Has Sirte Fallen?
According to much Western media, and many credible sources among them, GNA Banyan Marsus forces have pushed inside Sirte and taken control of much of the center of the town. You can read from Maggie Michael writing for the AP and USNews here. Looked at in one way these data mean that ISIS has been defeated. Looked at another way, they have followed the perfect guerrilla strategy of fading away from a fixed point when outnumbered.
And despite this ambiguity this is, of course, a very positive development. Bunyan Marsus is definitely inside Sirte and they have waged a brilliant campaign over the last three weeks. Yet, their alliance with the PFG and other actors is so weak that when ISIS counterpunches which one would have to imagine they will the anti-ISIS coalition (if there ever was one) will likely fall apart. In short, the Libyan political big picture stuff does not seem to be in place to sustain these early victories. So don’t count ISIS out and misunderstand what has and has not yet happened.
Much of the media is blowing these developments out of proportion so if you or he want some view on what the Western policy response should now be, I’m easy to get a hold of…. There is certainly going to be a lot of congratulating in the halls of the UN, Foggy Bottom, and Quai D’Orsay at how well the GNA is ‘supposedly’ performing and I think that is very misguided as they are not acting according to a Western script but are addressing very real Libyan political and social imperatives.