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.
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.
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.
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.
The world has entered a period where uncertainty rules and where surprises abound.
Focusing on 2016, the two major surprises usually singled out are the Brexit or the vote leading to the exit of the U.K. from the European Union, then the election of U.S. President Trump against favourite Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Even though a short-term focus could let us believe that the turmoil only or mainly hits “the West”, political and geopolitical surprises and uncertainties have multiplied worldwide, starting at least with the shock of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 and responses to it (see end note for some major instances*).
What is thus happening? How are we to tackle the uncertainty? Are these surprises related or discrete independent events that it would be wrong to link or try to understand together?
We shall start here with the 2016 surprises and related ongoing uncertainty, i.e. the Brexit and the U.S. Trump Presidency, and focus more particularly on the contradictions and questions that arise when we compare the two phenomena. We shall seek a framework for and elements of understanding, which can then be used in the development of scenarios for the future.
After having outlined the explanatory frameworks most used to describe the two surprises, we shall focus here on the first of them, globalisation. We shall look at populism, the second explanation with the next article.
In this article, after having specified and defined globalisation, we shall explore the reactions of economic and financial actors. We shall point out that these reactions to the two events were often unexpected considering the anti-globalisation narrative, while also sometimes differing in each case. Using these unexpected results as indications and leads for further questions and research, we shall suggest that a new model of production might be emerging, a “nationalised globalisation”, leading potentially also to further geopolitical uncertainty. We shall then turn to the financial industry, start explaining the different behaviour in each case and envision possible tensions ahead, including political and geopolitical ones. Finally, we shall turn to the behaviour of the high-tech corporate actors, and suggest an explanation for their difference in each of the two cases, which goes beyond the classical anti-globalisation narrative.
Globalisation is difficult to define as various scholars provide different definitions, often shedding light upon different aspects of a complex and multi-dimensional dynamics, while understanding of the word changes outside social science. From a social science points of view, a general definition has nonetheless emerged:
“Globalization refers to fundamental changes in the spatial and temporal contours of social existence, according to which the significance of space or territory undergoes shifts in the face of a no less dramatic acceleration in the temporal structure of crucial forms of human activity…. [the related] alterations in humanity’s experiences of space and time are working to undermine the importance of local and even national boundaries in many arenas of human endeavor. ” (“Globalization“, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, First published Jun 21, 2002; substantive revision Jun 10, 2014).
The globalisation of free-trade and deregulation – what many outside social science implicitly mean by globalisation – is one aspect of this more fundamental definition of globalisation. It takes place through the factors of “deterritorialization”, “interconnectedness” and “velocity of social activity” (Stanford, ibid – the two remaining characteristics being long-term and multi-pronged process). That expression of globalisation is aptly described by Short (Ibid.) as rooted in the Washington Consensus and the willingness to promote open market and free trade, including because it was meant to be more conducive of peace, as claimed by the liberal and neo-liberal schools of international relations.
The anti-globalisation narrative let us expect that those responsible for the two surprises – i.e. those who support the Brexit and voted for it and those who support Trump and voted for him – did so because, mainly, they were against the free-trade and deregulation globalisation, or more exactly because they belonged to those people left aside by globalisation. Then, according to this narrative, the implementation of the Brexit by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on the one hand, the governance of the Trump administration, on the other, would mean the end of globalisation as we knew it: i.e. the end of open market and free trade, notably in its multilateral component, the end of deregulation, while the state would find back a stronger role and the citizens would be better protected from the nefarious impacts of this economic globalisation.
Towards a nationalised globalisation?
Contradictions and questions
At first glance, we would thus expect the corporate sector, notably multinational companies (as well as very wealthy individuals), which are the main beneficiary of this very globalisation and thus may be expected to want to see it last, first to have supported neither the Brexit nor Donald Trump’s candidacy. We would then expect the same corporate sector to react negatively and strongly once the policies following the elections start being implemented, or to do their utmost to oppose and derail these policies.
Yet, both New York Stock and London Stock exchanges have never been so buoyant, the U.S . Dow Jones being over 20.000 and the U.K. FTSE 100 above 7200, as shown on the two 5-year graphs (Google Finance). Thus, as a whole, it would seem that the corporate sector is not that opposed to or concerned by this so-called anti-globalisation surprises, on the contrary. In the case of the U.S., tax reform certainly plays its part whilst corrections are foreseen by experts (e.g. Patti Domm, “Dow pulls off a stunt it hasn’t done in 30 years“, 23 Feb 16, CNBC), but the market has nonetheless so far been optimistic following the election and should it have been truly that overwhelmingly worried about anti-globalisation, tax reforms expectations may not have been sufficient to offset a fundamentally negative outlook.
Are we thus truly facing the end or a change of the free-trade and deregulation globalisation or, alternatively, is the corporate sector actually not hostile to a changed in globalisation?
If we look now at exchange rates, a first difference appears between the U.K. and U.S. situations. In the first case, the British Pound has taken a serious hit against the U.S. Dollar and, in a lesser way, against the Euro with the Brexit and has not recovered:
On the contrary, the U.S. Dollar has not stopped rising against the Euro and been mostly rising against the Japanese Yen:
Hence, we may deduce that the U.K. and the U.S. surprises deserve to be treated differently and cannot be understood by a single anti-globalisation narrative.
If we start looking more specifically at the two phenomena and at some of the reactions not of the corporate sector in general, but of some of its actors, we also notice apparently puzzling behaviours.
It will be useful, to have a better idea of the power and weight of BlackRock alone, everything being equal, to note that the Gross World Product is estimated by the IMF at $75.21 trillion for 2016, thus only 15 times more than the value of the assets managed by BlackRock. BlackRock revenue was USD 11155 million (11.1 bn) for 2016 (Quarterly Earnings Release). For the sake of comparison, even though industries are different, Lloyds Banking Group reported for 2016 total income reaching £ 17.5 bn (BBC News, “Lloyds reports highest profit in decade“, 22 Feb 17). Each has thus a total income higher than the GDP of the countries ranking below 114 (LLoyds) and 129 (BlackRock) in size of GDP, out of 190 countries, i.e. respectively 77 and 62 countries. BlackRock’s net income was in 2016 USD 3.2 bn and Lloyds reported a £ 4.24 bn pre-tax profit, the highest in a decade (ibid.).
Towards a new manufacturing model?
The participation of the CEOs to the U.S. forum, which is advisory, does not mean full support to President Trump’s policy, but indicates to the least that there is no confrontational behaviour. On the contrary, there is discussion and dialogue, as well as most probably attempts at making sure policy will suit these companies’ interests.
For example, if we briefly look at BlackRock, its CEO Larry Fink expressed both hope and concern over President Trump agenda: “We have high expectations with … [the] Trump administration [on] tax policy or infrastructure. It always take longer,” he said. “If the rollout of some of these growth initiative programs by President-elect Trump are slower, if they are less ambitious, then I think the market is ahead of itself” (interview (CNBC, 13 jan 2017). Worries stem notably from uncertainty and forthcoming tensions between the President and the Federal Reserves (during Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit 8 Feb 2017, Sam Ro, “Watch: Larry Fink’s full interview at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit” 9 Feb 17, Yahoo Finance).
