On March 19, the United States launched Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya following the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing the use of all necessary measures to protect civilians from assaults by forces loyal to Libyan Colonel Muammar Qaddafi. U.S. forces have helped establish a no-fly zone and naval arms embargo, and degraded Col. Qaddafi's air assets, surface-to-air defenses and command and control infrastructure. Additional airstrikes targeting Col. Qaddafi's armed forces in the days since March 19 effectively staved off the opposition's immediate defeat. U.S. and coalition forces are now operating under North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) command.

The outcome of the Libyan war remains uncertain as evidenced by the pendulum swing of control in key towns between Tripoli in the west and Benghazi in the east. Neither Qaddafi’s forces nor armed opposition fighters have demonstrated an ability to achieve a decisive victory or consolidate territorial gains for any appreciable time period. Further, NATO's role in the war could evolve amidst indications that some coalition members, including the U.S., are considering arming opposition forces.


Fighting Forces in Libya: October 2016

By Emily Estelle, November 3, 2016

Escalating competition among Libyan factions for control of state institutions and resources will diminish the U.S. counterterrorism partner’s ability and will to maintain its commitment to fight against ISIS.

ISIS Loses Headquarters in Sirte, Libya

By Frederick W. Kagan, Emily Estelle, August 11, 2016

U.S.-backed forces in Libya may declare victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) in Sirte this week, but a victory over ISIS in Sirte may lead to more conflict in the long term and ultimately strengthen actors that pose a direct threat to U.S. national security.

U.S. Counter-ISIS Air Campaign Expands to Sirte

By Emily Estelle, Sarah Lossing, August 4, 2016

American military support for the Government of National Accord in Libya, in the absence of a political resolution in the country, risks worsening Libya’s civil war and benefitting ISIS and al Qaeda in the long term.

In Libya, the US is Playing Whack-A-Mole with Terror

By Emily Estelle, Fox News, June 21, 2016

CIA Director John Brennan is right, and Secretary of State John Kerry is wrong. The progress being touted by the Obama Administration against ISIS in Libya is ephemeral, while the real danger from that group is growing.

GNA-Allied Forces Seize Momentum against ISIS in Sirte

By Emily Estelle, June 10, 2016

The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) is losing the battle for Sirte, its stronghold on the central Libyan coast since early 2015. The counter-ISIS fight has masked the ongoing political fight in Libya, however, and the continued lack of political resolution will drive instability.

ISIS’s Courses of Action - Out of Sirte

By Emily Estelle, April 29, 2016

ISIS is laying the groundwork to abandon Sirte and will then pursue an alternate course of action to continue its campaign in North Africa without its Libyan stronghold.

Backgrounder: Fighting Forces in Libya

Libya is a safe-haven for the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), al Qaeda, and other Salafi-jihadi groups. These groups use territory in Libya to train and prepare for terrorist attacks in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt and to support the establishment of like-minded groups elsewhere in North Africa.

ISIS’s Campaign in Libya: January 4-February 19, 2016

ISIS is executing a sophisticated, multi-front campaign against Libya’s oil facilities, demonstrating the organization’s growing capability abroad. ISIS’s safe haven in Libya will allow it to survive even if it is defeated in Iraq and Syria.

Warning in Libya: The Rise of an Imminent Threat

On September 11, 2012, armed Salafists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing four U.S. personnel including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. An examination of the environment in the months leading up to the attack reveals the growing strength and tendency towards violence of numerous armed Salafist groups across Libya.

Sic Semper Tyrannis: The Death of Colonel Qaddafi and the Future of a Free Libya

By Reza Jan, Enterprise Blog, October 20, 2011

On October 20, Libyan Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was killed while reportedly fleeing Sirte. His death is the capstone of the Libyan revolution. While an auspicious moment for Libyans, there are many questions that remain over Libya's future.