Check out my new ‘Policy Watch’ for the Washington Institute: “The Islamic State in Libya Has Yet to Recover”

On December 6, 2016, the Islamic State in Libya (ISL) lost its last vestige of territorial control when it surrendered the north-central city of Sirte. Three years later, the group is a shadow of its former self, despite the fact that around twenty-five ISL members pledged allegiance (baya) to the new leader of their transnational parent organization on November 15.

In the past, ISL sought to replicate Islamic State practices in Iraq and Syria, reaching similar levels of military and governance success. Today, however, ISL has not claimed responsibility for a single attack in six months, and has suffered substantial setbacks in recruitment, funding, and media capabilities. This is why it has consolidated its three Libyan “provinces” into one entity in order to streamline decisionmaking, similar to what the Islamic State did in Iraq and Syria. Yet ISL does not appear to have the same staying power as its brethren did in Iraq last decade or in Syria today—assuming the United States and other actors are willing to keep up the pressure.

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