By: Muhannad Abeid
The head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, has been impatiently awaiting the victory of Misrata forces against the Islamic State (IS) militias in the city of Sirte. Reclaiming the city and ending the IS situation would prove to be a major turning point in Al-Sarraj’s political career. He will gain more support from the international community, grow more popular among Libyans, as well as embarrassing the House of Representatives (HoR) for not ratifying his government and will most certainly weaken the resolve of the retired General Khalifa Haftar.
Depending on the result of the Battle of Sirte, Al-Sarraj will hit multiple birds with one stone and leave his doubters in a terrible situation. The city appears to be the key to many of Libya’s issues; Misrata forces seem to have the upper hand on the ground. Still, the city remains an IS fortress and a significant threat to deal with.
With all the bloodshed, Misrata have been able to surprise the world, which begs the question, how powerful is the IS in Sirte and Libya? Has “Libyan IS” been giving more attention than it deserves by the media? Was their military power overestimated?
The chaos in Libya is a result of the West, especially the UK and France, cutting ties with the country upon the removal of Gaddafi and his position being fought after by militias funded by Gulf countries. The US is dissatisfied with its European allies for how they handled Libya, especially after convincing Obama that removing Gaddafi was necessary, they were the ones who took responsibility for the situation in Libya post-Gaddafi; however, the UK and France quickly turned their backs on Libya.
Restoring order in Libya prevents chaos from spreading down to Africa. Danger looms upon the European coastline, thousands of African immigrants travel daily from Libya to Europe, some of which are extremists looking for revenge against “crusaders”.
Europe’s pressured interest in Libya has triggered media outlets into putting the IS at the forefront of its agenda. Politicians and delegates representing the UN have been sent to Libya to supervise a political agreement known as “Al-Skhirat,” a combination of the Presidential Council and the government led by Fayez Al-Sarraj.
The world is behind the GNA, and it is perceived as the “savior” of Libya. Haftar and the majority of the East are against this GNA, however, he is not the primary focus of the West at the moment, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) are the cornerstone of this political play, the MB alongside moderate Islamic groups are essential in defeating extremists’ militias.
Europe and the US realize that the MB are the strongest politically in Libya, and militarily, they understand extremists more than any other party having dealt with them for so long. Therefore, the MB must have utilized in the fight against terrorism. The MB were hesitant at first but have had a change in mind after pressures and threats from the US, and advice from neighboring countries such as Tunisia, making them an ally to the GNA.
Defeating the IS in Sirte is the real test for both Al-Sarraj and the West. Al-Sarraj does not have a militia which he can rely on, even till now he is struggling to form his presidential task force, he only has Misrata, the relies on them militarily, and they need him as a political cover. Sources confirm for Al-Akbar Website that the UK is involved in Misrata, whether through airstrikes or troops on the ground. The West is back in Libya after being the reason behind Libya’s downfall in the first place and created militias and extremists, however, they now ‘come in peace’ hoping for a more stable and secure Libya, supporting all efforts to defeat extremism.
The chapter of Rebuilding Libya is underway; nevertheless, there are still political and tribal hurdles that await the West in their Libyan quest, and after overcoming the IS in Sirte, the situation will inevitably change.
Translated By LIBYAPROSPECT: Source