Libya’s State Failure and Regional Security

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 7
Words: 1773
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: College


Generally speaking, it is interesting how history keeps repeating itself – although not necessarily in the same manner. When there existed a power gap in Syria early in 2010, the terrorist groups took advantage of the situation. They catalyzed it significantly causing a threat not only to the interest of the Syrian people but a more regional threat to countries neighboring Syria. Iraq fell to ISIS as Syria did, creating a bunch of problems ranging from humanitarian issues, border problems and an increase in the demand for/ supply of weapons to the region.

Libya’s Condition

Libya seems like a perfect candidate for a Syria-like scenario to repeat the same mistake. There is the estimated number of ISIS’s force of six thousand five hundred fighters who already have a strong foothold in Libya (Rusbridger, 2016). However, due to the strategic location of Libya and the current security status in the Middle East, Libya’s fall can cause a more unfortunate threat at a larger scope. Libya found in the Northern part of Africa where Islamist Jihadists are common. Apart from that, the only separation between Europe and Libya in the Mediterranean Sea. Libya’s unfortunate fall and consequences would disrupt the peace in the region.

The European countries’ concerns are more vocal now than before. They recognized that threats in Libya were not exclusive to North Africa. Additionally, when talking about regional insecurity resulting from the fall of a major North African country such as Libya, most scholars look into the effects of such an event on a country-to-country level. They neglect the overall knock-off effect that can originate from such concerns. This paper tries to fill the gap by providing a valid picture of the gradual threats that would build on and possibly threaten the security of Europe, Central, and Southern Africa, Northern Africa and the Middle East (Siegel & Bunt, 2012).

Literature Review

Effect of State Failure on Neighboring Countries

One of the most important points that the paper would tackle is the result of the fall of Libya on its neighboring countries and the wider impact on regional security as a whole. Accordingly, it was important to go through resources offering a scholar insight on state failure as a concept and the observed effects of such an event throughout history. Tiffany Howard, argues, in his book the Failed States and the Origin of Violence, that there is a valid relationship between failed states (developing) and terrorism.

Howard divided the analysis of the relationship between the previous two phenomena per region, including Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa. The outcome of Howard’s work supports the belief that due to extraordinary fragility in the political structure (authoritarianism), the ineffective economic approach, and religious radicalism, existing in the Middle East and North Africa, makes them more venerable to develop the violent attitude, which finds terrorism a gateway to a better life (pp. 47-59).

The neighboring countries would suffer the consequences if Libya’s fall. The terrorist groups would infiltrate neighboring countries through the porous borders and cause insecurity. It would severely hamper the economic stability of such countries because of the loss of trade with Libya and lack of access to foreign markets like Europe. It would lead to disjointed unity among the neighbors because of the mixed signals of supporting and or neglecting to support Libya. Some citizens in neighboring countries with undemocratic institutions would similarly seek the help of Libya’s rebels and start plotting the overthrow of their governments.

Libya, ISIS, and Terrorism

The article by South Front Analysis Intelligence falls under Howard’s assumption where it takes the example of the fall of Libya as a door for the thriving terrorist ISIS militants currently in Libya to expand further. It would affect the security of Europe, North and Central Africa as well as the Middle East. Unlike this paper’s hypothesis, Foreign Policy Diary – Libya’s Instability Threatens Regional Security suggests three possible scenarios to the fall of Libya as “expansion to the South toward Niger, Nigeria, and Chad… [expansion towards] Algeria and Tunisia… and a possible… extension to Mali and Mauritania” (2016).

Although such expected scenarios of development are potential, this paper distinguishes itself by providing the nature of terrorists. It also expresses the hazardous growth and manner with which those expansions can affect the region beyond the countries neighboring Libya. All in all, both resources discussed in this paragraph ensure that the security of a state is not limited to what is happening internally within a state or the status of bilateral relationships. It illustrates that the fall of a neighboring country is a grave threat to its security. However, according to the Guardian, the expenditure budget on weapons amounted to $18 billion in 2015. It was an additional $6 billion as compared to the $12 billion in 2012 in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries alone (Beaumont, 2015).

Research Methodology

For one to obtain needed information there was the need to conduct a literature review. It led to the analysis of several studies related to this topic from magazines, newspapers, and books. It is the research strategy adopted in the study and data collection process. Some website information was also helpful from renowned news agencies. The study quotes all these materials in the text. It is these secondary data that guided the principle of data collection.

Anticipated Results

The research goal was to highlight the problems associated and arising from the fall of Libya. It would lead to the displacement of people in the Northern African Country. Many refugees would cross the border for asylum in neighboring countries. European countries would become cautious about the possibility of the ISIS group crossing the boundaries to their territories (Gilman, Goldhammer, & Weber, 2011). Many families can become disoriented as children and women suffer the most. Libya’s fall would also bring down the security status, cause economic instability stability and lead to social disorder (Siegel & Bunt, 2012). All these are among the impending problems that the world community would have to address.

