The United States is preparing to launch airstrikes on ISIS targets in Libya, as the militant faction continues to assault oil infrastructure in the war-torn country.
The New York Times reported that the Pentagon is putting together plans to attack ISIS in Libya, despite virtual silence from the U.S. Congress. The legislative branch has had very little to say about Obama’s broadening war plans against ISIS that may now stretch into a third country. Despite the questionable legality of Obama’s war on ISIS, Congress has deferred to the President. The campaign could begin within a few weeks.
The UK, France and Italy may join the American campaign in Libya. But given the checkered success against ISIS in Iraq and Syria over the past year and a half, there are reasonable questions surrounding the efficacy of the proposed military plans. After all, it was nearly five years ago that the same western powers conducted airstrikes against former dictator Muammar Qaddafi, a military campaign that helped break apart the country, leading to chaos in the intervening years. The airstrikes were very effective at breaking the Libyan government, but offered no plan on putting the country back together. Libya will ultimately need a political solution to its instability.
There were glimmers of hope recently for political progress in Libya as the rival governing factions from the east and west agreed to small steps to reconcile their differences and form a unity government, under the auspices of the United Nations. On January 25, however, the internationally-recognized government in Libya’s east rejected the unity cabinet that was proposed, a setback for political reconciliation.
That is bad news for the hopes for peace. It will also likely put more pressure on the U.S. and its allies to beat back ISIS, which now controls the city of Sirte and is conducted routine attacks on oil storage tanks and export terminals. Libya’s oil production is down to just 360,000 barrels per day, according to the latest estimates.
By Charles Kennedy