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  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab, Michael S. Tyson
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In September 2014, Bilal Y. Saab, Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security at the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft on International Security, and Michael S. Tyson, Marine Corps Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Center, predicted in a simulation exercise (for results, see "ISIS War Game: The Coming Stalemate") conducted at the Scowcroft Center's Middle East Peace and Security Initiative that the most likely scenario was a military stalemate. They also realized that such a stalemate was not stable. Since the conclusion of the first war game, ISIS's regional attacks have increased in scope, lethality, and level of sophistication, as evidenced by its military and terrorist operations in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Lebanon.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings that swept the Middle East in early 2011 dramatically altered the political landscape of the region with the overthrow of autocratic regimes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen. These uprisings gave hope to citizens that this was the beginning of a long-overdue process of democratic transition in the Arab world. The monarchies of Jordan and Morocco also went through profound political changes, even though the rulers maintained their power. While the promise of democracy in the Arab transition countries was seen as the driving force in the uprisings, economic issues were an equally important factor. The explosive combination of undemocratic regimes, corruption, high unemployment, and widening income and wealth inequalities all created the conditions for the uprisings. The citizens of these countries thus expected governments to simultaneously address their political and economic demands.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia
  • Author: Duncan Pickard, Karim Mezran
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Among the many problems facing Libya's troubled transition to democracy is the challenge of constructing a state in a country with a legacy of weak institutions. Muammar al-Qaddafi's brutal forty-two-year dictatorship employed a policy of de-institutionalization, leaving the presence of the state feeble throughout the country. Those organs that were powerful, including the secret security apparatus, lost their leader with Qaddafi's fall in 2011, leaving a power vacuum that nonstate actors have scrambled to fill. Some of the most influential political groups in Libya today are militias formed during and after the revolution. Although some are loosely affiliated with the ministries of interior or defense, most, if not all, do not demonstrate any particular loyalty to the government. Militias have kidnapped the prime minister (the militia responsible called it an “arrest”), assassinated judges and police officers, physically occupied the office of the justice minister, and engaged in an urban battle in Tripoli. They also seek to advance their political interests—which vary, but include influence over officials, rent seeking, and some Islamist agendas—with threats against ministries or officials. And yet the state relies on militias to provide essential security services such as running checkpoints and protecting the airport because no ministry force is up to the task. The ascendancy of these militias points to two troubling realities: the state lacks a monopoly over the use of force and the country faces an ongoing deterioration of the rule of law.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011 passed Algeria by. While there were sporadic street demonstrations calling for political change, principally in the country's capital Algiers, they quickly petered out due to lack of support from the general public. Unlike in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the political power system in Algeria remained intact. The autocratic government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been the president since 1999, retained complete control, culminating in his reelection on April 17 for a fourth term despite his obviously failing health.
  • Topic: Democratization, Governance, Social Movement, Popular Revolt, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, North America, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Valerie Stocker
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fall of Muammar Qaddafi's regime in 2011 after four decades of authoritarian rule gave rise to numerous armed groups competing for territory and influence. More than three years since the uprising began, persistent instability threatens not only Libya's fragile democratic transition but also security in North Africa and the Sahel zone. Tripoli is at the center of a power struggle among competing political factions. Benghazi is the scene of ever more brutal political violence, which now risks drawing the country into a civil war. Then there is the southwestern province of Fezzan, Libya's "Wild West," where human trafficking and smuggling thrive and transnational jihadists hide.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohamed Eljarh
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The French intellectual Jean Baudrillard once said, “It is always the same: once you are liberated, you are forced to ask who you are.” In the case of Libya, this question should have been at the center of every political initiative immediately following the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi's regime. Libya's new leadership had the opportunity to convene a national dialogue in an effort to explore questions of national identity and a new vision for a national mission. Unfortunately, the Libyan elites who emerged from the 2011 civil war did not make national dialogue a priority, opting to appease local forces—armed and political—rather than to undertake the difficult but critical task of nation-building.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Libya
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Fadel Laman, Eric Knecht
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Piecing together the nascent political picture in Libya is essential to understanding the current roadblocks to democracy. Unlike Egypt, no single party, force, or personality anchors the political scene. Unlike Tunisia, no coalition provides a gauge of the relative strength of political groups. In Libya, where parties were banned even before the reign of Muammar al-Qaddafi, post-revolution politics remain fluid, loyalties fleeting, and ideological fault lines less defined than in its North African neighbors. Nevertheless, ten months after the country's first free elections, an early snapshot of the contemporary political scene is coming into focus.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Libyan economy collapsed in the wake of the popular uprising in February 2011 that led to the overthrow of the Muammar Qaddafi regime later that year. As the war raged, virtually all economic activity, especially oil production (the mainstay of the Libyan economy) witnessed a dramatic decline. While there was some recovery in 2012 when the war ended and oil production came back faster than expected, the economy has not yet reached a point of sustained, longer term economic growth. In fact, by 2013, the economy has only just got back to what it was prior to the uprising.
