Tag Archives: Libyan war

Evaluating Likelihoods for Libya – Scenario 2 Methodology

In this article and the next, we shall evaluate the likelihood of the primary scenarios for foreign military intervention, which we started to detail in “Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Scenario 2: The Joint Arab Force Takes a Side (1).” We shall focus on preliminary methodological work allowing for better describing the intervention cases for likelihood estimates. In the last article we discussed the likelihood of Scenario 1, where the Libyan actors negotiate a peace settlement—a scenario for which the probability we assessed was less than 20%, or highly unlikely.

As detailed previously, we shall use the methodology developed by The Red (Team) Analysis Society, building upon Heuer (“Assessing Probability of a Scenario”, in Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, pp.156-157) and the capability given by indicators. This methodology allows us to obtain an estimated likelihood, which is considered not only as good enough for the purpose of anticipation through scenarios but also as remaining usable by analysts.

Note: In the following article, we shall use the acronym COR for the Council of Representatives (nationalists), GNC for the General National Congress (Islamists), and GNA for the UN-backed Government of National Accord (unity government).

Organizing the Scenarios & Indicators

In order to mathematically deduce the likelihood of this scenario and its sub-scenarios, we organized the sub-scenarios in such a way as to correctly account for scenarios not detailed in our articles previously because they were not necessary in terms of narrative and understanding of the future of Libya – they were implicit.

For this scenario, we also had to add a supplementary step to account for intervention in support of the three separate governments, as well as the order in which intervention could occur­ as an intervention taking place for one of the governments could affect the likelihood of subsequent interventions occurring (see graphs below). With that in mind, we developed the graphs in such a way as to easily estimate the scenario likelihoods on different tiers and determine their overall likelihoods in various order of interventions.

In the first graph, external actors intervene (or not) first for the General National Congress, then on behalf of the COR depending on whether intervention has occurred (or not) in support of its rival, the General National Congress.

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In the second graph, external actors intervene (or not) first for the GNA, then in support of the COR depending on the level of intervention for the GNA.

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In the third graph, external actors intervene (or not) first on behalf of the Council of Representatives (COR), then for the GNA depending on whether intervention occurs in support of the Council of Representatives.

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For tiers 2 and 3, we also had to add additional indicators that considered the potential intervention occurring in favor of the actors on tiers 1 and 2, because some indications may become more likely in the case of rivalry between competing Libyan authorities (GNC vs. COR). For example, the United Arab Emirates may be more willing to militarily intervene for the COR if Qatar has begun to intervene on the side of the GNC, possibly more so than a case where no external actors intervened in support of the GNC. Thus, we added this additional indicator to the pair of scenarios that follow an intervention in support of a particular actor on tier 1 or tier 2. In the tier 2 scenarios following the branch starting with “No Intervention in Support of [Actor]” on tier 1, we used the regular set of indicators for intervention, since no intervention occurred for the tier 1 actor.

Tier 3 accounts for the third actor receiving external intervention on its behalf according to the various branches of the “tree of scenarios for likelihoods”. As for Tier 3, we added supplementary indicators for scenarios that followed intervention of the tier 2 actor.

With the ability to estimate likelihoods (depending on the tier 1 actor) and thus calculate probabilities for three different orders of interventions, we are able to cover a broad range of scenarios. Having discussed the methodology of how we organized the various trees of intervention, we shall discuss the sets of indicators according to tiers and if necessary revise them, detail their evaluation and proceed with a first likelihood estimate in the next article.

Featured Photo: Norwegian F-16 Libya 2011 by Metziker, [CC BY-NC 2.0], via Flickr

Evaluating Likelihoods for Libya’s Future – Scenario 1

Having detailed the various potential scenarios for Libya’s future over the next three to five years, we shall now evaluate the likelihood of the scenarios thanks notably to their indicators. We shall use the methodology developed by The Red (Team) Analysis Society, building upon Heuer (“Assessing Probability of a Scenario”, in Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, pp.156-157) and the capability given by indicators. This methodology allows us to obtain an estimated likelihood, which is considered not only as good enough for the purpose of anticipation through scenarios but also as remaining usable by analysts. Bayesian Networks (BN), using Pearl’s work (1985), would provide us with even more accurate estimates, but the use of BN for analysts, furthermore in the framework of issues which analysis is mainly qualitative, remains so far too heavy and time-consuming.

In this article, we shall determine the likelihood of the primary scenarios for a peaceful solution between the main Libyan actors (excluding Salafist groups), which we started to detail in “Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Scenarios 1: Towards Peace? (1).”

Organizing the Scenarios & Indicators

In order to mathematically deduce the likelihood of this scenario and its sub-scenarios, we organized the sub-scenarios in such a way as to correctly account for scenarios not detailed in our posts previously because they were not necessary in terms of narrative and understanding of the future of Libya – they were implicit (see graph below).

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With the main scenarios now organized, we compiled all their indicators from their corresponding articles and selected the indicators that were absolutely necessary for that scenario to occur. There were two reasons for this approach: first, we wanted to be as accurate as possible with determining the likelihood; indicators like the creation of a Joint Arab Force would be far less significant than the Islamists’ view of General Haftar affecting their willingness to participate in peace talks. Although these ‘lesser’ indicators do indeed contribute to strategic foresight and warnings for Libya’s future, and will provide us, in terms of monitoring with indications regarding the evolution towards a scenario or another, they are not absolutely necessary for that specific scenario or sub-scenario to occur*. Second, only having ‘primary indicators’ allows us to more easily monitor their reality on the ground for assessing the likelihood, and thus let us update their likelihood between posts to maintain the accuracy of the final likelihoods at the conclusion of this series. Monitoring for warning once the likelihood of all the scenarios is established would however use also ‘secondary indicators’.

To ensure the reliability of the mathematical process, each scenario’s group of indicators is mirrored in its counterpart or opposite scenario, but the way each indicator is phrased is inversed to match that scenario’s likelihood of occurring.

For example, indicator 6 of scenario 1.3 [Peace Negotiations, Without an External Mediator, Lead to a Signed Peace Treaty] is “Do the Libyan actors agree on the role of Islam in the unity government?” Since the Islamists advocate for the use of Sharia, and the nationalists do not, their agreement on the role of Islam in a new government is necessary for this scenario to occur. However, in scenario 1.4 [Peace Negotiations, Without an External Mediator, Fail], indicator 6 states “Do the Libyan actors disagree on the role of Islam in the unity government?,” since this disagreement on the role of Islam would prevent a signed peace treaty.

After organizing the scenarios, selecting and grouping their primary indicators, we began to compare the ideal indication for each indicator to see the scenario occurring with the reality of the indication on the ground to determine the likelihood for each (for more on indicators and indications, see Helene Lavoix, “Evaluating Scenarios and Indicators for the Syrian War”, 10 March 2014, RTAS).

Evaluating the Indicators

*The likelihood of each indicator is based on the current reality on the ground, which may warrant a change of likelihood as we progress through each scenario in the forthcoming posts.

The following scenario and its indicators will show how we determined the numerical likelihood based on current realities. We use the following table for our likelihood levels:

Scenario: Libyan Actors Agree to Participate in Peace Talks Mediated by External Actors

Are Libyan actors willing to attend and participate in peace talks mediated by external actors? 50% (Improbable). Currently, there are major factions that are either refusing or delaying to participate in peace talks facilitated by UN actors or individual states (such as Algeria). The Steadfastness Front has refused to join such negotiations, and has opposed the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) (Toaido and Fitzgerald, European Council on Foreign Relations). Meanwhile, General Haftar turned down Algerian-led peace talks between himself and the GNA (Middle East Monitor, January 3, 2017) and refuses to meet with UN Special Representative Martin Kobler (Fishman, The Washington Institute, January 19, 2017). However, other actors have already shown their willingness to participate in UN-led peace talks, as exhibited by those who have supported and joined the GNA. Furthermore, a group of members of the Council of Representatives (COR) have engaged in dialogue with Algerian mediators and a UN delegation regarding a peace agreement (Libya Herald, January 26, 2017; Libya Herald, January 17, 2017), although other COR members are still resistant to peace talks. Considering these realities, we gave this indicator a 50% likelihood to see the necessary indication happen, which rates as improbable.

Do the identities of the external mediator(s) have a minimal effect on the willingness of Libyan actors to participate? 30% (Improbable). The former UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, accepted a job in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while mediating peace talks between the General National Congress and Council of Representatives (Al Jazeera, November 5, 2015). Because the UAE openly backed the COR, supporters of the GNC were enraged, which likely deepened mistrust of the United Nations. More recently, the plane carrying UN Special Representative to Libya Martin Kobler was denied permission to land as he was flying to Tobruk to speak with members of the COR – a government whose members are increasingly opposed to Kobler (Prentis, Libya Herald, January 18, 2017). Even Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadiq Al-Gharyani has expressed disapproval for UNSMIL and Kobler, saying, “The UNSMIL is cooperating with Satan, it has neglected the victory of Libyan people over ISIS, therefore, it’s time to call for replacing it” (The Libya Observer, December 7, 2016). Such distrust and disapproval of UN mediators has certainly had an effect on the willingness of Libyan actors to be actively involved in peace talks, thus we gave this indicator a 30% likelihood.

Do views on General Haftar have a minimal effect on the willingness of Haftar opposition forces to participate? 15% (Highly Unlikely). Considering the Islamists’ overwhelming opposition to Haftar and Misrata’s serious concern of a Haftar dictatorship (Saleh, Financial Times, January 25, 2017), we gave this indicator a 15% likelihood.

Are the armed coalitions facing a prolonged stalemate? 20% (Highly Unlikely). Based on the estimates of military strength and territorial control (see indicator below), we gave this indicator a 20% likelihood.

