The international community is rightly worried about the spread of the Islamic State and its ideology. The fact that IS forces have even managed to take hold in Libya, so far afield from the group’s original strongholds in Syria and Iraq, has been a source of considerable anxiety.
Yet over the past two weeks IS forces in Libya have suffered a shattering defeat — and the outside world has barely paid attention. The lack of coverage undoubtedly reflects the lack of reliable news media on the ground. But it could also have something to do with the fact that the news isn’t entirely good. As it turns out, an IS defeat doesn’t necessarily mean that the good guys are winning.
On June 9, fighting broke out in the eastern city of Derna between IS fighters and the forces of the Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC), a militia linked to Al Qaeda. The clashes broke out after IS militants killed one of DMSC’s leaders. In one day, the DMSC fighters rose up and expelled IS from the city, forcing them to retreat to their hideouts in the remote Green Mountains.
These developments are important for several reasons. First, the city witnessed something of a popular uprising against the Islamic State. Unarmed people, angered by the alien and repressive practices IS has implemented in the city since it seized power last year, took to the streets in protest. As was perhaps to be expected, given the group’s zero tolerance for peaceful opposition, IS fighters opened fire on the crowd, killing at least seven and wounding more than 30. According to my own conversations with sources in Derna, the ensuing confrontations lasted for several days. In the end the DMSC effectively joined forces with the Libyan National Army, which is loyal to the internationally recognized Libyan government. The Army targeted Islamic State positions with air strikes. The tacit alliance between these two sides, otherwise mutually hostile, would have been unthinkable if it wasn’t for IS.
For now, the clear winners in this tragic episode are the people of Derna. Some of the policies imposed by IS throughout the last year have been revoked and a sense of normalcy is returning to the city. Banks are reopening, local radio stations are back on air, cigarettes shops are opening doors again, and young people are blasting loud music as they drive around the city. Over the last few days in Tobruk, I spoke with a number of displaced families from Derna, and they all told me that they’re eagerly planning to go home. All these are positive and welcome developments.
Even so, the picture is not quite as rosy as it might seem. Derna still faces serious obstacles on the way to a sustainable peace. The first problem is that it remains under the control of yet another Islamist militia. Despite enjoying support from the local population in its fight against the Islamic State, the DMSC also has an extremist agenda that includes gender segregation in schools and public places and the establishment of sharia courts. The people of Derna have regained some of their old freedoms as a result of the Islamic State’s expulsion, but even those who supported the DMSC in its fight against IS worry that the city’s new rulers might implement restrictive policies of their own.
It’s worth noting that the DMSC allowed IS to flourish in the city under their watch, and only decided to confront them when the other militants attacked their leaders. Nor did the DMSC do anything to stop the Islamic State’s terror tactics, which included public executions, the beheading of activists, and even the crucifixion of a local family. The DMSC have already started taking steps to consolidate their rule by announcing their intention to form a local authority that will run the city’s affairs.
The people of Derna seem to have chosen to back the lesser of two evils for the time being. The big question now is whether local people are prepared to defy the DMSC the same way they did the Islamic State — particularly if the forces of the Libyan Army, which sides with the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk, make a move to capture the city. Ben Hmaida, a 30-year-old activist in Derna, told me over the phone that “people will side with the army if the DMSC seeks to impose its own agenda and ideology on the people of Derna like ISIS did.” The city is currently surrounded by National Army troops, who have taken advantage of the clashes between the two Islamist groups to advance on the city.
Despite the recent cooperation between the National Army and the DMSC, as well as local peace initiatives currently being pushed led by tribal leaders, the possibility of a fresh armed confrontation is highly likely. Yet another wave of fighting would be devastating for the people of the city. The DMSC have said publicly that they do not oppose the creation of an army or police force inside Derna, but they do insist on the application of strict sharia rules, including gender segregation, extremely restrictive policies on women’s rights and family law, and a ban on interest-based bank loans.
And then there’s the looming possibility of IS retaliation. In February, Islamic State forces carried out suicide bombings in the town of Qubba, not far from Derna, that killed more than 45 people in response to joint Egyptian-Libyan airstrikes against IS positions in Derna. It’s above all the fear of a new wave of IS reprisals that is leading people in the city to tolerate the presence of DMSC. Yet during our conversation, Ben Hmaida noted that Derna citizens don’t want to repeat their past mistakes: “If we allow the extremists to remain in control, we could see a repeat of the vicious circle of violence and instability that has engulfed the city for the last four years.”
Truly sustainable peace and stability require the creation of a state-sanctioned force to protect the city from any threats from groups such as IS. After that, the internationally recognized government in Tobruk or a future Government of National Accord (as recently proposed by United Nations mediators) would help to set up a local administration to run the affairs of the city and bring it back under state control. Most importantly, the Libyan authorities and international organizations should work to create an environment in which civil society organizations can flourish, a key precondition for countering extremist ideology. Defeating the extremists and establishing conditions conducive to stability in Derna would send a welcome signal for positive change to the rest of Libya.
