Libya remains a chaotic state with a UN-backed government hard pressed to exert control over territory ruled by a rival government, assorted militias, and extremist organizations. Stabilization will require building both trust and negotiating capacities among diverse partners. The U.S. Institute of Peace contributes to local dialogue processes and helps Libyan researchers inform policymakers on tribal allegiances and religious forces. Working on Libya since 2011, USIP also has reported on little-understood elements of the conflict such as how prisons help incubate extremist ideology, and the impact of cross-border illicit activities.
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 in Libya and Tunisia and addressing governance challenges in the two North African nations.
Following a recent trip to Libya, USIP President Nancy Lindborg discusses how Libya has become the epicenter for refugees from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia migrating to Europe. “Even though the overall rates of migration into Europe have decreased,” says Lindborg, “they will continue as long as smuggling in Libya remains such a big business.”
More than two years after the United Nations began leading an internationally backed peace process for Libya, that effort faces severe challenges. Rival Libyan regimes still claim national authority, and battles among hundreds of militia groups continue. Amid the turmoil, however, young Libyans are leading peacebuilding efforts in their local communities.
Diplomats and peace practitioners often cite lack of familiarity with the religious landscape as a barrier to their engagement of religious actors. In 2013, USIP launched an initiative to address this need by developing a methodology for systematically mapping and assessing the religious sector’s influence on conflict and peace dynamics in discrete conflict settings. These mappings, which have been done or are underway in Libya, South Sudan, Iraq and Burma, help illuminate recommendations for effective partnerships within the religious sector for peacebuilding.