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The Afterparty Continues
Libya: Bomb Us, Please

Things have gotten so bad in Libya, wrecked by the U.S.-and-European-led love-them-and-leave-them intervention in 2011, that the government is now asking for outside intervention to stop the spread of ISIS. Libya, aside from ISIS-held territory, is currently split between an Islamist government in Tripoli and a vaguely nationalist government in Tubruq. The latter is more widely recognized, and it’s calling on other nations to bomb ISIS positions in the country. The AP reports:

The statement late Saturday came after the IS affiliate seized control of a new neighborhood in Sirte […]

“The Libyan government, unable to ward off these terrorist groups because of the arms embargo, and out of its historic responsibility toward its people, calls on brotherly Arab countries … to launch airstrikes against specific targets of (IS) locations in Sirte in coordination with our concerned bodies,” the statement said […]

The Arab League said it will hold an emergency meeting on Libya on Tuesday.

Arab League involvement would likely take the form of bombings or even an incursion led by the Egyptians. The last time this was tried, when Egypt and the U.A.E. bombed Libya last summer, the U.S., France, Germany, and UK all made their displeasure known.  And yet, what are the other options? The Europeans, Washington, or the “international community” writ large, have yet to put together a credible alternative for the North African state. Instead, we get mush like this, via the UN News Centre:

Strongly condemning attacks in Sirte by the so-called Islamic State (Daesh), the United Nations Support Mission in Libya stressed today it is “high time” that Libyans agree a unity government to address the country’s challenges and “join together to confront the scourge” of the group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

While UNSMIL noted Libyan calls for swift action to save Sirte and its people from Da’esh’s hold and prevent atrocities, the Mission urged the Libyan stakeholders to urgently finalize a political agreement and establish a Government of National Accord that, in partnership with the international community, can address the threat of Daesh and other challenges facing the country.

But hand-wringing statements will not bring Libya together. The options that would restore order to the country range from bad (another Western intervention) to worse (backing a strongman, or an Egypt-led Arab League incursion). Unfortunately, the worse options seem more likely to happen than meaningful Western intervention, which is almost unthinkable right now. In the meantime, ISIS is festering and Libya’s disorder is fueling the European migration crisis. Until something gives, the grim Libyan afterparty continues.

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  • Gene

    If Western governments absolutely refuse to do anything — in a situation in which organized violence is the only way to prevent catastrophe — where do those Westerners get off voicing their disapproval of an Egypt-led Arab League incursion or something similar? Either wash your hands of the situation or don’t wash them, but if you choose the former, please shut up while you’re at it.

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  • jeburke

    Why is backing an Egyptian-led Arab intervention a bad option? Seems to me, it will happen anyway. Might as well help make it suceed and give it an extra gloss of legitimacy with a Security Council resolution.

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