Egypt to Push for Global Intervention in 'Unraveling' Libya

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Egypt to Push for Global Intervention in 'Unraveling' Libya

Call for intervention follows retaliatory airstrikes as war against Islamic State appears to broaden

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gives a speech at the presidential palace in Cairo, in this February 15, 2015 handout picture. (Photo: The Egyptian Presidency/Handout)

The UN Security Council will meet Wednesday to discuss Libya as Egypt announces it sees no other option than launching an international intervention to target Islamic extremists there.

On Monday, Egypt launched airstrikes in Libya in retaliation for the killing of 21 Egyptian Christians kidnapped by a Libyan extremist group.  "The brutal mass murder of Egyptian nationals in Libya was the first large-scale atrocity claimed by Isis outside its familiar heartlands in Syria and Iraq," the Guardian reported.

Though the strikes were reportedly aimed at IS targets, civilians became casualties as well. The Egyptian military said, "The air strikes hit their [ISIL] targets precisely, and the falcons of our air forces returned safely to their bases." However, NBC News reported that "activists and witnesses in Derna told Libyan television that eight strikes had destroyed homes in the Sheeha neighborhood, killing civilians including three children and two women."

Speaking on France’s Europe 1 Radio, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi said, "I think there is no choice" other than having a UN-backed coalition take military action. He said,  "We have abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners of the militias . . . The militias have to give up their arms and must work in a civil context. We have to disarm and prevent arms from falling into the hands of extremists."

For ordinary Libyans, the potential of intervention comes amid years of continuing humanitarian crisis.

As Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept, the 2011 U.S.-led intervention in Libya was widely lauded as a successful model, yet the country "has rapidly unraveled in much the way Iraq did following that invasion."  Other observers also noted the country's instabilty. 

Speaking to Democracy Now!, journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous said that "just overall dysfunction has really become a way of life in Libya. Libyans are forced to bear the burden of the conflict as it tears away the last vestiges of normalcy."

Kouddous added that the instability "has created a void in which groups like the Islamic State group can flourish."

And Jon Lee Anderson writes in the upcoming issue of The New Yorker, "There is no overstating the chaos of post-Qaddafi Libya."

"What has followed the downfall of a tyrant—a downfall encouraged by NATO air strikes—is the tyranny of a dangerous and pervasive instability," Anderson writes.

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