Emad El-Din El-Hamrouni, a Professor of political geography at the University of Paris, has stated that “Libya is the primary victim of Niger’s decision to decriminalize the smuggling of undocumented migrants.”
In a press statement, El-Hamrouni noted that “countries in southern Europe will also suffer consequences, prompting the European Union to seek opportunities to facilitate the successful conduct of Parliamentary and Presidential elections in Libya in 2024.”
He further added that “recent developments in the Sahel and Sahara region have led to the emergence of a new map of influence among major powers.”
El-Hamrouni concluded by highlighting the significant shift in regional influence, stating, “French influence has significantly receded, giving way to increased Russian and Chinese influence, along with the United States entering the scene to bolster its presence, particularly in the Sahel countries.”
This revelation underscores the complex geopolitical dynamics in the Sahel and Sahara, with Libya facing direct repercussions from policy changes in neighbouring countries.
Libya has been embroiled in political turmoil and conflict since the Arab Spring in 2011, and the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. This instability has turned Libya into a significant transit point for migrants, particularly from Sub-Saharan Africa, seeking to reach Europe. The country’s lack of a stable government, and fragmented control by various armed groups has made it a hub for human trafficking and smuggling networks.
Niger, Libya’s southern neighbour, is a key transit country for migrants. The decision by Niger to decriminalize migrant smuggling has profound implications for Libya. This move could potentially lead to an increase in the flow of undocumented migrants through Libya, intensifying the challenges the country faces in managing its borders, and addressing human trafficking and smuggling issues.
This situation is further complicated by the involvement of international powers in the region. The dynamics in the Sahel and Sahara have been significantly influenced by external actors like France, Russia, China, and the United States, each vying for influence and control. These geopolitical shifts have direct and indirect impacts on Libya, affecting its internal security situation and its role in regional migration patterns.