Weekly briefing: "Spotlight on Libya"

A weekly round-up of relevant IEP data providing insight into the world around us.

12 April, 2019: Libya’s longstanding fragility has deepened, as fighting between two opposing governing forces raises new fears of war. It’s been a week since the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army led by General Khalifa Haftar launched an attack on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, striking and suspending operations at the city’s only working international airport. In response, forces loyal to the Government National Accord, led by the internationally recognised Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, slowed the advance of Haftar’s fighters, but around 47 people have been left dead. So far, international appeals for a ceasefire have not been heeded, and thousands of people have begun to flee. The violent clashes foment the disintegration of the oil-rich North African nation, which followed the killing of long-time ruler Muammer Gaddafi during the turbulent aftermath of the Arab Spring.

Libya — by the numbers

Global rank:  157 out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index
Regional rank: 17 out of 20 MENA countries on the Global Peace Index
Militarisation: Worth 10.47 per cent of GDP, the fourth biggest spend
Positive Peace: Libya ranks 141 out of 163 countries.

Libya’s emerging terror concerns

Libya ranks 13 out of 163 countries on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), a similar position to many other fragile states such as South Sudan, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.

As a part of the North African Mahgreb region, Libya is now a focal area for emerging terror concerns, according to the GTI.

Terrorist activity is shifting away from the Middle East and southward into Africa, and the impact of terrorism has now begun to increase in Africa’s Maghreb, as well as the Sahel, regions.

The shared borders between these two regions, particularly between Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are an emerging hotspot of terrorism.

Terror groups seized upon the political unrest following the Arab Spring to further destabilise the region, most notably countries such as Libya and Algeria

Taking advantage of the power vacuum left by the Arab Spring, Al-Qa’ida expanded their operations outside of MENA and gained traction throughout Africa, most notably in the Maghreb and Sahel, posing a serious threat to security.

As of March 2018, upwards of 9,000 terrorists are estimated to be active in the Sahel, most notably in Libya and Algeria. As the gateway between Islamist extremist groups and dispersed desert communities, the Sahel has long been home to scattered jihadist terror groups that have more recently improved their capacity to coordinate attacks and disrupt central governments.