Things took a sharp turn for the worse in Libya when the Tripoli airport fell to Islamic militants on August 24. Divided along geographic and sectarian lines, the country looks increasingly like a failed state. Egypt, which is concerned about the rise of militant Islamists so close to home, has allegedly conducted airstrikes against militia positions in Tripoli. The West, in turn, has spoken out against “outside interference” in Libya, the Wall Street Journal reports:
In a joint statement, the U.S., France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. called on all parties to accept a cease-fire and engage “constructively” in the democratic process, “abstaining from confrontational initiatives that risk undermining it.”The statement by the U.S. and its allies said they “encourage the international community to support Libya’s elected institutions,” and that they believe “outside interference in Libya exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition.”
U.S. officials speaking off the record on August 25 said that those airstrikes were part of a joint campaign waged by Egypt and the UAE against Islamic extremists in Libya. They were not pleased, adding that, “We don’t see this as constructive at all.”
Since the beginning of the current crises in the Middle East, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have been attacking terror groups, standing beside Israel against Hamas, and confronting Iran. Unlovely though these allies may sometimes be, they are embracing a war on extremism that the U.S. has been pushing hard for a decade. Yet the Obama Administration has been giving them the cold shoulder, betting instead on ideas that look increasingly tenuous: a grand bargain with Iran, pressuring Israel to achieve peace with Hamas, and looking to mediations and the UN to repair Libya, even as it collapses into civil war.
The disintegration of Libya comes against the broader background of an arms-and-terror corridor that has opened up in North Africa, threatening to engulf Tunisia and pulling France deeper into Mali and other neighboring countries. There are many problems demanding U.S. attention right now, but the one created after our ill-conceived involvement in the fall of Qaddafi is dangerous and getting worse.