U.S. Helps ISIS Gain New Stronghold in Libya*
By Stephen Lendman
ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups would be little more than annoyances without foreign backing.
America bears full responsibility for creating these groups, using them as proxy foot soldiers to advance its imperium.
It’s war on terrorism is a hoax. U.S. warplanes serve as ISIS’ air force, bombing government targets in Syria and Iraq, wanting another battlefield in Libya after helping ISIS establish a new stronghold.
Russia’s intervention in Syria foiled U.S. strategy – perhaps to be followed cross-border in Iraq if Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi OKs it as key government officials urge.
ISIS is being significantly weakened in Syria, its forces battered daily by Russian airstrikes and Syrian ground forces, now supplied with advanced T-90 tanks (able to reduce penetration by kinetic energy munitions) and other heavy weapons.
Reports indicate ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi moved from Turkey to Libya, establishing a headquarters in Sirte, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown.
Attempts by Syrian and Iraqi forces to eliminate him failed. Reports indicated he sustained serious injuries. Lebanese Al Manar television said CIA elements coordinated with their Turkish counterparts to transport him to Turkey for treatment.
A Libyan source noted:
“(w)hile everyone is looking for him in Iraq and Syria, no one expects him to be in Sirte. If he is to be exposed to danger, Sirte would be the last place on earth for his life to be endangered as it is the safest Takfiri stronghold in the world” – now ISIS’ new stronghold with designs on Libyan oil.
Reports estimate its forces number around 5,000, actively gaining new recruits, its successes heavily dependent on outside support – from Washington, key NATO allies and regional states.
It’s just a matter of time before their forces seize Libyan oil fields without steps taken to stop them – what perhaps only Russia may be willing to do if invited by Libyan officials, not simple to arrange without clear central authority and heavy pressure from Washington to prevent it.
Sirte is a gateway to several major oil fields and refineries further east. ISIS fighters targeted them before. They’re benefitting from internal turmoil. U.S.-led NATO bombing in 2011 turned Libya into a failed state, a cauldron of endless violence and chaos.
ISIS propaganda maintains “Sirte will be no less than Raqqa,” its shaky self-declared Syrian capital. It wants control of Libyan oil reserves to finance and expand its activities.
Reports indicate its fighters captured the ancient city of Sabratha, 50 miles from Tripoli, Libya’s capital. Its world heritage sites are at risk, including a third century amphitheatre.
On Monday, Sputnik News said national unity governance in Libya may be followed by requesting Russian help to combat ISIS.
“This decision can be made, only when the government of national unity is formed” said Tripoli based official Ali Abu Zaakouk.
“It should take such a decision,” he stressed.
“We are currently striving to create such a government.”
On December 17, rival Tobruk and Tripoli elements agreed to a UN-brokered accord to form unity governance, despite numerous tribal groups left out, an uncertain arrangement at best.
Libyan officials so far reject a U.S.-led bombing campaign and/or ground operation. A previous article discussed a possible imminent campaign involving US, UK and French warplanes – on standby awaiting orders to strike Libyan targets, not ISIS, with no Security Council or Libyan authorization.
Separately last Thursday, the pan-Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported former Gaddafi close aide Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, saying ISIS seized “huge amounts” of deadly sarin in Libya – perhaps intending to use it in populated areas.
Its training pilots on high-tech commercial and combat simulators in Sirte. So far, no evidence indicates they have aircraft at their disposal.
Libya may become the next battleground, pitting US imperial aims against Russia’s war on ISIS and other terrorist groups, as well as foiling America’s dirty regional strategy.