This rapid literature review examines security related developments that determine Libya’s relationships with its neighbours, namely Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia. The report also looks at the incentives for neighbouring countries to maintain or develop regional relationships or cross border mechanisms with Libya and the main challenges in implementing them. Finally, an overview is provided of international agency contributions to border management and security in the Sahel and Maghreb.
Libya’s border control is weak and fragmented, allowing markets in arms, people, and the trafficking of illicit goods to flourish, with detrimental consequences for the Maghreb and Sahel (Cole, 2012). The following conflict drivers determine Libya’s relationships with its neighbours:
Cross-border ethnic and tribal relations: The cross-border movement of ethnic groups such as the Tabu and Tuareg, who retain close ties to kin in Chad, Niger and Mali, facilitates the trafficking of illicit goods. As such, these groups are seen as a source of insecurity for Libya and its neighbours (Cole, 2012).
Cross-border smuggling: Arms smuggling out of Libya to neighbouring countries is thriving as a result of instability and a growing demand from extremist groups. Groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have benefited from the increased availability of arms, and use the financial rewards from smuggling to fund their activities (Lacher, 2012b).
Cross-border terrorism: Instability in Libya has allowed extremist groups to use the country as a launch pad for attacks on neighbouring countries. This has contributed to tense and sometimes problematic relations between Libya and its neighbours (Zoubir, 2012).
Report by Shivit Bakrania, GSDRC – Applied Knowledge Services.
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