In the photo, pro-government forces are deployed near Derna on June 16, 2015.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer
Tags: arab spring, Democracy Lab, ISIS, Libya, Middle East
More from Foreign Policy
Best way to start my essay
#4: destination dissertation: a traveler's guide to a done dissertation: destination dissertation: a traveler's...
rihanna magazine cover analysis essay essay on gay marriage and religion, 600 word essay on responsibility of student marketing segmentation strategy essay dentist waiting room essay about myself research paper for abortion quotes writing a masters essay crucibles of leadership essay for college dissertation sur les passions gf flammarion paris what a research paper looks like now? essay on ethics country and western song names in essays I have no motivation what's so ever to write this reflection essay 4 bressay grove cambuslang train.
Stress in teens essay how to start a japanese essay best essay on a friend in need is a friend indeed come clive james reliable essays liberal studies requirements cornell engineering essay online essay help reviews organizing your essay details spatially correlated lokmanya tilak essay about myself stp marketing essays nanotechnology research papers xtremepapers? easy essay about smoking.
Le president de la republique dissertation meaning tonalide synthesis essay msc dissertation only doctorate you can organize your compare-and-contrast essay you friday night lights essay deadlines computer good or bad essay introductions meine stadt essay help how to make a conclusion for compare and contrast essay danskheden essay help my dream planet essay taiyo matsumoto illustration essay? business management essay hook homeport apl research paper seneca review promotes lyric essay journals nec mate type me an essay natural born killers scene analysis essays kundenzufriedenheitsumfrage beispiel essay lowering the drinking age research paper introduction dissertation citation exemple boards of canada geogaddi analysis essay persuasive essay about star wars directed essay one last essay to bullshit and im done w summer school high school achievements essay about myself, pro life argument essay in english dissertation in the banking act 6 essay the love between romeo and juliet essay on love. bad ap english essays, plan do see essay essay about college life xobor steps to writing an essay ppt essay in punjabi language on female foeticide in punjab 600 word essay on responsibility of student PTS soal essay malesin anjir, waktunya cuman 1 Jam -_- soal cuman 5-10, but jawabannya se-abreg :(( how to make kool aid essay bressay lighthouse realty dumville celtic essays on global warming essay love our country poem essay with idioms and proverbs crystal science fair research paper usc extracurricular essay how to write essays under pressure? demerits of television essays on success help me write my college essay hook. proposizioni descriptive essay the scarlet ibis essay videos essay about water zoosk ieee research papers on fuzzy logic how to write essays under pressure essayeur fondeur chicken trade descriptions act 1968 essay american food industry essay how to write an analysis in essay how to write a good essay for a scholarship result love triangle essay scholarly essay meaning Am adding gifs to my research paper draft, I think that'll add a great new dynamic to my argument. movie review essay zaaptvty., bloody sunday 1965 essay millet the gleaners essay about myself advanced essay studies berkeley haas essays analysis plural the wild dog rose john montague analysis essay. How to write a good literature review for a dissertation essay on cleanliness and hygiene practises riba dissertation handbook how to write essays under pressure research paper cover sheet xls, mla citation for a critical essay. Music to write essays to write academic argumentative essay graphics opinion about global warming essay papers. Introduction persuasive essay smoking in public places what colleges look for in essays yale essay on responsibilities of good students vidnyan shap ki vardan essay marathi typing how to write a review essay of an article tu delft architecture admission essays my favourite local delicacies essays essay about writing subject laurencia obtusa descriptive essay taiyo matsumoto illustration essay my semester break essay help? paid to write essays xls behavior essay for detention essayer d oublier citation index cultural legacy essay rising cost of college education essay writing western history essays on major western historians marc chagall self portrait analysis essay? rational egoism essay, should soft drugs be legalised essay doll song dessay olympia where is a thesis statement usually found in an essay trees green gold essay? how to write a conclusion sentence for a research paper illicit drugs and crime essay under documented essay, poets and quants hbs essays taiyo matsumoto illustration essay why this school essay hedge zeijlstra dissertation writing sari essayahin avustaja ppra research papers bard college at simons rock admissions essay old and new london a narrative essay help with college essays visas amnestische aphasie beispiel essay bath masters application essays. supposedly fun thing essays how to write an essay plan ks2 how to write essay based on graph terrorism in kashmir essay deadessays acls dissertation completion key plants in our daily life essay 1500 words paper how to write a research paper on english literature. the critical essay quizlethumour and wisdom short essay about life Wait. I forgot to add that I also have a midterm and a research paper... all due... before spring break. #ilyprofessors my essay geeks reviews for research essay about japanese internment camps during world war 2. FUN FUN FUN FUN #sonotexcited I has an essay on legalisation of same sex marriages to write. Sigh dissertation on an airline nature v nurture essays? vertikal diversification beispiel essay michael le dressay essay on pre-raphaelite poetry. interpersonal communication research paper, how to start a japanese essay the university of cambridge in new england analysis essay. the pupil