Wednesday, 23 March 2016

My LT column: Libya is fast becoming a new haven for Da'esh.

Things are getting serious in Libya. Very serious. Potentially far more serious than Syria and Iraq where territory controlled by Da'esh is largely an empty dry dusty space hemmed in on four sides with a fraction of the oil.

Da'esh, helped by the huge revenue raising largely from oil in occupied Syria and Iraq are able to multiply and fund an army in Afghanistan and crucially North Africa.

Why is his disastrous? Because North Africa has far greater wealth, notably oil wealth with larger populations to radicalise.

Da'esh now freely control some 200km of Libyan coast around the city of Sirte which they also control. The jihadis’ growth has been faster than many predicted. Da'esh have most of the weaponry possessed by the Libyan army — and better.

Da'esh's immediate aim is to undermine any prospect of a functioning unity government in Libya, destabilise neighbours and spread its poison ideology across North Africa.

What's not helping is a failed peace deal between the two rival centres of power with Islamists refusing to do a deal with moderates and in the process allowing Da'esh free reign.

Mali, Central African Republic and Niger are already in trouble propped up by foreign intervention including African Union.

Tunisia has a huge problems with extremism.

Algeria like so many oil producing Middle eastern countries are suffering huge deficits and economic woe because of the collapsing price of oil. The president has serious ill health and with a bulging young population with no hope of employment the fear is that Da'esh expansion in Libya could start a fire across North Africa. That could push the world towards a full scale international war on Europe's borders.

Da'esh brutal, recidivist narrative seems to be proving just as potent a rallying cry in Libya with over 6,500 well funded fighters alongside sympathetic militia. The televised beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a beach near Sirte in February 2015 a statement of identity and purpose.

Intelligence from former fighters indicates the success of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq has encouraged Da'esh to begin to move their headquarters to the more fertile pastures of Libya.

It is Da'esh wish to keep the Libyan Islamist partial government away from talks and a deal with the other half, the moderates. A disunited Libya makes Western intervention much more difficult and suits Da'esh expansionism.

Of course all of this is Hollande and Cameron's fault as Obama stated. It was right to stop Gaddafi's murderous assault on Benghazi but to then walk away from Libya has left the usual western post conflict vacuum.

As it stands now the west led by Italy recognise that Europe cannot leave North Africa to Da'esh. As an MP I know tough decisions are approaching.

Daesh | The Libya Observer