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Sunni Skies
A Sunni Intervention in Libya?

As the Sunni states give their support for Obama’s anti-ISIS coalition, it’s worth remembering that another locus of chaos has these countries very worried: Libya. The spillover from that failed state has significantly increased the terror threat to Egypt. A number of jihadist groups, apparently, are connecting with each other within the country, much to the alarm of Egypt’s security apparatus.

According to a recent Reuters report, the terrorists based to Egypt’s east, in the Sinai and Syria, and on the Libyan border to the west are making contact with and influencing each other. Officials say the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has formed ties both with ISIS and with the Libya-based militants. Meanwhile, the jihadists in Libya have been inspired by ISIS and are traveling back and forth across the Egyptian border. As one Egyptian official told Reuters, “There is definitely coordination between Ansar, the militants in Libya and Islamic State leaders.” On top of that, there are thousands of Egyptians fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, raising the same question for Egypt that most of its neighbors have: What to do when they come home?

That is a combustible mixture, even for a country with a powerful military like Egypt’s. President Sisi might find it increasingly tempting to push the terrorists based in Libya back to a manageable distance. The Sunni states already proved their willingness to act, even without U.S. approval, when the Egypt and the UAE conducted airstrikes late last month. It’s possible that we haven’t seen the last of Sunni interventionism in Libya.




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  • Anthony

    Discussion on Charlie Rose concerning Sunni intervention: Middle East no longer region to control/manage via top down. That is, Sunni/Shia and other remnants from Ottoman empire, English/French Mandate, and King/Strongman authoritarians can no longer hold sway; The region has to come to terms with its historical plurality and can only do so endogenously – so interventionism by Sunni states may be opening act.

    • Andrew Allison

      Charlie Rose appears to have a blindingly clear view of what has been obvious for quite some time, namely that the artificial boundaries established after the demise of the Ottoman Empire are evaporating. The Middle East is fundamentally tribal, and riven by a 16 Centuries-long religious conflict. As Anthony suggests, participating in the resolution of this mess is a lose-lose proposition.

      • Slam1263

        Let them fight amongst themselves, and burn out a generation of misfits and malcontents.
        We may be able to reason with the survivors, if not, there will be fewer to deal with.

        • richard40

          Except that not all the factions there are evil. I was content enough to let ISIS and the Iranian backed Maliki gov in Iraq fight it out. But the Kurds have always been our friends, and once ISIS started attacking them, I realized that ISIS had to go.

          • Slam1263

            I’ll concede a little on the Kurdish issue, but the PPK has resorted to terrorism in the recent past.
            I wouldn’t give them planes, tanks, or helicopters, but I would give them ammo, and even large artillery.

          • richard40

            The Kurdish terrorism was only against nearby countries who were oppressing them, never against us as far as I know, never Islamicist/Jihadist type actions, and not for a long time. Since the first gulf war they have pretty much been very helpful for us. I also give them a lot of credit for treating the religious minorities that sought shelter with them well. I would even give them some light tanks (maybe Bradlees and Strikers) and helicopters. We have already given the Iraqi gov more than that, and right now I trust the Kurds a lot more than I trust the Iraqi gov. For one thing, the Kurds never ran away and let ISIS have any of their stuff, and were never in bed with Iran.

    • richard40

      I would hope Obama is smart enough to stand by and let Egypt take care of this, instead of trying to stop them.

  • richard40

    We should all thank Obamas wise policy to bomb Libya, to support the Islamic rebels against Kadaffy, without congressional authorization, in order the create this great situation in Libya.

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