shortage persists,” Africa News, July 4, 2016

Louise Donovan, “Thousands flee Boko Haram attack on Niger town,” UNHCR, June 7, 2016

Mattia Toaldo and Mary Fitzgerald, “A Quick Guide to Libya’s Main Players,” European Council on Foreign Relations, June 15, 2016

“Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts,” BBC News, March 4, 2016

Oscar Nkala, “Tunisia, Egypt Boost Libyan Border Security,” DefenseNews, July 26, 2015

“Sisi calls for support for Libya’s Haftar,” Middle East Monitor, March 18, 2016

Wolfgang Muhlberger, “A Thorny Dossier: Egypt’s Libya Policy,” Ahram Online, January 27, 2016

Libyan War Spills Over to Europe, Algeria, and Niger – Sc 2.2 (1) – Scenarios for the Future of Libya

This article is the first of our series focusing on scenarios depicting the range of spillover that could stem from the Libyan war. In our previous article, we concluded the scenarios for international intervention in light of a fragmenting unity government. In this article, we shall focus on scenarios related to conflict spillover in only one direction (towards Europe), and then spillover in two directions (west towards Algeria and south towards Niger).

These scenarios are grounded in the premises that the evolution of the civil war leads to spillover. As a result, the war changes from an internal civil war within the bounds of Libyan borders with a measure of external involvement, to a renewed war that encompasses more than just Libya. Indeed, the war now includes all the territories where it spread. The type and intensity of the spillover will also determine how actors – notably those which are newly involved as a result of the spillover – will respond, and inevitably, the fate of the war.

It is important to note our choices for spillover sub-scenarios. There are many combinations that could occur under spillover conditions, but we have chosen three examples that maybe considered as ideal-types with particular country cases for the sake of brevity: spillover in only one direction (north towards Europe), spillover in two directions (Algeria/Niger), and spillover in all directions (Algeria/Niger/Egypt/Europe). Furthermore, the intensity of and response to spillover plays a key role in these sub-scenarios. The renewed war – now encompassing new actors outside of Libya – is altered significantly as intensity and response levels rise. However, we shall only briefly outline these scenarios, as they are fundamentally new conflicts and would require new scenarios to fully understand their depth.

Click to access larger image

Migrant/Refugee Terminology: For the purposes of the spillover scenarios, we have chosen to use the BBC’s use of the term “migrant”, which refers to people migrating to other countries that have not yet received asylum (BBC News, March 4, 2016). However, we use the term “refugee” when referring to Libyans fleeing the civil war.

Note: Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for those that supported the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note those that supported the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafist will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.

Sub-scenario 2.2 Spillover

External military support (for example, see Terrill, Strategic Studies Institute, December 2008 pgs. 2-4 for the effects of external military support in Iraq), the tribal character of the war, with tribal “land” overriding modern states boundaries, migrant flow, the fragility of states in the region, and Salafist threats with their global claims and connections originating from Libya are the primary factors that contribute to the potential spillover. Conflict spillover from Libya affects potentially some states significantly more than others, depending on geography and stability level, as well as on the factors mentioned above.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The stability level of bordering countries. If bordering countries suffer from instability, they are more susceptible to spillover effects than more stable countries. The lower the stability level of a state, the more likely this scenario will occur. For example, Niger is already plagued by the Boko Haram threat, institutional weakness, lack of development, and a deteriorating political climate, which makes it highly susceptible to experiencing spillover from the Libyan conflict (Jezequel and Cherbib, International Crisis Group, February 19, 2016; Melly and Shepherd, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 19, 2016).
  2. The pattern and intensity of migrant flows. The more migrant routes that go into Europe affect how difficult it is to stop the migrant flow. Multiple migrant routes spanning the width of the Mediterranean is harder to stop than only having to focus on one or two concentrated routes. Furthermore, the intensity of migrant flows through each route also affects the likelihood of this scenario. High-traveled routes increase the likelihood of significant spillover.
  3. The level of external support for Libyan actors. By backing particular Libyan actors in the conflict (whether through funding, weapons, military training, or partnering), external actors increase the likelihood of spillover. Particularly with Al-Qaida and Islamic State actors involved, external actors may fall victim to terrorist attacks on their home soil – depending on who they support and their level of support. A past indication occurred when Islamic State militants executed 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya (Mullen, CNN, February 16, 2015) – sending a clear message to Egypt, who has faithfully backed General Haftar’s forces throughout the conflict.
  4. The strength of transnational tribal ties. As discussed in Tribal Dynamics and Civil War I, II, and III, tribalism plays a significant role in Libya. Any conflict involving the Tuareg or Toubou runs the risk of spilling over throughout the region – considering their tribal ties extend across various state borders in North Africa. Conflict between the Tuareg and Toubou over vital smuggling routes, in particular, increases the likelihood of spillover.
  5. The length of the war in Libya. The longer the war in Libya continues, the higher the likelihood that it spills over. The length of war increases the number of refugees, potentially allows Salafist groups the time to expand their capabilities, and creates a demand for transnational arms and militant smuggling.

