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  • Author: Karim Mezran, Alessia Melcangi
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In the last days of September 2020, Libya’s oil industry seemed to be on the verge of restarting its production after Gen. Khalifa Haftar announced the reopening of the oil fields and terminals that he had occupied and closed in the course of his offensive against Tripoli. The main damage caused by Haftar’s blockade is the dramatic plummet of oil production to less than 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the previous 1.2 million. The importance of the oil and gas industry in Libya cannot be underestimated since it is the main driver of the Libyan economy and accounts for about 60% of the country’s GDP. Oil production revenues and the dividends from oil sales are one of the main causes of the conflict that has been continuously ravaging the country since the fall of Muammar Qadhafi in 2011. The announced reopening represents good news that bodes well not only for a real resumption of political talks between the warring parties, but also for a more general improvement of the economic and social condition in the country, which is now on the verge of collapse. After the January 2020 blockade, the quick shutdown of oil sales led to a budget collapse: In April 2020, oil production data showed a drop of more than 80% with a loss of more than $10 billion in oil revenues. The economic impact of this stoppage directly hit the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), preventing the company from fulfilling contracts with international oil companies. After so many years of civil war, it has become evident that competition among various actors is principally over the country’s resources and control of its financial institutions. According to the 2015 UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement, the Tripoli government headed by Fayez Sarraj retains control of the Tripoli-based NOC and oversees the allocation of state funds deposited in the Tripoli-based Central Bank — these are the two channels through which oil revenues can flow legally and the only two institutions recognized by the UN Security Council. Haftar and the Eastern government accuse Tripoli of mismanaging hydrocarbon revenues and state funds, using them to fund militias backing the Government of National Accord (GNA), and failing to carry out reforms to stabilize the economy. For this reason, the Eastern authorities demand a change of leadership in both institutions: The Central Bank and the NOC. Indeed, the problem for Haftar has always been that he controlled oil production, but not oil revenues. After almost a year locked in a stalemate, the situation on the battlefield was reversed in April 2020. Thanks to Turkey’s military support, the GNA was able to counterattack and defeat the Haftar-controlled Libyan National Army (LNA) and push them back to the gates of the city of Sirte near the “oil crescent,” a coastal area home to most of Libya’s oil export terminals. The ceasefire proposed by the GNA at the end of August 2020 and accepted by the Tobruk parliament and its spokesman, Aguila Saleh, has restarted the political dialogue between the conflicting parties. Meanwhile, the malcontent of the population in both Tripoli and Benghazi, due to the deterioration of living conditions and lack of economic reforms, led to protests and demonstrations in both cities.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economy, Conflict, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Ann M. Lesch
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt’s ruler since July 2013, brooks no dissent. Having “saved” Egypt from the Muslim Brothers, he has ruled by decree in the absence of a parliament, supported by a handpicked technocratic cabinet. His security apparatus muzzles the press, keeps dissident voices off-air, arrests secular as well as Islamist critics, and clamps down on civil society. He has built ten new prisons to accommodate the overflow, as political prisoners may now total 60,000.[1] As typical of military rulers, he announces grandiose projects – the new channel in the Suez Canal, the Dabaa nuclear power plant, million-unit agricultural and housing schemes, and a multi-billion dollar new capital city – without taking into consideration their cost, integrating them into long term plans, conducting comprehensive feasibility studies, or examining their social and environmental impact.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Islam, Politics, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Egypt
  • Author: Louis Fisher
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: How do we reconcile self-government with national security and analyze claims of national security? There should be little doubt that many assertions of "national security" have left the nation less secure. Consider the case of Ellen Knauff, a German woman who married a U.S. soldier and came to New York City to meet his parents in 1948. Instead of being allowed to disembark with other passengers, she was held at Ellis Island for three years and threatened with deportation as a security risk. At no time was Knauff or her attorney told why she was a risk. Her case reached the Supreme Court in Knauff v. Shaughnessy (1950). The Court, divided 6 to 3, found no objections to the procedures used by the executive branch. In a dissent, however, Justice Robert Jackson said: “Security is like liberty in that many are the crimes committed in its name.” No one has better underscored the danger of automatically bowing down to claims of security.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mackubin Thomas Owens, Stephen F. Knott
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: As Americans, we take for granted the idea of a government that is both free and yet strong enough to preserve the security of its citizens. But the fact is that such a government is a recent invention, first emerging as a result of political thought and practice in eighteenth century England and only coming to full flower in Philadelphia with the drafting of the American Constitution of 1787. As Harvey Mansfield wrote in his book Taming the Prince, “the combination of freedom and strength does not arise easily or naturally,” a fact confirmed “both by the grand outline of modern history and the experience of the ancients.” Throughout history, strong governments have generally been monarchies, but at the expense of freedom. It was in republics that freedom was supposed to reside but, before the creation of the American Republic, the republican form of government had a mixed record at best. Ancient republics were characterized by constant struggle between the few (oligarchs) and the many (the demos) that led to instability and weakness. Modern republics also either came to grief (the German cities) or faded into irrelevance and obscurity (Venice and the Dutch Republic). But in Philadelphia, the Founders created a government that combined the freedom of republics with the strength of monarchies. The Founders’ innovation that permitted this pairing of freedom and security to work was the “executive.” In Mansfield’s words, “the executive provided the strength of monarchy without tolerating its status above the law, so that monarchy would not only be compatible with the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution, but would also be expected to serve both. Furthermore, the recasting of monarchy as executive power made it dependably democratic as well as legal and constitutional.”
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Governance, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Brahim Saidy
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which brings together the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, took an unprecedented step during its 34th Summit (held in Kuwait City on December 10-11 2013) by setting up a unified military command structure for its member states. This move reflects the commitment of the GCC to establish a credible joint defense force able to advance the goal of collective security in the region. This military command will have a force of around 100,000, half of which would be contributed by Saudi Arabia, the main advocate of this initiative. GCC members will coordinate air, land, and marine forces under one common structure. In this regard, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, has stated: “We want to create a central command that coordinates between all sub-commands and makes them work under one umbrella. But, the new structure [the Unified Military Command] won’t replace the Peninsula Shield forces.”[1] In terms of collective defense, the core purposes of this command structure are to provide strategic and operational command for all GCC missions and prepare members for operational employment as interoperable multinational forces. This command is expected to have a minimum number of operational commands (land, air and maritime command) as well as joint intelligence system and integrated missile defense in order to execute essential operational and peacetime missions. The challenge for this plan is to be able to undertake command and control of the full range of the military missions, including command and control multinational and multiservice forces, but more importantly to be able to support operations under the political and strategic direction of the GCC. This means that the main goal is not limited to improving coordination between different parts of existing national defense systems, but rather to establishing a real joint operational command structure. The progress towards a fully integrated defense system would allow the GCC to become a real military alliance along the lines of NATO.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf, Gulf Cooperation Council