The Hafter Effect on the Battle for Sirte
Whether for good or ill, Hafter seems to be the man of the moment — affecting the UN-process, the resumption of oil exports, and even the battle against ISIS in Sirte, which his forces are not participating in! In a follow up article in my series on Hafter with Al-Monitor, I examine why the Misratan forces seem to be getting bogged down in Sirte, why American airstrikes have proved largely ineffective in this phase of the battle, and most crucially, why Hafter’s ascendancy is as likely to lead to defacto partition or the rise of new jihadi groups, as to a functional Libyan unity government.
On Oct. 2, a Dutch photojournalist was killed by sniper fire in an area of Sirte already supposedly “liberated” from IS forces. Furthermore, reports of fighting between BM forces and jihadis south of Sirte in recent weeks seems to confirm fears that IS fighters have been able to seep out of Sirte, and may therefore be able to regroup or assimilate into other jihadi groups elsewhere…. The United States has conducted 210 sorties since Aug. 1, when it launched Operation Odyssey Lightning — its campaign of airstrikes in support of BM forces fighting IS in Sirte — and has twice exceeded its planned time frame with operations now entering their third month….
The United States has conducted 210 sorties since Aug. 1, when it launched Operation Odyssey Lightning — its campaign of airstrikes in support of BM forces fighting IS in Sirte — and has twice exceeded its planned time frame with operations now entering their third month….. On the one hand, given that there is no longer a third force separating the LNA and Misratan forces — a role the federalists and IS had previously occupied — and that both Misrata and the LNA are fighting IS and other jihadi groups, albeit in different locations, this could theoretically strengthen the logic of partition and tacit compromise between eastern and western Libya in the event of the collapse of the UN-mediated peace process.
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