Acknowledging the Corn in Libya’s Wild West

Known for its crime, smuggling, and a rise in Islamic militant activity, Libya’s southwestern border region of Fezzan evokes images of a dry, lawless, and uncontrollable desert with a tribal flare. Hundreds of miles away from Tripoli, regional tribes and ethnic groups in Fezzan feel completely divorced from the political decision-making process, leading to intense distrust of the central government and inducing an “everyone-out-for-themselves” mentality that contributes to insecurity, corruption, and porous borders.

Valerie Stocker, a freelance researcher, journalist, and consultant focusing on Libya shows how Fezzan is emblematic of the lack of control that the central government holds over large swaths of Libya as parochial interests vie for power. One might even draw parallels with the weakening of the Iraqi state or the cantonization of Afghanistan resulting from political bickering to the detriment of larger national interests and border security—an ominous sign indeed. In her latest report for the Atlantic Council, Inside Libya’s Wild West, Stocker details the security challenges facing the southern region and outlinespossible solutions to reintegrate the periphery back into the Libyan state.

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