In a nutshell, the desired strategy Fink stresses is to act locally as a global company, emphasising “commitment to long-termism” and respecting diversity (“Here is the memo…”, ibid.). If we consider the examples Fink gives – “we also need to be German in Germany, Japanese in Japan and Mexican in Mexico” (Ibid.) – then it seems that by local Fink actually means national, or a recognition of the nation. Interestingly such a move towards a “nationalisation of globalisation” is also how Prime Minister May’s policy can be described (James Forsyth, Theresa May’s new third way“, 25 February 2017, The Spectator).
As noted by Washington’s Blog (ibid), referring to a 2015 article by The Washington Post explaining “that the giant multinational corporations themselves are losing interest in globalization” (Jeffrey Rothfeder, “The great unraveling of globalization“), Fink’s vision could be part of a larger movement away from the previous phase of economic globalisation. This new model would include next-shoring (manufacturing in the proximity of both demand and innovation as suggested by McKinsey in 2014) and reshoring (relocalising in original country – Wikipedia). Assuming this hypothesis is correct, then the anti-globalisation narrative must be revised not as something pitting people, state and government against the corporate sector, but as the start of the search for a new production model.
Thus, to answer to our previous question, it is not that large multinationals and many among the corporate sector are unconcerned about the Brexit and the Presidency of Donald Trump, but that they may be seeing them also as an opportunity to move towards a more adequate system in the making. This system would likely involve a measure of nationalisation or recognition of the nation as major unit.
Should next-shoring and reshoring develop, then trade flows in value could diminish or become less important.
In that case, those entities and actors depending on the older classical “free trade and deregulation” globalisation, if they do not accompany the movement for change, could react adversely as it is not only their beliefs but also their survival, power and wealth that are at stake. The European Union, as well as China, come to mind here and scenarios considering such developments would deserve further research. Political and geopolitical crises would likely be expected.
As far as the U.S. strategic and policy forum is concerned, we shall also note the absence of any representative of the military-industrial complex (who can be present elsewhere), which should be further investigated considering its importance within the American system and for the U.S. Foreign and Defence Policy, and as a result for the world (Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961; among many, Andrew J. Bacevich, “The Tyranny of Defense Inc.“, Jan/Feb 2011, The Atlantic).
The “puzzle” of the financial industry
If we now compare the attitude of the financial companies, notably banks in the U.S., to what is happening in the U.K. then we are faced with completely different behaviour, most probably because the interests, challenges and stakes are different in the two cases.
These potential losses of business worry not only British banks, but most if not all banks operating from London, including U.S. Banks. All will try getting a deal that is the best for them, including through expressing disapproval and acting accordingly.
U.S. banks, in their country, do not have to face at all this challenge and thus may behave in a totally different way, according to the issues specific to American banking, including those related to the still dominant position of the U.S. dollar in the world.
Moreover, a monetary policy continuing to support a strong U.S. dollar, as seems to be finally favoured by the new Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker (e.g. Saleha Mohsin “Mnuchin Secures Senate Confirmation as Treasury Secretary” 14 Feb 2017 and “Inside the Mind of Mnuchin: Too-Strong Dollar May Hurt Economy“, 24 Jan 17, Bloomberg) is also favourable to investments abroad, including buying foreign companies. Should the hypothesis of a nationalised globalisation be increasingly likely, then a strong U.S. Dollar could help actualizing it not only abroad, but also domestically: import of raw materials would be cheaper and favour manufacturing domestically, the resulting products being then sold on the domestic market. The potential loss in terms of exports because of the strength of the U.S. Dollar would be offset by the fact that U.S. companies would need less to export, as they would be directly implanted in foreign markets.
This assumes, of course, that other countries allow it, which thus demands that we fully consider the beliefs, will and power of political authorities, besides other factors, including corporate culture. For example, Prime Minister May’s government “ordered officials to scrutinise the bid for the UK’s third-largest listed company, following high-level, separate talks between Number 10 and the two sides” to protect Anglo-Dutch Unilever, and its employees, when it faced and rejected the “surprise offer” of merger by U.S. Kraft-Heinz, backed by its main shareholders U.S. Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet) – and U.S. Brazilian 3G (Ashley Armstrong, “Kraft Heinz abandons £115bn Unilever mega-deal“, 19 Feb 17, The Telegraph). We are here much closer to part of the anti-globalisation narrative, yet Unilever, the “protected” company is as global as Kraft Heinz.
Further in-depth research will be necessary to deal fully with the financial part of the Brexit and of the U.S. Trump Presidency, considering the specificity of each situation, the interactions with the fundamentals of globalisation, including claims regarding potential “currency nationalism”. It will also be crucial to consider the consequences on the supremacy of the U.S. dollar, and related geopolitical impacts as well as potential tensions pitting the political authorities of one country and the companies they protect against a similar political-business nexus of another country, without forgetting the new regulations that will need to be designed, voted and enacted.
The high-tech sector, the Brexit and the Trump administration
The high-tech or large web-based companies behave completely differently with regard to the U.K. and the Brexit compared with the U.S. and the Trump administration.
Apple, Google and Amazon have all asserted commitment to the U.K., even though the Brexit is taking place. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, declared he was optimistic about the post Brexit UK, after having announced plans to build new headquarters in London, however warning they will pay attention to new regulations (Rhiannon Bury, “Apple to create new UK headquarters at London’s Battersea Power Station“, The Telegraph, 28 Sept 2016; BBC News, “Apple ‘optimistic’ about post-Brexit UK“, 9 February 2017). Meanwhile, business being business, the prices of apps in the Apple Store will be raised on the basis of a parity between the Pound and the Dollar, to reflect the drop of the British currency (Alex Hern, “Apple increases App Store prices by 25% following Brexit vote“, The Guardian, 17 Jan 2017), which is unlikely to hurt much consumers considering the still very low prices of these apps, e.g. from £0.79 to £0.99, as well as their non-essential character.
We are here in very different settings and dealing with very different objectives. On the one hand, as far as the U.K. is concerned, U.S. high-tech companies invest in a foreign country to develop their operations and platforms, which maybe seen as a direct application of the “nationalisation of globalisation” hypothesis identified above. Meanwhile, they take advantage of the low Pound and also develop a weight that they may use in the future to try influencing the U.K. government in their favour, including to boost globalisation, this time understood first through its social science meaning. This could have potential impacts on all aspects of globalisation, according to the way the British government and state respond, and anticipate.
On the other, in the American case, high-tech companies fight in their country, the U.S., for their interest. The impact on globalisation is inherent because of the very nature of these companies… which are all Americans. It does not seem indeed that any of them threatened to leave the U.S.. In both cases, we are here at a deeper level of complexity and understanding than expected from the initial free-trade and deregulation globalisation narrative, while the geopolitics of a technological globalisation, potentially in the new nationalised guise, largely led by high-tech U.S. companies, must be considered.
Diving deeper into the globalisation and anti-globalisation narrative regarding the Brexit and President Trump’s government allowed us to identify real and apparent contradictions, which led to sometimes unexpected questions and thus to new elements of understanding. As a result, uncertainty starts being reduced as we are developing the building blocks upon which to build a mapping of the issue at hand, which will then be used to develop scenarios.
We need now to turn to the other major explanation given for the Brexit and President Trump election, populism, as we shall see in the next (forthcoming) article.
Featured image: Geralt via Pixabay, Public Domain.
