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Research Report

A Strategy for Success in Libya

Emily Estelle
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 2017
Pages: 109
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-13)

    The US must get Libya right. Salafi-jihadi groups including al Qaeda and ISIS operate from Libyan safe havens today. They are entrenching themselves within the Libyan population, establishing a solid base from which to threaten the US and European homelands and interests. Insecurity in Libya destabilizes Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt—all of which already face major internal challenges. Regional states are vying for influence and the ability to shape the future of the Libyan state. Russia is also seeking positions in Libya from which to operate in the southern Mediterranean.⁶ Criminal human trafficking networks that move migrants from throughout Africa...

  2. (pp. 14-24)

    The United States cannot divorce the Libyan civil war and political conflict from the Salafi-jihadi phenomenon. Any strategy for Libya must therefore consider the interrelationship and connectivity of multiple contests and conflicts playing out inside the country. Appendix A addresses these contests in detail. The strategy must ensure that political, military, diplomatic, and other lines of effort are mutually reinforcing.

    America’s primary interest in Libya is weakening and ultimately defeating the Libyan Salafi-jihadi base in support of the movement’s global defeat. Attacking al Qaeda and ISIS directly will not have the desired outcome and could harm other core US national...

  3. (pp. 25-26)

    This approach is part of a strategic reset required to secure US interests in Africa and the Middle East. It supports a primary strategic objective for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to develop the capabilities of African partners to contribute to regional stability and security. It does so by shaping the outcome of the Libyan conflict toward a durable resolution and by enabling Libyan forces to provide for their own security in the long term. This approach is also intended to reassert American leadership on the global stage and set a precedent for success that will benefit American initiatives in other...

  4. (pp. 27-27)

    Now is the time to act in Libya. The US has an opportunity to reset a narrative of failure in the Arab world by solving a solvable problem. Success in Libya will have positive effects on the security of three continents. It will be a first—and major—step in rebuilding the confidence of allies, adversaries, and the American public in the leadership and capabilities of the United States.

    The US must prevent Libya from becoming more like Syria—an entrenched regional conflict with a massive human cost that provides enduring safe haven to Salafi-jihadi groups. This report proposes an...