Tag Archives: Libya

Obama Refuses to Hit ISIS’s Libyan Capital

NANCY A. YOUSSEF/// The terror group is gaining ground in Libya. But the Obama administration has said no to a Pentagon plan to go after ISIS there.

Despite the growing threat from the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Libya, the Obama administration has turned down a U.S. military plan for an assault on ISIS’s regional hub there, three defense officials told The Daily Beast.

In recent weeks, the U.S. military—led by its Africa and Special Operations Commands—have pushed for more airstrikes and the deployment of elite troops, particularly in the city of Sirte. The hometown of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the city is now under ISIS control and serving as a regional epicenter for the terror group.

The airstrikes would target ISIS resources while a small band of Special Operations Forces would train Libyans to eventually be members of a national army, the officials said.

Weeks ago, defense officials told The New York Times that they were crafting military plans for such strikes, but needed more time to develop intelligence so that they could launch a sustained air campaign on ISIS in Sirte.

But those plans have since been put on the back burner.

“There is little to no appetite for that in this administration,” one defense official explained.

Instead, the U.S. will continue to do occasional strikes that target high value leaders, like the November drone strike that killed Abu Nabil al-Anbari, the then-leader of ISIS in Libya.

“There’s nothing close to happening in terms of a major military operation. It will continue to be strikes like the kind we saw in November against Abu Nabil,” a second defense official explained to The Daily Beast.

The division over what action the U.S. and the international community should take in Libya speaks to the uncertainty about when and where ISIS should be countered.

For Europe, Libya is uncomfortably close and already a jumping off point for migrants willing to take on the rough Mediterranean waters in search of asylum. ISIS pronouncements have previously pointed out that Rome is nearby.

For the United States, there are major concerns about allowing another ISIS hub to emerge in the region. The Libyan city of Sirte is currently under ISIS control and some believe the terror group seeks to turn Sirte into a center of operations, like Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

Leaders across Europe have hinted that more should be done in Libya but have fallen short on specifics. In an interview with Der Spiegel last month, the German envoy to Libya said: “We simply cannot give up on Libya.”

According to U.S. military figures, there are roughly 5,000 ISIS fighters in Libya, a spike from 1,000 just a few months ago. Defense officials believe that ISIS supporters are moving toward Libya, having found it increasingly difficult to travel to Iraq and Syria.

Perhaps because of that, Sirte, and areas around it, are increasingly falling victim to ISIS’s barbaric practices. And some are urging the international community not to wait until Sirte falls further under ISIS control, and filled with fighters mixed in with civilians.

According to this report, residents there cannot leave the city freely as ISIS fighters—many of them from Egypt, Chad, Niger, and Tunisia—inspect outgoing cars for signs of residents trying to escape. As in Raqqa and Mosul, residents do not have access to cell phone or Internet networks and live under an ISIS judicial system that issues death sentences to those who do not practice the terror group’s brand of Islam.

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Moreover, in nearby cities like Ras Lanouf, ISIS is destroying oil installations, cutting off a key potential source of revenue for any newly cobbled unified Libyan government. ISIS has set its sights across the country, from Misrata in the west to Derna in the east.

Some fear the terror group is hunkering down in places like Sirte in preparation for a potential U.S. offensive.

The administration had said that it would not intervene until Libya, which now is governed by two rival governments on opposite sides of the country, had created a single entity to govern the state.

At a press conference Tuesday, during this year’s summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, President Obama referred to United Nations efforts to help build a government in Libya, suggesting any military effort could create even more political fractures. On Sunday, a member of Libya’s Presidential Council announced that a list of 13 ministers and five ministers of state had been sent to Libya’s eastern parliament for approval.

But while the president said the U.S. would go after ISIS “anywhere it appeared,” he stopped short of saying the U.S. would expand its effort in Libya unilaterally.

“We will continue to take actions where we’ve got a clear operation and a clear target in mind. And we are working with our other coalition partners to make sure that as we see opportunities to prevent ISIS from digging in, in Libya, we take them. At the same time, we’re working diligently with the United Nations to try to get a government in place in Libya,” the president said. “And that’s been a problem.”

