Scholarly Reports

The latest in scholarly and journalistic insight into ISIS action and the Western response in Libya and related issues.

IRI Releases Libya Poll Results

November 9 2016

The International Republican Institute released the results of polling in Libya focusing on local governance.

The Libya Political Agreement: Time for a Reset

November 4 2016

Crisis Group published a detailed report on the Skhirat agreement and its impact on Libya. The report notes that “A year ago, the conflict was between rival parliaments and their associated governments; today it is mainly between accord supporters and opponents, each with defectors from the original camps and heavily armed.” It advises the international community to avoid taking sides in this changed rivalry and suggests a new security agreement.

United States Institute of Peace Reports on Justice in Libya

September 7 2016

The United States Institute of Peace has produced three fascinating and comprehensive reports on the justice sector in Libya. The first is written by Peter Cole with Fiona Mangan and is entitled ‘Policy Libya: Form and Function of Policing since the 2011 Revolution‘. The second is ‘Tribe, Security, Justice and Peace in Libya Today‘ and the final report is by Fiona Mangan and Rebecca Murray and is entitled ‘Prisons and Detention in Libya‘.

Who Pays for ISIS in Libya?

August 24 2016

James Roslington and Jason Pack discuss the financing of ISIS in Libya is this report for Hate Speech International.

Post-revolutionary Discontent and F(r)actionalisation in the Maghreb: Managing the Tunisa-Libya Border Dynamics

August 2016

Grégory Chauzal Sofia Zavagli argue for bottom-up solutions to conflict in Tunisia and Libya in this Clingendael Report from the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

Defeating the Islamic State: Remaining Challenges

8 July 2016

Andrew Engel of The Washington Institute has published a report on the situation.

The battle to uproot the Islamic State in Libya (ISL) from Sirte, the group’s de facto North African capital, may soon result in victory for the Western-backed Operation Binyan Marsous (Solid Structure). Although defeating ISL in the heart of Libya’s “oil crescent” is cause for celebration, the group will continue to conduct irregular warfare and could find safe haven in the southern desert, while some of its foreign fighters might return to their home countries to wage terrorist attacks. Moreover, other violent extremist organizations (VEOs), including those associated with al-Qaeda, continue to pose security challenges of their own. The political front is no less fraught — Washington had hoped the battle against ISL would unify opposing factions around the Government of National Accord (GNA), but this unity has yet to materialize, and political infighting remains a significant obstacle to stabilization.

24 May 2016

The Middle East Policy Council released an essay by Hanspeter Mattes entitled Libya Since 2011: Political Transformation and Violence. Mr. Mattes forecasts continuing violence and stalemate in Libya.

18 May 2016

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published In Libya, Politics Precedes Victory by Terek Megerisi in its Sada Journal in which he is sharply critical of foreign efforts to stabilize Libya.

16 May 2016

Atlantic Council Resident Senior Fellow Karim Mezran was interviewed by Ashish Kumar Sen about potential western military aid for Libya’s Government of National Accord.

13 May 2016

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) released a report Intervening Better: Europe’s Second Chance in Libya by Mattia Toaldo strongly advocating for support of the unity government. ECFR also released a Quick Guide to Libya’s Main Players.

The Congressional Research Service released a report by long time Middle East analyst Christopher Blanchard entitled Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy. The report suggestions growing U.S. counterterrorism concerns and potential for expanding U.S. military involvement in Libya even as political consensus in the country remains elusive.

12 May 2016

Frederic Wehrey of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled Struggling to Fight Islamic State in a Fractured Libya cautioning that Western focus on ISIS in Libya may further divide rather than unite the country.

 
3 May 2016
 
PBS interviewed a number of leading Libya watchers about the NATO intervention in Libya. Karim Mezran characterized the conflict in Libya prior to NATO intervention as a civil war rather than a revolution and emphasized the importance of reconciliation and inclusion of Libyans who supported Qadhafi instead of a rush to elections in the aftermath of the war. A video about Benghazi is also included.
 
29 April 2016
 
In her article for AEI’s Critical Threats site, Emily Estelle argues that the offensive against Sirte could successfully force IS to abandon the city and push the group south into the Fezzan. Estelle’s analysis may be premature, however, given that no Misratan militia commanders have yet backed the unity government plan and the composition of the task force itself remains to be determined. In fact, we believe that even if a full frontal assault materialized–a development which may not occur for months–IS may weather the attack. However, Ms Estelle is quite right in pointing out that the group could survive the conquest of Sirte and could easily establish itself in the Fezzan or in dispersed cells across the country.To read the rest of the analysis click here.
 
26 April 2016
 
Writing for the Atlantic Council, Ronald Bruce St. John argues that the way forward for the political process in Libya is to “incorporate the traditional political model based on tribes and tribalism that has long bestowed legitimacy on Libyan governments.” Failure to do so risks exacerbating divisions rather than healing them.
 
9 March 2016
 
This report by the Center for American Progress acknowledges the strategic complexity of US policy responses to ISIS in Libya: intervene, and threaten to undermine the process to form a functioning unity government; fail to intervene, and risk increasing the space within which ISIS can operate. The report offers some constructive responses, including forming a security council to co-ordinate anti-ISIS actions and share intelligence, providing assistance to vetted Libyan militias while pursuing the goal of unified national-level security, and providing border assistance to Libya’s neighbours, particularly Tunisia.
 
4 March 2016
 
In this piece for Carnegie Europe’s Capitals Series, Tarek Megerisi notes that the atmosphere of crisis surrounding Libya is putting pressure on Europe to respond immediately and decisively. But, argues Megerisi, succumbing to such pressure would compound Libya’s problems, and ultimately Europe’s too. The emphasis of Europe’s response to Libya, he says, should be on providing a holistic solution rather than a necessarily swift one.
 
7 February 2016
 
Western support is an important part of tackling the growing threat of ISIS in Libya, but the West should first focus on bridging divides within Libya or else face exacerbating the country’s political fractures, argue Frederic Wehrey and Wolfram Lacher in this piece in Foreign Affairs. The article is published in full by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
 
3 December 2015

In a report entitled The Prize: Fighting for Libya’s Energy Wealth, International Crisis Group draws attention to Libya’s most difficult challenge: creating a functioning unity government when all parties to the conflict are incentivised by the goal of controlling the country’s hydrocarbons and financial resources. Efforts must be made to de-link the conflict from these objectives, argues the report, including setting up parallel tracks to unity government negotiations on security and economic governance, and persuading the warring parties that the longer they fight, the less there is to fight over.

 

August 2015

Brooking working paper Between ISIS and a Failed State: The Saga of Libyan Islamists by Omar Ashoor discussing Libyan Islamist groups.