Are the armed coalitions relatively equal in terms of military strength and territorial control? 20% (Highly Unlikely). Although Misrata forces solidified their presence in central Libya by liberating Sirte from the Islamic State, Haftar’s forces control more territory and recently made significant gains in Benghazi against Salafist groups (Critical Threats, January 2017; BBC News, January 25, 2017). Furthermore, all the Misrata brigades under the command of the Misrata Military Council have joined the forces of the Government of National Accord (The Libya Observer, January 30, 2017), leaving the General National Congress and its coalition significantly weakened. As a result, we gave this indicator a 20% likelihood.

Have Libyan actors failed to secure military backing from external actors? 45% (Improbable). General Haftar and his nationalist allies have recently made gains in finding external actors who are increasingly stepping up their military support. Egypt has reportedly been caught sending arms to Libya in violation of the UN arms embargo (Saied, Al-Monitor, January 23, 2017), although it denies this accusation, and the UAE is speculated to soon deploy fighter jets in support of Haftar (Libyan Express, February 7, 2017). Russia, meanwhile, has made public shows of support for General Haftar and his forces (Daou, France24, January 25, 2017; Libya Prospect, December 1, 2016), including flying wounded nationalist fighters to Russia for medical treatment (Markey, Reuters, February 1, 2017). Considering much of this has not yet transitioned to concrete military backing, and considering that the other actors have not secured support from external actors, we gave this indicator a 45% likelihood.

Are external actors restraining the amount of pressure on Libyan actors to participate in peace talks? 25% (Improbable). External actors have incrementally increasing their pressure on Libyan actors to participate in dialogue and reach an agreement. Last year, the European Union imposed sanctions on Libyan politicians that were considered to be obstructing the Government of National Accord (BBC News, April 1, 2016). More recently, the EU suggested that it might lessen the sanctions against these Libyan leaders in order to facilitate a dialogue (ANSAmed, February 7, 2017). The European Union has also agreed to give the Government of National Accord a 215 million dollar package and funding for the Libyan coast guard in order to stem the migrant flows from Libya (BBC News, February 3, 2017). Such an action puts pressure on the GNC and COR, as evidenced by the COR’s condemnation of the deal (GeopoliticsAlert, February 8, 2017). Considering these realities, we gave this indicator a 25% likelihood.

Determining Likelihood

After calculating the likelihood of each indicator, we organized each numerical value in tiers with independent indicators standing alone and dependent indicators linked together according to dependency. Using scenario 1.3 again as an example, the likelihood of indicator 5 [Are the armed coalitions facing a prolonged stalemate?] occurring is dependent on the likelihood of indicator 4 [Are the armed coalitions relatively equal in regards to military strength and territorial control?].

We then took the first of each pair of opposed scenarios and multiplied the numerical likelihoods of each indicator to find the likelihood of that scenario. In our first scenario where Libyan actors agree to participate in peace talks mediated by external actors, the product of the indicators’ likelihood was .001134 – a less than 1% likelihood for that scenario. After finding the product of the first scenario, considering probabilities’ rules, we subtracted it from 1 to get the likelihood for its counterpart (1-x[sc 1 likelihood]=sc 2 likelihood). Thus, the likelihood of Libyan actors deciding to not participate in peace talks brokered by external actors is .9982, or 99.82%.

To determine the likelihood of their sub-scenarios, we followed the same process for each pair of scenarios and, because trees of scenarios obey to the rules of probability for dependent events, multiplied the product of each sub-scenario to their parent scenarios.

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After evaluating the main sub-scenarios, as well as their primary indicators, we thus assess that Scenario 1 Towards Peace would be highly unlikely – less than 20%, considering current situation.

In our next post, we shall begin to determine the likelihood of the various 2.x scenarios.

*In terms of graph and network representing the future of Libya, they would be antecede the variables used for this specific scenario by more than two steps and/or be on adjacent paths.

Bibliography

Feature Photo: Row of Libyan flags in Tripoli by Ben Sutherland, [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

“Algeria continues Libya peace efforts with visit of pro-LNA HoR group,” Libya Herald, January 17, 2017

“Anger at UN chief negotiator in Libya’s new job in UAE,” Al-Jazeera, November 5, 2015

Ben Fishman, “Shifting International Support for Libya’s Unity Government,” The Washington Institute, January 19, 2017

“EU may reduce sanctions to foster Libyan peace,” ANSAmed, February 7, 2017

Fighting Forces in Libya: January 2017 map, Critical Threats, American Enterprise Institute

“Grand Mufti calls for UNSMIL replacement; praises victory over ISIS,” The Libya Observer, December 7, 2016

“Haftar and Russia agreement…Where it goes?” Libya Prospect, December 1, 2016

“Haftar refuses peace talks with UN-backed government,” Middle East Monitor, January 3, 2017

J. Pearl, “Bayesian Networks: A Model of Self-Activated Memory for Evidential Reasoning,” (UCLA Technical Report CSD-850017), Proceedings of the 7th Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, University of California, Irvine, CA, 1985, pp. 329-334.

Jamie Prentis, “UNSMIL’s Martin Kobler refused clearance for Tobruk landing,” Libya Herald, January 18, 2017

“Libya And Italy Sign Migration Deal,” Geopolitics Alert, February 8, 2017

“Libyan Islamists lose Benghazi district to Haftar’s forces,” BBC News, January 25, 2017

“Libyan politicians hit by EU sanctions over new government,” BBC News, April 1, 2016

Marc Daou, “By supporting Marshal Haftar, Russia marks its territory in Libya,” France24, January 25, 2017

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

“Migrant crisis: EU leaders agree plan to stop Libya influx,” BBC News, February 3, 2017

“Misrata brigades join Libyan National Army,” The Libya Observer, January 30, 2017

Mohamed Saied, “Egypt goes against international current with Libya support,” Al-Monitor, January 23, 2017

Patrick Markey, “Eastern Libya forces fly wounded to Russia in growing cooperation,” Reuters, February 1, 2017

“UAE on verge of sending Mirage 2000s to support Haftar’s looming war on western Libya,” Libyan Express, February 7, 2017

“UNSMIL team in Tobruk for talks with HoR,” Libya Herald, January 26, 2017

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 4.1 An Al-Qaida Victory

This article focuses on the first of the scenarios depicting a Salafist victory, where Al-Qaida (AQ) becomes the dominant force on the battlefield, defeats the other actors, then works towards establishing the caliphate. In our previous scenario we detailed the scenario of a nationalist victory where the new government guides Libya towards a secular and nationalist state where Sharia is not a source of governance.

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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Scenario 4 Salafist Conquest

In this scenario, a “Salafist victory” refers to the cessation of major hostilities resulting from a Salafist group’s military domination of the other actors. Once a Salafist group – either Al-Qaida or the Islamic State – defeats the others, it will be in a position to rebuild Libya as an Islamic State governed by Sharia law.

As the war drags on, the Islamist and nationalist coalitions fragment – thus replacing powerful coalitions on the battlefield with weaker, singular players, or, they become too exhausted to achieve a total military victory; meanwhile, Salafist groups’ strength increase in numbers and capabilities, allowing them to make strategic gains. With the rival governments now significantly weakened, the Salafist groups finally become the dominant military force and achieve a total victory. Having gained the military victory and now having the dominant influence in Libya, the Salafist groups begin rebuilding the country as an Islamic state.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 4 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of exhaustion suffered by the Islamists and nationalists. Heightened levels of exhaustion will decrease the ability of the Islamist and nationalist coalitions to achieve a military victory. Having to simultaneously fight each other, as well as the Islamic State and Al-Qaida may increase exhaustion levels, thus increasing the likelihood of a Salafist conquest.
  2. The level of cohesion of the Islamist and nationalist coalitions. If either of the coalitions begins to lose cohesion, their risk of fragmentation begins to increase. Also affecting their cohesion is the coalitions’ ability to maintain ties with the tribes loyal to them. The fragmentation of one or both coalitions increases the likelihood of this scenario, as the Salafist groups could more easily exploit the situation and defeat weaker, singular factions instead of having to face a large coalition. A past indication occurred when some of the Misratan brigades in the Dawn of Libya coalition pledged support for the unity government and others refused – instead, forming the Steadfast Front (STRATFOR, April 2, 2016).
  3. The willingness of the Islamists and nationalists to unite to defeat the Salafist threat. If the Islamist and nationalist coalitions temporarily unite to defeat a growing Salafist threat, the likelihood of this scenario decreases. Although the coalitions may not cease all hostilities against each other, they may agree to divert more of their forces to focus on a mutual Salafist threat. A past indication occurred when militias from Misrata and Zintan agreed to a truce in order to combat the advance of Islamic State forces (El-Ghobashy and Morajea, The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2015).
  4. The number of jihadists joining the ranks of Salafist groups in Libya. An increase in the number of jihadists crossing into Libya will increase this scenario’s likelihood. If Salafist groups are able to significantly increase their ranks as the Islamist and nationalist coalitions grow weaker, they will begin gaining the upper hand in military capabilities. A past indication occurred when hundreds, if not more than 1,000, Boko Haram fighters joined the Islamic State’s ranks in Libya (Paton, International Business Times, March 5, 2016).
  5. The quality of jihadists fighting in Libya. If Al-Qaida and Islamic State groups in Libya are able to recruit large numbers of experienced Libyan fighters or import experienced jihadists from other countries, the likelihood of this scenario increases. With more experienced fighters, the Salafist groups will pose a larger threat and be more difficult to repel. A past indication occurred when Islamic State leadership sent senior members to Libya (The Soufan Group, March 3, 2016).
  6. The ability of either Al-Qaida or the Islamic State to militarily defeat all other armed actors. If Al-Qaida or the Islamic State is unable to defeat the Islamist and nationalist coalitions, as well as each other, this scenario could not occur. An Al-Qaida victory would require the defeat of the rival coalitions as well as the Islamic State, while an Islamic State victory would require the defeat of the coalitions and Al-Qaida. The ability to achieve a total military victory would largely depend on the above indicators, as well as the level of external support and the current situation of regional conflicts.
  7. The level of Al-Qaida expansion in Africa. If Al-Qaida affiliates in Africa grow in strength and are able to carry out increasingly-successful attacks, Al-Qaida in Libya will likely gain better access to fighters, weapons, and other resources, thus increasing the likelihood of this scenario occurring. Al-Qaida expansion throughout Africa would also benefit AQ in Libya by diverting the focus and counter-terrorism assets from international operations in the region. Past indications of diverting external counter-terrorism assets occurred when the United States deployed military assets to Niger, Cameroon, Central Africa, and Somalia with the purpose of conducting or supporting counter-terrorism efforts (RT, December 5, 2016; Savage, Schmitt, and Mazzetti, The New York Times, November 27, 2016).
  8. The severity of conflicts or threats elsewhere that reduce Libya to a secondary interest. If conflicts or more significant threats arise elsewhere that consume the focus and military resources of external actors – particularly the United States – the international focus on Libya will lessen, thus increasing the likelihood of this scenario.
  9. The severity of the European Union’s core problems that push Libya to the background. This year, the European Union saw failed policies, Brexit, and the beginning of a shift towards populist movements. Now facing what the BBC calls a “looming existential threat” (Mardell, BBC News, December 6, 2016), the EU has had to refocus many of its priorities. If the EU’s existential issues remain severe during an Al-Qaida victory in Libya, the likelihood of this scenario increases.