About the author: Dr 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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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
In our previous article we detailed three sub-scenarios of combined partition and spill over where Libya disappears as such through the creation of three new states, while consequent weaknesses is the cause of spill over to neighboring nations. We thus concluded the series of scenarios 2, which depicted a continuing civil war but with different terms, i.e. change of terrain or actors (see Mitchell, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya Within the Next Three to Five Years,” June 1, 2015; and Lavoix, “How to Analyze Future Security Threats (4): Scenarios and War,” December 30, 2013). This article focuses on the first of the two possible scenarios detailing a total victory in Libya, either by the Islamists or the nationalists. Scenario 3.1 and its sub-scenarios will discuss a total victory by the Islamist government and armed factions, where Libya becomes an Islamist state ruled by Sharia law. In scenario 3.2 and its sub-scenarios, we shall discuss a victory by the nationalist government and its coalition.
Note: Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for those that supported the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note those that supported the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafist will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.
Sub-scenario 3 – A Real Victory in Libya
In this scenario, a “real victory” refers to the cessation of major hostilities resulting from a belligerent’s military domination of the other. Once a belligerent militarily defeats the other, it will be in a position to rebuild Libya as either an Islamist or secular state.
After achieving military victory, the triumphant government begins the stabilization and peacebuilding processes necessary to rebuild the Libyan state. The victorious government faces the arduous tasks of uniting the country, finding a solution to control the various militias, preventing a renewed insurgency by the vanquished, and achieving both domestic and international legitimacy.
Indicators to Monitor
Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.
The level of exhaustion suffered by each side. Heightened levels of exhaustion will decrease the likelihood of a real military victory and increase the likelihood of a peace settlement or uniting under a unity government.
The level of resolve by each side to achieve a military victory instead of submitting to a peace agreement. Considering the Islamists’ level of hatred for General Haftar, and Haftar’s hatred for Islamist groups, both sides have a high level of resolve to achieve military victory. The higher the level of resolve, the more likely this scenario is to occur.
The level of each side’s military strength. If one side is able to continue recruiting fighters, increase its troop strength levels, and gain advantages with air and ground power while the other side progressively loses military strength, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
The ability of one side to make territorial gains. A real military victory depends on the conqueror’s ability to take and hold territory. Territorial gains by one side and consequential territory loss by the other increase the likelihood of scenario 3 occurring.
The level of military assistance provided by external actors. External military assistance has a large impact on the battlefield. Depending on the level of support, the likelihood of this scenario increases. Past indications occurred when Turkey and Qatar allegedly provided arms and political support to the Islamists (Kirkpatrick and Schmitt, The New York Times, August 25, 2014; Tastekin, Al-Monitor, December 4, 2014), while Egypt and the United Arab Emirates provided military assistance to the nationalists (McGregor, Terrorism Monitor, September 5, 2014; Wenig, The Washington Institute).
The presence of extremist groups that are opposed to both sides. If extremist groups fighting both coalitions have a strong presence in Libya, both the Islamists and nationalists will have added complications to achieving a military victory. Groups like the Islamic State force both sides to divert military forces and other assets – thus decreasing the likelihood of this scenario. A past indication occurred when the Islamic State stronghold in Sirte forced both the Islamist and nationalist coalitions to divert forces to prevent the Islamic State from gaining additional territory and launching attacks on their populations (Kadlec, War on the Rocks, June 23, 2016).
Sub-scenario 3.1 An Islamist Libya
The Islamist government – dominated by the Justice and Construction Party (considered an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood) – gradually begins directing Libya towards an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. If the government decides to increase its domestic legitimacy with Libya’s mixed population of secularists, Islamists, Arabs, Tuareg, Amazigh, and Toubou, it allows secular liberal freedoms to exist, and allows the tribes to maintain their tribal courts and councils. Despite being allowed to maintain their tribal governance, the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou tribes continue to be marginalized in the Islamist government. Libya’s new government works to keep the peace between the tribes in the south, but does not make an effort to fully include the minority tribes. However, if the Islamist government is pressured enough to immediately make Libya a strict Islamic state, it removes secular liberal freedoms and attempts to impose Sharia on tribal courts and councils. Considering the tribal beliefs and organization of the Amazigh, Tuareg, and Toubou (see Mitchell, Tribal Dynamics and Civil War I, II, and III), as well as their inability to match the military strength of the government, the tribes feel forced to submit to a Libyan Sharia state – and thus progressively turn again, with time, towards insurgency.
Once the Islamist government takes power, Turkey and Qatar are among the first states to recognize its legitimacy – considering their interest in supporting Sunni Islamist governments. The EU and U.S. also recognize the new government as a way to prevent spill over and act as a bulwark against Libya’s extremist groups. Not wanting a Muslim Brotherhood state as its neighbor, Egypt expresses its opposition to the legitimacy of the new Islamist government.
After initiating steps to implement Sharia law, the Libyan Islamist government immediately passes a binding law that excludes anyone once affiliated with Qaddafi’s regime from obtaining any positions in local or national government as well as the court systems and armed forces. Following the passage of this political exclusion law, the new government takes legal action to exclude military officers and politicians that were steadfastly loyal to General Haftar. To protect the integrity and cohesion of its new political system, the Islamist government fills its various ministries with leaders that were loyal throughout the civil war – notably those from the Islamist and Misrata factions. In response to being excluded from ministerial positions, Haftar loyalists protest the new government, and eventually join small guerilla movements that continued on after military defeat. This leads to scenarios that we shall detail later.
Although the Islamists differed from the Salafists during the conflict, they worked together to defeat the nationalist coalition. With the nationalists defeated and the Islamist government in power, the Salafist groups demand the strictest interpretation of Sharia be immediately implemented throughout the country. If the government follows the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy of gradualism (see The Clarion Project’s special report on the Muslim Brotherhood) and has the necessary amount of force to protect itself against a Salafist insurgency, it decides to refrain from immediately implementing strict Sharia law in Libya. However, if it cannot afford to repel a brutal insurgency by a variety of strong Salafist groups, the Islamist government capitulates and decides to make Libya a strict Sharia state.
This scenario can thus evolve in two outcome scenarios. In the first scenario, the government is strong enough to maintain a state that includes liberal freedoms at first, and then gradually transitions to an Islamic state. However, once the state reaches a point where all Libyans must adhere to strict Sharia law, the tribes and secularists begin turning towards insurgency. In the second scenario, the government is forced to immediately implement strict Sharia law by the threat of a deadly Salafist insurgency, which hastens a return to insurgency, however in a weakened, hidden way at first.
Indicators to Monitor
Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 3.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.
The level of power that the Justice and Construction Party hold in the government. If the Justice and Construction Party holds the majority of the seats in the new government, the likelihood of an eventual strict Sharia scenario increases, nonetheless following the gradual policy favoured by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, if the National Forces Alliance gains more power than the Justice and Construction Party, the likelihood of this scenario decreases. The National Forces Alliance is the main contender to the Justice and Construction Party in the Islamist government; it “rejects political Islam”; and recognizes Islam as a source of law, but maintains a more liberal stance on the rights of non-Muslims (Thorne, The Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 2012). A past indication occurred when the National Forces Alliance took the majority of seats in the General National Congress during the 2012 election (Karadsheh, CNN, July 18, 2012). However, as the Islamist obtained a military victory, everything will depend upon their willingness to allow for power-sharing, first, and, second, upon the remaining strength and capabilities of the defeated factions to still act as a political force (see indicator 7).
