by Abdel Bari Atwan
Reports of Western ground forces operating in Libya are increasingly frequent. Their role is not, as they claim, to restore security and stability to the chaotic country, but to eliminate the growing threat from Islamic State which has been expanding its presence in the oil-rich country. Islamic State is seeking to seize control of oil facilities in the so-called ‘oil crescent, and has established a stronghold in Sirte.
General Joseph Dunford, Chief of the US forces, spoke today of the ‘need for decisive military action to stop the spread of the Islamic State group in Libya’.
British and French forces have established themselves in the Gamal Abdel Nasser military base to the south of Tobruk, while the Americans are in another base east of Tripoli; it is ironic, indeed, that the former have chosen a base named after the great Arab nationalist leader who vigorously opposed any foreign troops entering Arab lands and championed the 1969 Libyan revolution.
Before the arrival of these (around 500) forces was officially acknowledged the UK press was building up to it with alarming reports about how Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had personally selected an Iraqi officer, known only as Abu Omar, to ‘tighten the terror group’s grip on Sirte’ where ‘up to 3000 fighters’ are now based. The Telegraph also speculated that the group’s leaders would move en masse to Sirte of things became too dangerous for them in Iraq and Syria where they are under constant bombardment.
Such reports, often presented as ‘leaks’ are reminiscent of the build up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq when talk about weapons of mass destruction paved the way for America’s invasion of Iraq or the demonisation of Muammar Gadaffi prior to the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya.
I don’t know how Baghdadi, hunted by the intelligence services of more than 100 countries, including Russia, America, France and Britain, not to mention Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq, is meant to move his headquarters to Sirte… is he going to stroll to an airport and take a plane?
If he did actually succeed in penetrating all intelligence operations and fooling them into looking the other way while he transplants his headquarters to Libya we would recommend that everybody recognize his genius, pay homage to him and join his Caliphate because he muse be super-human.
What is far more likely is that there is a plot afoot among the Western countries and Russia to occupy Libya and divide it between them just as happened after the second world war when the allies occupied the former Italian colony, and split it into three administrative areas: Britain controlled Tripolitania and Cyrenaica while France took Fezzan.
The reason Islamic State and other extremist groups are able to operate freely in Libya is precisely because NATO’s intervention deposed Gadaffi and ushered in an era of utter chaos and anarchy. Extremist groups thrive in such conditions.
We opposed NATO’s intervention via the no-fly zone in Libya in 2011 and will oppose any new military intervention in Libya, whatever excuses are offered to disguise the true nature of the adventure.
This is not because we do not oppose the Islamic State – this is undeniably a terrorist entity – but because we have learned not to be stung from the same burrow twice.
We are standing at the threshold of a new era of superpower interventions designed to reassert power over the Arab world and the great wealth we possess. Unfortunately there are many Arab leaders who are colluding with them, and providing them cover and support.