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Mysterious Airstrikes
More Outside Interference in Libya?

Earlier today, there were reports of another round of “mysterious” airstrikes on Islamist militants in Tripoli. The AP reported:

Unidentified warplanes conducted four airstrikes on Monday near the Libyan capital of Tripoli, leaving one dead and five wounded, a spokesman for Libya’s Islamist-allied militias and a militia commander said.

A series of mysterious airstrikes, which U.S. officials have previously said were carried out by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, have reinforced the perception that Libya has become a proxy battleground for larger regional struggles — with Turkey and Qatar backing the Islamist militias and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE supporting their opponents.

The specter of regional intervention has cast a pall over the increasingly fractured country, which was plunged into turmoil following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi but gave rise to a patchwork of heavily armed and increasingly unruly militias.

(See Adam Garfinkle’s recent essay for more background on Qatari and Emirati involvement.)

Libya’s General Haftar, now tentatively allied with the government in Tobruk, has claimed to be behind the strikes—exactly as he claimed to be behind last month’s, according to Reuters Africa. The article continues:

[A]nalysts doubt that Haftar can conduct air strikes with planes from his bases in the east as Libya has only a tiny and outdated air force damage during the 2011 civil war.

We’ve wondered in the past whether the airstrikes in August were the last we’d see of foreign intervention in Libya, and as Reuters suggests, there’s reason to be skeptical of Haftar’s claims. Egypt, for one, is facing a growing threat from Islamists based just across its border with Libya. Officially, however, the country has denied any involvement in the previous strikes, denied that it has any intention of invading Libya, and called merely for an internationally backed disarmament program for Libya’s Islamists. However, as Libya continues to deteriorate, airstrikes may not remain the extent of foreign action on Libyan soil.

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  • rheddles

    It’s not the soil Egypt wants, it’s the oil.

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