The willingness of the new government to allow secular liberal freedoms to coexist with Sharia law. If the Islamists want to increase domestic legitimacy in a complex population, it makes an attempt to create a flexible Islamist state where secular liberal freedoms and Sharia coexist – although this would be a very complicated endeavor and too complex to detail here. After the Arab Spring, Tunisia successfully created a new constitution that made Islam that official religion of the state and still allowed secular liberal freedoms (Kranz, The Gate, January 20, 2015), but the dynamics of Libya’s post-civil war environment may severely complicate attempts to create a similar mixed system.
The willingness of the government to allow tribes to retain their councils and court systems. If the Islamists want to gain legitimacy among the Amazigh, Tuareg and Toubou tribes, they will not impose Sharia, and instead allow them to maintain their tribal councils and courts as their source of law for personal status issues.
The government’s level of tribal inclusion in the political system. By not giving the tribes full representation in the political system, the Islamist government risks losing any and all legitimacy with the minority tribes. A past indication occurred when these tribes felt underrepresented in the Constitutional Drafting Committee and protested the General National Congress that did not allow them more representation (Minority Rights Group International, State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2014 – Libya, July 3, 2014).
Level of pressure on the new government to implement strict Sharia law. Once the Islamist government takes power, the Salafist groups will likely demand an immediate implementation of strict Sharia law across the country. Considering the Islamists’ (i.e. Muslim Brotherhood) long-term strategy of gradually progressing to a strict Sharia state by winning the hearts and minds of the people (see The Clarion Project’s special report on the Muslim Brotherhood; and MEMRI’s Special Dispatch No. 3969 on implementing Sharia in phases), the government is not willing to submit to the Salafists’ demand. The only way the government might be pressured to speed up its implementation process is if it were threatened by a significant Salafist insurgency and could not survive another civil war.
The international community’s willingness to recognize the Islamist government as the legitimate government. If the international community recognizes the legitimacy of the new Islamist government, the stabilization and peacebuilding processes will likely benefit as a result of assistance from other countries. The willingness to recognize the new government depends on the level of democracy incorporated in the new Libyan state, as well as a state’s view on Islamist governments. For example, Egypt’s experience with the Muslim Brotherhood (BBC News, December 25, 2013) will likely cause the Egyptian government to withhold recognition of an Islamist Libyan government. The EU and U.S. will be more willing to recognize its legitimacy if the new government holds democratic elections and appears to oppose Salafist’s calls for strict Sharia law. Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, and Chad would likely recognize this Islamist government – particularly if it took steps to crack down on spill over.
The willingness to exclude former adversaries from government. The Islamists’ level of hatred and opposition to General Haftar may significantly increase their willingness to exclude his loyal supporters from political roles. If the government does not pass legislation on excluding Haftar loyalists, it may simply fill ministerial positions with faithful allies, such as politicians and military leaders from Misrata and Tripoli. The new government may also take steps to exclude former Gaddafi supports from political positions. If it doesn’t actively take steps to exclude Gaddafi officials, its loyal supporters may protest and force the government to do so. A past indication occurred when the General National Congress passed the Political Isolation Law (allegedly under duress) to prevent former Qaddafi supporters from participating in local or state government (Full Text: Libya’s Political Isolation Law, May 16, 2013; Abadeer, Muftah, May 9, 2013).
The level of commitment to a gradualist strategy in spite of Salafists’ demands to immediately implement Sharia law. If the Islamist government is willing to risk a Salafist insurgency to maintain its gradualist strategy of implementing Sharia, the likelihood of this scenario increases. However, this largely depends on its ability to protect the people from a Salafist insurgency (see indicator below), as well as what phase the government is in regarding their gradualist goals of a Libyan Sharia state and the overall Caliphate. The less phases achieved by the government in gradually implementing strict Sharia law will likely keep them committed to a gradualist strategy. If they are in the later stages of gradualism, they may be more likely to rush the last stages in order to avoid tension with the Salafists.
The ability of the government to protect itself against a Salafist insurgency. If the Islamist government does not have a functioning military or enough loyal armed groups at its disposal, it will not be able to sufficiently protect the Libyan people from a Salafist insurgency. If that is the case, and if the government decides it cannot afford another civil war, it may capitulate and turn Libya towards a strict Islamic state.
Featured Photo: Misrata fighters pose outside the Ouagadougou Conference Hall in Sirte after capturing it from Islamic State forces, posted on The Libya Observer Facebook page, 10 August 2016
Amanda Kadlec, “All Eyes on Sirte: Beating the Islamic State, but Losing Libya,” War on the Rocks, June 23, 2016
Andrew McGregor, “Egypt, the UAE and Arab Military Intervention in Libya,” Terrorism Monitor, Volume 12, Issue 17, September 5, 2014
“Article on Muslim Brotherhood Website: Implement Shari’a in Phases,” The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Special Dispatch No. 3969, July 5, 2011
Caroline Abadeer, “Full Text: Libya’s Political Isolation Law,” Muftah, May 16, 2013
Caroline Abadeer, “The Libyan General National Congress Ratifies Political Isolation Law,” Muftah, May 9, 2013
David D. Kirkpatrick and Eric Schmitt, “Arab Nations Strike in Libya, Surprising U.S.,” The New York Times, August 25, 2014
Dr. Helene Lavoix, “How to Analyze Future Security Threats (4): Scenarios and War,” The Red Team Analysis Society, December 30, 2013
Elliot Friedland, “Special Report: The Muslim Brotherhood,” The Clarion Project, June 2015
Erica Wenig, “Egypt’s Security and the Libyan Civil War,” The Washington Institute
Fehim Tastekin, “Turkey’s war in Libya,” Al-Monitor, December 4, 2014
John Thorne, “Neither liberal nor Islamist: Who are Libya’s frontrunners?” The Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 2012
Jomana Karadsheh, “Liberal coalition makes strides in historic Libyan election,” CNN, July 18, 2012
Jon Mitchell and Helene Lavoix, “Scenarios for the Future of Libya within the Next Three to Five Years,” The Red Team Analysis Society, June 1, 2015
Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1),” The Red Team Analysis Society, April 13, 2015
Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (2),” The Red Team Analysis Society, April 20, 2015
Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (3),” The Red Team Analysis Society, May 11, 2015
Michal Kranz, “The Tunisian Miracle: A Marriage of Moderate Islam and Secular Democracy,” The Gate, January 20, 2015
Minority Rights Group International, “State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2014 – Libya,” July 3, 2014
“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, December 25, 2013
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Indicators 2, 3, 4, and 5 of sub-scenario 2.3 act here in a similar way.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
Indicators 1-6 of sub-scenario 2.3 act here in a similar way.
Indicators 1-4 of sub-scenario 2.3.1 act here in a similar way.
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.
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.
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).
Indicators 1 and 2 of sub-scenario 2.4.1 act here in a similar way.
Indicators 1-6 of sub-scenario 2.3 act here in a similar way.
Indicators 1 and 2 of sub-scenario 2.3.2 act here in a similar way.
Indicators 1-10 of sub-scenario 2.2.2 act here in a similar way.
