The decline of IS in Libya and the Levant is a concern for Tunisia
In an article for the Middle East Eye, Rhiannon Smith and Lachlan Wilson discuss how the military gains against IS first in Libya then in the Levant could have a destabilising impact on Tunisia as the thousands of Tunisians fighting overseas for IS begin to return home and look to establish a new IS vanguard in North Africa. This could result in an increased IS presence in Tunisia itself or a regrouping of IS cells with Tunisian support in Libya’s deserts and potential hotspots such as Sabratha.
Tunisia provides fertile ground for an impending IS presence. IS cells are already developing their capabilities, undertaking a few deadly terrorist attacks as well as lower level insurgent strikes on Tunisian security forces. Cells sympathetic to IS are active in 17 of Tunisia’s 24 governorates that includes Sfax and Sousse on the east coast, Jendouba closer towards the Algerian border, and the capital Tunis in the north. The group has undertaken over half a dozen attacks in the last six months and recently claimed an IED attack against a Tunisian army armoured vehicle in Jabel Mghilla. Greater coordinated activity and experience, provided by an influx of IS members from Libya and the Levant, could prove a significant threat to Tunisia’s security.
They conclude that:
The loss of the city of Sirte is not the final blow to IS in Libya or the North African region. The opportunity for IS to regroup and strategically pursue its goals of causing regional instability are still available. If unchecked, the group could mount a resurgence in the region, undermining the military gains against the organisation over the last twelve months.
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