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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On the Road to Peace, Libya Makes Progress but Hits Pitfalls

On the Road to Peace, Libya Makes Progress but Hits Pitfalls

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

By: Nate Wilson; Dr. Elie Abouaoun

After a decade of war and division, Libya has made progress toward peace this year. In March, a Government of National Unity (GNU) was formed to unify the warring Western-based Government of National Accord and the Eastern-based authorities supported by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who commands forces known as the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (or Libyan National Army). The GNU is a provisional body meant to lead the country to long-delayed elections on December 24. While some progress has been made — a cease-fire agreement has been signed and the executive has been unified — many challenges remain. Chief among those challenges is developing a framework for national reconciliation and addressing the destabilizing role of foreign powers.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Reconciliation; Peace Processes

Contested Citizenship Marginalizes Libya’s Vulnerable

Contested Citizenship Marginalizes Libya’s Vulnerable

Thursday, May 27, 2021

By: Abigail Corey; Ali Alansari

After a decade of conflict, Libya has made welcome progress toward stability. A cease-fire inked in October 2020 paved the way for the establishment of an interim unity government tasked with preparing for national elections at the end of 2021. While these developments are cause for hope, numerous issues remain that could threaten long-team peace — including many people’s undetermined legal status. An estimated several hundred thousand people in Libya — even some born and raised in the country — lack proof of citizenship. Marginalized groups, such as those with disabilities, are among those most impacted by citizenship struggles. In this war-torn country, this is but another issue that exacerbates conflict and tension. 

Type: Blog

Human Rights; Peace Processes

Libya: Amid Hope for Peace, Regional Rifts Still Pose Hurdles

Libya: Amid Hope for Peace, Regional Rifts Still Pose Hurdles

Friday, February 26, 2021

By: Simona Ross; Stefan Wolff

Libyans and the United Nations advanced their current effort to end almost a decade of instability and war this month when a U.N.-backed forum nominated an interim government to prepare nationwide elections by the end of 2021. The new transitional government brings hope that this process—the third major U.N. peace effort in Libya—might lead to stability. Still, achieving lasting peace will require that the process address the main underlying driver of conflict: the divisions among Libya’s three main regions, notably over how to organize the government. It also will need the United States and other countries to support the transitional government and hold Libya’s contesting sides accountable.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes; Democracy & Governance

Libya 10 Years After Revolution: To Forgive or Forget

Libya 10 Years After Revolution: To Forgive or Forget

Thursday, February 18, 2021

By: Esra Elbakoush; Nate Wilson

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the uprising that overthrew the four-decade dictatorship of Muammar Qaddafi. In the intervening decade, Libya has been mired in conflict and political gridlock, exacerbated by competing power centers and longstanding tribal hostilities. What’s more, a host of foreign powers have entered the fray, looking to pursue their own interests rather than build a peaceful Libya. While there is momentum toward peace in recent months, Libyans will have to decide for themselves how to arrive at reconciliation and build a roadmap to get to a sustainable peace. But what does that look like?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes; Reconciliation

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