Can ISIS in Libya Be Contained?

Wikistrat - ISIS in Libya infographic

Most Wikistrat analysts believe the self-declared Islamic State (or ISIS) in Libya can be contained by Western powers, but a sizable minority cautions against complacency.

In a recent online voting exercise, two-thirds of our analysts agreed ISIS can “definitively” or “probably” be contained — meaning allowing them to consolidate, but not expand, and strike once they’ve reached a pre-determined level of “state-ness”.

Dr. Joel Sokolsky, a Wikistrat Senior Analyst and professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada, argued that ISIS does not pose an existential threat to Europe or the United States. “It is a bad situation,” he admitted, “but one that can be managed via hard conventional attacks from combined Allied sea-based forces, strike aircraft and the quick in-and-out of special forces.”

Contributing Analyst Thomas Wade, a U.S. Army veteran and history professor at the University of Phoenix, agreed, pointing out that the relatively lightweight Western military presence in Iraq is helping national forces there push back ISIS.

But Steve Chisnall, a former Royal Air Force Air Vice-Marshal and now the director of strategy at the University of Southampton, was more cautious, arguing that — like Iraq and Syria — Libya is awash in different factions. “No one fully knows who is fighting whom.” That makes containment a dicey proposition.

Monica Jerbi, a Wikistrat Contributing Analyst, drew on her expertise of organized crime to argue that when a criminal enterprise is shut down, those who aren’t caught in the sweep aren’t scared into becoming law-abiding citizens — “they disperse, learn and start over somewhere else.” ISIS fighters in Libya could do the same.

Click here or on the thumbnail to download the infographic.

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