Thursday, March 10, 2016

CAF Heading back to Libya?

Written by David Pugliese, 

There has been a lot of talk about a new coalition to intervene against Islamic extremists in Libya. Those extremists took over parts of the country in the wake of the 2011 removal by rebels of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

The opposition groups had support from NATO and Canadian CF-18s and other aircraft took part in that bombing campaign.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has suggested that Canada might take part in a new mission to Libya to deal with ISIL operating from that country, if that comes about.

“There’s a much more significant threat of ISIL in that region and that’s the reason we are having greater discussions on that,” Sajjan recently told journalists.

The Pentagon is reported to have presented U.S. President Barack Obama with plans for extensive airstrikes against ISIL training camps in Libya.

It could be a long haul, however, to get Libya stable. The top U.S. general in Africa says the country is now a failed state.

Army Gen. David Rodriguez said that foreign fighters, weapons and illegal migrants are flowing through the oil-rich North African country, supplying the conflicts in Syria and Iraq with combatants and threatening U.S. allies, the Associated Press writes.

Here is the rest of the Associated Press article:

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rodriguez said the recent agreement to form a unity government in Tripoli is an important step. Yet even with strong international support, the new government will struggle for the “foreseeable future” to establish its authority and secure Libya’s people and borders, he said.

Rodriguez estimated that it would take “10 years or so” to achieve long-term stability in Libya. He cited a “fractured society” and the lack of government institutions as major hurdles to overcome.

“The continued absence of central government control will continue to perpetuate violence, instability and allow the conditions for violent extremist organizations to flourish until the (government) and appropriate security forces are operational within Libya,” Rodriguez told the committee.

Rodriguez’s assessment comes nearly two weeks after Secretary of State John Kerry stopped short of declaring Libya as failed, citing the selection of a prime minister-designate to lead the new government.

“It’s close,” Kerry said last month during testimony before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. “If they cannot get themselves together, yes, it will be a failed state.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Rodriguez to quantify how much of Libya is under the control of extremist groups. Rodriguez replied that the Islamic State group controls the area in and around its stronghold city of Sirte.

The Islamic State has been recruiting militants from abroad into Libya in an effort to exploit years of chaos and expand its foothold there.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the Islamic State now commands 5,000 fighters in Libya.