Sub-scenario 4.1 An Al-Qaida Victory

With the Islamists and nationalists having significantly weakened the Islamic State in Libya, the stronger Al-Qaida affiliates are able to more easily defeat Islamic State forces. In the aftermath, Islamic State jihadists are either killed while defending their last strongholds, or flee the country.

Considering its opposition to democratic institutions, Al-Qaida uses violence to eliminate political parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction Party, and uses the threat of force to prevent future political movements from arising. However, once political parties are removed, Al-Qaida turns toward a local form of rule – one where local councils are responsible for governing their own people – overseen by a central AQ organizational structure.

Having learned lessons from Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al-Qaida leadership in Libya turn over the responsibility of everyday governance to local civilian councils. Implementing a grassroots approach to influencing and controlling populations, as well as seeing the strategic mistake made by the Islamic State (declaring a caliphate too soon, taking territory, and aggressive action beyond the Levant – thus prompting massive international intervention), Al-Qaida shuns a strong centralized form of government that the Islamists and nationalists would have utilized, and instead covertly integrates itself into the local councils to garner domestic legitimacy and avoid foreign intervention. This model gives the illusion that Libyans are self-governed by their own local councils instead of Al-Qaida, but of course, Al-Qaida members are embedded within local councils to ensure AQ’s long-term strategy in Libya is carried out.

Propaganda photos by Ansar al-Sharia highlighting its “Department for Public Works”, posted by Michael Horowitz, 28 May 2015

Again, applying lessons from AQAP and AQIM, Al-Qaida focuses on the problems of the local populations while gradually applying selected Sharia principles, instead of forcefully implementing full Sharia law. By assisting with public services and providing charitable acts, Al-Qaida gains the trust and support of Libyans, and make them “sympathize with us and feel that their fate is tied to ours,” as emphasized in an AQAP strategy document (Green, The Washington Institute, December 12, 2013). Through a selective implementation process of Sharia, Al-Qaida tactfully avoids the harshest provisions until the Libyan population is more susceptible to its implementation (note: this process has the potential to exceed our 3-5 year analysis timeline). Once Sharia is close to being fully integrated in Libyan society, the Al-Qaida leadership in Libya begins propagating the country as an Islamic emirate.

Al-Qaida’s organizational structure in Libya is somewhat similar to the Islamic State structure. Based on a comparison of the organizational structures of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al-Qaida’s organization in Libya has a head leader, a Shura council [consultative body], a military wing, a propaganda wing, and a Sharia council [judiciary body] (Counter Extremism Project, AQAP, AQIS, and AQIM). The Islamic State also has the Caliph [leader], the Shura council, the Sharia council, and the Military council in its central hierarchy (see Dr. Helene Lavoix, “Understanding the Islamic State’s System – The Calif and Legitimacy,” and “Understanding the Islamic State’s System – Means of Violence” for detailed analysis of the Islamic State structure). However, Al-Qaida’s governance strategy in Libya is profoundly different from that of the Islamic State. Once they secured the city of Sirte, Islamic State fighters called on residents to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the caliph of the Islamic State, cracked down on forbidden vices, and enforced Sharia law on the population, including severe punishments such as ‘flogging, stoning, amputation, and execution” (Zelin, The Washington Institute, August 6, 2015). Wanting to avoid this strategy and gain the support of the Libyan people, Al-Qaida utilizes a localized governance model with a very gradual implementation of Sharia – all while its leadership directs its will and influence on the population from the background.

To gain influence over the tribes, Al-Qaida members begin marrying into the tribes and recruiting their unemployed youth. Furthermore, the localized system of governance allows the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou to become more autonomous and not have to endure systematic discrimination by a centralized state – an appeal that earns some favor, despite tensions that exist between Libyan tribalism and Salafism (Mitchell, “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War III,” May 11, 2015). To lessen these tensions and avoid drawing attention to incompatibility, Al-Qaida does not overtly attempt to draw the tribes into its long-term strategy for the caliphate. With Al-Qaida’s growing presence in Libya comes an influx of fighters and resources from other countries. Such an influx coming through southern Libya boosts the economic gains for the Tuareg and Toubou, who become dependent on the jihadist-dominated trade routes for money and other support.

Ansar al-Sharia snipers in Benghazi train by shooting at picture targets of General Haftar and Egyptian President el-Sisi, posted by Oded Berkowitz, 16 September 2015

After achieving military victory, the Al-Qaida groups initiate a vengeance campaign against hated political and military figures that have not fled the country, as well as outspoken opponents of Al-Qaida. By eliminating prominent leaders that once opposed Salafist groups during the war, Al-Qaida removes any future possibility of opposed Libyans rallying around one of these leaders in a resurgent insurgency; it also provides a useful propaganda piece to rally Al-Qaida affiliates around the region.

Jihadist recruits training near Benghazi

Victory over the Islamists and nationalists by Libya’s Al-Qaida groups earn the recognition of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, who seeks to integrate them with its regional organization and increases the amount of money, fighters, and weapons flowing into the country. With Libya now under the influence of Al-Qaida, it offers a safe haven for jihadist training camps. This allows Al-Qaida in the Sinai Peninsula (AQSP), AQIM, AQAP and smaller Al-Qaida affiliates in the region to send their fighters to Libya for training. Libya’s vital trade routes also allow Al-Qaida a protected route to transnationally move fighters, arms, and resources with greater ease. A victory in Libya thus allows Al-Qaida to expand its operations across the region with the added benefit of defeating what is left of the Islamic State there.

Unless Al-Qaida begins launching widespread attacks out of Libya, the international community is very hesitant to intervene. Considering Al-Qaida’s new support from the population, the lack of friendly armed factions on the ground, and no desire to commit large amounts of troops, the international community – particularly Western powers – do not wish to get involved in a large-scale occupation. Alternatively, some countries – such as Egypt – see a direct threat from an Al-Qaida-controlled Libya and decide to intervene. However, this would require new scenarios to fully understand their depth.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 4.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of the Islamic State’s strength. The level of Islamic State strength or weakness will impact how long it takes Al-Qaida to dominate the battlefield. If the Islamists and nationalists manage to degrade Islamic State strongholds and capabilities before becoming weak themselves, the likelihood of this scenario increases. A past indication occurred when the Islamist and nationalist coalitions cleared the Islamic State stronghold in Sirte (Amara, Reuters, December 6, 2016).
  2. The ability of Al-Qaida affiliates in Libya to defeat the Islamic State. In order to defeat Islamic State forces in Libya, Al-Qaida’s affiliates will need to form a united and coordinated front to destroy remaining IS strongholds and quash leftover IS cells. The likelihood of this scenario increases if Al-Qaida groups launch a united military offensive against the last Islamic State strongholds. A past indication occurred when an Al-Qaida linked jihadist alliance – the Mujahideen Shura Council – drove the Islamic State out of its burgeoning stronghold in Derna (Joscelyn, The Long War Journal, April 20, 2016).
  3. The willingness of Al-Qaida to base its strategy on lessons learned from AQAP and AQIM. Implementing learned lessons from regional Al-Qaida organizations is crucial to the success of the Libyan branch. If Al-Qaida in Libya is willing to adopt the strategy recommendations from AQAP and AQIM, the likelihood of this scenario significantly increases. However, both recommendations would have to be implemented: 1) gaining the support of the population by allowing local institutions to govern (although still very much influenced by AQ, and overseen by the central AQ leadership in Libya) – an example set by the AQAP group that seized Al Mukalla (Hubbard, The New York Times, June 9, 2015) and 2) gradually implementing Sharia law while primarily focusing on the needs of the local population to gain their support and trust – advice from both AQAP and leaders in AQIM (The Associated Press, February 14, 2013; Green, The Washington Institute, December 12, 2013).
  4. The willingness of Al-Qaida affiliates to unite behind a cohesive, long-term strategy for Libya. Alliances between Al-Qaida affiliates in Libya do not mean that they all will immediately unite behind a cohesive strategy for the long-term. Considering the more localized nature of Libya’s Al-Qaida affiliates (e.g. Ansar al-Sharia in Derna, Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade [primarily Derna]), they may compete for leadership roles or instead wish to pursue their own strategy in their areas of influence. If these groups are unwilling to participate in a cohesive long-term strategy, the likelihood of this scenario decreases.
  5. The ability of AQ to embed itself in the local councils. If local civilian councils are vehemently opposed to Sharia and Al-Qaida, and are aware of the jihadists’ strategy, they may prevent AQ members from participating in the local councils or even having a presence in their town or city. In this case, the likelihood of this scenario decreases.
  6. AQ’s ability to provide public services and charity to the population. Providing public services and charity to local populations has proven to generate positive support for Al-Qaida groups in Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen (Masi, International Business Times, April 7, 2016; Zelin, Hudson Institute, April 6, 2015), and thus will likely play a role in Al-Qaida’s grassroots strategy for Libya. If Al-Qaida is able to establish effective public service groups throughout the country, this scenario’s likelihood increases. Past indications occurred when Ansar al-Sharia’s “General Services Directorate” provided aid to families in Benghazi, Derna, and other towns (Joscelyn, The Long War Journal, June 30, 2015).
  7. The timing of AQ’s implementation of Sharia law. The timing would likely have a serious impact on the likelihood of Al-Qaida succeeding in Libya. If the group forces too much of the strict principles of Sharia on the population too quickly, it will likely lose support. However, if it adopts AQAP’s advice on incremental implementation (see Green, The Washington Institute, December 12, 2013), the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  8. The willingness of the minority tribes to cooperate with Al-Qaida. If Al-Qaida takes a multi-faceted approach to gaining influence over the minority tribes, it will likely increase the willingness of the tribes to cooperate. By marrying into the tribes, its fighters establish familial ties. Through its recruitment of unemployed tribal youth, as well as the influx of fighters, arms, and illicit goods across the southern trade routes, Al-Qaida increases economic opportunity for the tribes, which help boost their willingness to cooperate with the jihadists. And lastly, Al-Qaida’s reliance on local and tribal councils allows these tribes to be more autonomous and not dependent on a central state for their political rights. The likelihood of this scenario increases if the minority tribes are more willing to cooperate with Al-Qaida.
  9. The level of AQ’s desire to eliminate leaders from the Islamist and nationalist camps. Al-Qaida will likely target leaders that are outspoken in their opposition to Sharia law and or Al-Qaida as a whole. In the event of an Al-Qaida conquest, political and military leaders from the rival coalitions may flee the country; Al-Qaida leadership may put a bounty on the heads of those remaining in the country. However, they may not target the Islamist leaders from the Dawn of Libya and the General National Congress that had connections with Al-Qaida affiliates during the war. A past indication occurred when Ansar al-Sharia (an Al-Qaida affiliate) put a bounty on General Haftar and some of his key commanders (Wehrey, Carnegie Middle East Center, June 19, 2015).
  10. The willingness of external actors to militarily intervene in Libya. In the case of an Al-Qaida victory in Libya, the international community would certainly have cause for extreme concern. However, the global situation and the reality on the ground in Libya will likely determine the willingness of external actors to militarily intervene. If an abundance of conflicts and geopolitical situations outside of Libya are preoccupying the focus and military resources of external actors, they may be less willing to commit to a full military incursion. Furthermore, no friendly Libyan factions would be available to partner with a foreign coalition. If external actors are considerably hesitant to militarily intervene in Libya, the likelihood of this scenario increases. However, if some countries – like neighboring Egypt – perceive an imminent threat from an Al-Qaida-controlled Libya, they may decide to act unilaterally, thus decreasing the likelihood of this scenario occurring.

