Mark Collins – Fissiparous Libya Update: Western Intervention (Canada?), Part 2

Further to this recent post, the latest on how things stand at the Washington Post–with info on US and Western military activities and planning:

Another Western intervention in Libya looms

The shaky debut last week of a new unity government in Libya brings Western nations, including the United States, much closer to a renewed military mission there, and to a host of obstacles that will test their ability to secure a country gripped by Islamist extremism and civil war.

Tensions ran high on Wednesday after Fayez Serraj, a little-known Libyan technocrat selected as prime minister in a United Nations peace process, arrived by boat in Tripoli from Tunisia. Western officials hailed his installation in the Libyan capital as a sign that the country’s two-year political divide is finally coming to an end — despite the existence of rival governments in Tripoli and the country’s east.

The United States and European allies, including Italy, France and Britain, have made the unity government’s establishment a key precondition for launching twin missions to begin an international stabilization effort and help combat a growing Islamic State affiliate there.

Each of those tasks will be strained by tensions among militia factions that Western nations hope will form a unified front against terrorist groups and by strong reluctance among European nations to wade into Libya’s chaos — even among those countries most threatened by the Islamic State’s growth across the Mediterranean.

The tentative political progress comes as the United States moves forward with plans to launch intensified attacks against the Islamic State’s Libyan branch, which has up to 8,000 fighters and is the group’s strongest affiliate outside Iraq and Syria.

Planners at the U.S. Africa Command [website here] are now developing dozens of targets across Libya that American or European warplanes might strike. They range from the coastal city of Sirte, where the extremist group has established a refuge, to Ajdabiya, Sabratha and the militant stronghold of Derna. U.S. jets have carried out strikes against the group there twice since last fall.

The Pentagon is also seeking to improve coordination between U.S. Special Operations forces and their French and British counterparts, which have established small cells on the ground, seeking in part to line up friendly militias that can take on the extremist fighters…

U.S. officials continue to seek permission from neighboring countries to launch U.S. flights, which would allow American planes more watch time on surveillance or strike missions. So far, Tunisia and Algeria have declined, meaning that manned and unmanned missions would probably be launched from military installations in Italy, Spain or Greece, or from as far away as Britain.

The prospect of another Western intervention in Libya has divided North Africa…

But the biggest challenge will probably be divisions among Libya’s myriad armed factions…

After months of talks, the United States and European and Arab nations have yet to make concrete military commitments to what is known as the Libya International Assistance Mission [more here, including a mention of Canada], potentially undermining the nascent government, which needs to establish its legitimacy and impose order.

Italy has promised to provide at least half of the resources for that effort, which could bring thousands of Italian or other European troops to Tripoli to advise local forces on securing the capital.

But, in a reflection of European nations’ reluctance to get pulled into a risky overseas campaign, Rome has also laid out a series of conditions for sending troops, including a U.N. Security Council resolution [Russia? China?] and — most problematic — adequate security in Tripoli before Italian troops will be deployed…

Good luck in those shifting sands. Second verse similar to the first?

How SecState Clinton Was Instrumental in Creating the Libyan Mess


Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


4 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Fissiparous Libya Update: Western Intervention (Canada?), Part 2”

  1. Libya latest at (further links at original):

    ‘“One of Libya’s Two Opposing Governments Steps Down to Stop Further Violence” – “Tripoli authorities step down to end deep rifts in Libya” – “Libya’s Self-Declared National Salvation Government to Step Down” – “Libyan rival government resigns” – “Libya’s unity government takes hold as Tripoli authorities step down” – “Libya unity govt cements control after rival cedes power” – “Libya’s Tripoli-based government to step down”
    Still, some continue to be underwhelmed … “Abu Sahmain condemns State Council meeting, threatens court action as Ghwell “government” gives up” – “United Nations Libya coup takes shape”
    “France wants to reopen embassy in Libya to help unity government”’

    Mark Collins

  2. 1,000 UK troops for Libya? At (further links at original):

    “UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond makes surprise Libya visit” – “UK could deploy up to 1,000 troops to Libya in bid to fight growing ISIS threat” – “Royal Marines Prepare to Tackle Libya People-smugglers” – “1,000 boots on the ground in Libya will make UK a target for ISIS fanatics, warns MP” – “ISIS ‘could control two thirds of Libya’, UK could deploy up to 1,000 troops to fight growing Daesh threat”
    “Europeans Ponder Security Mission for Libya as Fighting Wracks Tripoli”
    “Libya unity govt. to start taking control of ministries: deputy PM”
    “UN mission to Libya back in Tripoli after 2-year absence”
    “UN Urges Backing For Libya Unity Govt Ahead Of Key Vote”
    “Tanks roll into Tripoli after attempted kidnapping of former Libyan PM”
    “Libya: Over 25,000 families displaced from Sirte”…

    Mark Collins

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