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.
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.
Indicators 1 and 2 of sub-scenario 2.4.2 act here in a similar way.
Indicators 1, 2, 3, and 5 of sub-scenario 2.3 act here in a similar way.
Indicators 1-3 of sub-scenario 2.3.3 act here in a similar way.
Indicators 1-10 of sub-scenario 2.2.2 act here in a similar way.
Indicators 1-7 of sub-scenario 2.2.3 act here in a similar way.
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
This article is the fifth of our series focusing on scenarios depicting interventions in the Libyan war. In our previous article, we discussed a Qatari intervention in Libya on the Islamist side. Here, we shall detail scenarios for an international intervention in Libya from beyond the region, which could occur if the nationalists and their internationally recognized government (at least until power is officially transferred to a unity government) extend an invitation to external actors, or if the unity government fails entirely. The unity government could fail if rival Libyan politicians are unable to form a unity government at all, or if the unity government is formed, but fails to make progress and thus disintegrates into former factions.
If we remember the beginning of our set of scenarios 2, at this stage, international actors from beyond the region have decided to militarily intervene in favor of one of the two governments. We chose to develop an intervention on the nationalist side and not on behalf of the Islamists (see terminology in next paragraph) because the latter would be too unlikely – considering that if the intervention does not help the more anti-Islamist movement survive (i.e nationalists), the intervening countries would be in a position of having to support an Islamist state where some of its armed factions had military alliances with groups like Ansar al-Sharia.
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 the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafi will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.
Sub-scenario 18.104.22.168: An International Intervention Coalition is Formed to Enter the Libyan Conflict in Favor of the Nationalists
Concerned with the expansion of Salafi power and territory in Libya where the rivals are struggling to form the unity government (or where the unity government has failed to do so), countries from outside the region form an international intervention coalition to protect their national interests and begin combatting Salafi threats in Libya. With current Islamic State (IS) leaders migrating to Libya, and the diverting of jihadists from Syria and Iraq to IS groups in Libya, the intervening powers are among the leading active participants of Operation Inherent Resolve, as they decide to organize it within the framework of the Operation.
In an attempt to avoid serious questions of legality and to avoid opening the door to accusations of Western imperialism, the leading advocates for an intervention coalition attempt to get Russia, and China, to contribute to the intervention. With no united legitimate Libyan government to invite the coalition, diplomatic pressure or persuasion on Russia and China could assist in securing a UN Security Council approval for intervention in Libya – thus avoiding serious issues of legality. However, as the nationalist government and parliament are those currently recognized internationally (Yahoo News, February 24, 2016; Voice of America, February 25, 2016), the multinational coalition decides to emphasize this feature to assert the legitimacy of its coming intervention.
With either a stalled effort by the rival governments to form the unity government, or the failure of a Libyan unity government and no likelihood in the short-term of a renegotiated political solution, several nations decide to contribute military forces to form the core of Libya’s intervention coalition. These members include the United States, the UK, France and Italy. Once opposed to hasty military intervention and promoting a political solution when the prospect of a unity government was still alive, Italy and France were drawn into the intervention coalition when the GNC and COR’s efforts to form a unity government stalled, or when the unity government failed and Libya descended further into the depths of civil war. Having experienced attacks on its citizens by Islamic State militants out of Libya, France and Italy decide to contribute to the coalition in a way proportional to their interests. After approval by the UN Security Council [as a fully legitimate Libyan government does not exist – would it exist domestically, then there would be no civil war], France contributes fighter aircraft to the air campaign, military advisers to train indigenous partners on the ground (if such partners exist – we will detail in future scenarios), special forces and intelligence, and starts wondering if it should also send troops as was done in Mali. Meanwhile, Italy contributes fighter aircraft and military advisers as well, potentially in addition to reconnaissance aircraft and allowing U.S. and UK fighter aircraft to operate out of bases in Italy.
[We have chosen only a few nations from beyond the region that would likely participate in this intervention coalition for the sake of the scenarios, although participating to the coalition would certainly not be limited to these states.]
Indicators to Monitor
Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 22.214.171.124 occurring. They should thus be monitored.
Stalled efforts to form a unity government. If the rival governments take exceedingly long to make any progress on forming a unity government – essentially stalled efforts – while the Salafi threats grow exponentially, concerned international actors will likely be forced to intervene to protect their security interests.
Failure to form a unity government and make progress. If the Libyan parliaments fail to implement the agreed-upon structure of a unity government, or they form a unity government but fail to operate cohesively and then fragment into their former rivalry, the likelihood of this scenario significantly increases. See Scenario 1 (4) – Failed Negotiations and Scenarios 1 (3) – A Successful Peacebuilding Mission for details on how this might occur.
The legality of a military intervention. The legality of recent interventions has become a murky issue lately, particularly regarding Syria. The timing of an international intervention would affect whether it is disputed or not. If a coalition intervenes after having been invited by the internationally recognized COR (see War in Libya and its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces (1) and (2)), it would be justified, but would have stronger justification if invited by a unity government. If the Libyan unity government quickly fails and the actors fragment back into factions, there could be dispute over who has legitimacy, since the unity government would have held all political authority before falling apart. At that point, approval by the UN Security Council might be needed in order to garner international backing for intervening – perhaps only after diplomatic pressure is applied to Russia and China. But if the Security Council cannot come to a consensus on intervention, outside the right to self-defense, any other military intervention falls under questionable legality.
The level of Salafi threats in Libya at the time of intervention. Currently, the Islamic State in Libya has a stronghold in the region of Sirte, which threatens nearby Misrata in the west and the oil fields to the east. Recent estimates put Islamic State militants and sympathizers operating in Libya around the low thousands – many of which are in the Sirte area, with smaller groups operating in other areas of Libya. In addition, Al-Qaida affiliates operate primarily in Northeastern Libya, with training camps and smuggling routes in the south. The Islamic State in Libya, as al-Qaeda, currently occupies a strategic position that links Islamic State affiliates in Africa to those in the Middle East. Thus, Western powers currently feel compelled to deal with the Salafi threats, and intervention will likely happen soon – increasing the likelihood of this scenario occurring.
Whether or not Libya is considered an extension of Operation Inherent Resolve. With senior Islamic State commanders reportedly migrating to IS strongholds in Libya (Gatehouse, BBC News, February 3, 2016; Schmitt, The New York Times, February 4, 2016), as well as ISIS leaders in Syria telling African IS recruits to “stay put in Libya” instead of passing through to Syria, Libya is becoming the next stronghold outside of Syria and Iraq. If their presence in Libya continues to grow as their numbers in Syria and Iraq decline (Schmitt, The New York Times, February 4, 2016; Kuwait News Agency, February 23, 2016), the Islamic State in Libya may be declared an extension of Inherent Resolve, thereby increasing the likelihood of this scenario occurring, as powers already involved in the operation shift resources and forces towards Libya.
