The absence of state administration, both during the colonial period and since independence, defines this region. But when limited administration has existed, whether from the formal state or from various armed groups that operate there, it has been marked by continued competition over natural resources and land use between traditional chiefs, cross border traders, and rebel leaders. Inhabitants themselves have also played various roles in civil and proxy wars here. While a large economic development project failed to bring much needed assistance to the region, the recent discovery of gold has led both to conflicts and to newfound wealth.
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Libya has been carved into multiple tribal fiefdoms whose economies depend on internal and external flows of income, licit and illicit. The political rise of the previously marginalized Toubou by leveraging their control of the smuggling economy, for example, reveals the many ways local conflict dynamics influence and are influenced by external forces including organized crime. It also exposes the resulting disincentive the various parties have to rebuild a unified nation. Identifying and addressing the many layers of internal and external involvement in Libya’s fractionalization will help transition the “patchwork state” to a central state.
Internal and external actors in Libya have pushed varied, divergent agendas, and the country has been unable to form a unified political system. Criminal and violent extremist groups have flourished and begun to monopolize black market activities. If their economic control hardens, it may persist beyond the eventual formation of a government and make a Libyan government more difficult to finance and stabilize in the long run.
The fall of Gaddafi in Libya facilitated a significant increase in smuggling and trafficking throughout the Trans-Sahara region. This includes the transport of drugs, counterfeits and contraband, weapons, and migrants. Terrorist and militant groups have become increasingly involved in these networks as a means to fund their operations. The increase in illicit activities has been... Continue Reading
Persistent economic and social disparities between urban centers and outlying communities present an ongoing source of instability for countries in the Maghreb.
Program materials for the Africa Center's 2018 Countering Violent Extremism in Africa Roundtable.
Twenty countries in Africa will hold national elections in 2018. This analysis reviews countries facing unique challenges to holding peaceful elections on the continent.
Militant Islamist group activity in Africa continues to be highly context-specific. Those with strong local ties have shown considerable resilience, while ISIS has struggled to gain traction in the Maghreb.
Driven by a confluence of poverty, corruption, and poor governance, African economic migration has created a lucrative market for human smuggling that is funding regional criminal networks.
Calls for African countries to withdraw from the ICC overlooked the strong role Africa had in establishing the Rome Statute and the ongoing support the Court retains on the continent.
A review of violent events involving militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past year reveals a mixed picture, with some groups showing increased activity and others diminished. This variance underscores the importance of local factors affecting each context.
Global Illicit Flows and Local Conflict Dynamics: The Case for Pre-Emptive Analysis and Experimental Policy Options
The linkages between transnational illicit economies and local conflicts are multifold. From Guinea-Bissau to Libya to Nigeria, examples abound of how transnational illicit markets interact with local conflicts. For instance, the rise of certain illicit economies can skew the agendas of actors involved in a conflict, such that peace may cease to be a goal if it means an end to a source of wealth. Understanding how the larger illicit economy intersects with local conflict and the actors involved will help find meaningful solutions to a conflict.