Sub-scenario 2.2.1 The Conflict Spills Over to the North (Europe)

Having to fight each other, as well as jihadist elements (although the Islamic State may be losing strength in Sirte at the moment, this scenario focuses on Libya 3-5 years from now, when Al-Qaida and Islamic State groups may regain strength), the Islamists and nationalists focus more on retaining territory than securing the borders to stop the migrant flow. As a result, the masses of migrants headed into Libya are able to more easily cross the Mediterranean into Europe. European countries – who are already dealing with Libyan war refugees leaving Libya because of the war, as well as the migrant flow from Turkey – experience this spillover effect on a large-scale by sea from war-torn Libya. The migrant spillover also contributes to the terrorism spillover, in that Salafist groups utilize the migrant flow from Libya to infiltrate European countries and carry out attacks. As the Islamic State groups in Libya face mounting pressure from the other Libyan actors, they funnel small cells of jihadists to Europe using the migrant route. The jihadists then begin targeting European populations as an alternative to fighting the war in Libya. Furthermore, the deployment of European advisers and Special Forces in support of Libyan actors against Salafist threats also results in jihadists attacking European targets.

Faced with increasing flows of migrants from Libya, and with new attacks carried out by perpetrators who can be traced originally to Libya, Europe works to stem the flow by deploying naval and coast guard units in the Mediterranean to intercept migrant boats and turn them back. It also attempts to compensate African countries on migratory routes to harbor migrants in an effort to prevent them from entering Libya in the first place. If Europe is unsuccessful in stopping the migrant flow, jihadists continue to enter as migrants in order to carry out deadly attacks on European populations while recruiting radicalized natural-born European citizens to carry out additional operations. A new type of war encompassing both Libya and Europe continues developing.

If successful in mitigating the migrant flow (and by default, restricting the ability of jihadists to enter by sea), the entry of Europe in the conflict through spillover now changes the conflict in Libya. With less opportunity to infiltrate Europe using the migrant routes from the Tripoli and Benghazi areas, the Salafists begin shifting their operatives to increasingly target government and military officials of the Islamists and nationalists. This shift in strategy forces the rival governments to heighten security around their political centers, and to divert more military forces against Salafist groups. Furthermore, the masses of migrants and Libyan refugees stuck in Tripoli and Benghazi, as well as in the south of Libya, contribute to instability in those areas, with some turning to armed groups as an alternative. Large groups of migrants and Libyan refugees may even head south or southwest to cross the borders into Algeria or Niger (see scenario below).

Lastly, European oil investments and imports from Libya continue being negatively affected as the nationalists, Islamists, and Salafist groups fight for control over Libya’s vital oil fields and production facilities. The surge in Salafist attacks and increased conflict over oil resources drastically impacts the willingness and ability of European companies to invest in Libyan oil and import it, which economically hurts both the Islamists and nationalists that are trying to export oil for funds.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.2.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Remaining unchecked pockets of Salafists on Libyan territory. The existence of unchecked Salafist groups in Libya would increase the likelihood to see Salafist groups maneuvering to funnel jihadists into Europe. Furthermore, it would also impact both possible outcomes. If Europe fails to stop the migrant flows, the new conflict born out of the spill over persists and intensifies. Alternatively, if the migrant flows are stopped, these same groups could more easily target Libyan government and military officials of both the Islamists and nationalists.
  2. The existence of naval patrols in the Mediterranean trying to stem the flow of migrants. Europe’s ability to mitigate the migrant flow depends heavily on border closings for landlocked countries, and a naval presence in the Mediterranean for coastal countries. The existence of naval patrols in the Mediterranean would probably increase the likelihood of mitigating migrant flow, although the current attempt – named Operation Sophia – has produced questionable results (see Rossi, skyNEWS, June 16, 2016).
  3. The level of pressure on Salafist groups. The level of pressure against Salafist groups may affect their willingness to smuggle jihadists into Europe posing as refugees. If Al-Qaida and Islamic State strongholds are weakened, and their influence waning, they may resort to sending some of their members to Europe as an alternative to fighting a losing struggle in Libya. A past indication occurred when forces under the unity government made significant progress against the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte (Rossi, skyNEWS, June 16, 2016).
  4. The ability of Salafist groups in Libya to smuggle jihadists in to Europe. If Salafist groups on the coast are able to fill a boat with migrants (along with a few undercover jihadists) and sail towards a highly trafficked migrant sea route towards Europe, the likelihood of spillover increases. With so many migrants stuck waiting on Libya’s shore, it would not be difficult to deceive a group of migrants into paying for a boat trip to Italy.
  5. The deployment of European advisers and Special Forces in support of Libyan actors. If European advisers or Special Forces are operating in Libya – regardless of whom they support – the likelihood of spillover increases. With Salafist groups fighting militias from both sides, they will be inclined to attack European targets for simply operating in the country – regardless of which side. Past indications occurred when French and British Special Forces teams began operating in Libya (BBC News, May 26, 2016; Sputnik News, February 26, 2016).
  6. The position of the Libyan governments regarding migrants. Similar to President Erdogan’s exploitation of the migrant crisis for monetary gain (Berger, New Eastern Outlook, March 4, 2016), the Islamist and nationalist governments may offer to increase border security and develop more migrant detention camps in exchange for compensation. If European governments are desperate enough to make a deal with the Libyan governments, the Libyan governments will in turn rely on their militias to run the migrant camps. If both the Libyan and European governments are willing to partner for the sake of keeping migrants in Libya, the likelihood of spillover decreases.
  7. Europe awareness and willingness to address fully the evolving nature of the war. If Europe is not aware, or is unwilling, to properly address the renewed war, the likelihood of significant spillover increases. European leadership may simply not recognize the full danger of renewed conflict; or if it does, but delays in responding, it will likely feel the full effects and have to invest even more willpower and resources to mitigate war.
  8. The level of conflict over Libya’s oil resources. Conflict between the Islamists, nationalists, and Islamic State groups affect Libyan oil exports, and thus affect global oil prices. Islamic State attacks on oil facilities, combined with back-and-forth captures of oil fields by Islamist and nationalist forces, increase the likelihood of economic spillover in the world’s oil sector (Faucon and Said, The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2016; al-Warfalli, Reuters, March 3, 2015). A previous indication occurred when clashes near the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil terminals affected oil prices in late May 2016 (Tuttle, Bloomberg, May 29, 2016).
  9. Indicator 2 of scenario 2.2 also acts here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.2.2 Conflict Spills Over to the West (Algeria) and South (Niger)