The willingness of countries to contribute forces to an intervention that lacks a fully legitimate Libyan government. The countries included in our proposed intervention coalition are currently operating in Libya in a limited capacity, or are opposed to intervention now, but will likely change course if an Islamic State attack on their country emanates from Libya or if the unity government fails and all political solutions dissipate. The U.S., UK and France already have Special Forces on the ground, while the U.S. and UK have conducted airstrikes in Libya (MEA Risk, February 19, 2016; The Nation, January 24, 2016; Altaqi and Aziz, Middle East Briefing, February 11, 2016; Wintour, The Guardian, February 9, 2016; Malta Independent, February 1, 2016; Hanly, Digital Journal, February 18, 2016; Taylor, Reuters, February 24, 2016; The Libya Observer, February 23, 2016). France is working closely with the Pentagon to develop a plan of action for full-scale military intervention after an invitation by a unity government (The Nation, January 24, 2016; Caravelli, World Tribune, February 3, 2016; Middle East Monitor, February 4, 2016); and Italy just signed an agreement with the U.S. to allow armed drones to take off out of its base in Sicily, but only after the Italian government approves each mission, and they can only be used in defensive strikes for ground forces “engaged in anti-Isis missions” (Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, February 22, 2016). Italy and France have stated their intentions of only intervening once a national unity government is established and invites international assistance, although French military advisers are reportedly already consulting and training Haftar’s Libyan National Army, as well as conducting fighting operations (ANSAmed, February 2, 2016; Middle East Monitor, February 4, 2016; Masi, International Business Times, February 1, 2016; Daou, France24, February 25, 2016; Herreros, Huffington Post, February 25, 2016; The Libya Observer, “French Commandos are fighting with Haftar’s forces in Benghazi, sources say“, 23 Feb 2016). Stalled efforts to form a unity government, the failure of a Libyan unity government and or a terrorist attack emanating from Libya increases the willingness of France and Italy to participate in an intervention, which in turn increases the likelihood of this scenario, as shown by the latest U.S. as well as French interventions.
The cost and capability to deploy intervention forces. Although the willingness of each country to deploy forces in an intervention coalition depend on the geopolitical and security climates at the time of intervention, the costs and capability may be, notably for European countries a break, especially considering involvement in other operations. We can assume that the United States will contribute the most aircraft, UAVs, and personnel (Special Forces, forward air controllers, intelligence/support personnel), followed by the UK with perhaps several Special Forces teams and support personnel, as well as fighter aircraft, followed by France and Italy, who contribute fighter aircraft and a couple hundred personnel (Special Forces, intelligence, military advisers) – depending on their mission role. Coalition members could also shift aircraft and personnel from Syria/Iraq to Libya, depending on the progress of Inherent Resolve in the Levant and members’ unwillingness to contribute additional forces, but ability to shift forces. ***Force estimates based on contributions to Inherent Resolve, current personnel operating in Libya, national interests, and total military force strength (McInnis, Congressional Research Service, November 18, 2015; Zway, Fahim and Schmitt, The New York Times, January 18, 2016; UK Defence in Numbers, UK Ministry of Defence, August 2015; Defence Key Figures, France Ministry of Defence, 2015).
Sub-scenario 126.96.36.199.1: The International Coalition Attempts to Partner with Libyan Factions for Its Intervention
Wanting – and needing – reliable partners in Libya, the intervention coalition attempts to connect with armed factions that have primary interests in actively combatting Salafi groups. Although Libya offers an array of armed factions, only a few are palatable to the coalition. The overall problem facing the coalition is the unreliability, poor organization, tribal allegiances, and shifting interests of Libyan factions – making partnership risky and unpredictable in the long-term. Furthermore, the coalition quickly learns that partnering with particular groups only fosters tribal and local rivalries, as the rivals of coalition-partnered factions turn to ally with other groups (perhaps even Salafist groups) to shift the balance of power. The coalition partners risk becoming pawns in Libyan “games” they do not master. However, the coalition accepts these risks, as they desire more to have at least some Libyan partners on the ground to label the intervention as a Libyan-partnered intervention, rather than a Western-imposed one.
With stalled efforts to institute a fully domestically legitimate government, or seeing a unity government no longer in existence after failure and fragmentation, the coalition focuses on partnering with groups that offer strategic positioning, influence, and determination to combat Salafist threats. Thus, it starts partnering with Misrata, Zintan, and the Libyan military, notably of which, Zintan and Misrata mitigate their tense rivalry to take on Islamic State threats (see Mitchell, “Nationalist Forces II” for Misrata-Zintan rivalry). Partnering with these three groups provides strategic partners that can engage Salafi threats in Northeastern Libya, the Sirte region, and Northwestern Libya.
Meanwhile, and to make sure it will not meet critical setbacks should some of its partnerships fails, the international coalition supports further recruitment and training within the Libyan army to combat Salafi threats in Libya.
Indicators to Monitor
Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 188.8.131.52.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.
The level of common interest that can unite Libyan groups. International powers will be forced to choose from the actors on the ground that are willing to partner with them, and thus will likely partner with the Libyan military, Misrata, and Zintan. The overarching problem is that tribal and regional interests often outweigh the “common ground” that is needed for Western powers to leverage against Salafi threats (Wuite, The Interpreter, February 12, 2016). Although U.S. and UK Special Forces have been attempting to find reliable partners on the ground for the past several months, the effort has proven extremely difficult. For example, a U.S. Special Forces team sent to Libya in late 2015 was “driven out of the country shortly after their arrival” by local militias (Deutsche Welle, January 28, 2016). With tribal, regional, political, and religious interests often outweighing common interest to completely focus on Salafi threats, the likelihood of finding partners decreases.
The ability to partner with Misrata brigades against Salafi threats. With a partner in the east (Libyan military), the intervention force would likely turn to Misrata as a partner in the west. The Misrata brigades are perhaps the only reasonable faction outside the nationalist forces with which an intervention force could partner, considering its strategic position northwest of the Islamic State stronghold in Sirte and its majority support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Furthermore, Misrata has experienced fighters and, according to Misratan politician Abdulrahman Swehli, has already made “military and intelligence” links with U.S. Special Forces (Zway, Fahim and Schmitt, The New York Times, January 18, 2016). By default, partnering with Misrata would severely weaken the Islamists, who either decline in political authority after the withdrawal of Misrata, or are defeated by the nationalists after Salafi threats are mitigated. With Misrata’s focus now on the Islamic State and Sirte rather than protecting the GNC or opposing the nationalists (The Associated Press, February 19, 2016), the likelihood of partnering with the intervention force increases.
The ability to partner with Zintani militias against Salafi threats. Zintan is potentially showing signs of working with rivals against Salafi threats in the region, which could make Zintani militias easier to enlist as partners in a coalition that targets the same threats. A recent Islamic State attack in Sabratha (rival of Zintan and the nationalists) prompted Zintan to medically treat wounded militia members from Sabratha that opposed the jihadists – a potential sign that “Zintan and Sabratha may be prepared to cooperate in the fight against Islamic State” (Elumami, Reuters, February 24, 2016). Furthermore, main militias from Zintan and Misrata held truce talks and cease-fires that allowed them to withdraw a majority of their forces from fighting each other, and shift them to confront Islamic State threats (El-Ghobashy and Morajea, The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2015). If both Misrata and Zintan are enlisted into an intervention coalition (not showing partisanship is key), the likelihood of this scenario increases.
