Skip to content

Expert Warns CSO Roundtable About Growing Instability in Libya

Growing instability and jihadist activity in Libya could make it �the next Iraq,� a development that would have significant security ramifications on the surrounding region, a geopolitical risk and security expert told a CSO Roundtable teleconference on Monday.

�It�s the country by far that I am the most concerned about,� Olivier Guitta, a security and geopolitical consultant, said about Libya during the teleconference. Born in Morocco, Guitta specializes in risk and security issues in Middle East and North Africa, where he has built an extensive source network. The CSO Roundtable is a membership group within ASIS of the most senior security executives from the world�s largest organizations.

Fighting in Libya�s civil war has spread from the south to other regions in the country, and in this lawless atmosphere, the influence of jihadist groups has spread. According to Guitta, last month the CIA allegedly gathered intelligence that jihadists in Libya are planning to stage an attack on a neighboring country, such as Algeria, Tunisia, or Morocco. The planned attack would take place on the anniversary of September 11, and jihadists would attempt to fly a plane into a building in one of those countries, according to the intelligence reports.

As a result of the intelligence reports, officials in those countries have beefed up security measures. �This shows how a failed state like Libya can have a huge impact,� Guitta said.

Given the potential for the growing unrest in Libya to explode and shatter the region, Guitta said it is likely there will be some form of intervention into the country to quell the unrest, either by neighboring countries or Western powers.

Another consideration in such an intervention is that Libya remains a country of great interest to some in the business community, as its natural resources and educated population could someday spur a �gold rush� of investment there, Guitta said. But given the current situation, this economic renaissance is likely some time off. �Now is not a good time to get in,� Guitta said.

In fact, kidnapping for ransom is a serious risk for those who would brave entry into Libya for business reasons. Similarly, the risk of kidnapping in Nigeria, another oil-rich country with major economic potential, is also on the rise, as the militant group Boko Haram is expanding its operations there. Earlier today, news reports stated that Boko Haram had captured the town of Michika in northeast Nigeria.

Other regional flashpoints that warrant close watch include the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, where the vast majority of the country�s oil production facilities are located. The Shiite Muslims who live in the province are supported by Iran and are often at odds with the kingdom�s Sunni Muslim majority, which could set up a future conflict involving the country�s oil reserves.

As for the Islamist militant group ISIS, Guitta said that while the group may be wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria, its targets are local, and so the risk of it attacking in the West is low.

But in the Middle East and North Africa, Guitta said the outlook for the immediate future is one of increasing instability. �Things are going to get much, much, much worse before they get better in the whole region,� he said.