The new Washington military intervention in Libya that has allegedly been launched to counter ISIS forces occupying the town of Sirte some 250 miles from Tripoli provoked a massive public outcry both within Libya and abroad.
Certain Libyan politicians believe that Washington’s direct involvement in the Libyan conflict may assist Libyans in fighting off radical militants, while others remain pretty critical, noting that the US military aggression that was launched without any sort of approval from the UN will block the way to any compromises that are imperative for the successful resolution of the Libyan conflict that has been raging on ever since the violent overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
The conflict reached its breaking point in the summer of 2014, when there were two opposing camps in the country, each having its own government, parliament and armed forces. The militants who fought side by side to topple the Colonel faced each other on the battlefield back then. This situation resulted in a massive death toll among militants and the civilian population, with 3,500 people getting killed in little more than a year.
After continuous efforts of the UN to reconcile the warring parties, Tripoli and Tobruk signed a deal in Morocco that allowed the creation of a unified transitional government along with the assembly of the Presidential Council and the State Council.
The National Consensus Government (NCG), that was created in accordance with the Morocco accords is being headed by Fayez al-Sarraj for three months now, but no practical steps to pursue the actual reconciliation has been made so far, since Libya remains torn by mutual distrust and hatred.
The situation on the ground is further complicated by the fact that there’s thousands of ISIS militants operating in the immediate vicinity of the city of Sirte, the town that is located near the vitally important hydrocarbon artery that feeds the failing states. The NCG troops that have been suffering severe losse as of lately, decided to request the assistance of Fayez al-Sarraj, who, in turn, even though has not been recognized by the legitimate Parliament of the country yet, just phoned Washington to ask for help.
This step provoked harsh criticism in the Libyan Parliament, that described this move as unacceptable. A number of committees of the Parliament, namely the security and defence committees have labeled the US assault of Sirte as “politicization of the fight against terrorism.” According to them, the bombing raid is playing in the hands of Democrats in the US, providing them with an upper hand in the election race.
Libyan experts agree on the urgent need to defeat terrorism, but they insist that one should recognize the difference between the war against ISIS and the support of certain local groups that are fighting for their own interests in the ongoing military conflict in Libya.
They note that the United States has repeatedly interfered in the affairs of Libya after the overthrow of Gaddafi, without any sanctions or approval from the authorities of the country. In particular, Washington launched a raid against the Sabratha terrorist camp last year, without even notifying the Libyan Parliament.
According to the influential London newspaper Al-Arab, raids on Sirte provoked fear among Libyans that they can witness America’s “boots on the ground” in the near future, since they now believe the NCG is protecting Washington’s interests and not the interests of common people.
The Algerian newspaper Al-Khabar stressed the fact the attack on Sirte hasn’t been received well in Algeria, for this development promises new complications for the whole region. The newspaper notes that law enforcement agencies across northern Africa have steppen up their security measures out of fear of new terrorist attacks being carried out against civilian targets, while Tunisia and Algeria promised to reinforce border patrols on the border stip they share with Libya.
In turn, Tunisia’s media source Al-Sabah draws attention to the statement made by the Pentagon that US strikes in Libya would continue and “will contribute to the progress the NCG has been making” . This, according to the newspaper, reminds the US meddling in Syria and Iraq, which brought suffering to the people of those states as the direct result of America’s failed policies in the region.
Yury Zinin, Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”