NARCO CLOSEHOLD: Diplomats, the Warfighter, and Libya


In the timeless bout between diplomats and the warfighter, it appears that the diplomats have won the most recent round and the rush to insert Western (including American) troops into Libya - the so-called Libya International Assistance Mission (LIAM) - has slowed. Accordingly, in the perennial counter-terrorism debate of containment versus degradation, containment has carried the day. Overall this is good news for Libya and for its neighbors, although most Libyans may have to wait some time before this approach’s benefits are apparent.

NARCO RoundUp (MAR2016)


In March’s NARCO RoundUp, the Politics section covers the ongoing troubles of Libya’s Government of National Accord, new trajectories and challenges in Algeria, and Tunisia’s fractured politics. Security looks at the limitations of the Islamic State in Libya, renewed concerns about domestic terrorism in Algeria, and the Battle for Ben Guerdane in Tunisia. Lastly, Oil addresses Libya’s collapsing oil sector, potential new dynamism in Algeria, and efforts in Tunisia to cultivate a more realistic popular perception of the sector’s potential to alleviate labor unrest.


NARCO Analysis: The Islamic State in Libya and Beyond


The Islamic State is in Libya and it is causing havoc there and in neighboring Tunisia. That much we know. Everything else is a matter of debate. How big is the Islamic State, what are its capabilities in Libya and in neighboring countries, what is its composition, and what are its objectives? These are big questions and the answers to them are essential to mitigating, and ultimately combating, the threat. Even so, the near-term risk is clear.

NARCO RoundUp (FEB 2016)


In this month’s NARCO RoundUp, the Politics section covers Libya’s anemic and deeply troubled political process, the policy-making confusion that is enveloping Algiers, and the reshaping of political party alliances in Morocco ahead of the 2016 legislative elections. Security throughout the region is dominated by the risks posed by the Islamic State, whether actual or potential. Finally, Oil made an uneven showing this month in the Maghreb: Libya’s oil sector problems are unabated; Algeria is staying the course – either by choice or because it is unable to devise an alternative approach; and Morocco is all about renewables, with oil and gas taking a backseat to solar – for now.

NARCO Analysis: Algeria Shifting Course


Imagine a big ship – an old 1970s tanker maybe – lumbering forward in worsening seas. The radar shows a storm on the horizon, but it’s unclear how long it will last. The officers on the bridge can risk plowing ahead. The sturdy ship can take a pounding, but if the storm lasts too long, it may start to founder. Or they can change course and if not completely dodge the storm, then at least skirt it. With a ship this big, though, course changes are incremental and it’s slow to react. The officers have to make a decision now, but the captain is holed up in his cabin and hardly on deck anymore.

NARCO Analysis: The US Military in Libya


There has been a steady stream of commentary regarding future US military engagement in Libya following remarks by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford on 22 January about the need for decisive action against the Islamic State in Libya, which were then echoed on 2 February by Secretary of State John Kerry at an “anti-Islamic State coalition” conference. A visit by senior US military leadership to Tunisia last week has only heightened speculation that US military action in Libya is imminent.

NARCO RoundUp (JAN 2016)


On the political front, January's RoundUp looks at the uncertain fate of Libya’s Government of National Accord, the collapse of Nidaa Tounes’ parliamentary bloc, and the prospect of constitutional reform in Algeria. North Africa also witnessed significant security developments with attacks on Libya’s oil sector,  arrests of terrorists in Algeria, and widespread rioting in Tunisia. Finally, Libya’s assessment of its oil sector is becoming more realistic, Algeria is starting to pivot, and Tunisia’s regulatory environment is still stalling.

NARCO Analysis: Islamic State in Libya Intensifies


There are three takeaways and one canard from the violence this week in Libya that targeted the country’s Sirte Basin oil infrastructure and a police training academy in Zliten. The most basic takeaway is that the Islamic State in Libya is getting stronger. This, in and of itself, is no great revelation, but it is nonetheless worth stating plainly. While its capability in the east has degraded, the Islamic State is bolstering its position in the center of the country and pushing out from its stronghold in Sirte.

NARCO Analysis: North Africa 2016 Trajectories and Implications


North Africa’s road ahead in 2016 will likely be even rougher than 2015, which was already rough enough for most. If the last year saw the collapse of Libyan political institutions, the emergence of terrorism in Tunisia, and feverish political jitters in Algeria, next year is likely to bring more of the same, but more intense and with more significant implications.

NARCO CLOSEHOLD: North Africa Oil & Gas Summit


The North Africa Oil and Gas Summit in Algiers last week was a challenging event. To a large degree it reflected a region that is less and less cohesive and very much in flux. The region’s different countries are on different political and security trajectories and their hydrocarbons sectors are at different stages, presenting different profiles and different risks. The region has never really rowed together, but this seems to be even more the case these days.



NARCO CLOSEHOLD is timely, actionable analysis derived from discreet sources. NARCO CLOSEHOLDs are crafted as events merit. They are available to NARCO's subscription and retainer clients and on a case-by-case basis.

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