Bibliography

Feature Photo: Ansar al-Sharia gun position, posted by The Long War Journal, 30 June 2015

Aaron Y. Zelin, “The Rise and Decline of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya,” Hudson Institute, April 6, 2015

Aaron Y. Zelin, “The Islamic State’s Burgeoning Capital in Sirte, Libya,” The Washington Institute, August 6, 2015

Alessandria Masi, “Al Qaeda Winning Hearts And Minds Over ISIS In Yemen With Social Services,” International Business Times, April 7, 2016

“Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” Counter Extremism Project

“Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS),” Counter Extremism Project

“Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM),” Counter Extremism Project

“AP: Al Qaeda letter found outlining Mali strategy,” The Associated Press, February 14, 2013

Ben Hubbard, “Al Qaeda Tries a New Tactic to Keep Power: Sharing It,” The New York Times, June 9, 2015

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

Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, and Mark Mazzetti, “Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia,” The New York Times, November 27, 2016

Daniel Green, “Al-Qaeda’s Shadow Government in Yemen,” The Washington Institute, December 12, 2013

Dr. Helene Lavoix, “Understanding the Islamic State’s System – The Calif and Legitimacy,” The Red Team Analysis Society, May 25, 2015

Dr. Helene Lavoix, “Understanding the Islamic State’s System – Means of Violence,” The Red Team Analysis Society, June 15, 2015

Frederic Wehrey, “Splitting the Islamists: The Islamic State’s Creeping Advance in Libya,” Carnegie Middle East Center, June 19, 2015

Hani Amara, “Libyan forces clear last Islamic State holdout in Sirte,” Reuters, December 6, 2016

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

Mark Mardell, “Could the European Union fall apart?” BBC News, December 6, 2016

“New report reveals spread of US war on Al-Qaeda around the world,” RT, December 5, 2016

Tamer El-Ghobashy and Hassan Morajea, “Two Main Libyan Militias are Maintaining a Truce to Battle Islamic State,” The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2015

The Soufan Group, “The Islamic State’s Expansion Strategy in Libya,” TSG IntelBrief, March 3, 2016

“The Sun Sets on Libya Dawn,” STRATFOR, April 2, 2016

Thomas Joscelyn, “Ansar al Sharia Libya fights on under new leader,” The Long War Journal, June 30, 2015

Thomas Joscelyn, “Islamic State fighters retreat from bases outside Derna, Libya,” The Long War Journal, April 20, 2016

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.

Click to access larger image

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

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2.3 Libya’s Partition

In our previous article, we detailed a spillover scenario where conflict spills over in all directions, including Europe, Algeria, Niger, and Egypt. This article is focusing on possible scenarios depicting Libya’s partition that could stem from the Libyan war. In the first scenario, the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou tribes move from ideas of autonomy to outright declaring independence and breaking away from the Libyan state as a result of marginalization and lack of security. In the second scenario, Libyans begin declaring independence and breaking away from the rest of Libya along provincial lines. In the last scenario, Libya splits apart along a north-south axis located through or close to Sirte – essentially East Libya and West Libya – with the Islamists, Misratans, Amazigh, and Tuareg in the west, and the nationalist forces, federalists, and Toubou in the east.

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.

Sub-scenario 2.3 Libya’s Partition

Tribalism, lack of faith in a unity government, the lack of security, economic insecurity, opposition to groups in power, and exclusion from or grievances with the political sphere are the primary factors that contribute to Libya’s partition. It is important to note that tribal independence may also occur after a partition along provincial lines or along a north-south axis located through Sirte.

scenarios, Libyan scenario, Libyan war, Libya's partition, strategic foresight, warning, early warning, geopolitics, uncertainty, geopolitical risk, risk management
Click to access larger image

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. 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.
  2. Level of faith in a unity government. If the rival factions distrust or have no faith in a unity government, they will lean towards full victory or outright partition in order to maintain their own type of governance. A past indication occurred when the Council of Representatives passed a vote of no confidence in the UN-backed unity government (“Libyan parliament scuppers UN-backed unity government,” Deutsche Welle, August 22, 2016).
  3. The level of security throughout the country. One of the primary functions of a state is to maintain stability and defend its citizens. With a civil war raging and security forces lacking or non-existent, the rival factions and tribes provide for their own security. The lack of proper security increases the likelihood of the rival groups pushing for independent states. Furthermore, the lack of security heavily contributes to the weakening of the state, which in turn weakens the nation. The more weakened the nation, the higher the likelihood of partition.
  4. Increased influence of tribalism throughout Libya. As civil war drags on and conditions deteriorate, it’s likely that tribalism will increase. Increased tribalism will increase the likelihood of partition, particularly a partition along tribal lines.
  5. Level of political inclusion for minority tribes. If minority tribes continue to be excluded or underrepresented at the state level, they will more likely push for an independent state with a tribal government.
  6. 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.

Sub-scenario 2.3.1 Partition Along Tribal Lines

As the conflict continues, the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou tribes increasingly see that their involvement is helping preserve a Libyan state that fails to include them – involvement that is taking a toll on their people. This mentality increases as the war drags on, which soon causes the tribes to think that their people would be better off in an independent state where tribalism is the belief-system behind the state.

scenarios, Libyan scenario, Libyan war, Libya's partition, strategic foresight, warning, early warning, geopolitics, uncertainty, geopolitical risk, risk managementWith previous rhetoric for autonomy coming to the forefront and progressively escalating, the tribes confer with their tribal leaders and councils to come to an official decision. The lack of security, lack of economic development and inclusion by the state, marginalization and outright aggression by Arab tribes, and opposition to foreign “intervention” (assuming that foreign soldiers and government personnel are operating in tandem with the Libyan government(s)) push these tribes to forego autonomy and outright declare full independence from the Libyan state and establish their own tribal state ruled by tribal councils and courts. As all three minority tribes declare independence – and it is possible that a declaration of full independence by one tribe will influence the others to do the same – much of southern Libya is essentially partitioned from the rest of the country, with a small autonomous Amazigh state in the north. A partition along tribal lines significantly limits the power of the national government in Libya, or the fighting between contending national governments, and threatens to influence additional secessionist movements.

