Sunday, January 24, 2016

Foreign Military Intervention in Libya Increasing
Digital Journal

Tripoli - As the Islamic State launches more attacks in Libya, there is an increasing likelihood that there will be further foreign military intervention to confront the group.

The US top general, Joseph Dunford, chair of the US military Joint Chief of State is reported by the New York Times as having said in Paris:
 “Unchecked, I am concerned about the spread of ISIL in Libya…You want to take decisive military action to check ISIL’s expansion and at the same time you want to do it in such a way that’s supportive of a long-term political process.”

Dunford said that action was likely to be within weeks rather than hours. General Joseph L. Votel, commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command noted that fighting the Islamic State would not be all about Iraq and Syria but concerned Libya as well. Apparently a large meeting in Rome last week was not just about bringing humanitarian and other aid to Libya but about security and military options. Military intervention in Libya has long been planned by several western countries since at least last August.

The German newspaper Die Welt makes it clear that the foreign military intervention hopes to gain international legitimacy through being invited into Libya by the UN-brokered Government of National Accord:
“The only thing missing for a military intervention is the legal framework. As soon as the new Libyan unity government is formed, it can proceed. When Libya has a united and to some extent legitimate government again, then there is someone in response to whose request a western military intervention can take place within the framework of international law.”

So far, the GNA has not begun to function, as it needs a vote of confidence in the internationally-recognized House of Representatives or HoR. This must happen according to the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement(LPA) by January 27. Martin Kobler, head of the UNSMIL, has yet to announce when the vote will take place. It met four times already but failed to achieve a quorum. It is not clear it will be able to vote on the issue this time around in spite of tremendous pressure to do so.

Meanwhile the Libyan National Army seems to be experiencing divisions with several groups rejecting the commander in chief Khalifa Haftar a former CIA asset.

A number of sources claim that foreign troops are already in Libya. The Libya Observer says:
Military forces from Britain, US and Russia have arrived in Libya to support the new UN-backed government, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Saturday, adding a French one is to follow soon. The newspaper said foreign troops made up of dozens of soldiers and officers landed at Jamal Abdel Nasser military base south of Tobruk. Eyewitnesses said the number of foreign military personnel arrived at the base has reached 500, while a military source indicated that the number does not exceed a dozen of officers who came to give consultations to the army.

Al Arabiya provides a similar report. There is also a report that a plane carrying military experts from France arrived in Tobruk yesterday. A group of US commandos landed in Al -Watiya airbase in Libya but left when confronted by Zintani militia who demanded they leave.

The Israeli intelligence source Debka has much more detail of what is allegedly planned with maps of the operations. Debka claims that Obama decided earlier in January to open a third anti-terror front in Libya to eradicate the Islamic State there. To the surprise of many, he decided to launch the campaign in cooperation with Russia. Debka claims the first step took place on the weekend with a group of US, Russian, French, and Italian Special Forces landing at a point south of Tobruk near the Egyptian border. Some 1,000 UK SAS were standing by as they had prepared for the landing. Debka goes on:
At the peak of the assault, large-scale US, British and French marines will land on shore for an operation first billed as the largest allied war landing since the 1952 Korean War. The attachment of Russian forces was negotiated later. According to the scenario sketched in advance by DEBKA Weekly, large-scale US air, naval and ground units are to spearhead the new coalition’s combined assault on the main Libyan redoubts of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia and other radical Islamist organizations. Cruise missiles strikes will blast them from US, British, French and Italian warships on the Mediterranean.

While Debka has its supporters, and is sometimes right, a bit of caution is in order:
...Israeli intelligence officials do not consider even 10 percent of the site's content to be reliable.[1] Cornell Law professor Michael C. Dorf calls Debka his "favorite alarmist Israeli website trading in rumors."

There seems little doubt however that many foreign countries are lining up to militarily intervene in Libya as soon as the GNA gets up and running or as it seems even before this happens. Parts of the Debka report also fit in with other reports. For now, it appears most likely that there will be small groups of special forces operating in Libya from a number of countries.

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