Algerian troops protecting the border, posted on the Military of Algeria Facebook page, 7 June 2016

With both Libya and Algeria unable to fully secure their shared border, Libyan migrants make their way into Algeria. Since Malian and Syrian migrants significantly outnumber the Libyan migrants in Algeria, the continuous flow of Libyan migrants into the country is a minor spillover effect. The primary spillover comes from terrorism, arms smuggling, and trans-national tribal ties.

Map by the Norwegian Center for Global Analysis (NGCA) in NCGA and Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, Libya: Criminal economies and terrorist financing in the trans-Sahara, May 2015 – click for larger image

Although cross-border arms and drug smuggling in Libya’s southern and south-western areas is not a new phenomenon, Libya’s civil war and the growth of extremist groups in the region make smuggling across the Libyan-Algerian border more concerning. Islamist militants also use the smuggling routes to infiltrate Libya and join Salafist groups operating there. Facing constant instability and threats from Libya, Algeria tries to divert more security forces to the border areas. Meanwhile, the Islamist militants trying to cross the Algerian-Libyan border to join Libya’s war turn to the extremist groups already operating in Algeria, and begin bulking up their capabilities. Furthermore, renewed conflict between the Tuareg and Toubou over the lucrative smuggling routes push some of the Tuareg in Algeria to cross the border and assist their Libyan counterparts, which then prompts Toubou fighters from Niger and Chad to join the fray – thus turning the Southern Libyan conflict into a regional conflict between tribal forces.

Similar to Algeria, Niger falls victim to tribal spillover from the Libyan conflict – particularly, the tribal conflict in Southern Libya for control of vital smuggling routes. As a result, both Tuareg and Toubou fighters from Niger cross the border to assist their Libyan tribesmen. The severity of tribal conflict in Southern Libya determines whether or not conflict breaks out between the Tuareg and Toubou within Niger’s borders. Furthermore, the Islamists’ and nationalists’ progress against the Salafist groups, as well as the threat of strong international intervention, prompts some jihadists to relocate their area of operations to Niger. The level of progress against Salafists also impacts the militants that are headed north towards Libya through Niger. If the Salafists are steadily losing territory, militants may forego Libya and attempt to connect with extremist groups already operating in Niger. Considering Niger’s instability and already existing threat of Boko Haram, the increase of jihadists arriving from Libya prompts a serious military response and increased operations near the Niger-Libyan border.