The level of risk between partnering with existing armed groups or supporting and training a nationalist army. Attempting to partner with existing armed groups potentially means a shorter period of time, considering they won’t have to be sent off for training and incorporation into the nationalist army – which translates into forces already on the ground that can quickly engage Salafi threats. Furthermore, they remain in their cohesive, local militias, instead of being mixed into the nationalist army that has fighters from various regions and tribes that were once enemies – potentially creating a non-cohesive force. However, supporting and training the national army that is committed to fighting the Salafi groups could be seen as promising, instead of relying on existing groups that have their own interests and ambitions. We consider partnering with existing groups from Zintan, Misrata, and the Libyan military necessary if the goal is to engage Salafi threats as soon as possible.
In our next post, we shall detail scenarios where the coalition intervenes with Libyan partners.
Featured Photo: An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off on a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve by USAFE AFAFRICA [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr
Ahmed Elumami, “Islamic State militants kill 17 in Libya’s Sabratha: officials,” Yahoo News, February 24, 2016
Alessandria Masi, “Political Unity Is Key In Possible US, Europe Anti-ISIS Libya Intervention,” International Business Times, February 1, 2016
“Britain plans aerial bombings against Islamic State in Libya,” Malta Independent, February 1, 2016
Casper Wuite, “Libya: A new Western military intervention would be fraught with danger,” The Interpreter, February 12, 2016
“Defence Key Figures,” France Ministry of Defence, 2015
Dr. Jack Caravelli, “Dunford: U.S., France planning ‘decisive military action’ in Libya,” World Tribune, February 3, 2016
Eric Schmitt, “Obama Is Pressed to Open Military Front Against ISIS in Libya,” The New York Times, February 4, 2016
“French Commandos are fighting with Haftar’s forces in Benghazi, sources say,” The Libya Observer, February 23, 2016
“France considers military intervention in Libya,” Middle East Monitor, February 4, 2016
Gabriel Gatehouse, “Top IS commanders ‘taking refuge’ in Libya,” BBC News, February 3, 2016
“ISIS: Fabius, Italy leader in Libya, France by its side,” ANSAmed, February 2, 2016
“IS trying to attract as many foreign fighters to Libya as possible – US envoy,” Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), February 23, 2016
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 – Scenarios 1 (4) – Failed Negotiations,” The Red Team Analysis Society, October 19, 2015
Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces (2),” The Red Team Analysis Society, December 1, 2014
Kathleen J. McInnis, “Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State,” Congressional Research Service, November 18, 2015
Ken Hanly, “Op-Ed: Pressure builds for foreign intervention in Libya without GNA,” Digital Journal, February 18, 2016
Marc Daou, “France’s ‘secret war’ against the IS group in Libya,” France24, February 26, 2016
“US Enters the Libyan Conflict, But Purpose of Attack Unclear,” MEA Risk, February 19, 2016
Patrick Wintour, “RAF flying Libyan missions in preparation for helping unity government,” The Guardian, February 9, 2016
Paul Taylor, “French special forces waging ‘secret war’ in Libya: report,” Reuters, February 24, 2016
Romain Herreros, “France Is Involved In A Secret Fight Against ISIS In Libya, Local Officials Say,” Huffington Post, February 24, 2016
Samir Altaqi and Esam Aziz, “The Pitfalls of Opening a Libyan Front against ISIL,” Middle East Briefing, February 25, 2016
Stephanie Kirchgaessner, “Italy to allow US drones to fly out of Sicily air base for attacks on Isis,” The Guardian, February 22, 2016
Suliman Ali Zway, Kareem Fahim and Eric Schmitt, “In Libya, U.S. Courts Unreliable Allies to Counter ISIS,” The New York Times, January 18, 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 Associated Press, “A glance at the main political players in Libya,” WRAL.com, February 19, 2016
“UK Defence in Numbers,” Ministry of Defence, August 2015
“US, allies weighing military action against ISIS in Libya,” The Nation, January 24, 2016
“US backs Libyan legislators over unity government,” Yahoo News, February 24, 2016
“US considers military intervention in Libya,” Deutsche Welle, January 28, 2016
“US, UN Welcome Libyan Lawmakers’ Support of Unity Government,” Voice of America, February 25, 2016
Now that we have identified and understood the actors in Libya’s civil war (see State of Play), we may outline the various scenarios regarding Libya’s future within the next three to five years. A civil war with two rival governments, armed coalitions, jihadists, and various tribes creates a complex climate, and we have constructed initially four primary scenarios, which, with their sub-scenarios, could plausibly play out, and thus set the course for Libya’s future, while also, to the least, impacting the fate of the region.
Here we shall briefly present each main scenario and the first level of sub-scenarios and explain why they are plausible. Throughout the following posts, we shall develop scenarios and sub-scenarios through their narratives. The initial ordering of the scenario may change and/or be presented differently as our foresight analysis progresses. We shall assess the likelihood for each scenario as well as develop indicators to monitor the possibility of their occurrence, or more exactly, of the happenstance of a similar scenario, as a scenario is an ideal-type for a defined range of real-life situations. At the end of the process we shall present the whole definitive set of scenarios.
The initial scenarios for the future of Libya within the next five years are summarized in the following graph.
By utilizing our methodology to identify scenarios in case of war (a specific instance of the overall way to build scenarios for international and national security issues – Lavoix, “Scenarios and War“, Red (Team) Analysis, December 30, 2013), we determine the main plausible scenarios that might come about, based on Libya’s current civil war status.
As explained there, this logical approach observes that war may only evolve in two possible ways: continued war and the end of war. If war continues, it can either continue with the same terms or with different terms, depending on dynamics. If war is to end, there are several ways to reach a conclusion, including a successful peace. In that case, the state can be conquered by an external player, the warring parties can exhaust their will to fight and peace ensue, one of the involved actors may achieve victory over the others – and thus takes control – or a peace agreement can be brokered by external forces, which can either result in failure, a fragile success, or a complete success and subsequent peace (for the possible evolution of war, see notably Luttwak, “Give War a Chance“, Foreign Affairs, 1999).
Our mutually exclusive scenarios build on these logical outcomes, adapted to the Libyan case.
Scenario 1: Towards Peace (All but the Salafi groups)
Libya’s actors (excluding the Salafi groups) take the road towards peace. In a first case, they achieve an external brokered peace, as could happen with the current United Nations-led negotiations (Scenario 1.1).
Indeed, on the ground, although the armed coalitions of both governments still maintain military positions and launch attacks, the political leaders are pursuing the road towards peace by participating in UN-facilitated peace talks (UN News Centre, April 29, 2015).
In a second case, main actors reach a point of internal exhaustion from conflict (Scenario 1.2) – thus creating the opportunity for a more organic peace, which would most probably then be finally brokered through an international conference.
This latter scenario is all the more plausible – but we shall come back more in detail to the evaluation of likelihood in forthcoming posts – that an increasing number of Libyan leaders and politicians are calling for an end to the conflict and the creation of a unity government (Kirkpatrick, April 13, 2015), as a result of internal exhaustion from war.
The dynamics of the two sub-scenarios should be noted, as the second makes the first increasingly possible.
Scenario 2: Continuation of Civil War
Libya’s civil war continues, either on the same terms or different terms – depending on actors and factors. We shall mainly focus on the evolution involving different terms for our scenarios (as continuation of the civil war with the same terms will evolve into peace – see above – victory, or conquest – see below)
Following the logic of our methodological “Scenarios and War” post, to see one actor achieve “objectives and interests” thus influencing the end of the war, the terms of Libya’s civil war must be changed. As we have analysed the various objectives of the actors throughout our previous series on the actors, we shall use this analysis to imagine how the terms of war could be changed to the advantage or disadvantage of this or that actor. The presentation and titles of the sub-scenarios below are only tentative and may change as we shall revise their organization in the course of the analysis, for example to consider various cases of interventions and spill over.
