News Release

U.S. Bombing Libya: “Operation Deja Vu”?

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 11.27.18 AMReuters reports: “U.S. strikes Islamic State in Libya, killing 40 people.”

VIJAY PRASHAD, Vijay.Prashad at trincoll.edu, @vijayprashad
Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Connecticut. His books include Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (2012). He said today: “The U.S. Air Force should have named this current bombing run in Libya ‘Operation Deja Vu.’ It is the third such strike at ISIS. What is not clear is the strategy being followed by the U.S. Occasional bombing runs have not stopped ISIS from fully taking Sirte and now expanding along the edge of the Gulf of Sidra.”

Prashad recently wrote the piece “Descent into Chaos: ISIS in Libya,” which states: “In Iraq and Syria, the I.S. has been hit hard by air strikes and — at least in Iraq — by the weight of the Iraqi army and its allied militias. But in Libya, the I.S. [the so-called Islamic State] feels relatively unthreatened. The various political factions are so divided, despite a United Nations push for unity, that they are most often at each other’s throats instead of being bothered about the I.S.

“Jets from the United States have bombed Libya periodically to attempt to kill Al Qaeda and I.S. leaders. These strikes are illegal — they have not come with permission from any standing government. They have also been ineffective. The Italians and the British are eager to send in troops to Libya to battle the I.S. For that they require the creation of a government. That has been the U.N.’s task. It is unfinished.

“Since 2011, good news out of Libya has been rare. Chaos has been the order of the day. Right after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombing ended, the various militias on the ground that fought against the government of Qaddafi began to battle each other. Tensions remained high. Sections of those rebels who had Islamist backgrounds — many with roots in Al Qaeda — seized parts of the east to their advantage. Assassinations of human rights activists, journalists and liberal politicians became common. Fear stalked the country as gunfire became a familiar sound across the landscape. Oil production dropped and refugees rushed off towards the Italian island of Lampedusa for shelter. …

“The black flags of the I.S. flutter on territory bombed not so long ago by NATO’s jets. Libya has not recovered from that ‘humanitarian intervention.’ The UN’s new envoy, Martin Kobler, and the presidential council of the new Government of National Accord called for unity against the I.S. This is in the realm of rhetoric. Forty-eight billion barrels of oil are at stake. So is the future of Libya.”