Map of Toubou populations by ArnoldPlaton [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.2.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The capacity of Europe to stop the flow of migrants (see previous scenario). As discussed in the previous scenario, Europe’s ability to stop the flow of migrants affects the likelihood of spillover to the south or southwest. However, the current attempt to stop this flow may actually be exacerbating the situation (see Rossi, skyNEWS, June 16, 2016). Furthermore, there are an estimated 800,000 migrants waiting on Libya’s shore to cross the Mediterranean (O’Reilly, Gulf News, May 29, 2016). If Europe is unable to stop this massive flow of migrants from Libya, the likelihood of this scenario decreases.
  2. The level of progress to combat Salafist groups in Libya. If Salafist groups begin to significantly weaken and lose territory in Northern Libya, and particularly if Europe has cut off the migrant flow across the Mediterranean, they may turn south or southwest and cross into neighboring countries. A past indication occurred when forces under the unity government made significant progress against the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte (Rossi, skyNEWS, June 16, 2016).
  3. The ability of militants to use smuggling routes to infiltrate Libya. By utilizing heavily trafficked trade routes through Algeria and Niger (see The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, May 11, 2015), militants can infiltrate through Southern Libya and head north to connect with prominent Salafist groups there. The lack of border security and the lucrative business of the trade routes for tribes in the area allow for these militants to cross in to Libya. A past indication occurred when up to 1,000 Boko Haram fighters utilized smuggling routes to join Islamic State groups in Libya (Paton, International Business Times, March 5, 2016).
  4. The ability of Algeria to efficiently patrol its border. If Algeria is unable to efficiently patrol its border, the likelihood of spillover increases. Arms trafficking and Islamic militants pose a problem for Algeria’s 1,000km long border with Libya. Algeria’s Minister for Maghreb Affairs has stressed the importance of securing the border areas between his country and Libya – citing fears of spillover, while Algeria’s Deputy Defense Minister has heightened border security in the recent past (Karuri, AfricaNews, May 2, 2016; Reuters, March 14, 2016). Algeria has deployed additional troops to the border, and reportedly uses surveillance drones to spot arms traffickers and militant activity (Reuters, March 14, 2016). Increased efforts have thus far uncovered a cache of weapons near the Libyan border and captured members of a Libyan arms smuggling network operating near the border (NewsGhana, May 30, 2016; Albawaba News, May 19, 2016). However, the increased security efforts could also inadvertently increase the strength of extremist groups in Algeria, as militants attempting to cross in to Libya are cut off by the increased military presence.
  5. The real stability of Algeria. Algeria’s stability will determine its ability to effectively respond to Libyan spillover. Although Algeria ramped up its security measures on the border (see indicator above), its economy has suffered as a result of low global oil prices (Fakir and Ghanem-Yazbeck, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 11, 2016). Rising unemployment, corruption, and an “overbearing state bureaucracy” have incited social unrest (Serrano, Foreign Affairs, May 27, 2016). If the trend of social unrest and an increasingly fragile economy continue, Algeria may become more susceptible to spillover.
  6. The willingness of jihadists to relocate to Niger. Jihadists would likely only be willing to relocate to Niger if they face significant pressure in Libya and their groups are on the verge of defeat. Their willingness to travel to Niger instead of fighting to the end increases the likelihood of this scenario. A past indication occurred when Islamic State militants reportedly left their strongholds in Northern Libya and began migrating south towards Niger and Chad (Farge, Reuters, February 11, 2016).
  7. The stability of Niger. Niger’s stability level will play a significant role in how much it will be affected by Libyan spillover. It currently faces jihadist threats – particularly by Boko Haram, political tension, drought, food insecurity, poverty, and “economic fragility” (Shepherd and Melly, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 2016) – thus increasing the likelihood of this scenario.
  8. Niger’s control over its territory. The inability to efficiently control its own territory makes Niger more susceptible to spillover effects. The fact that one of the major smuggling routes in the region goes through the Nigerien-Libyan border is indicative of Niger’s inability to control that sector (The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, May 11, 2015). A past indication of failing to control its territory occurred when Niger struggled to control the Lake Chad region during a Boko Haram bombing campaign in 2015 (Shepherd and Melly, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 2016).
  9. The severity of conflict between the Tuareg and Toubou in Southern Libya. High levels of conflict between the Tuareg and Toubou will increase the likelihood of this scenario. Fighting for strategic control of vital trade routes in Southern Libya may turn into a regional conflict between the tribes, which would certainly expand into neighboring Niger. A past indication occurred when the Tuareg and Toubou heavily fought for control over Ubari, the nearby oil fields, and the cross-border trade routes in the area (Murray, Middle East Eye, January 17, 2015).
  10. The willingness of Tuareg and Toubou in bordering countries to cross in to Libya. The willingness of these tribes to cross the border into Libya and join the conflict depends on the severity of the conflict (see indicator above) and the strength of the tribal ties – likely on the familial level. A past indication occurred when Toubou tribesmen in Chad crossed in to Libya to help their cousins fight the Zawiya (CapitalNews, March 22, 2012).