  • Topic: Economics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya
  • Author: Katherine Hardin
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since its independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has tripled its oil production, taking its place among the top twenty oil producers globally. The country currently produces more than 1.7 million barrels per day (mbd), an amount roughly equal to Libya's 2010 production. Over the past decade, Kazakhstan's oil reserves estimates have nearly doubled, placing it among the top five countries that will account for more than half of the global liquids capacity growth to 2020. Kazakhstan's considerable resource base has been a critical factor in this success, but the government of Kazakhstan under President Nursultan Nazarbayev has also made strategic choices to attract investment into the energy sector and has successfully crafted a "multivectoral" energy policy with its neighbors, particularly in the case of energy transportation. This paper highlights key stages in Kazakhstan's emergence as a major energy producer, but points to challenges that lie ahead as the country continues to increase oil and gas production and exports.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Libya
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Fadel Lamen
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fragile progress towards a more pluralistic, if not yet democratic, Libya is threatened by several serious security problems. Car bombings, political assassinations of high ranking officials, attacks on foreign diplomatic staff and NGOs, and violent quarrels between armed militiamen have become daily events. It is in the interests of the United States and other members of the international community to aid Libya's nascent government in achieving national reconciliation to avoid an otherwise inevitable descent into anarchy.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Diplomacy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Duncan Pickard
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since October 2011, the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia has been negotiating and drafting the republic's new constitution, which is intended to institutionalize a new democratic system in the aftermath of the revolution that toppled the dictatorship in January. While the Assembly is still several months away from completing its work and some major issues, notably the system of government, have yet to be resolved, some important lessons have nonetheless emerged that might prove useful for other constitution-making processes worldwide, especially in neighboring Libya.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Damon M. Wilson
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As Qaddafi's regime crumbles and Libyan rebels assume the mantle of governance, many are bemoaning rather than celebrating the role of NATO in the Libyan revolution. As the Alliance winds down its military campaign and contemplates next steps, now is the time to draw lessons from what worked and what did not, and to prepare to act on these lessons in time for NATO's next summit in Chicago in May 2012.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, Libya, North Africa, Chicago
  • Author: Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: While ownership of the transition belongs to those who initiated and drove the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the West has a great stake in the outcome. A failure of these revolutions would likely lead to a rise in radicalism across the Arab world, increased threats to the security and stability of the Mediterranean region, potential disruption in energy flows to Europe and beyond, and enhanced pressures on migration to Europe, both legal and illegal.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Libya, North America, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Marshall Billingslea, Gary Winterberger
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: NATO's forthcoming 2012 Summit in Chicago gives the Alliance's senior decision-makers the opportunity to assess the health of transatlantic relations and to tackle a set of overdue internal issues that have been long postponed due to more pressing operational issues in Afghanistan, Iraq, and then Libya. Chief among these issues is the matter of reforming NATO's own headquarters and its many and varied agencies. A careful reform effort, with a special focus on shared services, restructuring and integration, NATO's human capital, and the procurement and capabilities development structure and process, could pay significant dividends for the Alliance and ensure the more efficient use of already limited resources. While not a panacea, this would go a long way towards preparing the Alliance for future challenges.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Economics, International Cooperation, Science and Technology, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Chicago
  • Author: Ronald Bruce St. Jon
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: On the evening of December 19, 2003, the Libyan Foreign Ministry issued a statement, the product of nine months of tough negotiations with the United Kingdom and United States, renouncing weapons of mass destruction and related missile delivery systems. The statement said Libya had “decided, with its own free will, to get rid of these substances, equipment and programmes and to be free from all internationally banned weapons.” It added Libya intended to comply with the Missile Technology Control Regime, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Agency (iaea) Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, and international biological and chemical weapons agreements and treaties. It pledged to “take these measures in a transparent way that could be proved, including accepting immediate international inspection.” Soon after the issuance of this statement, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi publicly endorsed the move, terming it a “wise decision and a courageous step.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Middle East, Libya, North Africa