Furthermore, the whole strategic and geopolitical outlook of the region is fundamentally altered. The primary issue stems from international recognition. Some states may support independent Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou states, while others do not – of which these differing positions may cause further political or military conflict.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.3.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Level of tribal resentment towards the competing governments. If the minority tribes continue to feel excluded from power – despite allying with the rival governments – they will be more likely to push for independent tribal states.
  2. The level of marginalization and aggression by Arab tribes towards the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou. If Arab tribes continue to fight with the minority tribes for territory and influence, the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou may push for independent states in order to legitimize their territorial claims.
  3. Level of opposition to foreign involvement in Libya. Considering foreign intervention’s effect on Libya’s minority tribes throughout history (see Mitchell, Tribal Dynamics and Civil War I, II, and III), the tribes will be more willing to oppose the rival governments and declare independence for themselves if foreign forces are operating alongside the Islamists or nationalists.
  4. The progression of rhetoric from autonomy to full independence. If tribes begin moving from the autonomy rhetoric to independence rhetoric, the likelihood of this scenario significantly increases (see Lavoix, PhD Thesis, 2005, for how this occurred in Cambodia). Furthermore, if one tribe begins a move for independence, it may cause the other two minority tribes to change their rhetoric as well.
  5. Indicators 1-6 of sub-scenario 2.3 also act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.3.2 Partition Along Provincial Lines

After a long period of conflict, the Islamists, Misratans, nationalists, and tribes reach a military stalemate. Exhausted by continuous fighting, but not wanting to submit to a government dominated by the enemy, the Islamists, nationalists, and even the tribes, look for an alternative. Fuelled by their own abilities to provide security, governance, and social services in their own territory, as well as by enmity against the enemy, the competing sides push for independence and acceptance of partition. The Toubou and Tuareg tribes in the southern province of Fezzan are already on the verge of independence, and the primary coalitions in northern Libya are essentially divided on provincial lines. Having abandoned the hope that a unity government representing them is possible, the opposing coalitions partition Libya along the country’s historical provincial lines and declare self-governing entities. In this way, each new government can perform the functions needed for each new country (printing money, overseeing oil exports, foreign relations, etc.). In each ex-province now a state, Libyans can elect strong leadership and accomplish state functions on that level.

The Islamists and Misrata primarily become the leading force for the new Tripolitania, the nationalists for the new Cyrenaica – which is also the heart of Libya’s federalist movement, and the Tuareg and Toubou tribes share the power in the southern province of Fezzan.

scenarios, Libyan scenario, Libyan war, Libya's partition, strategic foresight, warning, early warning, geopolitics, uncertainty, geopolitical risk, risk management
Historical provinces of Libya

Similar to sub-scenario 2.3.1, the whole strategic and geopolitical outlook of the region is fundamentally altered. The primary issue stems from international recognition. We could imagine that countries like Turkey and Qatar immediately recognize the Islamist-dominated Tripolitania, while countries like Egypt and the United Arab Emirates immediately grant recognition to Cyrenaica, which is dominated by the nationalists – led by people like General Haftar. Recognition for the Tuareg and Toubou state of Fezzan may also be mixed. The international community’s differing positions on legitimacy and recognition have the serious potential to cause further political or military conflict in Libya, and the whole region.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.3.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Willingness to partition the country along provincial lines. If all the powerful factions agree to split the country along provincial lines, the likelihood significantly increases. The trouble lies in the rival governments conceding to partition along these provincial borders despite territorial gains made during the war. Furthermore, the Toubou and Tuareg would have to agree to share power in the province of Fezzan (see indicator below).
  2. Toubou and Tuareg’s willingness to share power in the southern province. In order for Libya to partition along tribal lines, the Toubou and Tuareg tribes in Fezzan province have to agree to share power. They will have to come to a lasting agreement on territorial control – particularly over vital trade routes (see Mitchell, Tribal Dynamics and Civil War II and III). If the two tribes come to a territorial agreement and are willing to share power in Fezzan, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  3. Indicators 1-6 of sub-scenario 2.3 also act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.3.3 Partition Along North-South Axis (Islamists vs. Nationalists)

scenarios, Libyan scenario, Libyan war, Libya's partition, strategic foresight, warning, early warning, geopolitics, uncertainty, geopolitical risk, risk managementSimilar to sub-scenario 2.3.2, the various sides are exhausted by civil war, but are unwilling to unite under one government. Driven by exhaustion from conflict, ego, and belief in their abilities to fulfill state functions better than their opponents, the opposing sides split Libya along a north-south axis with the Islamists, Misratans, Amazigh, and Tuareg in the west, and the nationalists and Toubou in the East. Considering Sirte’s strategic location between east and west Libya (Fasanotti, The Atlantic, August 27, 2016), the axis begins there – or very close to the city – and goes south. With territorial control more or less established, the rival governments declare independence for their respective portion of the Libyan state. As a result, both governments compete for international legitimacy, and begin structuring their own political system, military and police forces, social services, currency, and oil ministries. Given Libya’s geographic climate and location of natural resources, there is naturally some additional conflict over water and oil resources that can determine the survival of these now independent “states”.

The difference between this scenario and scenario 2.3.2 is that the Tuareg, Toubou, and Amazigh tribes are more involved with the competing governments, and go along with an east-west split, rather than forming their own independent tribal states.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.3.3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of tribal inclusion with the Islamist and nationalist governments. In order for Libya to be partitioned along a north-south axis, the Amazigh, Toubou and Tuareg will have to agree to be part of the partition and submit to the rule of their respective governments. If the Islamist and nationalist governments better include these tribes, as well as address their other grievances, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  2. Willingness of the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou to be included in these two new states, rather than form their own independent tribal states. Building upon the first indicator above, if the minority tribes are better included in government and have their grievances addressed, they will likely be more willing to be included in one of the two new states, rather than form their own independent mini-states – which increases the likelihood of this scenario.
  3. Ability of the competing governments to agree on a dividing border. The competing governments must agree on a fixed border in order for this scenario to occur. If one side holds more territory, they will likely not be as willing to scale back their territory in order to abide by a border. However, if both governments are able to reach a binding agreement on a fixed border along a north-south axis, the likelihood of this scenario significantly increases.
  4. Indicators 1, 2, 3, and 5 of sub-scenario 2.3 also act here in a similar way.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Council of Representatives Government posted on the Council of Representatives Facebook Page, 1 September 2016

Federica Saini Fasanotti, “Why Partitioning Libya Might Be the Only Way to Save It,” The Atlantic, August 27, 2016

Helene Lavoix, “’Nationalism’ and ‘Genocide’: The Construction of Nation-ness, Authority, and Opposition, The Case of Cambodia (1861-1979),” PhD Thesis, University of London – School of Oriental and African Studies, 2005

Jon Mitchell, “The Libyan War Spills Over to Egypt, Algeria, Niger and Europe – Scenarios for the Future of Libya,” The Red Team Analysis Society, July 11, 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

“Libyan parliament scuppers UN-backed unity government,” Deutsche Welle, August 22, 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

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly – 2 June 2016

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

Read the 2 June 2016 scan 

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

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

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

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

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2 (9) Fragmentation and International Intervention

This article is the ninth of our series focusing on scenarios depicting the range of possible interventions in the Libyan war. In our previous article, we discussed an international intervention that supports a unity government, despite initial fragmentation – a group of scenarios we wrap up here. In this article, we shall focus on scenarios related to the continued fragmentation of the unity government, including interventions that may occur if the unity government fails.

In our scenario, our UN-backed Libyan unity government is unable to mitigate the fragmentation in its political leadership and armed coalition. The scenarios discussed below point out some crucial elements that should be considered: the success or failure of such an intervention will depend heavily on the level of fragmentation, as well as on the international coalition’s willingness to continue its campaign in Libya despite the exacerbation of civil war that could be induced by the intervention itself. The amount of power (across all domains) to apply to the situation and thus the cost incurred to revert fragmentation will be proportional to the intensity and depth of fragmentation. Past a certain threshold, it will be impossible to go back to unity and the international coalition will only be intervening on the side of somehow a new actor in a renewed Libyan 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.

Click to access larger image

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.1.2 The International Coalition Launches a Full Intervention after Receiving an Invitation from the Unity Government

Facing a stalemate in ground fighting or a potential breakout of renewed tribal/political tensions within its forces, the unity government decides to invite both air and ground international forces to intervene in Libya. The international coalition thus launches a full intervention that leads to the same results as an international airstrike campaign (Sc 2.1.2.1.1.1). A full intervention, as long as it is properly planned strategically, then carried out, would likely shorten the timeframe for an outcome, considering the better trained and better-equipped international ground forces would hasten the ground conflict. However, the cost of intervention would be significantly higher for contributing countries. A full intervention would likely have a higher chance of success, depending on the level of opposition by the Libyan people. If Libyan opposition is high, and if the intervention strategy is less than efficient, there is the possibility that the full intervention could reignite the fragmentation.

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.2 The Unity Government Continues to Fragment

Lacking moderate leaders to help mediate the political in-fighting, the unity government continues to fragment. Politicians quickly begin to revert back to their previous political factions that not only create a stalemate for progress, but also bring political factions dangerously close to returning to the remnants of the GNC and COR – which would essentially resurrect the rival powers and destroy the unity government. Seeing the fragmentation of their united leadership, the Libyan people withdraw their support of the government and turn to local political councils or tribes for leadership. This leads then to the pursuit of local and tribal agendas rather than national unification. Furthermore, the political stalemate and return to former alliances persuade many of the groups in the unity government’s armed coalition to withdraw their support and pursue their own objectives.

With the Libyan unity government headed towards collapse, the international community faces two options: intervention in anticipation of government collapse, or no intervention at all (see scenarios below).

