The SOUFAN Group
On December 17, 2015, representatives from Libya’s rival governments in Tobruk and Tripoli signed a UN-brokered agreement in Morocco,
pledging to form a unity government within 40 days. The international community heralded the agreement as a new beginning for Libya, and expressed hope for the country’s future.
On January 19, 2016, the Tunisia-based Unity Presidential Council—formed under the UN agreement—nominated a 32-member cabinet composed of members of both competing governments. Less than a week later, on January 25, the internationally-recognized government overwhelmingly rejected the UN agreement, with only 15 of 104 members voting in favor.
Even if reconciliation leads to the formation of a unity government, that government will immediately face the monumental task of reuniting the country both socially and militarily. It will need to provide law and order for the Libyan people; dismantle the extensive black market networks flourishing in Libya; and secure operational control of the main drivers of the Libyan economy—primarily the oil and gas infrastructure.
It will also need to defeat the extremist networks that have capitalized on the weakness of the Libyan state and used the country as a base to generate revenue and train fighters.
Continued instability in Libya will allow the so-called Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups to entrench their presence in the country. Conflict zones and
failed states necessarily attract violent extremists—and Libya is the perfect candidate for a new safe haven for jihadist fighters. The phenomenon of foreign fighters has enhanced this threat, as young extremists are provided with an ideal destination for waging violent jihad. The cases of Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, and Syria have shown the threat that these safe havens pose to international security. Given geography, expansive territory, extensive oil reserves, and its history with violent jihadist networks, a failed state in Libya could be disastrous for North Africa and Europe, as well as the broader international community.
• Following the failure to form a unity government in Libya, the country will continue to face monumental hurdles to stabilization.
• Existing divides between the East and West of Libya have been exacerbated by the security situation in the country.
• The absence of rule of law and the high levels of violence in Libya—when combined with the proliferation of weapons—have allowed violent extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda to thrive.
• Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are both utilizing Libya as a safe-haven from which to launch operations against neighboring countries.
• Libya is becoming a new destination for foreign jihadist fighters, especially those from neighboring Tunisia.
• The expansion of black market networks in Libya has moved economic drivers away from centralized control, and empowered criminal and extremist elements within the country.
• Control of energy infrastructure is a top priority for all parties in Libya, especially extremist groups, threatening economic stability.
• Extremist groups have effectively coopted the black market networks in Libya, drawing revenue from the smuggling of migrants, weapons, drugs, and oil.
• Approximately 144,000 migrants attempted to cross the Central Mediterranean to Europe in 2015, the vast majority embarking from Libya.
• Continued instability in Libya will see the formalization of black market networks and the entrenchment of violent extremist groups, lowering the prospects for peace.
See the full report in pdf >>>TSG_Libya-Extremism-and-the-Consequences-of-Collapse-Jan2016