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Syrian and Iraq refugees arrive in Lesvos, Greece, by Ggia [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia

Alex Rossi, “EU Operation ‘Encourages’ Illegal Migrants,” skyNews, June 16, 2016

Alex Rossi, “Libyan Forces Edge Closer To Victory In Sirte,” skyNews, June 16, 2016

“Algerian troops uncover weapons in Adrar province,” NewsGhana, May 30, 2016

“Algerian security forces break up Libyan arms smuggling ring,” Albawaba News, May 19, 2016

“Algeria’s military chief calls alert over Libyan frontier,” Reuters, March 14, 2016

Ayman al-Warfalli, “UPDATE 4-Rival Libyan forces carry out air strikes, militants storm oilfield,” Reuters, March 3, 2015

Benoit Faucon and Summer Said, “Islamic State Poses Growing Threat to Libya’s Oil Industry,” The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2016

Callum Paton, “Isis in Libya: How Boko Haram jihadis are flocking to join Daesh’s holy war in North Africa,” International Business Times, March 5, 2016

“Commons committee chairman urges clarity over UK special forces in Libya,” BBC News, May 26, 2016

Emma Farge, “Islamic State fighters head south in Libya, threatening Sahel,” Reuters, February 11, 2016

“France’s ‘Secret War’ in Libya Unravels Amid Fresh Allegations,” Sputnik News, February 26, 2016

Francisco Serrano, “Algeria on the Brink?” Foreign Affairs, May 27, 2016

Intissar Fakir and Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck, “Running Low: Algeria’s Fiscal Challenges and Implications for Stability,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 11, 2016

Jean-Herve Jezequel and Hamza Cherbib, “Presidential Elections in Niger: Tense Climate, Uncertain Future,” International Crisis Group, February 19, 2016

Jethro Mullen, “Egyptian warplanes bomb ISIS targets in Libya after killings of Christians,” CNN, February 16, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2 (9) Fragmentation and International Intervention,” The Red Team Analysis Society, May 31, 2016

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1),” The Red Team Analysis Society, April 13, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (2),” The Red Team Analysis Society, April 20, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (3),” The Red Team Analysis Society, May 11, 2015

Ken Karuri, “Algeria pledges to develop areas along Libyan border,” AfricaNews, May 2, 2016

“Libya: a growing hub for Criminal Economies and Terrorist Financing in the Trans-Sahara,” The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, May 11, 2015

“Libya ethnic conflict risks spilling over borders,” CapitalNews, March 22, 2012

Martin Berger, “How Much Money Will Erdogan Make from the EU Migration Crisis?” New Eastern Outlook, March 4, 2016

Mick O’Reilly, “New wave of refugees ready to leave Libya,” Gulf News, May 29, 2016

“Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts,” BBC News, March 4, 2016

Paul Melly and Ben Shepherd, “Stability and vulnerability in the Sahel: the regional roles and internal dynamics of Chad and Niger,” Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 2016

Rebecca Murray, “Battle rages in Libya’s southwest desert,” Middle East Eye, February 13, 2015

Robert Tuttle, “Oil Rises as Libya Fighting Flares Up Before OPEC Meets,” Bloomberg, May 29, 2016

W. Andrew Terrill, “Regional Spillover Effects of the Iraq War,” Strategic Studies Institute, December 2008

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2 (6) International Intervention with Libyan Partners

This article is the sixth of our series focusing on scenarios depicting interventions in the Libyan war. In our previous article, we discussed the preliminary stages of an international coalition created to intervene in Libya in favor of the nationalists – either by invitation from the nationalist government, or if the new unity government fails and fragments. However, Libya’s new Government of National Accord (GNA) is now recognized by the U.S., UK, Italy, Germany and France as “the only legitimate government in Libya” (European Union Statement, March 13, 2016; Musa, Boston Globe, March 13, 2016), which means that any international intervention that favors the nationalist side will now occur only after (and if) this unity government fragments into former factions. Note that many of the indicators and factors underlined below will be operative in both the scenario detailed here and the forthcoming scenario focused on an operative GNA.

At this stage of our scenario (see Mitchell, “International Intervention” February 29, 2016), international actors from beyond the region have formed a coalition to enter the Libyan conflict in favor of the nationalists, and attempt to partner with Libyan factions to support the intervention.

Note: Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for those that supported the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note those that supported the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafi will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.