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.2.1.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The number of moderate leaders available to help mediate political fighting. The majority of politicians will likely have strong tribal or political allegiances, which lessens the likelihood of truly moderate leaders being able and willing to mediate political fighting between factions. If the unity government lacks moderate leaders, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  2. The strength, influence and capability in terms of “tribal politics” of the united government leaders. As discussed in “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1),” tribalism in Libya grows stronger in the absence of the state. Thus, tribal politics can be very influential when the state is fragmenting, as is the case today. If government leaders are highly influenced by tribal politics, the likelihood of continued fragmentation increases.
  3. The tendency for politicians to revert back to previous political factions. Considering the various post-Qaddafi governments, the existence of strong political factions over the years, and the rivalry between GNC and COR politicians, it will likely not take long for politicians to revert back to their previous political factions from the period before a unity government.
  4. The Libyan peoples’ willingness to turn to local councils or tribes for leadership. Considering the statelessness under Qaddafi and the concept of loyalty to tribe first (see Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1),” April 13, 2015), local councils and tribal leaders have strong influence in Libya. After a series of unsuccessful post-Qaddafi governments, political in-fighting in the unity government will likely cause Libyans to increasingly turn to local councils or tribal leadership – thus increasing the likelihood of this scenario.
  5. The level of fragmentation that causes armed groups to withdraw support. The more the government fragments, the more likely that armed groups will lose confidence in their support, which will cause them to withdraw and pursue their own agenda.
  6. Indicator 3 of sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.1 also acts here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.2.1 The International Coalition Intervenes in Anticipation of Government Collapse

As the government continues to fragment at a dangerous pace and faces impending collapse, the international coalition intervenes in Libya to prevent further failure of the state. The coalition deploys air and ground forces in an offensive against Salafist strongholds, while additional international forces act as a peacekeeping force around the capital to help preserve what is left of the unity government.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.2.1.2.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of fragmentation of the unity government. The level of fragmentation will play a large role in the international community’s decision on whether to intervene. If the unity government is too far-gone and already collapsing, the likelihood of this scenario decreases. However, if the unity government’s fragmentation is still at a position where it can be reversed over time, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  2. The willingness of external actors to intervene in Libya as a last effort to keep the unity government intact. If external actors consider the unity government’s impending collapse irreversible, they may decide not to commit forces to a Libya intervention. However, if their interests in keeping a central government intact – even if it will require a long-term peacebuilding mission to fix – outweigh the risk of effects from total collapse, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  3. Indicators 3, 6, 7 of sub-scenario 2.1.1.4 also act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.2.1.1 The International Coalition Succeeds Against Salafist Threats, Attempts to Help Rebuild the Government

Considering the impending collapse of the unity government, as well as the added threat of Salafist groups taking advantage of political dysfunction, the international coalition forces work quickly to destroy Salafist capabilities and networks. Massive airpower coupled with strong ground forces soon mitigate or altogether destroy the Salafist threats. With Salafist capabilities degraded, the coalition turns to help rebuild the unity government with a peacebuilding mission (see Mitchell, “A Successful Peacebuilding Mission?” September 28, 2015).

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.2.1.2.1.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The efficiency of the military strategies to destroy Salafist strongholds. The success against Salafist strongholds relies on the efficiency of the air and ground strategies to work in sync against multiple Salafist groups. If international forces get bogged down against various groups, the likelihood of this scenario decreases.
  2. The level of contributed airpower by international coalition forces. If coalition forces are conducting airstrike campaigns in other operations, they may have difficulty in contributing sufficient airpower to a Libyan intervention that hinges on both air and ground forces. If external actors are unable to shift sufficient aircraft and related resources to a Libyan intervention, the likelihood of this scenario decreases.
  3. Indicator 6 of sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.1.1 acts here in a similar way.
  4. Indicator 3 of sub-scenario 2.1.1.4.1.2.2.2.1 acts here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.2.1.2 International Intervention Exacerbates Government Fragmentation and Conflict

Due to the international intervention lacking a fully agreed upon invitation, the Libyan people and many government leaders perceive the intervention as illegal and imperialistic. Thus, the intervention exacerbates the political fragmentation, as well as the conflict. Factions begin to actively oppose intervention forces, based on their perception of the intervention. Salafist groups then begin to use the unpopular intervention as propaganda to bolster their forces and support.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.2.1.2.1.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of support for Salafist 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 Salafist groups in Libya, which could improve their efforts to hinder intervention forces. Furthermore, Salafist groups could foster recruitment from post-Gaddafi marginalized Arab tribal groups, as the Islamic State has done notably around the Sirte area and potentially further south towards Sebha, as well as from other sympathizers as around Tripoli, and Sabratah (United Nations letter from Panel of Experts on Libya, March 9, 2016; Lavoix, The Red Team Analysis Society, May 16, 2016). Salafist groups could also use the intervention for propaganda purposes, which could boost its external support as well.
  2. Indicator 2 of sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.1.1.2 also acts here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.2.1.2.1 International Intervention Destroys Salafist Threats, Attempts to Help Stabilize and Rebuild Libya

Despite Salafist propaganda and opposition by the Libyan people, the coalition pushes forward and eventually destroys Salafist strongholds in Libya. Having accomplished their main objective in Libya – destroying Salafist threats to the West – the international coalition then attempts to help stabilize and rebuild the country in a peacebuilding mission (see Mitchell, “A Successful Peacebuilding Mission?” September 28, 2015). The decision to stay in Libya and ensure its stabilization and rebuilding stems from lessons learned during the post-2011 intervention phase. Is is however a very difficult – and probably long – task considering the opposition of the people and of the factions. From the Libyans’ point of view, the international coalition is an invading force.

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.2.1.2.2 The International Coalition Withdraws its Forces, Back to Civil War

Facing widespread opposition, a dysfunctional government, and protracted conflict, the international coalition decides to withdraw its forces. This scenario thus leads back to civil war.

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.1.2.2 The Unity Government Fails – Back to Civil War

Not willing to request international assistance, the unity government continues to fragment as politicians cling to former factions and fail to make any progress. As a result, the unity government loses all public support, and thus loses domestic legitimacy. Not desiring to intervene in the now-collapsing country with no clear exit strategy, no central government in place, and a variety of non-state armed factions, the international community does not intervene in Libya. The government eventually reaches the point of total failure and dissolves. With a power vacuum in place, the country returns to civil war as groups compete for dominance.

Sub-scenario 2.1.2.2 The Unity Government Does Not Fragment, on the Contrary, It Gains Support

This sub-scenario is the international point of view of sub-scenario 1.1.1.2.2 (Mitchell, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Scenarios 1 (3) – A Successful Peacebuilding Mission?” September 28, 2015), where the unity government receives proper international assistance, but the long road towards stabilization is still fraught with difficulty.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Soldiers with the 12th Mechanized Brigade Reconnaissance Force about to disembark from a helicopter by Defence Images [CC BY-NC 2.0], via Flickr

United Nations letter from Panel of Experts on Libya, March 9, 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, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Scenarios 1 (3) – A Successful Peacebuilding Mission?,” The Red Team Analysis Society, September 28, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2 (8) Intervention for a UN-Backed Government,” The Red Team Analysis Society, May 9, 2016

Dr. Helene Lavoix, “The Islamic State in Libya – When Libyan Tribes Pledge Allegiance to the Khalifah,” The Red Team Analysis Society, May 16, 2016

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly – 19 May 2016

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

Read the 19 May 2016 scan 

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

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

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

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

The Islamic State in Libya – When Libyan Tribes Pledge Allegiance to the Khalifah

The coming Battle for Sirte to defeat the Islamic State in Libya is principally seen from the perspective of the struggle between the U.N.-backed new government supported by some militias including Misrata, and those who refuse that government’s legitimacy, such as nationalist Haftar (e.g. “The scramble for Sirte”, The Economist, 14 May 2016. In the meanwhile, the Islamic State becomes an insignificant threat. Similarly, the situation on the ground, notably the tribes and related politics, are quasi ignored.

Yet, it is crucial to have an understanding of what is happening, which goes beyond a top-down approach, and to consider also the perspective of the enemy, through red team analysis for example, as we are doing here. The consequences for not doing so may be deleterious, notably for companies which do not have the easy choice to “avoid risk” as advised in risk management, i.e. for all those companies bound to a territory located on Libyan ground, be it because of infrastructures, exploitation of resources or because they deliver security advice of a very tactical and local nature nonetheless influenced by larger and more strategic developments. Humanitarian organisations are no less concerned as they need to prepare and deploy on the ground, to say nothing, of course, of Libyan people, which have to live with war.

If proper courses of actions are to be chosen, then a red team approach must be used, the complexity of the terrain must be considered, analysis must be added to mere collection of information and alternative hypotheses must be examined.

tribes allegiance, gates of misratah, Misrata, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, Tribes, pledge, bay'ah, Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman
“On the Gates of Misratah” – Wilayat Tarabulus – 12 May

This is what we shall endeavour here, building upon the last article which, seeking to evaluate the Islamic State forces in Libya, started also underlining the importance of the Islamic State’s connection to tribes (see The Islamic State in Libya – Force, Fighters and Tribes). Linkages to the Qadhadhfa tribe outlined potentials in terms of the creation of a truly Libyan component to the Khilafah’s presence in Libya, through the integration of people who were previously members of Gaddafi state’s security apparatus. Meanwhile, they also added, for the Islamic State, potential strategic depth to the south notably towards the town of Sebha, which could then be declined through trade, logistics, and strategic expansion towards and linkages with the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa.

We shall now continue our focus on the Islamic State and tribes. We shall first point out indications that confirm the importance of the tribal connection for the Islamic State in Libya. We shall then enlarge our enquiry to also consider two other tribes besides the Qadhadhfa, the Awlad Sulayman and the Warfalla Tribes, notably pointing out the relationships between the three. Finally, we shall examine threats that could emerge from potential connections between the Islamic State and these three tribes and relate them to events on the ground.

Fighting over Libyan tribes

Interestingly, new indications of the importance of the elements favouring connections between some tribes and the Islamic State have been recently given by the conjunction of a couple of articles and news. The latter stressed either the willingness of ex-Gaddafi supporters to fight against the Islamic State or an Islamic State willingness to kill them. With these assertions, those fighting the Islamic State try to counter and deter any potential support any tribal member could give to the Islamic State.

