Monday, February 1, 2016

United States planning military intervention in Libya against the Islamic State

The Obama administration is planning to launch a third front against the Islamic State in Libya. The U.S. is increasing intelligence-gathering activities as a prelude to the intervention.

A New York Times editorial writes that the significant U.S. escalation is being planned before any meaningful debate on the issue in Congress. The campaign is expected to include airstrikes and raids by U.S. special forces. Reports indicate that some troops from several countries have landed already in eastern Libya. Several western countries have planned intervention in Libya from as long ago as last August. Britain, France, and Italy are expected to help out with the US operations. Most countries plan on waiting for the establishment of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). However, before it can begin operation it must have a vote of confidence from the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) in Tobruk.
Just the other day, the HoR rejected the GNA and demanded that a smaller government be presented to them. They also rejected the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) unless a clause was deleted that removed the commander in chief of the Libyan Armed Forces (LPA) from his position. Actually the clause was to go into effect on December 17 when the LPA was signed in Skhirat. It has been ignored up to now. The members of the HoR may fear that when the GNA starts operating the clause could be invoked to remove Haftar.
On Friday, General Joseph Dunford Jr. the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said: "You want to take decisive military action to check ISIL’s expansion and at the same time you want to do it in such a way that's supportive of a long-term political process." If the U.S. and other foreign countries intervene you can be sure that the political process in Libya will be even further disrupted and that there will be outright civil war involving more than just the Islamic State. No doubt foreign intervention is exactly what the Islamic State wants and has been trying to provoke by attacks on oil facilities and on a police training center.
The Times editorial warns extending the battle against the Islamic State or Daesh into Libya is fraught with dangers:That is deeply troubling. A new military intervention in Libya would represent a significant progression of a war that could easily spread to other countries on the continent. It is being planned as the American military burrows more deeply into battlegrounds in Syria and Iraq, where American ground troops are being asked to play an increasingly hands-on role in the fight.
The present authorization for the war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is based upon a 2001 law that allowed the U.S. to take action against those associated with the September 11 attacks. There does not seem much appetite for giving any fresh authorization. A debate over the issue might bring into question whether the anti-IS campaign was successful or should even be continuing as it is. The White House position is that it would be "nice" if Congress gave authorization for an extension of the campaign against the Islamic State into Libya but not necessary. There are a number of reports about the new plans suggesting that perhaps the public are being prepared for what may happen within a couple of weeks. There are more reports in The Hill and also on CNN. as well as Defenceweb.


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