The recent bombing of select Islamic State positions in the former nation once known as Libya may be a precursor to a much larger operation.
France’s Le Figaro reported in December that France is considering a second intervention in Libya, with a six-month military operation possibly to be launched against ‘Daesh’ in Libya before the spring.
France was of course a primary driver in the 2011 intervention which saw the destruction of Libya, and is therefore largely responsible for ISIS and other terror groups being in Libya now. In fact, there is evidence to suggest it had been French agents and not ‘Libyan protesters’ that had sparked off the entire ‘uprising’ in the first place and accusations that it might’ve been French agents who’d executed Gaddafi in Sirte (see more on all of that here).
It is also possible that ISIL has been allowed to take the territories it has in Libya so that a second ‘intervention’ could be justified.
Or perhaps it’s all just a symptom of the ineptitude of the geo-political enterprises of modern Western governments. But it’s no small irony that France and the other Western governments who overthrew the Libyan state are now apparently ‘worried’ about the ISIL/Daesh gains in the country, given how delighted they all were with the Al-Qaeda gains in the country in 2011.
Early in January this year, The Daily Mirror reported that the British Special Air Service (SAS) have been deployed in Libya waiting for the arrival of almost 1,000 British military personnel. The journalist added that the upcoming military operation would bring together about 6,000 American and European soldiers, including Italian, British and French forces.
All of which suggests a major operation is either underway or imminent in Libya.
Again, British Special Forces, just like French agents, had also been instrumental in the 2011 ‘uprising’, in which they had been working hand-in-hand with the very jihadists and terrorists they now want to go back in and destroy; there were literally Western special forces “disguising themselves as Arabs” and moving around with the Libyan ‘rebels’ back then.
The ‘Islamic State’ didn’t exist under that name back in 2011, but the Salafists and extremists that France, NATO and the West were working with were essentially the same breed.
But the situation with ISIL in Libya now is so bad that a second intervention may be unavoidable; Western powers have turned a blind eye to the horrors of post-Gaddafi Libya for as long as possible, hoping to pretend everything was alright – and hoping to maintain the ‘we did a wonderful thing in Libya’ act for as long as possible.
But the scale of the ISIL infestation has become alarming even to the jihadists’ initial sponsors.
A report released by the United Nations in early December 2015 warned about the seriousness of the surge in ISIL/Daesh’s military presence in Libya.
The once stable but now fallen northern African state is strategically important to jihadists, not only for its oil, but on account of its geographical location as the crossroads between the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
This has already been seen to some extent with the migrant trafficking operation launching unsafe boats from the Libyan coast to Europe, resulting in thousands of migrants entering Europe and hundreds dying at sea. Although it isn’t certain that ISIL is directly involved with the criminal traffickers, the terrorist group has openly threatened in the past to use migrants and refugees as ‘psychological warfare’ to destabilise Europe.
It isn’t the degradation of the Libyan people that bothers France or the Western officials, but simply the fact that the ‘Libya Problem’ (that *we* created) is now directly impacting on Europe.
‘Daesh in Libya’ is regarded to have emerged in Derna in 2014, as Libyan jihadists and mercenaries who’d been waging their Western-backed terror campaigns in Syria were returning to the fallen country that had been their first arena in 2011. Declaring allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’, they declared eastern Libya theirs. In truth, it would be fair to say, despite the mass movement into Syria, many or most of the jihadists involved in the 2011 ‘uprising’ against Gaddafi never left; and those who haven’t remained under the banner of Al-Qaeda or Ansar al-Sharia have simply shifted to the more potent and trending ‘Islamic State’ banner.
There had been pockets of fundamentalists and extremists in parts of eastern Libya for many years; but were mostly rendered impotent by the old regime which had zero tolerance for religious fundamentalists or Salafists. Indeed, Western intelligence agencies may have been in contact with the jihadists for many years prior to 2011, and there is also evidence that British MI5 and the CIA had tried to use Al-Qaeda-aligned Libyan extremists to try to assassinate Gaddafi in 1996 (see more here).
The strong former Libyan state under Gaddafi had kept jihadism suppressed up until 2011 when foreign governments, aided by NATO, bombed the Libyan state into oblivion in direct aid of the various jihadist and terrorist groups, paving the way for the establishment of these extremist ‘caliphates’.
It was always evident that the creation of these ‘caliphates’ was not only going to occur, but had already been occurring during the 2011 crisis. As Saif Gaddafi (currently awaiting execution by militias) told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour by telephone during the conflict; “Everybody is terrified because of the armed militias. They live in terror. Armed people are everywhere. They have set up their own courts. They execute the people who are against them.”
So the fact that ISIL has now set up its own little areas of dominion shouldn’t be shocking. Yet international officials now express concern about ISIL’s presence, when they had NO concern about the Al-Qaeda ‘caliphates’ that their beloved ‘rebels’ were already establishing four years ago – on the contrary, NATO went out of its way to bomb the Libyan Army whenever it tried to remove those extremist invaders from Libyan cities; in Benghazi, in Tripoli, in Sirte, and wherever the clashes were occurring.
All of this was of course foreshadowed by Gaddafi himself during the 2011 crisis. On 22nd February 2011, Gaddafi had blamed the uprising on “Islamists”, and warned that an “Islamic emirate” had already been set up in Derna, where he now threatened extreme force to stop the extremist ‘Islamification of Libya’.
With hindsight, Gaddafi was essentially predicting the emergence of so-called Islamic State: but the chaos in Libya was being callously stage-managed by the various international conspirators so that something very much like ISIS/ISIL would emerge and engulf the region.
