Key Points

The State Department condemned the terrorist attack on the NOC, and the threat from the Islamic State necessitates continued U.S. engagement in Libya. But the United States should also work with the GNA to bring an end to militia violence and prepare for credible and secure elections. Failure to do so would allow terrorist groups like IS to exploit the continued instability.

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The Libyan war is not likely to be solved anytime soon. Nor is the Gulf crisis with Qatar, for that matter. But putting a stop to Qatar’s meddling in Libya might make it easier to solve both.

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None of this suggests that Russia is engaged in geopolitical subterfuge—like Washington, it seeks to exert its diplomatic, economic, and security influence wherever it can. But amid the migrant crisis, the threat of international terrorism, and the lingering turbulence of the Arab Spring, North Africa is a region of the utmost consequence to Washington and its European allies. For the new U.S. administration, a comprehensive Russia policy will have to grapple with a Kremlin flexing its muscles not just in the United States and Europe but increasingly on the Mediterranean’s southern shore.

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