Officials from the US, Britain and France are becoming increasingly alarmed at the growing strength of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Libya, which already controls a long strip of coastline around the city of Sirte, has used heavy weapons to launch attacks against a series of oil facilities.
The U.S. has already sent a group of special forces to Libya, and plans are continuing for a Western invasion of Libya, as we reported three weeks ago ( “6-Jan-16 World View — US, Britain, France preparing new Libya military offensive early in 2016”). The military offensive is planned for around the beginning of March.
Libya now has two rival governments. One of them is in the far west in the capital city Tripoli, and the other is in the far east in Tobruk. Both governments signed off in December on a UN-backed “peace plan” to establish a single unity government that could lead a military push against ISIS.
However, earlier this week, the Tobruk government, which is the government that’s internationally recognized, announced that it was rejecting the UN plan.
A precondition for the Western military intervention is implementation of the unity government plan, and an endorsement of Western military intervention by that unity government, so that the invasion won’t be seen as yet another Christian invasion of a Muslim country.
But with ISIS stepping up attacks throughout the country, Italy’s Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said in an interview that the West is prepared to intervene militarily even if Libya fails to agree on a unified government. According to Pinotti:
We cannot imagine the situation in Libya remaining in a stall as spring comes and goes.
In the past month, we have worked more diligently with Americans, British and French. I wouldn’t call it an acceleration, and it’s certainly not unilateral. We are all agreed that we must avoid uncoordinated action.
According to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, “We’re looking at military options.”