Bottom Line Up Front Throughout Libya’s civil war, widespread allegations have surfaced that strongman Khalifa Haftar operates as a modern-day warlord, using his power to further numerous criminal enterprises. To fund the LNA’s activities, Haftar’s network allegedly has turned to a range of criminal activities and illicit financial flows. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The United Arab Emirates has dumped weapons into conflict zones throughout the Middle East. Given how unstable the situation in Libya remains and the more external actors involved, the more prolonged and bloody the conflict is likely to become. Following the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On July 5, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement condemning an airstrike on a migrant detention camp in Libya that killed 53 people. Despite the 2011 U.N. arms embargo in Libya, countries like the UAE and Turkey continue to provide heavy weapons to the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Civilian pro-democracy protesters were gunned down on Monday by Sudanese security forces in Khartoum, the country’s capital. According to various media reports, at least thirteen protesters were killed and approximately 200 injured. Concerned about pro-democracy protests spreading beyond Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab ...

The Cipher Brief's 'Academic Incubator' column features analysis and observations by current and recent students associated with national security-focused academic programs.  Earlier this month, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, ordered his troops to march on the capitol Tripoli, which is held by the UN-backed Government ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On April 16, Egypt’s parliament passed amendments to the Constitution that provide President al-Sisi with a path forward to maintain power until 2030. There is little observable public opposition to the constitutional changes, likely a result of the oppressive nature of the Egyptian government. Under ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A serious military escalation is underway in Libya as General Khalifa Haftar and his forces move to take Tripoli. The battle is now unifying a range of violent non-state actors with the recognized interim government against Haftar, who is receiving significant external state support. For ...

A revised and improved “Cuba model” for denuclearizing North Korea might have gotten a more receptive ear from Pyongyang than US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s dead-on-arrival “Libya model.” Yesterday, President Trump called off his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. The reason, according to a White House statement, was ...

February 15, 2018, will mark the seventh anniversary of the Benghazi rallies, in which Libyans took to the streets to protest the arrest of a human rights lawyer. Fueled by the success of demonstrators in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, the crowds also demanded the release of political prisoners and an ...

Bottom Line: ISIS maintains a strong presence in Libya and remains a potent regional threat, despite domestic and international efforts to oust the group from its stronghold. After losing their former base of operations along the Libyan coast, ISIS fighters have regrouped and established training centers and operational headquarters in ...

Leaving the courtroom after a long day of closing arguments in the recent trial of Ahmed Abu Khattala, I felt something all too rare these days—immense pride in our government. The accused ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks against the U.S. mission and the CIA annex in Benghazi ...

Imagine a multi-pronged, low intensity conflict. It’s been dragging on for five or so years. Sometimes this faction gains ground. Sometimes that. Or maybe it’s a third or fourth group. And then imagine a truce between two of the conflict’s numerous groups. Progress, you think. A first step toward ultimately ...

Political instability continues to plague Libya as the country is mired in its sixth year of conflict following the 2011 Arab Spring. In July, two of Libya’s most prominent leaders, representing competing factions, Fayez Sarraj, the head of Libya’s UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) and Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, ...

More than six years after the Arab Spring reverberated across the Middle East and North Africa, the Libyan people still face a seemingly insurmountable challenge of piecing their fractured country back together. Warring militias and an expanding terrorist threat have wreaked havoc on the country. Libya’s two most prominent leaders ...

To put it mildly, circumstances on the ground in Libya are complicated. Mired in a state of conflict since former head of state Muammar Gaddafi was forced from power in 2011, Libya has become a battleground where several factions and militias have been jockeying for political and military control throughout ...

That Libya is a mess is beyond doubt, but who is actually trying to resolve the conflict is a harder question to answer. U.S. President Donald Trump recently said that he sees no role for the U.S. in Libya and there seems to be no urgency to appoint a new ...

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Mohamed Eljarh, former political consultant to the Libyan Mission to the European Union, to discuss the ongoing conflict in Libya, the current terrorist threat in the country, and prospects for peace. The Cipher Brief: What is the current state of political affairs ...

In 2012, after returning from an overseas tour of duty, I was assigned as the senior National Clandestine Service representative to the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA).  As a career operations officer much more interested in clandestine collection and intelligence production than in Washington politics, I did ...

Fighting jihadi groups has been compared more than once to whack-a-mole. You thump a group here and it pops up there. You thump it again and it pops up somewhere else. A front is lost but another opens up. The challenging part is anticipating where the jihadis will go next. ...

With coalition forces concentrating efforts against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the militant group continues to fester in Libya with the government struggling to battle its continued presence. This week, Western powers aimed to shift that balance. At the request of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), the United States ...

