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

This article is the first of our series focusing on scenarios depicting the range of spillover that could stem from the Libyan war. In our previous article, we concluded the scenarios for international intervention in light of a fragmenting unity government. In this article, we shall focus on scenarios related to conflict spillover in only one direction (towards Europe), and then spillover in two directions (west towards Algeria and south towards Niger). These scenarios are grounded in the premises that the evolution of the civil war leads to spillover. As a result, the war changes from an internal civil war within the bounds of Libyan borders with a measure of external involvement, to a renewed war that encompasses more than […]

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

The coming Battle for Sirte to defeat the Islamic State in Libya is principally seen from the perspective of the struggle between the U.N.-backed new government supported by some militias including Misrata, and those who refuse that government’s legitimacy, such as nationalist Haftar (e.g. “The scramble for Sirte”, The Economist, 14 May 2016. In the meanwhile, the Islamic State becomes an insignificant threat. Similarly, the situation on the ground, notably the tribes and related politics, are quasi ignored. Yet, it is crucial to have an understanding of what is happening, which goes beyond a top-down approach, and to consider also the perspective of the enemy, through red team analysis for example, as we are doing here. The consequences for not doing so may be deleterious, […]

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The Islamic State in Libya – Force, Fighters and Tribes

What is the current state of play for the Islamic State in Libya, and, most importantly, how can it evolve? The question is increasingly relevant considering the rising possibility of an international intervention in Libya against the Islamic State, a complex matter considering notably the questioned domestic legitimacy of the new U.N.-prompted Government of National Authority (GNA) (e.g. APA, “Libya unity gov’t approval postponed indefinitely“, 19 April 2016), despite strong pressure imposed on Libyans to recognise it, such as the U.S. President “Executive Order — Blocking Property And Suspending Entry Into The United States Of Persons Contributing To The Situation In Libya” (White House, 19 April 2016). Is the Islamic State’s threat in Libya hyped and “not a realistic fallback” for a Khilafah, furthermore […]

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War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (3)

In our previous post, we discussed the Amazigh and Tuareg tribes, who were marginalized and persecuted under Qaddafi, and their current involvement in the war. Similarly, the Toubou faced persecution and marginalization in the recent past, but became more powerful after the 2011 revolution, a result of their contribution to revolutionary forces. As a result, the balance of power over smuggling routes in Southern Libya (Fezzan) shifted to one that favored the Toubou, which drove the Toubou and Tuareg to end their long-lasting Midi Midi truce and clash in Ubari. This shift in power has also brought about violent clashes between Toubou and Arab tribesmen over smuggling routes and regional power. Here, we shall discuss the Toubou political grievances, their […]

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War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (2)

Throughout their history (see “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1)“), Libya’s tribes have not been based exclusively on systematic tribalism, but rather on a flexible tribal ideology that is grounded in identity and shifts according to circumstances and practical opportunities. This shifting tribal ideology makes the non-Arab tribes different from the majority of the actors in Northern Libya, who are more or less bound by religious or political ideology – and thus ally with similar groups. Furthermore, tribalism naturally produces “nepotism and favoritism” amongst tribal groups and families (Varvelli, ISPI, May 2013), but Libya’s minority tribes have also shown that they can unite to protest shared grievances, as we shall see below. The Amazigh (Berber), Toubou, and Tuareg tribes have been […]

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War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War (1)

Tribalism in Libya’s civil war is a powerful dynamic that must be analyzed and understood before endeavoring foresight. Libya comprises 140 tribes, of which an estimated 30 to 40 have political influence, making it “one of the most tribal nations in the Arab world” (Kurczy and Hinshaw, The Christian Science Monitor, February 24, 2011; Varvelli, ISPI, May 2013). As a result, if a few or many of them side with one or the other warring groups, then this will impact the war. Tribal identity and its product of favoritism are dynamics that can have a profound effect on political allegiances (see section on Creating Grievances). Because tribes are inclusive and often have extended familial ties, they are naturally predisposed to favoritism […]

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