Southern Libya remains a region of endemic instability wracked by communal conflict, a shortage of basic services, rampant smuggling, and fragmented or collapsed institutions. The region has long existed on the periphery of Libya’s politics and international concerns—but that must change. Increasingly, the vacuum of governance in the south has drawn in political actors from northern Libya and outside states. Extremists seeking refuge in the south and migrants being smuggled through the region directly impact the security of Libya, neighboring states like Tunisia, and Europe…
Manchester Bombing & Egypt Massacre Trigger Intense Fighting in Libya
On 27 May, the Voice of America reported that the suicide bombing at a Manchester concert on 22 May, followed by the massacre of Coptic Christians in Egypt on 26 May, has intensified the already volatile situation in Libya, particularly in Tripoli and south-west Libya after Egyptian planes launched airstrikes against Derna, claiming the militants behind the Egypt attack were trained there. Egyptian planes also reportedly hit Jufra airbase, which is controlled by Misratan forces aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA). The GNA condemned the airstrikes as a violation of Libyan sovereignty.
All sides appeared to be seizing the opportunity of the Manchester attack, as well as the massacre Friday in Egypt of Coptic Christians by Islamic State fighters, to strike their foes — regardless of whether their enemies are linked to the bombing in Britain or the slaughter of Christian pilgrims in neighboring Egypt…
Like the fighting in Tripoli, the Egyptian airstrikes are being seen by some analysts as opportunistic, too. The Islamic State was pushed out of Derna in 2015 and lost its remaining bases on the outskirts of the town last year, according to Mary Fitzgerald, a researcher on Libya, who covered the 2011 ouster of Gadhafi. She says the strikes “feed into suspicions that Sissi’s airstrikes are opportunistic more than anything else and aimed at helping his ally Gen. Haftar.”
Derna residents say the six locations struck are residential areas. Some analysts say if training camps were struck they would have been controlled by mujahideen groups linked ideologically to al-Qaida and not the Islamic State.
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