Click to access larger image

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1: The International Coalition Intervenes with Libyan Ground Partners

The international coalition deploys ground forces in Libya to work with the Libyan military, Misratan factions and Zintani factions, as well as initiates an air-strike campaign against Salafi targets. Considering the complex dynamics of Libya’s war, an international intervention that retains its Libyan ground partners hinges on keeping the overall force together by focusing on engaging Salafist groups and reconstructing Libya as common goals. With a history of rivalry (see Mitchell, “Nationalist Forces 2,” December 1, 2014), the ability of Zintan and Misrata to cooperate with the international coalition relies on the larger threat of Salafist expansion – particularly in areas near Zintan or Misrata. Overall, the ability for this international intervention strategy to succeed relies on partnering with the more powerful and organized factions (Misrata, Zintan, Libyan military), but also progressively partnering with other tribes and factions. By using Misrata, Zintan, and the Libyan military as building blocks for a partnered intervention, the international coalition progressively attracts many of the Arab tribes in the north, which are also threatened by Salafist groups. However, it encounters difficulties in fully partnering with the minority tribes of the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou, as they oppose foreign troops in their territories (reminiscent of colonialism), and have no guarantee of adequate representation in any future government, since they are unsure of what to expect from a nationalist government if the Islamists are defeated – especially considering their history of unresolved political grievances under various governments. Nonetheless, the international coalition continues to pursue positive communication with the minority tribes in a bid to win their support throughout the intervention.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The willingness of partnered Libyan groups to stay focused on the common goals, rather than pursue alternate agendas. If any of the partnered Libyan groups – Zintan, Misrata, or the military – revert back to their old objectives/agendas rather than fully engaging Salafist factions, the likelihood of this scenario decreases. Furthermore, a strong desire to stabilize and rebuild Libya must be the ultimate end goal of partnered Libyan groups.
  2. The level of determination of Zintani and Misratan leadership to follow through with a peacebuilding strategy, rather than return to their rivalry. If, after mitigating or altogether destroying Salafist factions with the rest of the coalition, Zintani and Misratan leadership are determined not to return to civil war and pursue a peaceful transition through a peacebuilding phase, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  3. The level of opposition by rival tribes or factions towards Misrata or Zintan. If rival tribes are so fervent in their opposition that they begin to challenge Misratan or Zintani power (through territorial grabs, forming competing alliances that threaten Misratan or Zintani tribes, etc.), the coalition and its Libyan partners may begin to experience fragmentation if Misrata or Zintan withdraw their forces to protect their people or territory – thus decreasing the likelihood of this scenario. Considering the tribalism and rivalry in Libyan society, this indicator is likely to play a role in the cohesion of an international intervention that partners with Libyan factions (see Tribal Dynamics and Civil War I, II, and III).
  4. The perception of Libyan tribes and militias towards foreign forces. Considering the deep impact of colonization on Libya’s tribal groups (Mitchell, “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War 1,” April 13, 2015), some may consider foreign troops on Libyan soil reminiscent of colonization. Some militias – even ones on the nationalist side – may consider foreign intervention as a violation of Libyan sovereignty. Thus, negative perception of tribes and militias towards foreign forces could prompt them to actively oppose international forces on the ground. The Islamic State has begun to exploit that perception by “spreading a nationalistic narrative, portraying itself as the most important bulwark against foreign intervention” (United Nations letter from Panel of Experts on Libya, March 9, 2016). Furthermore, the partnering of international ground forces with particular armed groups in Libya could be seen as a sign of partisanship by other militias (Wehrey and Lacher, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 7, 2016), who could then seek to actively oppose foreign forces. Increased opposition by tribes and militias decreases the likelihood of this scenario.
  5. The level of tribal incentives to support the intervention and its partnered Libyan forces. Having seen the result of a previous international intervention in Libya (2011), and still harboring unresolved political grievances from the post-intervention governments (see “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War 2” and “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War 3”), the minority tribes of the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou may decide to either oppose or remain neutral to supporting the intervention. Furthermore, these tribes may lose all faith that external “assistance” will bring stability to Libya and by extension, its tribes. For example, leaders of the Toubou tribe are examining the potential of an independent Toubou state in Southern Libya – after having experienced the repercussions of Libya’s instability and having lost hope in the international community to help Libyans bring stability back to their country (Hatita, Asharq Al-Awsat, March 14, 2016). However, one, two, or all three minority tribes may also view intervention as an opportunity to gain influence or reward with whichever government comes to power after the intervention – as was the case with the Toubou, who gained expanded control of Southern routes and borders from the National Transitional Council for supporting the revolutionaries in 2011 (see Mitchell, “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War 3,” May 11, 2015). If the minority tribes see that partnering with the international coalition provides more advantageous, the likelihood of this scenario increases.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1.1: The International Coalition and Libyan Partners Succeed against Salafist Groups and Defeat the Islamists

By strategically coordinating with Misrata, Zintan, and the Libyan military, the international coalition begins to dismantle Salafist organizations in Libya primarily through precision air strikes, and by advising Libyan ground partners as well as by deploying Special Forces to conduct missions alongside Libyan ground forces. Although some tribes and factions oppose international intervention and the coalition’s partnering with certain Libyan groups, the coalition and its partners actively work to destroy the Salafists as quickly as possible, in order to transition to a peacebuilding phase that would be inclusive of all Libyan tribes.

