What is happening in Libya?

Egypt’s President calls for an UN backed coalition on Libya (Huffington Post) to hit ISIS targets there. The UN Security Council will meet tomorrow to decide the global strategy.

But what is really happening there?


Area: 1,759,540 sq km (Costline: 1,770 km) – Libyan coast is 350 km far from the Italian coast

Population: 6,244,174

Religions: Muslim (official; virtually all Sunni) 96.6%, Christian 2.7%, Buddhist 0.3%, Hindu <.1, Jewish <.1, folk religion <.1, unafilliated 0.2%, other <.1

Political situation:

Unrest that began in several Middle Eastern and North African countries in late 2010 erupted in Libyan cities in early 2011. QADHAFI’s brutal crackdown on protesters spawned a civil war that triggered UN authorization of air and naval intervention by the international community. After months of seesaw fighting between government and opposition forces, the QADHAFI regime was toppled in mid-2011 and replaced by a transitional government. Libya in 2012 formed a new parliament and elected a new prime minister. (CIA – The World Fact book)

Effectively, the country is divided in two:

  • On one side there is the “legitimate” government in Tobruk led by Abdullah al-Thinni, officially recognized by the International community and self proclaimed anti-islamists;
  • On the other side there are different militias which control Misurata and Tripoli. These militias, that like to refer to some of the Islamic fundamentalism positions, are fighting against Tobruk government to restore the ‘real values’ of the 2011 revolution and against each other for internal political differences as well;

Is ISIS present in Libya?

Not really. Despite what ISIS spokespersons are saying, ISIS is not conquering Libya. The militias, fighting against the “legitimate” government in Tobruk, are using the ISIS brand for their own propaganda targets in order to be more visible and to attract new recruits. These militias are very well equipped but they are also fighting against each other.

What do we need to attack these militias?

If the Western countries will decide to attack these militias they have to consider some important points:

  • We need to deploy a huge number of soldiers, tanks and armored vehicles;
  • On the naval side, it is important to track and monitor the maritime traffic around the coast of Libya, in order to stop or contain the flow of immigrants. It is no secret that among many of the refugees there are ISIS sympathizers, criminals and potential terrorists;
  • The air capability of the possible future coalition should  be able to rely on a comprehensive ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) assets to track the battle field due to its geographical characteristics. Military operations in a mainly desert environment are a tough challenge even for modern armed forces.

Will UN accept this scenario? Do we have enough assets to do that? How UN will justify a ‘peacekeeping’ mission where there is no ‘peace’ at all?

We also need to consider the moral effect and the concrete impact a war will provoke. This would be the best excuse for al-Baghdadi to call for a new recruitment of new jihadists (inside and outside the European borders – foreign fighters) against the new crusade led by the Western countries, as Lucio Caracciolo – professor of Strategic Studies at LUISS University in Rome, said. (Limes)

Are there any other possible or complementary solutions?

Along with a naval block outside of the Libyan cost to stop the flow of migrants, the Western countries should restrict the three main revenue sources for the groups supporting the militias: oil, the sale of antiquities and ransom from kidnappings.