Southern Libya remains a region of endemic instability wracked by communal conflict, a shortage of basic services, rampant smuggling, and fragmented or collapsed institutions. The region has long existed on the periphery of Libya’s politics and international concerns—but that must change. Increasingly, the vacuum of governance in the south has drawn in political actors from northern Libya and outside states. Extremists seeking refuge in the south and migrants being smuggled through the region directly impact the security of Libya, neighboring states like Tunisia, and Europe…
Insecurity and Governance Challenges in Southern Libya
In a report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Frederic Wehrey discusses the sources of insecurity in Libya’s often ignored southern region and outlines some recommendations for Libyan authorities and the international community in order to combat the governance vacuum in the region.
Though conflict and social tensions range far and wide in the south, two locations in particular—Sabha and Ubari—bear watching because of their propensity to draw in other social and political actors from across the region. Both suffer from a witches’ brew of afflictions: they are ethnically and tribally mixed; they suffer institutional weaknesses, especially in the security and justice sectors; and they are situated near major sources of fixed income, whether smuggling routes or oil fields. In addition, they have been the targets of meddling by northern and external actors…
Aside from these two flash points, the southern region faces a number of structural drivers of conflict related to its weak and fractured security sector; the absence of a meaningful local economy, despite the presence of oil fields, and effective border control; and harmful meddling by northern and outside actors. Jihadi militancy is currently a somewhat marginal threat to the south, but it could find greater social purchase among aggrieved tribes or communities or amid a worsening breakdown of governance.
Click here to read the full report.