Conducting such an offensive on Salafi groups across Northern Libya with partners from the Libyan military, Zintan, and Misrata lessens the Islamists’ influence, power, and territory by default. With incremental loss of territory and legitimacy, the Islamists are eventually defeated by the nationalists, who use their partnerships with Misrata and the international coalition to reduce the Islamists’ territory as they engage Salafist threats around Sirte and the Northwestern region of Libya. Facing heavy ground and air attacks on their coastal strongholds, some Libyan Salafist groups shift their bases in order to operate out of Southern Libya – a shadow of their former strongholds in the North – while others integrate with Salafist groups operating in the Sinai. Shifting Islamic State militants from Libyan wilayats to Wilayat Sinai would contribute to a successful intervention in Libya, but would pose a large problem for Egypt (Aboulenein, Reuters, March 2, 2016; Nisman and Horowitz, Reuters, February 16, 2016; Dabiq, issue 13).

Although the international coalition might have preferred to see reconciliation between the two sides, it opposed implementing a forced political resolution, instead allowing the Libyans to determine their political solution (a government supported by the nationalists). The international coalition and its Libyan partners eventually destroy or mitigate the Salafi threats, and the nationalist-supported government takes over as the sole governing authority in Libya – having defeated the Islamists. Once Salafist threats are mitigated or destroyed altogether, there is a risk of a returning rivalry between Zintan and Misrata, as they (and the Libyan military) compete for political and military power in the absence of a common threat. Considering the history of favored tribes holding political influence (see Mitchell, “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War 1,” April 13, 2015), a new government coming to power forces many tribes to vie for political influence, unless equal tribal representation is implemented (see “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War I” and “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War II” for issues stemming from unequal tribal representation in the government).

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of support for Salafi groups in Libya – particularly once intervention is heavily propagandized. An influx of external support in the form of foreign fighters, resources, and leadership would boost the operational capabilities of Salafi groups in Libya, which could improve their efforts to hinder intervention forces. Furthermore, Salafi groups could foster recruitment from marginalized indigenous groups, which the Islamic State has done around the Sirte area, Tripoli, and Sabratah (United Nations letter from Panel of Experts on Libya, March 9, 2016). Salafi groups could also use the intervention for propaganda purposes, which could boost its external support as well.
  2. The willingness of partnered Libyan groups to stay focused on combatting Salafist threats, rather than pursue alternate agendas. If any of the partnered Libyan groups – Zintan, Misrata, or the military – revert back to their old objectives/agendas rather than fully engaging Salafist factions, the likelihood of this scenario decreases.
  3. The type of intervention strategy put forth by the involved nations. The success of an international intervention to destroy Salafi threats in Libya relies significantly on the type of strategy used. The most likely strategy would be a light-footprint strategy that consists of an aerial campaign, Special Forces, training of indigenous forces, and shared intelligence with reliable Libyan groups. However, the issue with a light-footprint strategy is that it could easily turn into a mission creep operation where primary objectives could continually change, resulting in an unplanned, protracted intervention – particularly considering the dynamics of Libya. This type of strategy was recently proposed by the Pentagon to the White House, which included airstrikes against critical Islamic State targets that would “open the way for Western-backed Libyan militias to battle Islamic State fighters on the ground” (Schmitt, The New York Times, March 8, 2016).
  4. The level of opposition by the international coalition to force a political solution. With the current level of Salafi threats and the likelihood of a failed political solution (which becomes a certainty if a unity government fragments), the international coalition may be less willing to focus on a forced political solution between the nationalists and the Islamists if it means relieving pressure on the Salafists. If the international community is able to recognize the complexity and dynamics at work in Libya, it will realize that more of a forced political solution will be useless in the long-term, and thus is willing to allow the decline of the Islamists as the coalition and its partners combat Salafist threats.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1.2: The International Intervention Results in Protracted Conflict as Libya’s Civil War Expands

After deploying its forces to Libya, the international coalition quickly begins to encounter additional opposition from Libyan militias and tribes that are vehemently opposed to foreign intervention – particularly once the coalition partners with their rivals, as well as when civilians get killed as a result of intervention strikes. Tribal dynamics, competing interests between factions, and differing views of legitimacy (in regard to intervention) contribute to the expansion of war. Lacking the full support of the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou tribes, the international coalition begins to face increasing challenges that contribute to protracted conflict, particularly in Southern Libya, where the Tuareg and Toubou control territory. Without cooperation from these tribes in Southern Libya, the international coalition struggles to prevent Salafist groups from expanding there, which in turn enables a protracted conflict. Furthermore, Salafist groups use the intervention as propaganda to boost their numbers and capabilities in Libya – all of which contributes to an expanded, and protracted civil war.

