x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

US foreign policy challenges: Libya and Tunisia

Libya has gone from being a country many US politicians could not find on a map to the spiciest of political hot potatoes.

TUNIS // Libya has gone from being a country many US politicians could not find on a map to the spiciest of political hot potatoes.

After the September 11 attack on a compound in Benghazi that killed a US ambassador and three other Americans, fear has grown that the US-backed uprising against Muammar Qaddafi created an environment that allowed anti-western extremist groups to thrive.

As the new government forms in Tripoli and begins its urgent task of curtailing the heavily armed militias, the US will watch closely and likely monitor eastern Libya with drones.

There were reports that, after the attack, militias in Benghazi called friends aligned with Al Qaeda’s North African franchise. A growing, connected presence of such groups in Libya and beyond is something the US wishes to avoid. Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Algeria focused not on reforms but on the security partnership between the two nations.

Tunisia, too, has post-revolutionary growing pains, though not as serious as Libya’s. Its US-endorsed revolution brought to power an Islamist-dominated government.

Efforts by hundreds of men, most of them ultrareligious Muslims, to storm the US Embassy on September 14, were not successful. But diplomats were underwhelmed by the Tunisian security forces’ bid to curb the violence.

afordham@thenational.ae

1.  Arabian Gulf 2. Yemen 3. Iran

4Iraq 5. Syria 6. Jordan

7. Palestinian Territories and Israel 8. Egypt

9. Libya and Tunisia 10. India 11. China

12. Turkey 13. Europe