With ISIS on the Brink of Defeat, is Trump Planning a Surge in Libya?
In an article published with Newsweek, Karim Mezran and Elissa Miller provide a useful and insightful discussion of recent reports indicating that the United States is considering ramping up its diplomatic and military involvement in Libya, looking at what form this might take and the potential challenges involved.
Trump in March said that he did not foresee a role for the United States in Libya beyond counterterrorism. However, the report by CNN could indicate that the administration’s view has shifted or that individuals within the administration that recognize the importance of stabilizing Libya may prevail in crafting a Libya policy.
Moreover, a recent meeting between US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti emphasized US and Italian cooperation on terrorism and the migrant crisis; and therefore the importance of solving the Libyan crisis.
According to the CNN report, the new policy for Libya would aim to support reconciliation between rival factions in the east and west and would send up to fifty US special operations troops to Libya on a rotating basis to engage in counterintelligence sharing, as well as possible training of Libyan forces. The Libya policy would also seek to reopen the US embassy in Tripoli and re-establish a US presence in the city of Benghazi.
This plan could face several immediate challenges. The first of which is the ongoing proxy war in Libya that has severely weakened the PC/GNA. The United States will need to convince Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to cease their proxy support for the House of Representatives and Khalifa Haftar in the east and push for all parties to come to the negotiating table, led by the UN, in good faith.
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