The fight against terrorism in Tunisia is a shared priority and responsibility with the U.S. and Europe but will also depend greatly on solving the security issues in neighboring Libya, according to participants at a March 23 conference at RAND.
Five years after the uprising against Qaddafi and the civil war that followed, Libya is now home to the second-largest and fastest-growing Islamic State group affiliate outside Iraq and Syria. The U.S. and its allies need to step in to help restore Libyan sovereignty.
ISIS's expansion in Libya is a threat to the security of Libyans, to the region, and to Europe. U.S. and European cooperation to counter ISIS is essential and Libya is unlikely to ever be peaceful without outside military support.
Instead of asking whether a video precipitated the attack or whether Ambassador Stevens should have been in Benghazi on that fateful night, the right question to ask is under what conditions the United States should have a diplomatic presence in high-risk areas.
Algeria could be a key regional partner for the United States and France in security and counterterrorism efforts against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. It has a clear interest in quelling the threat posed by regional jihadists and it has local knowledge that could be helpful to U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
It is not true that domestic politics can be quarantined from foreign policy. In fact, Egypt's domestic and foreign policies are becoming more entangled by the day. And that bleed-over should raise concerns.
European Union leaders gathered today for an emergency summit to discuss a concerted response to the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the Mediterranean Sea. As a former officer serving aboard an Italian Navy warship deployed in Operation Mare Nostrum in November 2013, Giacomo Persi Paoli is well aware of the challenges.
Libya is as vulnerable to further inroads by ISIS now as Syria was a year ago. What can the United States and its allies do to stop the hemorrhaging? Many options have been debated, but none look very promising.
The NATO air campaign that helped defeat Qaddafi's regime in Libya has received relatively little mention in public discussion of the ongoing air strikes against ISIS. But the campaign in Libya offers at least five lessons that deserve greater attention today.
President Obama's campaign against ISIS militants marks a notable strategic shift in the conduct of warfare against terrorists and insurgents. It eschews the use of overwhelming force and embraces a light-footprint strategy that relies on precision strikes from U.S. aircraft, clandestine ground units, and local allies.
With the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) making significant gains over the past week, including advancing closer to Baghdad, U.S. President Barack Obama is reportedly considering whether to deploy U.S. air power to assist Iraq's armed forces. But what would such an intervention mean in practical terms? And how effective an option would it be?
If NATO wants to avoid strategic irrelevance, it needs to give increasing attention to the threats from the Middle East and North Africa region. A southern strategy should draw on recent experience, such as NATO's intervention in Libya and the successful operation in Mali.
A forthcoming book from RAND senior political scientist Christopher S. Chivvis recounts the story of how the United States and its European allies went to war against Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, why they won the war, and what the implications will be for NATO, Europe, and Libya.
If steps are not taken to get control of security, there is little hope for Libya's future. Qaddafi's fateful warning that Libya would become a “Somalia on the Mediterranean” without him could come true. The investment that NATO and its partners made in toppling Qaddafi would then be almost entirely wasted.
The raids that the United States conducted over the weekend in Libya and Somalia could signal a new focus in Washington on capturing terrorist suspects and gathering intelligence rather than relying on drone strikes. RAND experts Linda Robinson, Angel Rabasa, and Seth Jones comment.
The best way to safeguard U.S. diplomatic missions abroad is to think hard up front about the purpose of the mission and to constantly reassess it in light of changing conditions, writes William Young.
By adopting a laissez-faire policy toward security in Libya after the war, the United States and its allies who helped the Libyan rebels topple Gadhafi share in the responsibility for the country’s current predicament, writes Christopher Chivvis.
Trepidation about boots-on-the-ground engagement has unnecessarily forestalled even small-scale efforts to repair Libya's fractured security environment....Meanwhile, in Syria, the over-learned lessons of Iraq are taking an even more serious toll, writes Christopher Chivvis.
A smaller-scale training mission to help the Libyan government build reliable forces that will answer to the country's elected leadership would do much to help the Libyan state get control over its own territory, writes Christopher Chivvis.
France is in Mali not just to prop up a failing state in French Africa, but because Mali was becoming a magnet for jihadis from around the world and Paris rightly feared the country could become the next Afghanistan—only much closer to Europe, writes Christopher Chivvis.
As a case of military intervention, Libya does not tell us much about how useful the lower-cost, lighter footprint adopted there can be under more challenging conditions, or when the objective is broader and more transformational, as was the case at the outset in Iraq and Afghanistan, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.
Libya is neither Iraq nor Afghanistan, let alone Somalia. It has much going for it that these post-conflict cases did not, including relatively unified citizens, wealth, a neighborhood comparatively conducive to stability, and a clear victory over the former regime, writes Christopher Chivvis.
Qaddafi is gone, but if violence spreads, it could call into question the no-footprint post-conflict model that the United States and its allies chose after last year's intervention, writes Christopher S. Chivvis.
The countries that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi a year ago have a special obligation to ensure the new Libyan government gets all the help it needs to respond to these new threats effectively, writes Christopher Chivvis.
If the Syrian opposition clearly asks for American help, if the rest of the Arab world supports such a military intervention, and if America's European allies prove ready to join in—and indeed lead—such an effort, the United States should contribute those military assets which only it can provide, writes James Dobbins.
The Arab Spring demonstrated that leaderless revolutions are difficult to repress or co-opt. Unfortunately, it is also true that leaderless revolts find it difficult to make transition to authority, writes Charles Ries.
The days and weeks after a victory like this are a golden hour that set in motion either a virtuous cycle of increasing security and economic growth, or a downward spiral into insecurity, factionalism and economic chaos, write Christopher S. Chivvis and Frederic Wehrey.
If Libya is to have a chance of replacing Qaddafi with something better, the United States, its allies, and the rest of the international community will need to pivot very quickly from the rather straightforward requirements of war fighting to taking seriously the complex and demanding tasks of peace building, write James Dobbins and Frederic Wehrey.
The countries in a possible "second wave" of Arab revolutions have dim prospects for consolidated democracies. Other than tribes, Libya essentially has no civil society, and it has a long-isolated educated class. Yemen has civil society organizations but fewer well-educated individuals, writes Julie Taylor.
The long-term objective of a train-and-equip program for the Libyan revolutionary government would be to create a professional military force in a post-Qaddafi Libya that could support democratic institutions free of extremist elements, writes Angel Rabasa.
What has been happening in North Africa this year, in what seems to be the leading edge of a great wind of change sweeping the Arab world, will require the Europeans (along with the U.S. and others) to be deeply and durably engaged there — economically, politically and in humanitarian terms, writes Robert E. Hunter.
Pushing the European allies, especially Britain and France, to take more responsibility in managing crises would reduce the costs and burdens on the United States while providing an incentive for the Europeans to take defense more seriously, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.
The question, then, is whether stopping the fighting—which could also require forcibly removing Qaddafi—is worth the price of deep military engagement and responsibility for Libya's postwar future, writes Robert E. Hunter.