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Friday, August 14, 2015

Link: ISIS stakes its claim to Libya.

Libya provides the most glaring example of the complete non-existence of proactive thinking on the part of the Obama Administration.  As Qaddafi was close to recapturing Benghazi, David Cameron and allies, including Barack Obama, elected to use Tomahawk missiles to prevent the city from falling back under regime control.  What was so wrong with regime control, anyway?  Hadn't Qaddafi displayed an increasing willingness to open up his country and his economic system to change?  Wasn't Libya a reasonably wealthy Arab country, where Libyans could still enjoy some modicum of quality of life?  Well, we intervened, Qaddafi was intercepted moving from one location to another and executed, and we did.....nothing.  Libya didn't descend into hell overnight.  The people celebrated for a week or so, and various temporary governments were set up, usually compromised of academics and human rights activists.  As of August, 2015, Libya has become a battlefield between so many different militias and jihadist factions that its not worth your while trying to separate them all.  Towns change occupiers by the day, as two rival governments sit in separate former capital cities, each claiming administrative and diplomatic authority over what was once called the Islamic Republic of Libya.  Why has the West been so reticent to get involved, especially after basically being the harbinger of Qaddafi's end?  Obviously the United States maintained some modest presence in Benghazi, otherwise, how would a random gang of Islamic Extremists find a U.S. Ambassador and four Department of Defense employees to torture and murder?  The real tragedy, is that the Administration was aware of the unstable nature of the situation in Benghazi, yet no exfil plan existed in emergency circumstances.  To former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not having an exfil plan is a small issue; it only cost the life of five Americans.  What should be a glaring gap in U.S. foreign policy is the complete lack of a coherent strategy to support democratic growth in Libya.  We are supposed to support the good guys, remember?  The ones who support freedom of religion, speech, and the establishment of a fair and all-inclusive Constitution?  I see nothing happening in Libya that is not instigated by militias and jihadists.  I don't see the French or the British anywhere, and I certainly don't see the United States.  Barack Obama was in Africa last week, but he skipped over Libya and landed in Kenya.  I hope he was able to visit some of the relatives he has living in the slums of Kibera.

Last week, a militia loyal to Al-Qaeda actually retook the town of Derna from ISIS, and according to the New Yorker (see link), executed the ISIS commander.  What a choice for a dinner guest....ISIS or Al-Qaeda.  Even with the temporary setback at Derna, ISIS has shown real strength in Libya, occupying Qaddafi's home town of Sirte and threatening Misrata.  More importantly to western petroleum interests, ISIS is also making inroads in Libya's "Oil Crescent"; maybe ISIS will start exporting oil from Libya first, as opposed to Baiji in Iraq, what has been the popular concern.  As the well-written and detail-heavy link explains, Libya has not been a functioning state since the death of Qaddafi, and today, any number of militias and extremist groups are having at each other, increasing the suffering of the average Libyan beyond belief.  Do we have a plan to provide aid to the needy people of Libya?  Absolutely not, because the country is thick with heavily armed teenagers with itchy trigger fingers.  Nothing useful can be accomplished without force.  In the past, the West has shown much more flexibility in these situations, deploying coalition forces to bring aid to the needy.  But we have returned to the thought process that saving Libyan lives is not worth putting at risk any American or European soldiers.  But the movers and shakers in DC, Paris, London and Den Hague may have to reconsider their position, as the complete breakdown in authority has allowed Libya to become the easiest transit route for African immigrants to reach Europe.  Even though ISIS kills any African Christian it gets its hands on, they will continue to come, in even greater numbers.  By this time next year, Italy will be facing a humanitarian crisis.  We recognize this, but is anyone doing anything?

Egypt and Tunisia are well-aware of the reach of ISIS, and both North African countries have take concrete steps to militarize their borders with Libya.  The Egyptians and Tunisians will be successful to a degree in keeping their beaches and tourist hotels safe, but they will also be enclosing all the African refugees and innocent Libyans.  May God protect the Christians, homosexuals, open-minded students, pregnant and single women, and human rights activists of Libya, who will be soon become the hunted.  How much responsibility does the West deserve for this development?  Not much, except for those Tomahawk missiles, which for all practical purposes, removed one stable government in favor of a new political matrix, which has yet to fully show itself. 

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