After Sirte, What’s Next for ISIS in Libya?
Jason Pack, Ruwan Rujouleh and Nadav Pollak have an opinion piece on the Tony Blair Faith Foundation website.
Each of the authors presents his own belief:
Nadav Polak speculates that to divert attention from its loss in Sirte, ISIS may stage attacks on Italy. Italy is a suitable target for ISIS, he believes, because Italian forces were involved in the anti-ISIS Sirte effort, and the US might station drones there to use against ISIS in Libya.
Italy was already a desirable target for ISIS before its losses in Sirte, but now it might increase its efforts to target the country. Italian security agencies are already on edge and close cooperation with Libyan, American, and other European countries will hopefully help to stop any ISIS plans.
Jason Pack feels that the underlying weaknesses in Libya — the fractured political situation, proliferation of local militias, the smuggling and human trafficking all are breeding grounds for ISIS or other similar groups.
After the city is retaken, serious rifts within GNA-affiliated militias are highly likely between those supporting a full attack against General Khalifa Haftar in the east and those wishing to oust Islamist and extremist militias from Tripoli. Victorious militias will likely defy unity government rulings and expose the extent of the government’s lack of control. It is important to continue to stress the danger from sleeper cells, revenge attacks, and the enemies of the GNA working together with jihadis of all stripes, including former ISIS elements, to wage a guerilla war against the unity government and Haftar.
Ruwan Rujouleh believes that ISIS will rebound quite successfully from the loss of Sirte.
ISIS is an organisation that crosses borders both tactically and ideologically. It is likely that the group will transfer its battles to Libya’s neighbours if it loses the city, smuggling its fighters, estimated to number thousands, over the border. They would pose a real threat to neighbouring countries if they manage to run from Sirte.
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