Migration as a Threat to Security

Migration, is one of the aspects that would capitalize on the fall of Libya, is creating a threat to most European countries. Khalid Koser, an expert on international migration, refugees, asylum, and internal displacement, questions the validity of migration being “a threat to national security” (2011). Kooser argues that there is barely any proof of the standard assumption of risks caused by movements, such as the spread of terrorism and diseases. He backs up his argument by affirming that most terrorist activities take place within the local population with a tiny percentage of migrants carrying infectious diseases.

However, to Kosher, migration is not a security threat per se, it is only so in very specific situations like “irregular [migration], … [occurrence] on a large scale, bring[ing] together groups of people with very different backgrounds or little previous contact [and happening] … during a period of recession” (2011). Surprisingly, Koaser states his argument without providing supporting data or numbers. Most cases stated in Koaser’s opinion article are very general and seem like they only concern the humanitarian crisis at the borders of developed countries.

Organization of Migration

On the other hand, Nazli Choucri (2002) assures that it is not an easy job to understand the link between security and migration for the reason that both phenomena are relatively “subjective concepts” (p. 97). The work of Choucri in the Migration and Security: Some Key Linkages is in two main parts: the first explicitly dedicated to defining the terms, and the one-second studies the connection between them (Choucri’s, 2002, p.100).

In the second part of Choucri’s work, Choucri explains that one of the most challenging security issues related to migration is the politicization of the migrants. The author throws the example of the exclusion of migrants in the Gulf from “political participation” and the way they are viewed as outsiders (p. 115). Additionally, Choucri assures that it is not in the capacity of every country to satisfy the wants and demands of the migrants in an institutionalized manner (p. 115). From a personal point of view, Choucri’s work seems outstanding the way with which he relates security to migrations. But then, Choucri’s article lacks examples and is to some degree theoretical. Choucri’s suggestions can only work if there is an organized form of treating the refugees and migrants in Libya. It could be helpful if the world can find amicable solutions to the crisis before it degenerates into an exaggerated condition.

Migration Concerns to Europe

More specifically on Libya, in Hamood’s African Transit Migration through Libya, migration is explained from a Libyan perspective as a transit destination for most Africans to reach Europe (Hamood, 2006). Although some explanations, such as the Italian outstanding relation with the former Ghadafi (p. 19), are outdated, many others are still valid and aid in understanding the reasons why Libya sets a security alarm to European countries.

A fascinating thought by Al Shaarmani explains the motive behind the increased number of refugees heading to Libya. As stated in Hamood (2006), Al Shaarmani argues that due to the conventional treatment the refugees get, where Libya has barely any records of the refugees and asylum seekers within its border, it is then easier and “mobile” for the refugees from African, and few Asian, countries to get to Europe (pp. 27-28).

Other Concerns

Libya’s fall would cause great havoc in the Middle East and Northern African region. Apart from the MENA region, some Sub-Saharan nations West and Central African countries would feel the pressure. Libya is part of the regional trade blocks in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The rise of organized crimes would be uncontrollable since the migrants would become people without borders. ISIS group would also gain members due to a lack of employment and essential commodities of life. When there is no law, arms smugglers find an easy way of trading in weapons. When illegal and unlicensed weapons are in the hands of unlicensed owners, it raises national and cross-border tension.


To sum up, many other sources speak about the threats of the fall-down of Libya in the region. Some of the sources in this part were also general as they were trying to link security to migration. Hamood’s source, which was exclusively about Libya did not elaborate on the forms of threats resulting from migrations from Africa to Europe. It can include fears like the movement of radical ideologies (or terrorism) from Sub-Saharan Africa; money laundering; organ trafficking and among others. Nevertheless, some of the sources were linking threat to migration from a different perspective depending on the authors’ specialties.


Beaumont, P. (2015). The $18bn arms race helping to fuel the Middle East conflict. Web.

Choucri, N. (2002). Migration and security: Some key linkages. Journal of International Affairs, 56(1), 97-115. Web.

Foreign Policy Diary – Libya’s Instability Threatens Regional Security. (2016). Web.

Gilman, N., Goldhammer, J., & Weber, S. (2011). Deviant globalization. New York, NY: Continuum. Web.

Hamood, S. (2006). African transit migration through Libya to Europe. Cairo, Egypt: American University in Cairo, Forced Migration and Refugee Studies. Web.

Howard, T. (2014). Failed states and the origins of violence: A comparative analysis of state failure as a root cause of terrorism and political violence. Farnham, UK: Ashgate. Web.

Rusbridger, A. (2016). The Guardian view on Libya: Yet another messy frontier in the war on Isis. Web.

Siegel, D. & Bunt, H. (2012). Traditional organized crime in the modern world. New York, NY: Springer. Web.