is exploring options for intervening in Libya, citing reports of
Islamic State extremists operating in the country that was plunged
into chaos in 2011 by a NATO intervention. US troops have already
visited the country, the Pentagon admitted.
US is “closely
situation in Libya, and it is “too
soon to say exactly where things will evolve,” Defense
Department spokesman Peter Cook told reporters Wednesday,
acknowledging for the first time that US military personnel were
recently present in the north African country.
have been some US forces in Libya, trying to establish contact with
forces on the ground” to
get a clear idea of what the situation, and evaluate who might be
of US support” in
the impending struggle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)
extremists, Cook said.
this week, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said the US wanted to “take decisive military action”
against IS in Libya, in order to “put a fire wall” between them
and other terror groups operating in Africa. The decision on the
plan, which would involve NATO allies like the UK, France and Italy,
will be made in “weeks,” Dunford said,
according to the official military newspaper Stars and Stripes.
of any new military intervention in Libya will most likely find
arguments in the two reports published Wednesday. Almost 400,000
people have been displaced by the ongoing civil war in the
country, said Human
Rights Watch, accusing both factions of war crimes.
the Soufan Group – a consulting company formed by a former US
official who investigated the 9/11 attacks – said that
Libya could become a preferred destination of terrorists due to its
porous borders, ungoverned hinterlands and vast oil reserves.
IS and Al-Qaeda are “utilizing Libya as a safe haven from which to
launch operations against neighboring countries,” the group’s
report argued. “A failed state in Libya could be disastrous for
North Africa and Europe as well as the broader international
warplanes are already operating over Libya, with the
Pentagon admitting in
December 2015 that an air raid in November killed a suspected IS
commander known as Abu Nabil in the city of Derna. It was the first
US airstrike against the terror group outside of Syria or Iraq.
December 2015, British officials floated plans to deploy a
6,000-strong NATO force in support of the “unity government”
proposed by the UN. However, the latest plan to create a compromise
cabinet was rejected 89-15 by the internationally recognized
parliament in Tobruk.
US and France spearheaded the NATO intervention to “liberate”
Libya in 2011, aiding the rebels fighting against the government of
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who had run the country since 1969. After
Gaddafi’s death, rebel factions began fighting over the spoils.
the spring of 2014, Libya was effectively divided into the historical
provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, with the desert hinterlands
lapsing into anarchy. Tripolitania was taken over by Libya Dawn, a
coalition of Islamist groups such as Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar
al-Sharia, backed by Turkey and Qatar. The most powerful force in
Cyrenaica are the leftovers of the Libyan army, led by General
Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, who spent two decades in the US before
returning to claim power in 2011. Haftar is backed by Egypt, Saudi
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.