Decision Workshops

Full list of forecasts made in the workshop

During the workshop the history was written, as much as possible in terms of events that could be judged to either happen or not.   As subsequent history unfolded all of the predicted events were graded according to the following criteria:


TRUE: Event occurred


FALSE: Event definitely did not occur


FALSE (so far): Event has not occurred yet, but it is still possible that it could happen in the future.


PARTIAL: Arguable. Although the exact event did not happen, something very similar did.


N/A: Cannot judge event: Often because it assumes a previous event happened that did not happen, so is meaningless.


Many events are dependent on other events occurring first.  This is shown by the + signs at the start of the event. Each event with one or more + signs is dependent on the event above with one fewer + signs. So "Nato bombing stops" is dependent on "Gaddafi goes into internal exile"  If a dependent event does not occur this means that the subsequent event will often be an "N/A"

How well did we do?

This graph summarises the forecasts above, and their success

How well did what happened in the workshop match with actual events?

At the workshop we developed a forecast of the future history of Libya, expressed in terms of decisions and actions made by the different parties involved.  This can now be been compared with actual events as they unfolded, to see how accurate it was, and if the parties behaved in ways we had expected or foreseen.

What was different?

1) Cease fire and evacuation of Tripoli by Gaddafi

The main difference between the workshop and reality was that in the workshop Gaddafi was able to get the UN and the NTC to agree to a cease fire early on.  He did this by offering to evacuate Tripoli as a precondition for that cease fire.  The deal was that in exchange for a cease fire Gaddafi would withdraw his forces from Tripoli to his heartland in Sirte and Fezzan (the southern desert of Libya).  This is almost exactly the areas he still controls at the time of writing, (9th September).


The ceasefire was accepted because the prize offered (Tripoli, which was at the time still in Gaddafi’s control) was large enough to be “worth” the cost of the cease fire to the NTC. Although Gaddafi has always been willing to accept a cease fire, at no time has he offered a large enough additional incentive alongside to actually get it.

Around the time of the workshop William Hague was hinting that a cease fire and internal exile may be an acceptable solution for the UK.


With the benefit of hindsight, it can be seen that if Gaddafi had done that, then he would be in a much better position politically than he is now.  With a cease fire Gaddafi would still be in de facto control of his heartland and able to negotiate from a position of much greater strength than he has at the moment.


An interesting point is that the man playing Gaddafi had actually taken part in a rehearsal workshop a week or so before (and played Gaddafi), and so it is reasonable to assume he had learnt from that rehearsal what the best political moves would be.  Perhaps this illustrates the way lessons from this process could alter political policy. Interestingly, the workshop inadvertently found the best solution for Gaddafi, rather than the best solution for the western powers!

2) Some of the names were different

Sometimes some the names were different.  In particular the workshop predicted in fighting within the NTC with clear winners and losers, but the workshop got the names of those winners and losers wrong. In the workshop general Abdul Fatah Younis managed to survive, and indeed increased his power, and it was other members of the NTC that lost power to him.  In real life he was assassinated a couple of days after the workshop.  Without wanting to stretch a point too much, the analyst who played Abdul Fatah Younis also happened to be the only other participant at the workshop who had also took taken part in the rehearsal!


Similarly in the workshop the Berbers attacked and took the town of Zuwarah, rather than the almost identically named town of Zawiya, a few km down the road, which was actually taken on 13th August. (Zuwarah was on the map used to plot movements: Zawiya was not). Both of these moves had exactly the same strategic effect, cutting off Gadhafi’s supply line to Tripoli from Tunisia


What was similar?

Many of the news stories of the few weeks after the symposium resonated as paraphrases of things that happened both in workshop and in real life.  In particular all the following events happened in both the workshop and in real life:

Military similarities

Successful Berber military offensive northwards towards the coast. In both the workshop and real life the Berbers struck north from the Nafusa mountains to capture a town on the coast, cutting off Gaddafi’s supply line from Tunisia.


Tripoli falls with little bloodshed.  Unlike other times when cities were involved in civil wars (such as Beirut or Sarajevo) the capture of Tripoli was achieved without major bloodshed, and relatively swiftly.  In the workshop it was evacuated, in real life it fell relatively easily. In both the workshop and real life most of Gaddafi’s forces melted away.


Tripoli falls to Berber / Misrata forces rather than rebel forces from Benghazi. In both the workshop and in real life, Tripoli fell to rebel forces from Misrata and Berbers from the Nafusa mountains.  The army from the major rebel held area, Cyrenaica, was not able to reach Tripoli as Gaddafi still held the town of Sirte.


Hard core of Gaddafi forces retreat to heartland. In both the workshop and real life, Gaddafi’s forces abandoned Tripoli and fled to his hinterland, (Sirte and the Fezzan desert in the south) where he still maintains considerable popular support.


Forces from Benghazi that do arrive in Tripoli come by boat. In both the workshop and real life a small force came from Benghazi to Tripoli by boat.


Some armed citizens of Tripoli join liberation of Tripoli, but no large massed unarmed protests.  The citizens on Tripoli knew that Gaddafi will not tolerate even unarmed protest, therefore their only option was armed rebellion, but until rebel forces entered the city, there were a large number of Gaddafi paramilitary to deter open rebellion.


Power vacuum in Tripolitania. The workshop ended with a power vacuum in Tripolitania, identical to the one that has formed in the last couple of days, as the NTC realize that they cannot move their headquarters to Tripoli

Political similarities

Internal exile by Gaddafi seen as acceptable to the UK. Gaddafi put forwards the concept of himself going into internal exile. A couple of days after the symposium this was suggested as acceptable by William Hague


Clear winners and losers in the NTC. The symposium predicted the power struggle within the NTC and its supporters with some members sacrificed at the expense of others.  This has also come true with a vengeance.  The assassination of General Abdul Fatah Youanis, and the subsequent reshuffling of the council indicates this has happened.


Increase in numbers in the NTC, but this is not matched by devolution of power, which continues to be at the top. The NTC is continuing to increase in numbers, believed to be about 40 at the moment, with plans according to the economist, to expand to 95


NTC members supported by the West in exchange for oil and mineral contracts.  The NTC has said that it will honor these western contracts even though they were set up under Gaddafi


UN forces late on scene.  No UN forces have arrived as yet… if they will arrive at all is still open to debate.

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