Scenario 2.1: Intervention
External forces intervene in Libya, and their aim is not conquest. In a first case, we have an international intervention accepted by the UN and thus representative of the current International Community. The crucial variable, here, is the degree of acceptance of the intervention by as many states as possible, i.e. not opening the way to retaliation or counter-intervention. In the second case, an ad-hoc coalition of states, according to interests, intervenes to support one side in the ongoing conflict.
The various types of interventions, with which alliance, will be detailed in the various sub-scenarios.
There are indeed a host of plausible interventions considering the current actors and interests. For example, the existence of the new Joint Arab Force, although some analysts doubt its ability to actually be effective (see Wehrey comment in Yahoo News article, March 31, 2015), has enhanced the plausibility of an intervention in Libya, as suggested by Aaron Reese of the Institute for the Study of War. However, according to former deputy foreign minister and ambassador in Egypt Abdullah al-Ashaal, there are too many divisions between the nations involved in the Joint Arab Force to be able to form a united military force (Murdock, March 31, 2015). Even if the military force is united, “conflicting alliances could escalate the fighting,” – a possibility that could certainly play out in Libya, considering the divided backing of the General National Congress (GNC) and Council of Representatives (CoR) (Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia support CoR, while Qatar supports the GNC) (Ibid; Mitchell, “Nationalist Forces II,” December 1, 2014; Mitchell, “Potential International Intervention in Context,” February 16, 2015).
Meanwhile, NATO has taken note of the security risk on its southern flank in Libya, although it is not preparing for a military role in any future interventions, thus far, which would make such an intervention currently improbable (but not implausible; furthermore, over the next five years, the likelihood to see such an intervention happen will change). The organization is waiting on an improved “security situation in Libya” before it can approve any requests to “help train Libyan security forces” (Croft and Karadeniz, May 12, 2015). However, countries may also choose to act outside NATO, as, for example, France and Italy have expressed serious concern over security issues stemming from Libya’s instability – specifically the possibility of Islamic State militants posing as migrants and crossing the Mediterranean into Italy (Ross, February 18, 2015; AFP, February 21, 2015). The EU may then be or not be involved in a future intervention.
Meetings in Cairo are taking place to discuss intervention plans for Libya, with France and Italy possibly partnering with an Arab force (Mustafa, May 10, 2015; SputnikNews, May 11, 2015; Eurasia Security Watch, March 4, 2015).
Scenario 2.2 Spill over
Here, we shall see the Libyan conflict extending and the theater of war reaching other countries, either currently peaceful, such as Tunisia, Niger, or further afield Italy, for example, or joining – as is already the case – with other ongoing wars, such as the war in Mesopotamia (Syria and Iraq). A best way to organize these scenarios will be sought.
Scenario 2.3: Partition
We broadly have two cases. First,Libya embraces federalism, with a possible division along provincial lines (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, Fezzan). In the second case, the country breaks up, most probably along tribal lines.
The two regional governments in Cyrenaica – the Transitional Council of Cyrenaica and the Political Bureau of Cyrenaica – have already initiated federalism in Libya by announcing Cyrenaica as a semi-autonomous region (see Mitchell, “Nationalist Forces I,” November 3, 2014). Federalism in Libya could gain support and possibly turn into an option, provided that Libya’s federalist leaders present a more cohesive political agenda (see Eljarh, September 4, 2014).
As far as the second case is concerned, tribal declarations threatening secession on the one hand (see Tribes II and III), the strong regional component observed throughout the conflict which might be seen as nothing else than division along various Arab tribes lines, make this scenario plausible.
Scenario 2.4 Spill over and partition
This scenario will be a mix of the two previous scenarios.
Scenario 3: A Real Victory in Libya by a Local Group of Actors?
Any of the main group of actors is considered as able, plausibly, to achieve victory. The narratives will examine the impacts, while the indicators compared with the situation in the ground will help determine the likelihood for each case.
Either the General National Congress (GNC), including its armed coalition – Dawn of Libya (Scenario 3.1) – or the Council of Representatives (CoR), including the Libyan military and Nationalist forces (Scenario 3.2), achieves victory. Then, in each case, either the victor succeeds in stabilizing the situation and peace follows, or finally fails and we are back to civil war.
The plausibility for these scenarios is created by the fact that some leaders have expressed their preference for military victory rather than negotiated peace. Both Abdulrahman Swehli, a Misratan politician, and General Haftar, the leader of Libya’s military and Operation Dignity, have stated their preference for a military solution that would permanently decide the victor (Kirkpatrick, April 13, 2015; Al Jazeera, April 15, 2015).
Scenario 4: Salafi Conquest
Although we previously noted that, currently, conquest was outlawed, the Islamic State is currently obeying different sets of norms (see H. Lavoix, “Worlds War,” “Ultimate War,” and “Monitoring the War against the Islamic State or against a Terrorist Group?“). Furthermore, its competition for preeminence with notably Al Qaeda also impacts what the latter could do (see “Worlds War“). As a result, conquest of a sort is back on the international agenda, even if it is engineered through local groups. Note that, in terms of timeline, this scenario and its sub-scenarios will follow from the continuation of war with different terms, and, possibly also lead to war, also with different terms.
We thus have two plausible scenarios here.First, Libya succumbs to conquest by Al Qaeda (Scenario 4.1), whilst, second, we witness an Islamic State conquest (Scenario 4.2).
Indeed, Al-Qaeda has an established presence in regions of Southern Libya, and also has affiliates in Northern Libya such as Ansar al-Sharia (see Mitchell, “Islamist Forces II,” January 26, 2015). If Al-Qaeda is to offset the expanding Islamic State influence in Libya, it will likely need to draw increased support from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, notably Al-Qaeda in Tunisia, while also defeating the other actors. It may need to assert its influence on the Libyan battlefield in its battle against the Islamic State and other actors.
The Islamic State is already present in Libya, as seen in our previous posts “The Islamic State Advance and its Impacts” (Mitchell) and “Towards Understanding the Islamic State – Structure and Wilayat” (Lavoix). Its presence is growing everyday, as recently seen with the conquest of Sirte airport (BBC News, 29 May 2015) and several suicide bombers attacks in Misrata (Reuters, 31 May 2015), t the point that the GNC in Tripoli called for a general mobilisation against the Islamic State (AFP, YahooNews, 1 June 2015). Conquering Libya, or at least vital parts of it, would also provide the Islamic State as a “gateway” to Southern Europe (Sherlock and Freeman, February 17, 2015). Such a conquest will require a sizeable force, but if the Islamic State recruitment throughout Libya increases, in addition to the arrival of foreign fighters (Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Dairi claims 5,000 jihadists have arrived to join Islamic State and Ansar al-Sharia – Moore, March 3, 2015), the possibility to see this scenario take place may increase. Meanwhile, the Islamic State’s forces in Libya will most probably continue expanding by allying with other extremist groups, as noted by Squires and Loveluck (February 18, 2015).