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article imageOp-Ed: Obama may be contemplating intervention in Libya

By Ken Hanly     Sep 14, 2014 in Politics
Tripoli - In Obama's recent announcement of the expansion of attacks against the Islamic State in Iraq and also into Syria, he also spoke of the need for vigiliance in northern Africa.
Obama may also be turning his sights on a possible intervention in Libya which is more and more described in the media as a failed state. Ever since the CIA-linked General Khalifa Haftar began his Operation Dignity against Islamist militias and had his allies the Zintan Brigades attack and burn parliament while kidnapping some Islamist lawmakers and officials, there have been counter-attacks by umbrella groups of mostly Islamist militias who now control Tripoli and also most of Benghazi. Obama could argue that the success of Islamist militias could lead to a safe haven for radical Islamist groups. Some radical groups are already associated with Islamist militia umbrella groups, especially in Benghazi, including Ansar al Sharia, the group accused of the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. The US along with allies could intervene to support the government in Tobruk and indirectly Haftar. France is already pushing for intervention.
There has already been intervention in the form of several night attacks by mystery planes directed against Islamist targets in Tripoli. They failed to stop the ultimate takeover of the city by the militias. The rebels accused the UAE and Egypt of being behind the attacks. Haftar himself called the attacks a joint project with the international community. Later, the US also accused the UAE and Egypt of being behind the attacks and claimed to have known nothing about the attacks before they happened. This seems quite unlikely. More likely, the US might have even approved even if tacitly. Later still, the US withdrew its accusations against the UAE and Egypt suggesting that the US cannot decide what story it should tell.
The government elected in June has been meeting in the far eastern city of Tobruk and is loosely allied with Haftar. The interim government had scheduled a meeting of the group in Benghazi where parliament had been moved but the security situation prevented it.
In a recent interview, Obama suggested for Libya the sort of nation building and long term commitment which was part of the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan neither of which have been very successful so far but cost the US huge sums and many casualties. Obama said: "I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this. Then it’s the day after Ghadafi is gone, when everybody is feeling good and everybody is holding up posters saying, ‘Thank you, America. At that moment, there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn’t have any civic traditions."
In neighboring Egypt, the president el-Sisi is waging an all-out battle against any Islamists who oppose his government especially the Muslim Brotherhood which until it was overthrown ran the first elected government. El-Sisi designates these Islamists as terrorists. Obama could very well decide to describe the Islamist militias in Libya as terrorists and intervene as part of his global war on terror. Obama said: "As Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead from Europe to Asia—from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East—we stand for justice, for dignity, Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists.” In his recent speech Obama emphasized that the greatest threats at present come from the Middle East and North Africa where he claims radical groups are exploiting grievances for their own game.
General Haftar could very well play a key role in helping Obama rebuild Libya in any attempt to create a Libya more to the liking of the west and western corporations eager to further the exploitation of Libya's vast oil resources. One suggestion by Barak Barfi is as follows:"Washington and its partners should persuade the new Libyan government to appoint Haftar as chief of staff. Respected by his troops, he has the military skills and combat experience necessary to create a modern army. But most important, he is the sole Libyan willing to take on the Islamist militias that are preventing the establishment of a modern state"
The Tobruk-based government has dismissed 7 ambassadors loyal to the GNC-formed government in Tripoli.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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