Will Bombs Beat ISIS in Libya?
Mattia Toaldo expanded up the myriad of constraints that would necessarily limit the effectiveness of a Western military escalation in Libya, in a Foreign Policy article, underscoring the necessity for the West to address political plans. Moreover, echoing my thoughts, he concludes that a Libyan-led response to ISIS is key.
A Western military intervention without a political strategy might create disincentives for a political deal. Currently, the Americans and Europeans are establishing bilateral relations with various partners on the ground to fight the Islamic State. This could create centrifugal forces as different actors compete to become “the Kurds of Libya,” vying for weapons and an exclusive political relationship to further their goals. For General Haftar as well as for his opponents in Misrata, the temptation will be to ditch power-sharing efforts lead by the U.N. and instead leverage their efforts against the Islamic State in order to win their own de facto independent republics.
To avoid this, the U.S. and its partners need to push for a political and military convergence of all Libyans, without asking them to play a side role in a strategy devised elsewhere. The Libyan consensus against the Islamic State must be translated into a unitary call to arms and support for a unity government. As in Syria, it is essential that anti-Islamic State forces stop fighting each other — and this is easier in Libya, as demonstrated by several local ceasefires that have been upheld for almost a year now.
To read the full Foreign Policy article, click here.
Taking a different approach from the Foreign Policy piece, the Times of Oman published an article that discusses the failures of the UN-lead initiative to establish a unity government in Libya. It then suggests that the political inaction and shortcomings of the West have created an environment in which military escalation may be the only viable option for future initiatives.
With the inability of the UN brokered GNA government to come to power and provide an official declaration for an international intervention, there is now a low-level but potent military option being implemented by the West without that previously insisted invitation from the GNA.
This military option appeared last week suddenly and forcefully. The US conducted airstrikes on an IS training camp near the Libyan city of Sabratha, west of Tripoli, killing dozens of IS fighters, and specifically a Tunisian national, Noureddine Chouchane, who was an important IS ‘facilitator’.
The West has now crossed the rubicon, from diplomatic inaction to military action. That action will be brutal, messy, and may leave Libya more chaotic and disjointed than it already is, possibly breaking into at least two new countries, but if that is the price for crushing IS on the southern Mediterranean, it is a price Western powers, particularly the EU and what was Libya, may have to pay.
To read the full article from the Times of Oman, click here.