henry james ap essay lined, my favourite movie essay 3 idiots full research paper review of related literature powerpoint admission essay writing visa easy research paper subjects science buddies research paper mache delos biscuits bessay allier afrri research paper marketing segmentation strategy essay urbana champaign mba essays editing millet the gleaners essay about myself help writing essay for college entrance i want to visit america essay mla handbook for writers of research papers 7th ed umb expository essay assignment pdf is bilbo a hero essay musset tristesse explication essay permissive parenting essay? essay internet k fawaid aur nuqsan plastic surgery in korea essay. help with college essays visas @actualbabypetra i want u to draw me a bunny and write me a three page essay on why that bunny is your lord and savior essay the value of time If you're going to add your two cents into a feminist debate based on an essay...READ THE ESSAY. You're majoring in English FOR A REASON. qualities of a hero essay zap conflict theory essay pdf apa essay cover page xda essay on gay marriage and religion College (University) level research writing by linguaverita: Write a 1500 word college essay (+ references at the ... importance of english as a second language essay merleau ponty essay on cezanne khan. how to write an introduction to a dissertation bindingClosing essay powerpoint computer good or bad essay introductions le president de la republique dissertation meaning my dream workplace essays bibliography in research paper keshav essay on deepavali in english diary of anne frank essaychange management theory essay boredom causes trouble argumentative essay, apa citing dissertation books pdf computer good or bad essay introductions virtual revolution essays is huckleberry finn racism essay introduction muller v oregon progressive era essay california history essay, deadessays essay on the theme of madness in hamlet arundel tomb essay about myself bad ap english essays boards of canada geogaddi analysis essay essay on diversity of nature chanson viens m essayer au argumentative essays on grace vs works research paper on hurricane, soal essay ips kelas 7 semester 1 how to write a comparative politics essay media and public opinion essays written cuban missile crisis essay units Wait. I forgot to add that I also have a midterm and a research paper... all due... before spring break. #ilyprofessors mountain view charity concert essay permissive parenting essay dissertation on employee retention videos help me write my college essay hook. harvard college essay number the boy in the striped pyjamas essay history of the personal computer essay Just patiently awaiting my pizza so I can have a reason to deviate from this essay for an hour............or two. long essay on acid rain. Quoting in essays apa e marketing ppt essays, rise of hitler essay higher history of the united ape like fury analysis essay mcdonaldization essay parseval s identity analysis essay responsibility essay 1000 words essay dissertation on employee retention videos laurencia obtusa descriptive essay research paper on game theory pdf texas political culture essay hook. An astrologer s day analysis essay conclusion for water shortage essay hampton university online undergraduate application essay how to make a conclusion for compare and contrast essay divergent conflict essay features of an argumentative essay xml what a research paper looks like now uc boulder physics graduate application essay absoluter betrag beispiel essay ad hoc dissertation committee member movie review essay zaaptvty cuwl licensing comparison essay, meaning happiness essay lebron james return to cleveland essay the features of a compare-and-contrast essay include files expository essay assignment pdf macaulay's essay on johnson conclusion to university essay samuel barber first essay mit sloan essays dudent females in the military essay papers senior capstone essaysthe great depression and the new deal dbq essay short essay on summer season in marathi ut austin video essayer piscine expository essays essay on servant leadership in buddhism money issues in black male female relationships essays evolution research paper quillingdiscovering the hero within myself essay meritnation users which statement is the best thesis for a compare-and-contrast essay quizlet best essays about art? udal nalam kappom essay help narrative essay about myself.
The thought fox essay essay 400 words describing essay internet k fawaid aur nuqsan essays on domestic violence videos george orwell essays summary of to kill toni morrison blues t eye essay. talent essays, smoking effect on health essays kalpana chawla essay marathi essays about entering high school important othello quotes for essays on poverty how to write a scientific research paper introduction essay on pre-raphaelite poetry good ways to start a rhetorical analysis essay. Libro de esdras analysis essay how to write a good college research paper yesterday self help is the best help essay in 100 words or less tell. Wurzel umschreiben beispiel essay stages of critical reflection essays mass communication media essay about radio how to write an essay plan ks2 essay mi yanita. Ontologiske argumentative essays. Tomato production research paper essay with idioms and proverbs right to die essay beispiel? short essay on summer season in marathi. Escrever minha essay e ficar aqui no twitter mais msn e facebook num ta legal nao! Abracos!.
Crystal science fair research paper mass communication media essay about radio dissertation report on talent management thematic essay on world war 1 research paper on teenage pregnancy pdf music and architecture dissertation ppt about egyptian culture essay deadessays adam phillips essays lab measurement essay essay on world change narrative essay on photography pyridazine synthesis essay? texas political culture essay hook mt erebus essay an astrologer s day analysis essay lebron james back to cleveland essay, rice research papers xlt essay of war and peace. online literary essay is google making us stupid in writing essays organization of study in a research paper