Recent reports claim that Islamic State camps have been set up in Libya, the North African country in chaos after the U.S./NATO-led bombing and ground war in 2011 ousted the Gadhafi government and destroyed Africa’s most prosperous and stable state.
At present there are two identifiable centers of neocolonial power in Libya: the Islamic-oriented government based in Tripoli; and a more secular regime headed by Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani, which has been driven out of the capital and is meeting in a hotel in the eastern city of Tobruk. The ongoing divisions and internecine conflict have reduced Libya’s production and export of oil, the country’s largest foreign exchange earner.
In a recent statement by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Gen. David Rodriguez, the Islamic State has established training camps that house approximately 200 fighters. He indicated that at present the alleged bases have not engaged in military operations.
“It’s mainly about people coming for training and logistics support right now,” Gen. Rodriguez emphasized. “As far as a huge command and control network, we have not seen that yet.” (Reuters, Dec. 3)
Over the last six years, the presence of U.S. military and intelligence personnel has substantially increased. The military destruction of Libya was the first full-scale offensive operation on the continent coordinated by AFRICOM, which was conducted under the administration of President Barack Obama.
That a top Pentagon general mentioned the role of the Islamic State could signal the White House’s renewed aggressive military posture toward developments in Libya. After his re-election for a second term two years ago, Obama announced that the Pentagon would deploy 3,500 additional troops in 35 African states.
Another report published by Australian.com on Dec. 6 said, “The U.S. is plotting to expand its military campaign to Libya after fighters loyal to Islamic State were seen training in the east of the country. A U.S. commander has acknowledged that discussions are under way in Washington about broadening the anti-Islamic State campaign to Libya.”
This same article continued, saying when Gen. Rodriguez was “asked whether consideration was being given to targeting the militants there, he replied ‘That policy discussion is ongoing and we’ll see how that goes.’”
Islamic State used to escalate imperialist war
The United States, its NATO allies and their surrogates in the Persian Gulf have escalated tensions in Syria and Iraq through bomb attacks against the Islamic State. Even though the U.S., Britain, France, Turkey and other imperialist client regimes have been supporting armed opposition groups in efforts to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, these anti-Assad organizations have remained divided and incapable of achieving their strategic objectives in Syria and Lebanon.
Earlier in 2014, the Islamic State seized large swaths of territory in northern Iraq, taking control of some oil fields and other key assets of the Iraqi government, which was largely a U.S. creation. The resumption of Pentagon/NATO air strikes against alleged Islamic State bases in Iraq and the Pentagon operations against purported bases in Syria on the border with Turkey have created hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons.These IDPs have sought assistance from the United Nations and other relief agencies.
Libya is facing its worst crisis since it gained independence from French and British administration in 1951 (Italian colonial rule ended with Italy’s defeat in World War II). Since the overthrow of the Jamahiriya government under Col. Muammar Gadhafi in 2011, the country has been a major source of IDPs and refugee problems in the region. Such an atmosphere impedes economic development and social reconstruction.
Aerial bombardments by U.S.-allied regimes in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, supplemented by Washington’s local surrogates, will not serve to stabilize Libya and the region of North Africa. If the U.S. administration decides to resume air strikes inside the country, anti-Washington sentiment will accelerate among the population.
A Dec. 5 bombing on the border with Tunisia, allegedly coordinated by longtime CIA operative and renegade general under Gadhafi, Khalifa Heftar, prompted the closure of the border between the two neighbors.
The actual history of imperialist intervention in Libya since 2011 has brought only disaster to the country and other people throughout the region. Any solution to the crisis in Libya and the North Africa region must be found within these states, without Western imperialist interference, which is at the root of the current crisis of underdevelopment and destabilization.