World View: U.S., Britain, France Prepare Libya Military Offensive for 2016

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This morning’s key headlines from

  • ISIS assault in Libya giving militants control of oil fields
  • US, Britain, France preparing new Libya military offensive early in 2016

ISIS assault in Libya giving militants control of oil fields

Map of Libya showing regions controlled by various factions (Political Geography Now, 2015-August)
Map of Libya showing regions controlled by various factions (Political Geography Now, 2015-August)

Ansar al-Sharia, the Libya branch of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), has been assaulting Libyan forces guarding the country’s coastal oil terminals. For more than two days, ISIS militias have attacked oil facilities in the so-called “oil crescent” along Libya’s northern coast.

During the “Arab Spring” four years ago, in 2011, the dictator Muammar Gaddafi was threatening to massacre thousands of civilians in Benghazi. Britain, France and the US intervened under a UN mandate by air and sea. Aided by rival Libyan factions united by their opposition to Gaddafi, the allied forces removed Gaddafi. After that, the rival factions turned on each other, and Libya has been increasingly chaotic.

Libya now has two rival governments. One of them is in the far west in the capital city Tripoli, and is backed by an Islamist alliance called Libya Dawn. One of the factions is the terror group Ansar al-Sharia. The other government is a secular government in the far west in Tobruk, and is the official government internationally recognized.

The valuable oil fields have been in control of the Tobruk government, but many are controlled by individual militias, far out of control of any government. Ansar al-Sharia is now trying to take control.

The war between the two governments is actually a proxy war along a major Arab fault line that was exposed by the 2014 Gaza war of Israel versus Hamas. Hamas and the Islamists, including the Islamists in Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, are aligned with Turkey and Qatar. The secularists, including the Libyan secularists and president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, are on the other side of this fault line, aligned with UAE and Saudi Arabia. Qatar and UAE have been supplying weapons to the opposing sides, and Libya has become awash with huge numbers of weapons. ( “26-Aug-14 World View — Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enter the war in Libya”)

The heartland of Ansar al-Sharia is Sirte, along the coast east of Tripoli. The ISIS fighters have been moving farther east, and fighting is now taking place around Sidra, where a missile launched by ISIS blew up a large petroleum storage tank two days ago. Whether Qatar is involved in the current efforts by ISIS to attack the oil fields is not publicly known, but it is known that Qatar has supplied weapons to Ansar al-Sharia in the past.

Reports indicate that around 5,000 Islamic extremists have already secured more than a dozen major oilfields, adding millions of dollars to their war chest. VOA and Political Geography Now (2015-Aug-22) and Al Jazeera

US, Britain, France preparing new Libya military offensive early in 2016

Libya is geopolitically very important for several reasons:

  • ISIS has been gaining influence in Libya, and may be coordinating activities with other branches of ISIS in Egypt’s Sinai, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.
  • Libya also serves as a jumping-off point for ISIS attacks on Europe, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
  • Libya has become a key route for human traffickers sending migrants from Syria, Eritrea and other countries into Europe.
  • Libya has extensive oil and gas reserves.

For these reasons, the West has been considering a new military intervention into Libya for several months. The plans are apparently now turning into implementation.

New reports indicate that UK Special Air Service (SAS) troops have already arrived in Libya, laying the groundwork for a large allied troop intervention. The force will include 1,000 British infantrymen, and will involve around 6,000 American and European soldiers and marines – led by Italian forces and supported mainly by Britain and France. Spain and Egypt may also participate.

According to Debka’s subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), US, British and French marines will land on shore for an operation billed as the largest Western allied war landing since the 1952 Korean War. One group will move west to take over Tripoli, to Libya’s central government there. The second group will move east to take control of Benghazi.

The military intervention will have several objectives:

  • Take control of Libya’s oil and gas fields.
  • Deprive ISIS of its ability to attack Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Europe from Libya.
  • Bring the human traffickers of migrants to Europe under control.

According to Debka, in this military campaign, the US will not “lead from behind,” but will be in front, indicating another reversal of President Obama’s Mideast strategy.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is all on the same trend line that we have been describing for years, where the Mideast is headed for a major regional war pitting Israelis versus Arabs, Sunnis versus Shias, and ethnic groups versus each other. In just the last few days, this trend line has advanced significantly, with the split between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There are already proxy wars in progress in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, with participants from Iran, Russia, the US, and several Gulf nations. A new proxy war in Libya will add significantly to the chaos. Daily Mirror (London) and Guardian (London) and Debka

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Libya, Ansar al-Sharia, Muammar Gaddafi, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Libya Dawn, Tripoli, Sirte, Sidra, Tobruk, Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Eritrea, Special Air Service, SAS
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