Concerning Al-Qaeda and the rebels’ agenda, Gaddafi had said, “They declare all the people as infidels. They have no demands, neither economic, political nor social. Their principle is ‘Kill, kill, kill until the Judgement Day comes’,” he explained, highlighting the prophetic/apocalyptic ‘End-Times’ philososphy that many of the jihadists subscribe to. “What has transpired has nothing to do with the Constitution and the civil society system or civil rights. This armed group has no interest in democracy. You know Al-Qaeda: they consider democracy godlessness created by infidels. They do not recognize democracy but recognize only caliphates and the like.”
But the mainstream media dismissed this, and NATO went ahead with its war of aggression. Fast-forward four years and the situation is dire.
“In 2014, ISIL announced three provinces in Libya, namely, Wilayat Tripolitania (including Tripoli and Sirte), Wilayat Barqa (Cyrenaica, including Derna and Benghazi) and Wilayat Fezzan (south),” according to the UN report.
The influx now of ISIL fighters are mainly split between Derna and Sirte. Sirte was of course Gaddafi’s hometown; but is now under ISIL control and is being referred to by analysts as ‘the new Raqqa’ or the ISIL ‘capital’. Sirte is now set to be the major ISIL stronghold, particularly once Russian airstrikes fully drive ISIL out of Syria.
ISIL’s brutality in Libya has been more or less the same as its actions in Syria and Iraq. When citizens in Sirte took up arms to try to push back the foreign terrorists, residents have said the jihadists engaged in a brutal crackdown that included hanging bodies from bridges, roundabouts and highways across the city. There were also reports that the group had beheaded 12 people and crucified them.
Punishments are inflicted on residents, for crimes ranging from theft or alcohol production to “spying”. These include imprisonment, amputations, public crucifixions and beheadings.
The group has set up its own religious police force and is reported to be carrying out constant house-to-house searches and forcing residents to attend religious ‘re-education’ classes.
This is – in every sense – precisely the “Islamic emirate” or ‘caliphate’ Gaddafi had been warning four years ago would be imposed onto Libyan people when Western powers began relentlessly bombing his government and country.
It is no accident that the movement first emerged in Derna.
The town has had a reputation for religious extremists ever since the late 1990s when it was put under curfew for at least a year by the Gaddafi regime. ‘Ansar al-Sharia’ (seen in the picture below, riding around in convoys) in Derna is headed by Abu Sufian bin Qumu – a former Guantanamo inmate who was a major Al-Qaeda figure in the 2011 uprising. Much of the 2011 uprising was of course commanded by Al-Qaeda figures; something that is comprehensively demonstrated here.
Regarding the question of how and why terror groups and militias in Libya are able to wreak such havoc, bear in mind that over a billion dollars of aid was given to the ‘rebels’ by international agencies, particularly from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States who made a big show of this ‘donation’, while France alone paid $259 Million to the gangs and rebels, with America donating an estimated $25 million.
The fears about Sirte becoming the ‘new Raqqa’ are amplified by the reports that ISIL’s leadership may have been strategically relocated to Sirte in recent months, following the assaults on ISIL strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Iranian news agency FARS also reported two months ago that ISIL’s elusive ‘caliph’ or leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, wasn’t in Raqqa nor in Iraq, but had been spirited out of Turkey and transported safely to Sirte, now ‘the safest jihadist stronghold in the world’.
Libyan officials, increasingly helpless, issued a recent ‘cry for help’ as Islamic State jihadists were advancing on the country’s oil fields.
The Islamic State has also been pushing east from Sirte in an operation to seize control of the country’s oil infrastructure, mirroring what the extremists have done in both Syria and Iraq. As Middle East Eye wrote last summer, “the desert region to the south of the oil ports has been strategically cleared in a series of attacks by IS militants on security personnel and oil fields, where employees have been killed and kidnapped, and vehicles and equipment seized.”
The international community did little to help.
While the Libyans were being invaded by Islamic State barbarians, the Saudi-led Arab alliance was busy committing war crimes in their relentless bombing of Yemen instead, while Western powers were airstriking (or so we’re told) ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria. NATO and the Western governments, who had allied with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in 2011 to overthrow Gaddafi, now stood by while ISIL imposed itself onto Libyan citizens and cities.
The French desire to go back into Libya and push back ISIL might also be to stop the ISIL control of Libyan resources, which France itself is probably still hoping to get a big slice of.
The International Business Times recently reported on a WikiLeaks ‘classified report’ exposing an alleged EU operation essentially being a military intervention against refugee boats coming from Libya into the Mediterranean. The purpose of ‘Operation Sophia’ is reported to be to create a competent, functioning Libyan navy to police its own coast – in other words, to replace the Libyan navy that the EU and NATO itself decimated with bombs in 2011.
As Tony Cartolucci rightly points out in this recent article, ‘In broad daylight in the middle of May, 2011, NATO laid waste to three separate locations in the North African nation of Libya. The targets, more specifically, were ports used by the nation’s navy. Several warships would be sunk, among many more that would be destroyed during the conflict. In addition to ships, the facilities supporting them were also utterly destroyed’.
And now EU governments are panicking over the refugee crisis – a refugee crisis Gaddafi himself predicted – and wondering how to stabilise a country that they themselves destabilised.
But, again, even aside from the migrant crisis, the underlying profit motive is still ever-present, as Cartolucci suggests. ‘With the EU’s naval operations extending into Libyan territory, it will be all that much easier to secure and exploit Libya’s coastal oil assets, while keeping the rest of the country divided against themselves and collectively too weak to protect and use their own resources for their own nation’s future’.
Less than five years ago, Libya was the most prosperous, developed and stable country in all of Africa. Now it is a horror story: a man-made tragedy.