A strategy for a brighter future in Libya: Redefining America’s role - AEI

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Photo credit: We Are Not Taking Any Prisoners – Alessio Romenzi

Event Material

Emily Estelle: A Strategy for Success in Libya

Event Summary

In December 2016, US-backed forces drove ISIS out of its stronghold in Libya. Less than a year later, the country remains fractured, and the ISIS and al Qaeda threat persists. On Wednesday, AEI hosted an event to discuss the need for a new US strategy in Libya.

Colonel Derek Harvey (ret.), former senior director for the Middle East on the National Security Council, emphasized the need for the US to look beyond a counterterrorism strategy. Success should be a stable Libya with effective governance, such that people can seize opportunities and prosper. Karim Mezran, the senior resident fellow for North Africa at the Atlantic Council, urged for the US to exhibit more influence and leadership among international actors. AEI’s Emily Estelle then discussed her new report, noting that the US has an opportunity with Libya today. Through a strategy that addresses the security and governance gaps, Libya could transform into a strong economic engine in North Africa, to the benefit of its people and regional neighbors.

-Caroline Goodson

Event Description

Recent terrorist attacks in Berlin and Manchester trace back to Libya, where ISIS relocated operatives from Syria and Iraq. Libya’s ongoing civil war, coupled with weak governance and law enforcement, creates the perfect crucible for ISIS and al Qaeda to extend their operations. How can these groups in Libya be defeated? What can be done to stabilize the country and address humanitarian concerns? Is American leadership essential to combating this threat?

Please join AEI for the release of “A Strategy for Success in Libya” by Emily Estelle and a panel discussion on a US strategy to rebuild Libya.

This event is being hosted in coordination with the World Press Photo exhibition in DuPont Underground and will feature a photograph from the “We Are Not Taking Any Prisoners” series.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.


2:15 PM

2:30 PM
Frederick W. Kagan, AEI

2:35 PM
Panel discussion

Emily Estelle, AEI
Derek Harvey, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Karim Mezran, Atlantic Council

Katherine Zimmerman, AEI

3:50 PM
Coffee reception

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Caroline Goodson at [email protected], 202.888.6575.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Emily Estelle is an analyst for the Critical Threats Project at AEI. She studies the al Qaeda network, associated movements, and the environments in which they operate. Her research focuses on northern and western Africa and the Gulf of Aden region. She specializes in the Libya conflict, including political and security dynamics and al Qaeda and ISIS activity.

Derek Harvey was the special assistant to the president and senior director for the Middle East on the National Security Council. He currently serves as a senior adviser to the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee for Intelligence. He is a Middle East specialist and strategist, with extensive experience working strategy, policy, and intelligence issues in the region. He was also a professor of practice and director of the Global Initiative for Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida, where his work focused on the “human dimension” and methodologies and models using big data, geospatial tools, social media analysis, computational analytics, and interdisciplinary approaches to better understand civil society, conflict, governance, and development, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

Frederick W. Kagan is the Christopher DeMuth Chair and director of the Critical Threats Project at AEI. In 2009, he served in Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of General Stanley McChrystal’s strategic assessment team, and he returned to Afghanistan in 2010, 2011, and 2012 to conduct research for Generals David Petraeus and John Allen. In July 2011, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen awarded him the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor the chairman can present to civilians who do not work for the Department of Defense, for his volunteer service in Afghanistan. He is the coauthor of the report “Defining Success in Afghanistan” (AEI and The Institute for the Study of War, 2010) and the author of the series of reports “Choosing Victory” (AEI, 2007), which recommended and monitored the US military surge in Iraq. His most recent book is “Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields” (AEI Press, 2010, with Thomas Donnelly). Previously an associate professor of military history at West Point, Dr. Kagan is a contributing editor at The Weekly Standard and has written for Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other periodicals.

Karim Mezran is the senior resident fellow for North Africa at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. In addition, he is an adjunct professor of Middle East studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he teaches courses on the history and politics of North Africa. Previously, he was director of the Center for American Studies in Rome. Dr. Mezran holds a Ph.D. in international relations from SAIS. His recent publications include “Libya: Negotiations for Transition” in “Arab Spring: Negotiating in the Shadow of the Intifadat” (University of Georgia Press, 2015), “Libya” in “Political and Constitutional Transitions in North Africa: Actors and Factors” (Routledge, 2014), and “Libya in Transition: from Jamahiriya to Jumhuriyyah?” in “The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World” (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Katherine Zimmerman is a research fellow at AEI and the lead al Qaeda analyst for AEI’s Critical Threats Project. Her work focuses on the al Qaeda network, particularly al Qaeda’s affiliates in the Gulf of Aden region, and other associated groups in western and northern Africa. She specializes in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based al Qaeda faction, and in al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia. Ms. Zimmerman has testified before Congress on the national security threats emanating from al Qaeda and its network and has briefed members of Congress, their staff, and members of the defense community. She has been published in outlets such as CNN.com, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

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