As Obama Bombs ISIS in Libya, Are We Backing the Right Regime?
The Fiscal Times discusses the new American involvement in Libya.
The article highlights the many differing points of view about the wisdom of this American action.
Supporting the Libyan GNA, the U.S. military conducted “precision air strikes against ISIL targets in Sirte, Libya,” the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement on Monday. The president authorized these airstrikes following a recommendation from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. This is the third time in eight months the United States has attacked ISIS in Libya, but this is the first time the Obama administration has agreed to provide air support to the Libyan government’s ground troops “at the request of that government. … “It is in America’s national security interests in our fight against ISIL to make sure that they’re able to finish the job,” he said.
Yet others are worried about the continuing instability in Libya, or ISIS’ desire to provoke Western intervention, which may preclude a successful campaign against ISIS.
Still, Obama’s move could be premature, given the ongoing rivalries between the new GNA and the Libyan National Army, which is loyal to the government in eastern Libya. Jason Pack of Eye on ISIS in Libya told The Economist that there is no “unity government, just a rebranding of Misratan militias.” He said you can’t count on their loyalty.
Including the president, there have been some who believe a ground war against ISIS is exactly what the terror group wants. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in December 2015 requested additional airstrikes, weapons and intelligence from the United States, but stressed his country didn’t “want combat troops on the ground to carry [out] military missions on the ground.”
Still others feel this new American engagement is too limited.
“Critics of the Obama administration insist that ISIS is growing stronger because Washington has not been aggressive enough in attacking the terrorists in Syria and Iraq,” said Tom Mockaitis, counter-terrorism expert at DePaul University, in a blog post. “They point to the wave of attacks in Europe, the San Bernardino shootings, and the Orlando night club massacre as compelling evidence that more strident military measures must be employed against this pernicious organization.” … But eliminating “ISIS requires a comprehensive, long haul strategy that combats the threat at all levels,” he said, indicating the importance of a carefully employed military force. While he didn’t comment on Libya specifically, he did acknowledge that sending ground forces into Syria would be a mistake.
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