Libya’s nightmare scenario

Published on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Ahmed Eleiba, Dec 10, 2015.

The possibility of Libya taking over from Syria and Iraq as the centre of Islamic State operations is haunting decision-makers in Cairo.

Islamic State (IS) is consolidating its presence in Libya, where post-Gaddafi chaos has provided an ideal climate for the terrorist organisation to flourish. It encountered a setback in Derna, where it faced stiff resistance from the Ansar Al-Sharia militia group which, in April 2014, expelled IS forces from the city, but 18 months later IS has recouped its losses.  

Ansar Al-Sharia is no longer an obstacle to the group’s expansion. Some of its factions have actually joined IS while others have withdrawn from the field, providing IS with an opportunity to move into areas close to Libya’s oil-producing heartland.

As IS expands its presence in Sirte, speculation that the organisation is seeking to shift its centre of operations from Syria and Iraq to Libya and North Africa has reached fever pitch.

Military developments are unfolding rapidly. Last week the Pentagon confirmed that Abu Nabil Al-Iraqi, leader of the IS franchise in Derna, was killed in a US raid in November. At the same time, the Libyan army reported that it was engaged in an air campaign against Ansar Al-Sharia targets in Benghazi … //

… Cairo, say local sources, is closely following developments and knows that it is involved in a race against time to prevent the conflict spilling over the border. An Egyptian source who is in contact with Libyan officials said Cairo is working to build a coalition to intervene in Libya to fight terrorism and sees Moscow and the Libyan government as central to such a coalition.

He stressed that the subject was high on the agenda during Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to Cairo on 23 November. The source added that the core group — Moscow, Cairo and the Libyan government — is trying to persuade European states to join. Although there is still optimism that some European countries will come on board, efforts so far have yielded little tangible results apart from the aerial surveillance that France has undertaken in Libya.

General Hisham Al-Halabi, military advisor at the Higher Nasser Military Academy, accuses the international community of a “conspiracy of silence” when it comes to developments in Libya.

“The US has drones that circle the region but do not intervene. The one positive sign is that there is a growing awareness of the threats that could face European countries from the export of jihadists based in Libya which might lead EU nations to harden their positions, particularly in the wake of November’s terrorist attacks in Europe,” Al-Halabi told the Weekly.

He believes Egypt is inclined to intervene but wants to do so alongside European states. Cairo, he said, acted in a considered and measured manner in Derna last year and any future intervention will be equally well calibrated and timed.

In the meantime, he stresses that Egypt must continue to strengthen the military presence on its Western front to prevent the cross-border infiltration of terrorist elements.

(full text).


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The Criminalization of Parliamentary Democracy, on Global, by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Dec 11, 2015: Syria is being bombed as part of a “counter-terrorism campaign” allegedly against the Islamic State, an elusive “outside enemy” based in Raqqa, Northern Syria. While the ISIL is said to be “threatening the Western World”, the evidence confirms that the Islamic State is supported and financed by the Western military alliance, together with Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Amply documented, Al Qaeda and its various affiliates including the Islamic State Caliphate Project are creations of Western intelligence …;

Syndicate lobbies for the release of jailed reporters, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Amira Howeidy, Dec 10, 2015: the Press Syndicate is launching a campaign demanding the release of 18 imprisoned journalists;

Road to Dayton paved with genocide, on The National Security Archive – Electronic Briefing Book No. 535, by Tom Blanton and Emily Willard, special thanks to Michael Dobbs and Sarah Chaney Reichenbach, Nov 23, 2015:

  • International passivity, lack of support for peacekeepers doomed Srebrenica 20 years ago; 8,000 Muslim refugees died;
  • Documents show Bosnian Serb plans changed from “squeezing” Srebrenica, to overrunning the enclave, to mass murder, in less than two weeks;
  • U.N./NATO air strikes plus better-armed peacekeepers likely would have changed calculus;

… and this:

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