This intensified and protracted intervention can lead to one of three potential outcomes: the international force and their partnered groups emerge victorious and transition to peacebuilding, they emerge victorious and fail to transition to peacebuilding (re-escalation of conflict), or, not wanting to get dragged further into a protracted conflict, the international coalition withdraws from Libya and the intervention fails.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The inability of the international coalition to ease tensions between non-partnered factions. If members of the international coalition are unable to ease tensions with tribes and factions that aren’t militarily partnered with the coalition, the likelihood of this scenario increases. As the number of civilian casualties from coalition airstrikes and ground force operations begin to increase (particularly in the more tribal-dominated areas), so does the likelihood of this scenario.
  2. The level of tribal incentives to support the intervention and its partnered Libyan forces. Having seen the result of a previous international intervention in Libya (2011), and still harboring unresolved political grievances from the post-intervention governments (see “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War 2” and “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War 3”), the minority tribes of the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou may decide to either oppose or remain neutral to supporting the intervention. Furthermore, these tribes may lose all faith that external “assistance” will bring stability to Libya and by extension, its tribes. For example, leaders of the Toubou tribe are examining the potential of an independent Toubou state in Southern Libya – after having experienced the repercussions of Libya’s instability and having lost hope in the international community to help Libyans bring stability back to their country (Hatita, Asharq Al-Awsat, March 14, 2016). However, one, two, or all three minority tribes may also view intervention as an opportunity to gain influence or reward with whichever government comes to power after the intervention – as was the case with the Toubou, who gained expanded control of Southern routes and borders from the National Transitional Council for supporting the revolutionaries in 2011 (see Mitchell, “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War 3,” May 11, 2015). If the minority tribes see that partnering with the international coalition provides more advantage, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  3. The willingness of Libyan tribes and militias opposed to intervention to engage the new coalition and forego any peaceful resolution. As these tribes and militias feel increasingly marginalized (maybe their rivals are partnered with the coalition) and some of their tribe or family members become civilian casualties, their willingness to engage coalition forces and abandon any peaceful resolutions also increases.
  4. The level of exhaustion of tribes and other factions. If the minority tribes or other factions experience high levels of exhaustion from continued war, the likelihood of this scenario decreases.
  5. Indicators 1, 2, 3 for sub-scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1.1 act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1.2.1: The International Coalition and Libyan Partners Emerge Victorious after Protracted Conflict, Transition to Peacebuilding

Because of Misrata’s, Zintan’s and progressively other groups’ partnership with the international coalition and major nationalist forces, the destruction of Salafist capabilities, and waning of the Islamists’ influence and territory, the Islamists and Salafi groups are considered defeated. Thus, the international intervention is deemed successful while the Libyan military, as well as Misratan, Zintani and other factions, emerge as the victorious powers. With the nationalists and the Misratans as the primary powers in Libya (after usurping the Islamists), they work with the international coalition to implement a peacebuilding process. The difference between a coalition and nationalist victory here and in 2.1.1.4.1.1.1 is that this victory only takes place after a protracted conflict.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1.2.2: The International Coalition and Libyan Partners Emerge Victorious, but Fail to Transition to Peacebuilding – Back to Civil War

Because of Misrata’s partnership with the international coalition and major nationalist forces, the destruction of Salafist capabilities, and waning of the Islamists’ influence and territory, the Islamists and Salafi groups are considered defeated. Thus, the international intervention is deemed successful while the Libyan military, as well as Misratan and Zintani factions, emerge as the victorious powers. However, this leads to a renewed power struggle if the international coalition and these Libyan powers fail to implement a peaceful transition plan (see Mitchell, “A Successful Peacebuilding Mission?” September 28, 2015). Furthermore, the failure to implement a strong stabilization phase and peacebuilding plan allows marginalized tribes and factions to re-escalate the conflict.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.4.1.1.2.3: The International Intervention Fails, Forces a Withdrawal or Drawback

Facing a drawn-out conflict that would require extensive international forces and other resources, as well as not seeing any possibility for a peaceful solution, or having to deal elsewhere with more pressing matters, the international coalition decides to withdraw its forces, or significantly draws back its forces and externally supports some of the major factions in their fight against Salafi threats. This, in turn, could potentially lead to a unilateral or Arab League intervention if Salafi threats expand, as discussed in earlier scenarios.

In our next post, we shall detail scenarios where the international coalition fails to partner with Libyan groups.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: U.S. joint terminal attack controllers call for an A-10 Thunderbolt II during a close air support training mission by 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Photographers [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

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Ahmed Aboulenein, “In Islamic State battle, Cairo struggles to rally Sinai tribes,” Reuters, March 2, 2016

Daniel Nisman and Michael Horowitz, “New Islamic State franchise threatens Egypt,” Reuters, February 16, 2016

Eric Schmitt, “Pentagon Has Plan to Cripple ISIS in Libya With Air Barrage,” The New York Times, March 8, 2016

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