Libya is Getting Transformed into a Battlefield Yet Again
By Martin Berger
The global war against extremism is not only being waged in Iraq and Syria, which is clear if one takes into consideration the fact that Libya is now being transformed into one of the key strongholds of ISIS. This is a deeply troubling development, since Libya is situated in immediate proximity to the European coastline. Libya used to be a vital barrier for the Greater Maghreb and southern Europe, but now the country is becoming gradually transformed in a battlefield yet again, where NATO forces are engaging “radical Islamists,” or at least we are being told so.
Fearing the danger of Libya being turned into a terrorist-run state, which may be used by ISIS to enhance its terrorist activities in Europe or even launch a missile strike against the south of the Old World, European political and military leaders, together with Washington, have started developing a comprehensive plan to launch a military intervention in Libya yet again, which should provide “radical solutions to the problems of jihadism.”
But there’s a slight problem that Western politicians have encountered along the way – for this plan to succeed NATO states must persuade regional players to get involved in new military aggression against Libya, especially states like Egypt and Algeria.
Thus, France and the United States have been hard at work trying to persuade Algerian politicians that they must send troops to Libya. According to Washington’s plan, Algeria should be playing the primary role in the so-called “pacification of Libya.” They will position Algeria as a major anti-terrorist force in the region, which, unlike its neighbors, has managed to isolate itself from the militant threat, even thought it took it a number of years to succeed along this path. According to this plan, Algerian armed forces must invade Libya to “cleanse” its western region of radical militants. In turn, Egypt is supposed to occupy the eastern region of Cyrenaica, taking advantage of close air support provided by French and, supposedly, American aircraft.
While Cairo has formally agreed to fulfill this mission, Algeria doesn’t seem to be so determined to get itself stuck in a war. In spite of the temptation to take advantage of the situation in Libya and stop a constant string of attempts to destabilize the situation on the Libyan-Algerian border, Algiers has so far taken no steps to intervene in Libya. And this position seems to be perfectly rational, after watching the steps that Washington has taken to destabilize Libya and Syria, Algerian politicians are fairly concerned that they too may be subjected to a somewhat similar treatment. And one can hardly blame them for taking a cautious approach, since we’ve all seen the fruits of “Western democratization.”
Their concerns are further aggravated by the fact that Washington, Brussels and Paris have been regularly criticizing Algeria for not adhering to the defense of democratic and civil liberties. Western politicians have traditionally criticized the state of media freedom, the absence of Berber cultural that is being actively supported by France, and the absence of any compliance with the Algerian Constitution, since the notion about the limited number of presidential terms has been violated repeatedly. Therefore, Algeria’s restrained position on Libya has triggered an ever increasing amount of pressure being applied on the local political and military circles by Washington, Paris, and Brussels.
At the same time, so-called Western coalition forces have been preparing for renewed military aggression against Libya. For instance, Britain has already sent its troops to Tunisia, as it was announced by the UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon last March. In addition, there are new states that are going to be engaged in the new military adventure in Libya, like Italy and Spain,who have been receiving instructions and objectives for the future military operation. The plan includes the deployment of troops in Libyan territory under the guise of carrying out military exercises, even though troops will be given specific instructions to engage hostile forces if they run into them. Similar “military exercises” are being held in Iraq, Ukraine and Mali.
It’s clear that NATO strategists have already developed plans to assist future Libyan state institutions along with ways to enhance combat capabilities of the local security forces. While numerous Libyan militant groups adhere to extremist ideologies and can be considered terrorist in nature, Western politicians are happy to arm them as long as they keep pushing ISIS forces back. Against this background, the arms embargo that was introduced by the UN, is being clearly ignored. There’s rumors that British, French, Italian and even American special forces are assisting local militants in the operation that is aimed at capturing the town of Sirte.
In spite of the apparent desire of certain Western forces to hide these plans from the rest of the world and pretend that NATO troops are not being deployed in Libya, it seems to be too tall a task for them to handle. Therefore, on July 20, the French Ministry of Defence was forced for the first time to officially acknowledge the presence of French troops in Libyan territory, by reporting the deaths of three French servicemen that were serving in special forces units.
There’s little doubt that the international community must join hands in the fight against terrorism and its current manifestation – ISIS. However, this fight should be taking place within the legal bounds of international law. There must be no repeat of illegal activities against Libya and other states, which were destroyed and transformed into failed states under the guise of this “fight against terrorism”
In the meantime, we see French soldiers being killed, while acting in direct violation of international norms, without a UN mandate or an official request issued by the Libyan authorities. Moreover, Libyan authorities have already declared an official protest against such actions on their territory. There’s little doubt that no one is capable of defeating terrorism while encouraging illegal interventionism, and there must be no second opinion about that.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”