fter a week of rumblings that the US was preparing to arm and deploy Special Forces to Libya, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said on Thursday that a military deployment to Libya could happen “
Speaking to journalists after returning from a NATO meeting in Brussels, as the Washington Post notes, Dunford outlined a “period of intense dialogue” between the US and Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord, who seek to rid the country of a recent but pronounced ISIS presence.
The terror group ISIS has been gaining ground in Libya even as their so-called caliphate shrinks in Iraq and Syria as a US-led coalition and various regional forces attack the group from every angle.
For ISIS, branching out into Libya provides the group a potential “back-up capital” in case the terrorist group is driven out of its main base in Syria.
“There’s a lot of activity going on underneath the surface,” said Dunford. “We’re just not ready to deploy capabilities yet because there hasn’t been an agreement. And frankly, any day that could happen.”
“There will be a long-term mission in Libya,” said Dunford. In fact, US Special Forces have been on the ground in an advisory role since late last year.
But by backing the fledgling GNA, the US makes a risky political move. Despite being backed by the UN, neither the Libyan House of Representatives nor the General National Congress in Tripoli have fully accepted the GNA.
Additionally, US arms sent to Libya could eventually end up in the hands of the very terrorists they were meant to fight, as has happened in Syria and Iraq.
Currently, the UN has embargoed the shipment of weapons to Libya as they wrestle with an increasingly prominent ISIS presence, but the UN Security council and more than 15 other nations recently said they would approve exemptions to the embargo to back the GNA.
Should, or more likely when the US deploys to Libya, it will likely be Special Forces that advise and assist local forces in reclaiming their country from ISIS, much like the US Special Forces in Iraq and Syria.
But despite their nominal support roles, the recent death of US Navy SEAL, Charlie Keating IV, by ISIS fire in Iraq shows just how quickly the “advising and assisting” can crossover into full on combat.
The US isn’t alone in seeking intervention in Libya. Specifically Italy, just across the Mediterranean, has expressed interest in supporting the GNA against ISIS and other Islamist militias gaining ground in North Africa.
The US-led coalition against ISIS has already carried out airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya.
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