Saturday March 5, 2016
A renewed Western military ‘commitment’ to Libya will not be enough to defeat ISIS – but it might be enough to establish the permanent military presence in North Africa the West has been hankering after ever since 1970.
On 19th February, the US launched an airstrike on an ISIS training camp in Sabratha, Libya, killing an estimated 40 people. While the attack was widely reported as a ‘new front’ in the West’s ‘war on terror’, the reality is that the Western military presence inside Libya has been growing for some time.
As an Oxford Research Group paper published last month noted, “US, British and French special operations forces are operating covertly with local allies across northern Libya and their aircraft fly quite openly on reconnaissance missions in Libyan airspace. US F-15E strike aircraft, operating from the UK, have launched ‘targeted killing’ attacks on alleged jihadist leaders and US commandos have abducted at least two others for trial in the US. In February Italy approved the use by US armed drones of its Sigonella air base in eastern Sicily, albeit with tight restrictions”.
The paper added that all of this is in addition to the EU’s “Italian-commanded EUNAVFOR MED naval force with a ludicrous mission and no UN mandate” that was launched last October.