Egypt has bombed terrorist training camps in eastern Libya in retribution for the terrorist massacre on Christian pilgrims travelling to the Anba Samuel near the city of Minya.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that the terrorists who committed the atrocity were trained in Libya.
President Sisi vowed, “Egypt will not hesitate in striking any camps that harbour or train terrorist elements whether inside Egypt or outside Egypt”.
In many ways, the Egyptian attack on Libya is more to boost Egyptian morale than for anything else. It is highly likely that Egyptian jets did hit a terrorist training camp and this could only be a good thing, but the more worrying fact is that in Libya, it is difficult not to hit a terrorist training camp of one sort or another.
The entire country has been turned into a series of terrorist training camps and outposts. Libya is a totally failed state and solutions to reuniting the country peacefully are few and far between.
That being said, Egypt has always held the key for Libya’s salvation, ever since Libya became a failed state in the aftermath of the Hillary Clinton authored NATO war on a country which at the time of the attack was a prosperous united state led by a government that had cooperated with Bush’s America and Blair’s Britain against terrorism.
Libya is now controlled by dozens of factions, including ISIS and al-Qaeda. Because of the effectively stateless disunity of Libya, many terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq run to Libya when facing defeat on the battle field on this countries.
Of Libya’s many factions, there are two parties vying for the role of legitimate government. There is the western backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli and the Libyan House of Representatives in Tobruk. Increasingly, the Tobruk government is appearing to be the more responsible of the two. The leader of it’s military wing, the Libyan National Army is Khalifa Haftar, one of the only figures in today’s Libya with any experience in regular combat. Haftar, whose faction controls Libya’s air force, helped coordinate the Egyptian bombing campaign and supports Egypt’s stance.
An additional power vying for control of Tripoli, the so-called National Salvation Government is also vying for power in Tripoli.
He was a long time officer in Gaddafi’s Libya before falling out with Libya’s revolutionary leader and relocating to the United States where he later became an American citizen.
A Libyan National Army base was recently attacked by jihadists who proclaimed loyalty to the Tripoli government. The slaughter took the lives of over 141 people, including many civilians working on the base. The ambush style attack saw many individuals rounded up an executed.
This was in many ways the firing salvo in a total civil war. It is unclear if the recent Egyptian bombings of Libyan targets included those responsible for the attack on the Libyan National Army base which was not far from the Egyptian border.
Both Egypt and Russia support the Tobruk government, a government which in light of recent events seems like the only even somewhat legitimate option for Libya.
As the most populous Arab state and one with good relations with both the United States and Russia, Egypt is in a unique position to attempt to bring some sort of legitimacy, pace and stability into Libya.
However, it would require a great deal of time and resources, especially considering the internal problems Egypt is facing, not least a large ISIS insurgency on the Sinai peninsula as well as the continued presence of Muslim Brotherhood allied terrorist groups.
If Egypt was to ‘go in’ to Libya, it would essentially mean that Egypt would be fighting a war against terrorism on both sides of its territory. Thus far, President Sisi has not committed to such an endeavour.
The situation in Libya looks increasingly hopeless, like a kind of Somalia on the Mediterranean in many ways. If Egypt could rally its international partners including Russia and the US to agree on some sort of plan, the world might someday thank Egypt for such a more.
As it stands, Egypt is trying to save itself from the terrorist insurgency problem which got a great deal worse after the US decided to eventually back to forces which overthrew Egypt’s legitimate government in 2011. This led to just over a year of rule by the extremist pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. Since the restoration of secular rule, President Sisi has faced many an uphill battle.