Libya’s UN-brokered Government of National Unity (GNA) has so far failed to unite the country’s competing regional and tribal factions and, by early June, the body faced heavy criticism from Libyans across the country due to the escalating currency crisis, the rapid collapse of public services, and the continuing tug-of ...

The UN-backed Government of National Accord’s Misratan-led Bunyan Al Marsus operation room made significant gains against IS this week, advancing to within 30km Sirte. So far the operation has cost 72 lives -- mostly Misratan fighters -- and over 150 injured. However, while the operations room is directly established by ...

Three interlinked conflict dynamics are discernible from last week’s developments on the ground: 1) increased lawlessness and militia rivalry in Tripoli and the western region; 2) increasing momentum of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Misratan-led assault on ISIS; and 3) rising tension between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and ...

Five years after the Arab Spring, enough dust has settled to allow for a clear analysis of U.S. policy in Libya at the time of the Libyan revolution. The United States, and the international community as a whole, made a number of major mistakes as the revolution unfolded in 2011, ...

Libya’s failure to build a democratic, stable, constitutional, and sovereign government in the wake of the anti-Gadhafi uprisings in 2011 has not been the fault of the United States or any other Western power. Furthermore, the United States never really intervened in Libya, nor did it lead (from behind or ...

On August 22 2011, President Barack Obama announced that after a 5-month NATO-led military intervention supported by U.S. forces, rebel troops in Libya had finally brought down the regime of Colonel Muammar Gadhafi. “The Libyan intervention,” he said, “demonstrates what the international community can achieve when we stand together as ...

With Germany’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2016, OSCE is back in business after a 15-year slumber. The Ukraine crisis highlighted OSCE’s unique role in conflict management between Russia and the West, and now Berlin wants to use this platform to engage China ...

For the second time this month, massive clouds of black smoke from burning oil billowed above Libya. The first time, in early January, the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked two major oil storage facilities. Out of the seven tanks targeted, one collapsed entirely. Damage to the others rendered them unusable. Together, ...

While considerable attention has been devoted to combating the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, Libya has often been referred to as the next frontier in the battle against the terrorist group. Plagued by unrest since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gadhafi in 2011, Libya’s lawless environment has paved ...

On the ground in Libya, Mohamed Eljarh, a fellow with the Atlantic Council, said there is significant uncertainty surrounding the UN-brokered accord, which aims to reconcile Libya’s two competing governments. Furthermore, Eljarh told The Cipher Brief that ISIS is now attacking the country’s oil infrastructure and that Libya’s armed groups ...

The attacks carried out by Islamic State (ISIS) on the Ras Lanuf and Sidra oil export terminals this year have demonstrated definitively that the jihadist organization has no intention of exploiting Libyan oil resources for commercial gain. In fact, this was never an option. While ISIS was able to profit ...

As the citizens of Arab nations reflect on the fifth anniversary of the popular revolts of 2011, they are likely to feel a sense of malaise and frustration. The rise of autocratic counter-revolutionary politics, regime repression, the resurgence of terrorism, and the spread of violence have replaced the euphoria of ...

The Arab Spring was the beacon of hope that would free millions from the grip of autocratic rulers.   At first, it looked promising.  One by one, the dictators fell: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Moammar Khadafy in Libya, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen.   Many ...

The “Arab Spring” of 2011-12 has profoundly changed the Middle East, but much is misunderstood about its effects.  First, it did not produce, other than in Tunisia, lasting liberalization and more democracy in the states of the region. Second, the Arab Spring was not just “Arab,” but it also had ...

When the so-called Arab Spring burst upon the Middle East five years ago, Henry Kissinger remarked that this was only “scene one of act one of a five act play.”  How right he was. Kissinger’s remark was a usefully sobering antidote to a brief moment of nearly unbounded euphoria.  Recall ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Doug Brooks, the President Emeritus and Founder of the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) to better understand the role of the private sector in embassy security.  Created in 2001, ISOA created a Code of Conduct for private companies operating – and often providing security – ...

Four years after the Arab Spring, the security environment across North Africa remains dire.    Here is an overview of developments in five key countries in the region. Algeria The Arab Spring did not signigicantly affect Algerian politics. Abdelaziz Bouteflika is still the country’s President, a post he has held ...

After having been idled by sit-ins for four years, Tunisia’s state-owned phosphate mines are open again. Why they closed was just one example of a trend that has emerged across North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring. A potent brew of reinvigorated faith in the power of popular ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Haim Malka, the Deputy Director of and Senior Fellow for the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  He shared his thoughts on the current and future security environment in North Africa. The Cipher Brief: The security environment in North ...