We thus find that, according to the Libya Herald, in Sirte, the Islamic State has executed an army captain, Ahnaish Qaddafi (“IS continues killings as LNA claims offensive against Sirte ready”, 1 May 2016), reportedly a “leading member of the Qaddadfa tribe”, which would imply that “ISIS is likely to target more Gaddafi loyalists and sympathisers as it fears a new uprising in the town especially if arms make their way to these dissidents in the city”. (Eye On ISIS in Libya, Jihadology, 4 May 2016). Then, according to the International Business Time (William Watkinson, 7 May 2016), “Colonel Gaddafi’s henchmen join the West to purge Isis from North Africa“.  Finally, we learn that “Gaddafi’s widow [is] allowed back to Libya as part of ‘reconciliation’ drive” prompted by a “new program of national reconciliation” (Colin Freeman, The Telegraph, 9 May 2016).

tribes allegiance, gates of misratah, Misrata, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, Tribes, pledge, bay'ah, Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman

The Islamic State answer was to publish a psyops product (see above and below) showing elders and leaders of the Qadhadhfa, the Awlad Sulayman (or Awlad Sulaiman) and the Warfalla tribes pledging allegiance (bay’ah) to al-Baghdadi (Photo report, Wilayat Tarabulus media, 8 May 2016; @wellesbien, 8 May tweet; @Libyen_Insider, 9 May tweet).

tribes allegiance, gates of misratah, Misrata, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, Tribes, pledge, bay'ah, Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman tribes allegiance, gates of misratah, Misrata, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, Tribes, pledge, bay'ah, Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman tribes allegiance, gates of misratah, Misrata, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, Tribes, pledge, bay'ah, Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman

Considering what we saw previously, notably the findings of the U.N. “Final report of the Panel of Experts on Libya established pursuant to resolution 1973 (2011)” (S/2016/209 9 March 2016) indicating notably the cooptation of members of the Qadhadhfa tribe within the Islamic State, these are indications of a psyops battle being fought around and for the loyalty of and support by members of Gaddafi security apparatus from the U.N.-backed government’s and its supporters’ point of view, for allegiance (bay’ah) by these three tribes from the Islamic State’s perspective. Considering the tribal characteristics of Libya, both perspectives are congruent.

This struggle for influence also shows the crucial importance of securing tribal support in the battle against the Islamic State in Libya, and more generally for any operation in Libya, including by private and corporate actors, all the more so in the complex context of the war.

Towards a revisited al-Suff al-Fugi [al-Fuqhi] (Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman and Warfalla Tribes)?

Against the backdrop of the struggle for this tribal “support” (pledging bay’ah is more than support), considering the Islamic State new psyops product, we do not only have to consider members or families of the Qadhadhfa tribe but also two other tribes, the Awlad Sulayman (or Awlad Sulaiman) and the Warfalla.

The Islamic State’s statement regarding bay’ah pledged by the Awlad Sulayman’s elders may appear as strange at first glance, as Sirte was meant to be captured partly from them (U.N. report, ibid., par. 57).

Yet, if we look back to the recent history of Libya, we find that “Qaddafi drew his strongest supporters from his own tribe, the Qadadfa, and many of its traditional tribal allies which once composed the Saff Awlad Sulayman confederation” (Bell and Witter, “Roots of Rebellion: Part I,” Institute for the Study of War, September 2011). According to Ali Abdullatif Ahmidain, during the 19th century, “this tribal confederation [the tribal suff of the interior, al-Fugi] included the four clans of the Awlad Sulayman and the Gadaddfa, the Warfalla, and the population of the Hunn-Waddan oases of Waddan and Hunn” (The Making of Modern Libya: State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance,  1994, 2009, pp. 53-54). It was mainly led up to 1927 by the Awlad Sulayman tribe (ibid.).

Thus the cooptation by the Islamic State of some members of the Qadhadhfa, as seen, may have eased association with some members of the Awlad Sulayman – and of the Warfalla – considering past alliances.

What we may be witnessing is an attempt by the Islamic State to recreate the kind of ancestral tribal alliances that allowed Gaddafi to remain in power and to develop a polity, itself grounded into much older Libyan political dynamics.

We should not forget, however the challenges related to such an endeavour. For example, the Awlad Sulayman, ruling notably over Sebha, was the leading tribe until the advent of Gaddafi (John Oakes, “Libya – Tribes and Tribulations“, Berenice Stories, March 2014). Gaddafi, while also integrating it, nonetheless favoured his own tribe, the Qadhadhfa (Ibid.). As a result, attempts to reassert past power by the Awald Sulayman may still exist, which could mean that only lukewarm or facade support may be given.

As far as the Warfalla is concerned, this very large tribe counts more than 1 million people and is composed of more than 50 sub-tribes (Bell and Witter, “Roots of Rebellion”, ibid., 18). It is thus most unlikely to act as a unique body. For example, Bell and Witter emphasise that the Warfalla “often aligned with the Qadadfa, and thus Qaddafi, due to blood ties, but the relationship is more than kinship. The Warfalla and the Qadadfa are long-established military allies” (Ibid.). Yet, in 2011 during the civil war against Gaddafi, some Warfalla defected (Arturo Varvelli, “The role of tribal dynamics in the Libyan future“, ISPI Analysis No. 172, May 2013, p.7). This is an instance of the variety of alignments and behaviour one may find within one tribe.

Nonetheless, Varvelli also underlines that “In post-Gaddafi Libya, some tribes – such as the Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Warshafana, Tarhouna, Asabia and Mashashiya – are threatened by the revolutionary militias or suffer exclusion in the new political order” (ibid.), which implies that not most Warfalla did not defect. Indeed, many of the Warfalla, chiefly among them those in Bani Walid, remained faithful to Gaddafi, and suffered afterwards at the hand of the winning factions and tribes, first among them their arch-enemy the Misratans  (Peter Cole, “Bani Walid: Loyalism in a Time of Revolution”, 2015). Then, facing both state collapse, isolation and reprisal, they fell back on the old tribal identities and notably revived the old idea of “al-Suff al-Fuqhi” (al-Fugi) (Ibid., 286).

What we see here outlined is that some Warfalla, as we detailed previously for the Qadhadhfa (see Force, Fighters and Tribes), may find interest in links with the Islamic State, which would then capitalise on both the destruction of Gaddafi Libya with the support of NATO and feelings of injustice and alienation afterwards. Thus some of the Warfalla may be neutral or sympathetic to the aims of the Islamic State, while others may not.

Meanwhile, even the Qadhadhfa tribe is composed of 6 sub-tribes and thus sub-tribes – or families within them – may choose different paths.

We thus have older and deeper tribal identities and alliances which were revived before the Islamic State’s declaration of the Khilafah, mixed with at least a modicum of feeling of “Libyan-ness”, which remains and is expressed mainly as rejection of foreign intervention (note that the insistence on Tunisian, Chadian or any non-Libyan identity of Islamic State’s fighters is an effort at leveraging this feeling, further research and development on what it means to be foreign, from a Libyan point of view is needed here). The two can now meet and coalesce with the Khilafah’s objective in Libya, whilst inner feuds as well as sub-tribes’ and families’ independence may, on the contrary, play against such a revival in support of the Islamic State.

We should thus consider the Islamic State’s probable aim to embed itself within and link with a renewed al-suff al-Fugi as a dangerous emerging potentiality to monitor and not as an already fully actualized situation. Even if the links forged were already strong, considering the fluid character of tribal politics, we would need to monitor this tribal aspect closely.

Potential Threats in al-suff al-Fugi linkages with the Islamic State

What are thus the new threats outlined by the latest psyops product of wilayat Tarabulus, i.e. potentialities stemming not only from the linkages with and bay’ah by the Qadhadhfa, but also by some sub-tribes of the Awald Sulayman and of the Warfalla, and can we link them to events on the ground?

Keeping the road to the west and southwest opened while protecting Sirte western flank … and expanding?

If we look at the map depicting the implantation of tribes we see that the area south of Misrata and west from Sirte is home to the Warfalla.

tribes allegiance, gates of misratah, Misrata, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, Tribes, pledge, bay'ah, Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman
Distribution of major tribes in Libya by Giacomo Goldkorn, March, 18th, 2015, Geopolitical Atlas (click map to access geopoliticalatlas.org) – Sources: Libyan tribal system, Fergiani, – 09/22/2011.

We thus find a convergence, in the absence of direct evidence besides the Islamic State photos, between the early May 2016 Islamic State’s breakthrough to the west of Sirte, against Misrata, and the area under Warfalla rule.

On 5 and 6 May, the Islamic State moved west against Misrata and took the crossroad of Abu Grein (Abu Grain) as well as six other town and villages around the area (Abu Nujaym, Wadi Zamzam, Al Balgha, Al Washka, Wadi Bey and Al Buwirat (Fezzan.com, 7 May 2016; Libya’s Channel, 7 May;  “Weekly Eye on ISIS in Libya Update”, Jihadology.net, 10 May 2016), as shown on the detailed map (by @ArtRosinski updated 13 May) below:

map, ISIS west expansion libya, tribes allegiance, gates of misratah, Misrata, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, Tribes, pledge, bay'ah, Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman
Islamic State Western expansion 5 to 13 May 2016. Click on image to access large original file in HD. By @ArtRosinski

At the time of writing, fighting continues between Misrata and the Islamic State. On 12 May 2016, we had “clashes between #Misrata forces and #ISIS near the Sadada checkpoint” (@alwasatengnews, 12 May tweet), with vehicles and weapons being reportedly seized from the Islamic State by the 604th infantry (@Chief_MarshallR, 12 May tweet), forcing them to retreat towards Boukran (@libyaalaan, 12 May tweet). On 13 May, Misrata forces would have captured fifteen fighters of the Islamic State (Libya Akhbar). Meanwhile, Libya Dawn claims it has “performed more than 40 airstrikes in the vicinity of #Abugrein area” since 8 May (@Arn_Del, 12 May tweet) and air strikes would be ongoing (@Oded121351 12 May tweet).   

On 15 May, some forces ofLibya Dawn were still reportedly moving towards Abu Grein ((@Chief_MarshallR, 15 May tweet), and on 16 May 2016 the areas previously seized by the Islamic State were apparently still under its control.

