Since the 2011 Arab uprisings, Libya and Tunisia’s trajectories have been a study in contrast. Tunisia is often touted as the lone success story of the Arab Spring, and, despite economic and security challenges, has made significant democratic progress in the last seven years. Meanwhile, Libya has been in a chaotic and fragile state since the ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The two countries share a porous 285-mile border, which has been exploited by extremist groups like ISIS to smuggle arms, contraband and people. Indeed, the majority of foreign fighters in Libya come from Tunisia. The U.S. Institute of Peace asked our Mike Yaffe and the American Enterprise Institute’s Emily Estelle for their insights on confronting the terrorist threat and addressing governance challenges in the two North African nations.

Yaffe and Estelle came together as part of the 49th joint USIP-Partnership for a Secure America Congressional Briefing Series. The program aims to build cross-party relationships, encourage bipartisan dialogue, and equip congressional staff with new perspectives on critical issues in the international conflict resolution and prevention field.

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Amid War in Libya’s North, a Peace Effort Launches in the South

Amid War in Libya’s North, a Peace Effort Launches in the South

Friday, April 26, 2019

By: Nathaniel L. Wilson; Abigail Corey

The Libyan faction leader, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, made global headlines this month with his assault on the capital, Tripoli. But in January, fewer people noticed his preparatory move: a takeover of the country’s vast southern region, Fezzan. Fezzan is mostly desert but flecked with oil fields and agriculturally rich oases. Libya’s U.N.-recognized government, which is Haftar’s rival in claiming power, has largely neglected the south, leaving armed groups from different tribes to fight for control of economic resources. This absence of governance, across an area larger than California, offers a haven for threats to regional and U.S. security interests: human trafficking, arms smuggling, and violent extremist groups.

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Q&A: Libya’s Sudden New Risk of War

Q&A: Libya’s Sudden New Risk of War

Friday, April 12, 2019

By: Nathaniel L. Wilson; USIP Staff

Just as the United Nations was preparing to host a national conference in Libya this month to arrange for national elections to unify the country’s fractured governance, the faction that dominates the country’s east, the Libyan National Army, launched a military offensive last week on the capital, Tripoli. With the past week’s fighting, “the likelihood is greater than at any point since 2014 for destructive and bloody conflict” of an uncertain duration and outcome, according to Nate Wilson, who manages USIP programs in Libya. Wilson monitors Libya from neighboring Tunisia while working with Libyan officials, researchers on projects to inform international policymakers, and with local Libyan groups that work to reconcile disputes and build a foundation for national peacemaking. In response to questions, he discussed what’s at stake in the new fighting, and how the international community might respond.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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