Libya’s ‘official’ regime calls for air-strikes on ISIS

Libya's internationally-recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Aug. 19 called for international air-strikes against ISIS and other jihadist factions that have seized territory in the country. Al-Thinni said he wants his own ground forces to direct strikes "from an Arab coalition—either nations on their own or in clusters—to eliminate these groups." He also reiterated his call for the UN arms embargo on Libya, in place since the 2011 revolution, to be lifted. Libya is now split between al-Thinni's government in the east and a rival Islamist-led government that controls the capital, Tripoli. (AP, Aug. 20)

In Tripoli, the leader of the the unrecognized General National Congress government charged that Gen. Khalifa Hafter, who has been waging an aggressive campaign against the jihadists in collaboration with al-Thinni's government, is actually in league with ISIS. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, GNC president Abu Sahmain wrote: "There are many indications to show that there is coordination between the terrorists in Sirte and Derna and Haftar's forces." He charged that ISIS and Hafter are "getting support from the remnants of old regime currently based Egypt." He warned against any foreign intervention "in Libyan internal issues, violation of Libya's sovereignty and any attempt to combat terrorism inside Libya without consultation with and agreement from the legitimate authority represented by the GNC and the National Salvation Government." (Libya Herald, Aug. 18)

Libya has in recent months been subject to air-strikes both by the US and by Egypt. The ISIS strongholds of Sirte and Derna are both in the half of Libya generally controlled by the GNC government and its Libya Dawn militia alliance. Sirte is in the Tripoli-controlled west of the country, while Derna is a pocket in the east now contested by Libya Dawn and ISIS forces.