We are not here in a “hit and run” context but in one where the Islamic State seeks to assert control, while being on the offensive. The map (by @Libyen_Insider) depicting the various forces in Libya thus now looks as below for 5 May, to which should be added the Islamic State move further west as depicted on the area map above:

map, libya 5 may war,
Map of the War in Libya by @Libyen_Insider – Click to access original map

Or, alternatively, as below, as for 13 May ( @ArtRosinski): The Islamic State corridor to the south depicted here seems to be much more in line with the pledge given by the three tribes as well as with the known move of fighters and weapons from the south through Sebha (see Force, Fighters and Tribes).

map IS all corridor south, map Islamic State Libya 13 May
Map of the war in Libya, situation by 13 May 2016, enlarged from the small map of the “Islamic State Western expansion 5 to 13 May 2016”. by @ArtRosinski

These Islamic State western attacks take place as the uncoordinated offensive against the Islamic State in Sirte is imminent, the new UN-backed government being about to attack from the west, with and through Misrata (e.g. TRTWorld, Reuters, “Libya prepares military operation on DAESH stronghold“, 11 May 2016), while the army of nationalist Haftar (not recognising the legitimacy of the U.N. backed government) is marching on Sirte from the east along the coast and from the southeast through Zalla (Libya’s Channel, “Haftar orders army to move on IS-held Sirte, clashes in Zalla“, 4 May 2016).

sirte deserted at night, night in Sirte, Sirte, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, offensive sirte
Sirte deserted at night – 12 May 2016 – by @mohamed7elmahde

In this framework, and considering the Islamic State is certainly preparing itself to sustain a siege in Sirte, witness the refugees leaving the city and report of increased defences (Jamahiriya News Agency, 9 May 2016; TRTWorld, Reuters, Ibid; “Weekly Eye on ISIS”, Ibid.), the surprise attack to the west is probably a way to protect the western flank of the city, as well as to keep opened the road to the southwest, should a retreat be necessary. However planning for all options, including a retreat, is not the same as choosing to leave Sirte for the south as best strategic option, nor as a deliberate choice to abandon Libya, as argued by Emily Estelle, who states: “ISIS is laying the groundwork to abandon Sirte and will then pursue an alternate course of action to continue its campaign in North Africa without its Libyan stronghold.” (“ISIS’s Courses of Action – Out of Sirte“, Critical Threats, April 29, 2016).

Indeed the new territory captured by the Islamic State, added to the fact it is in Warfalla territory may also outline other possibilities. We should note here that the Islamic State wilayat Tarabulus psyops video stressing the support of the Warfalla was published on 8 May 2016, thus after the operation around Abu Grein took place. Although we do not know how much coercion and how much influence and cooptation could have been exerted, it is nonetheless likely that some results in terms of tribal politics were achieved with some Warfalla sub-tribes – or families, as shows the pledge of bay’ah and without which hold on an area would be quite impossible.

Two factors may be operative here. First, the deep-seated enmity between Misrata and the Warfalla may strongly be playing (Cole, Ibid.; Jon Mitchell, Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (3) (Toubou and Arab Tribes), 11 May 2015, RTAS; Oakes, Ibid). Second, The UN-backed character of the new GNA, added to covert support already given by the U.S., U.K. and France, are likely to enhance the perception of the U.N.-backed government as linked to foreign invaders (note that a few U.S. forces would be stationed in Misrata Missy Ryan, “U.S. establishes Libyan outposts with eye toward offensive against Islamic State“, Washington Post, 12 May 2016; see also Chris Stephen, “Secret US mission in Libya revealed after air force posted pictures“, The Guardian, 17 December 2015; Reuters, “French special forces waging ‘secret war’ in Libya: report“, 24 February 2016). This refusal of foreign intervention is most probably a very important aspect for the Warfalla,  as the tribe was vocal in 2012  to counter a GNC seen as the puppet of NATO (e.g. Alexandra Valient, “The Warfalla Tribe Are Leading The Revolt Against NATO’s Occupation ForcesLibya 360, 18 Oct 2012). Indeed the President of the Social Council of the tribes Warfalla in independently minded Bani Walid, in a recent interview, stresses he “has no communication with these [the three] governments”. However, he was also there describing the dire situation of the people displaced because of “Daesh”, which is far from full support (Jamahiriya News Agency, Ibid. 9 May 2016).

As a result, the current ability to remain in Warfalla territory probably signals not only the intention to fight as much as possible to “remain and expand” – to use the Islamic State motto, but also an enhanced ability of the Islamic State to do so, even if the latter depends also upon a host of other factors.

Short of unknown elements and black swans events (for an explanation of what are Black Swans events and of Taleb’s related book see H. Lavoix, “Taleb’s Black Swans: The End Of Foresight?“, RTAS, 21 Jan 2013), always possible especially at war, and without forgetting the damage airpower may cause, the Warfalla will most probably not help Misratans, and may see their interest in “allowing” the Islamic State to at least try stopping Misratans and the U.N.-backed government to obtain a too easy victory. The Islamic State may lose again Abu Grein and surrounding villages, but it will be because of a successful Misratan counter-offensive. It will change nothing to the fact that they have been able, however briefly, to start settling in the area.

At worst, the Warfalla may also, with time, see in an assertive Khilafah an opportunity to participate in and promote a revived al-Suff al-Fugi. The involvement and position of the Qadhadhfa and of the Awald Sulayman would most probably be also crucial here. We could even wonder if the al-Suff al Fugi could not become the representative of the Khilafah in Libya, ruling over its wilayat. In that case, we would be seeing not the premises of a final relatively rapid defeat of the Islamic State, notably qua state in Libya, but the some new steps of an expansion to the west and southwest.

map al naba Libya, Islamic State western expansion Libya
The Islamic State shows its new expansion to the west with an article in al-Naba (weekly newsletter) #30 – 10 May 2016 – p.5 Click to access the newsletter (in Arabic) on Jihadology.

As a result, the already existing sleeper cells in the west, the training camps in Sabratha and the road to and from Tunisia (see U.N. report, ibid.) – and potentially Algeria – would all take renewed tactical, operational and strategic values. Tripoli, as well as the U.N.-backed government would be in a more precarious position – despite alleged success in eradicating Islamic State’s sleeper cell in Tripoli, as on 14 May (“Tripoli IS terror cell planning operations, captured by Rada“, Libya Herald).  Potentially intervening powers would hence be placed into a conundrum that would need to be handled with high tribal political savvy.

The risks entailed are too high, even if the Islamic State is defeated in Abu Grein, and too fraught with strategic and operational consequences in terms of decisions for all actors, not to consider the possible range of alternatives and not to monitor also in depth this tribal perspective.

Connection to the Hunn-Waddan oases, a key to Libya?

Another very interesting aspect of the al-suff al-Fugi is that it includes or is related, as we saw above, to the population of the Hunn-Waddan (Houn-Waddan) oases (see map below), part of al-Jufra region.

Hunn-Waddan oases, tribes allegiance, gates of misratah, Misrata, islamic State, war, Libya, war in Libya, Tribes, pledge, bay'ah, Warfalla, Qadhadhfa, Awlad Sulayman
Click to access Google maps

Needless to say, obtaining connections to oases is absolutely crucial in a desert country. Furthermore, one may observe that the Hunn-Waddan oases are critically located almost in the center of Libya. It is a strategic place holding the south and Sebha, the west through Abu Grein and Ash Shawrif, the east though Zalla (Zillah), and the center north with Sirte.

It may indeed not be by complete chance that, historically, the tribes of the al-suff al-Fugi have consistently played such a crucial military role (Ahmida, Ibid; Cole, ibid.).

We shall not come back here to the importance of Sebha (see Force, Fighters and Tribes), but nonetheless shall underline that linkages between the Islamic State and the Awlad Sulayman, traditionally “ruling” over Sebha may only fortify the capabilities of the Khilafah to benefit from Sebha.

We saw above the importance of Abu Grein and the road to the West. The connection to the west is also reinforced by the fact that on 6 May, the Islamic State “seized governmental buildings in Abu Nujaym” (@Chief_MarshallR, 7 May tweet). Abu Nujaym is not so much located south of Sirte as on the road between Abu Grein and Waddan.

Now, regarding the defence of Sirte, the advantages of tribal connections to the oases, notably Waddan, are strategic. Indeed, Haftar’s armies are also advancing through the southern road. On 3 May 2016 they were reportedly in Zalla. That said, the Islamic State may also be protected by the fractious character of the Libyan war, as Haftar’s forces were attacked by “Forces loyal to Ziyad Belaam, a senior commander” allied with “Benghazi’s Revolutionaries Shura Council” itself “allied with Libya Dawn”, while Misratan air force also attacked them, the two sides then sending reinforcements to fight each other (Libya Channel, 4 May 2016). Nonetheless, rumours of a 6 May Islamic State’s attack “on a checkpoint in Jufra, which was also the sight of clashes between Dawn affiliated groups and the Libyan army, under the orders of Colonel Khalifa Haftar, the day before” were reported (Libya Channel, 7 May 2016). An attack West of Waddan was also denied (Abdulkarim Alduwayni, Fezzan Libya, 7 May), which may accredit the fact it was only a rumour, assuming the two are the same attack. Fear is not only creeping in, but also these rumors may prefigure the possibility to see an enhanced capability by the Islamic State to cut off retreat or arrival of reinforcement from the east, and ultimately a capacity to move towards the east, should, of course, the connection to the al-suff al-Fugi develop and be strengthened.

The fate of the Islamic State in Libya may very well be also in the hands of the Qadhadhfa, the Awlad Sulayman and the Warfalla Tribes. Should it be defeated and its capabilities degraded towards “hit and run” and “terrorist attacks” operations, the potential key role of these three tribes should be noted and remembered, as vital for a still hypothetic return to peace in Libya.

Featured image: from the photo report the pledge of allegiance of Tribes– Wilayat Tarabulus, 8 May 2016.

About the author: Helene Lavoix, PhD Lond (International Relations), is the Director of The Red (Team) Analysis Society. She is specialised in strategic foresight and warning for national and international security issues.


Ali Abdullatif Ahmida. The Making of Modern Libya: State Formation, Colonization and Resistance, 1830–1932. By  Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994 [2009].

Peter Cole, “Bani Walid: Loyalism in a Time of Revolution”, in The Libyan Revolution and Its Aftermath, e.d Peter Cole, Brian McQuinn, Oxford University Press, 2015.