The world watched at ISIS swept across Syria and Iraq to commit genocides and atrocities, threatening neighboring states and nearly overrunning Baghdad. Now Egypt’s military strongman warns that the same thing is about to take place in Libya, unless Sunni Arab nations form a coalition to defeat them soon. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced strikes on thirteen ISIS positions in neighboring eastern Libya yesterday, emphasizing that these were not civilian targets but known locations of ISIS operations:
Air strikes along will not suffice, Sisi warned other Arab nations:
“The need for a unified Arab force is growing and becoming more pressing every day,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in a televised speech Sunday.
El-Sisi said Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have offered military help as Egypt amplifies its battle against ISIS in neighboring Libya.
CNN military analyst Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks said “it’s about time” an Arab leader like el-Sisi made such a statement. “Strategically and politically for the region, this is a big deal, and it’s absolutely the right first step,” the retired U.S. Army officer said.
El-Sisi’s statement came after U.S. President Barack Obama called for other countries last week to step up their efforts in the fight against ISIS.
Sisi has called for a lot more than just military action against ISIS. In January, he confronted Muslim clerics about their teachings, and challenged them to modernize and reform Islam to live in the modern political world. “You must step outside yourselves and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective,” Sisi warned them about their literal adherence to Islamic texts, as the Muslim world “is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”
Granted, Sisi has a personal stake in an Islamic Enlightenment, because the Muslim Brotherhood has a target painted on his back. That kind of “revolution” would marginalize and eventually break them, but the alternative is ever-growing interventions from the West to tamp down the threats that radical Islam generates — and often delivers.
Libya makes Western intervention even more likely, thanks to the collapse of the state and its proximity to Europe. NBC News delivered a devastating broadside against the Obama administration for its war on Moammar Qaddafi, complete with Hillary Clinton chortling, “We came, we saw, he died!” It’s a play on Julius Caesar’s Veni, vidi, vici — which means “I came, I saw, I conquered,” except that the problem is that the US and NATO didn’t conquer and control the ground after the fall of Qaddafi. Richard Engel reports from Istanbul about the Obama administration’s reliance on “Mad Max” militias in the aftermath of the decapitation of the Qaddafi regime, and the inevitable outcome of a failed state, as part of Barack Obama’s strategic incoherence in the region:
Sisi is correct. Libya is the biggest threat to Egypt as well as Europe. So far, though, the West seems to be asleep at the Libya desk, and the other Arab nations might have their hands full with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, where they present the greater danger to their own national security.