Early media coverage of the Islamic State (IS) in Libya has centered on the group’s swift seizure of territory and the expansion of the caliphate’s authority into an increasingly lawless Libya. Yet IS’s efforts in the North African state have not lived up to these fears, as the organization—once thought to command control of cities such as Derna and Sirte—remains only one of many factions vying for power in these areas.
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Kevin Casey is a researcher who consults on politics, security, and culture in the Middle East and North Africa and spent much of 2014 based in Tripoli, Libya. Stacey Pollard is a field researcher and comparative political scientist specializing in the Middle East and North Africa. Both authors previously conducted extensive field research in Syria and Iraq.