First it was Jordan, and now Egypt and Libya. Following yesterday’s breaking news about the beheadings on the beach in Libya, Egypt moved forward in less than a day to launch airstrikes on ISIS targets.
Egypt hit back Monday with airstrikes aimed at ISIS-affiliated jihadists in Libya who are believed to have beheaded more than a dozen Egyptian Coptic Christians.
Egyptian F-16 jets took off in the early hours of Monday to bomb ISIS camps, training areas and weapons depots in Libya, the Egyptian military said.
“Avenging Egyptian blood and punishing criminals and murderers is our right and duty,” it said in a statement broadcast on state television.
It wasn’t immediately clear where in Libya the airstrikes hit or how much damage and casualties they might have caused.
And since the horror took place on their turf, Libya got in on the action as well.
Libya’s air force meanwhile announced it had launched strikes in the eastern city of Darna, which was taken over by an Isis affiliate last year. The announcement, on the Facebook page of the air force chief of staff, did not provide further details.
The video, released on Sunday evening, claimed to show the mass beheading of 21 Christians – believed to be mostly Egyptians – kidnapped in Libya.
As far as Egypt goes, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi had promised yesterday that he was going to be taking action and obviously he got started immediately. But while we can certainly commend his forceful response, as spotters have already pointed out, it’s hard to say exactly how much damage they inflicted on ISIS forces. It remains to be seen if this was a significant blow against the terrorists or more of a public relations show for his own citizens who are no doubt spoiling for revenge.
Let’s take a quick look at the relative positions of these three nations – Libya, Egypt and Jordan – in relation to the ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
All you’re really missing here is Saudi Arabia and Turkey taking a strong, military stance and you’d have ISIS surrounded except for their “border” with Iran to the east. But there is still one key element lacking, and that is an army of ground troops willing to march on them and bring the battle to their own encampments. To date, there has been very little activity on that front except in localized hot spots where groups like the Peshmerga are fighting.
Pretty much everyone except for Barack Obama seems to understand that air power, while a key component of an effective military strategy, is not going to destroy ISIS by itself. Somebody is going to have to show up in large numbers and fight them. But the Egyptians, the Libyans and Jordan are thus far following the lead of the United States and fighting from the air. I don’t expect that to change without the United States taking the lead. No, I’m not happy about that, but it just seems to be the way of the world.
This is not the junior varsity team. They came to play for keeps and we still don’t have a strategy for victory.