Some military officials believe Obama feels that France and Italy, which both have hinted at intervention, should take the lead on any military effort. Both countries were key to the NATO-led campaign in 2011 that led to Gadhafi’s fall. Still others believe the United States wants to limit its war against the Islamic State to Iraq and Syria.

Since Gadhafi’s death in October 2011, the state has become especially susceptible to outside extremists. With no tradition of an independently strong state military, militias have served as security forces and now are unwilling to disarm.

With no stable government or security forces, parts of Libya have become vulnerable to groups like ISIS looking for territory to set up a self-described caliphate.

As many as 435,000 of the country’s 6 million people are internally displaced, according a recent UN report. An estimated 1.9 million require some kind of humanitarian aid. And as of August, 250,000 migrants had entered, turning Libya into a key hub for those seeking to enter Europe.

Tuesday marked the five-year anniversary of Libya’s Arab Spring. It’s now considered a bittersweet day, rather than the beginning of a democratic movement the protests launched that day once promised.

The Islamic State Rises in Libya

Islamic State fighters launched a naval assault in northern Libya last week, dispatching three boats that fired on an oil terminal at Zueitina. Local guards repelled that attack, but it was a reminder of Islamic State’s growing capabilities and reach beyond its heartland in Syria and Iraq. Too bad Western capitals seem unprepared to stop it.

The Zueitina episode was the latest in a string of Islamic State attacks in Libya since the new year. On Jan. 8 an Islamic State truck bomb hit a police academy in Zliten, western Libya, killing 65 people. The same week Islamic State arson attacks ignited two other Libyan oil terminals. Islamic State draws much of its revenue by marketing oil from captured fields in Iraq and Syria.

Following the Zletin truck bombing, the European Union—300 miles across the Mediterranean—offered $108 million in security assistance to Libya. The aid is supposed to take the form of technical and logistical support to the newly formed Libyan unity government, currently based in neighboring Tunisia.

The problem is that the new government—the product of a shaky agreement last month between the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk and the Islamist-backed General National Congress, headquartered in Tripoli—remains a mostly notional entity. The competing governments have been at war for years, even as they both fight Islamic State, and elements of both governments have rejected the unity deal, as have some of their respective tribal and militia supporters. Whether those political divisions can be resolved is anyone’s guess, but in the meantime the jihadist threat from Libya is growing larger.

That was underscored in December when Islamic State paraded a police force in the coastal city of Sirte, where it also holds the airport. Islamic State now controls a long strip of the coastline between Tripoli and Benghazi, territory that also serves the group’s propaganda purposes in claiming to be an Islamic caliphate.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to target Islamic State in Libya, while the U.S. last year conducted limited air strikes against jihadists. But Western leaders insist they are waiting for a political solution to the civil war before intervening directly. A negotiated settlement would be welcome but could take months if not years to materialize. That gives Islamic State and other jihadist groups ample time to profit from the chaos.

The West’s central interest in the region isn’t to salvage a Libyan state, assuming that’s even possible. It’s to ensure that the territory doesn’t become a haven for jihadists with access to oil revenues and a dangerous perch on the Mediterranean. A dedicated NATO bombing campaign, if necessary combined with limited ground forces, to destroy Islamic State in Libya would send the valuable signal that the West won’t tolerate such a threat so close to its shores. That signal might also give Libya’s factions more incentive to reconcile, but in any case it would make the world safer.


Dont forget the  Islamic State is growing in the Egyptian Sinai as well… some jv team.. Syria, Iraq, everywhere..

ISIS eyes oil as it advances to Libya interior #Hillary2016

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that the Islamic State group was spreading from its stronghold on the Libyan coast to the interior of the country with the aim of getting access to oil wells.

“They are in Sirte, their territory extends 250 kilometers along the coast, but they are starting to penetrate the interior and to be tempted by access to oil wells and reserves,” Le Drian told RTL radio.

World powers are trying to convince Libya’s warring factions to lay down their weapons and fall behind a new national unity government, as IS-allied groups exploit the political chaos to take hold of parts of the country.

French planes carried out surveillance flights over Libya last week. Libya has slipped into chaos since the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011 which IS has exploited. The UN believes 2,000 to 3,000 fighters are operating there, including 1,500 in the coastal city of Sirte.

Libya has had rival administrations since August 2014, when an Islamist-backed militia alliance overran Tripoli, forcing the government to take refuge in the east.


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