Strategic Lessons from the Ejection of ISIS from Sirte

May 17, 2017

In an article for the Atlantic Council’s MENASource, Dr Alia Brahimi and Jason Pack write the first of two article looking at valuable lessons that can be learned from the ejection of the Islamic State (ISIS) from Sirte. This first article delves into the strategic lessons, arguing that 1) Governance failures drive jihadism; 3)  Weakening ISIS strengthens al-Qaeda; and 3) ISIS’s governance model is unsustainable. A second article will look at the tactical lessons.

In Libya, ISIS’s governance model was financially and socially untenable. Ultimately, ISIS never managed to generate a social base. By contrast, in Syria and Iraq, this base currently exists by default, as the state is widely perceived by Sunni communities to be a sectarian predator.

Yet, ISIS’s inherent vulnerabilities notwithstanding, it is difficult to see strategic progress against the group, while uncertainty over the most basic governance questions prevails. Since December, there has been no agreement on how Sirte itself will be run––in fact, Sirte’s new mayor, elected by municipal councilors, was kidnapped in February. The question mark that now hovers over Sirte’s fate, after ISIS, joins a series of unresolved questions on the future of Libya as a whole.

Click here to read the full article.