Five years after the United States led the military campaign in Libya that deposed long-time dictator Muammar Qadhafi and supposedly liberated the North African nation, war drums are beating again.
This time, the Islamic State is the new Qadhafi—but it’s much worse by comparison.
Top national security officials are pressing U.S. President Barack Obama to open another front against the macabre terrorists in Libya, where many Islamic State top commanders and operatives are seeking refuge from the ongoing air strikes in Iraq and Syria. Islamic State leaders are also redirecting most of the flow of incoming recruits to Libya instead of Iraq and Syria.
U.S. intelligence estimated last week that there could be as many as 6,000 Islamic State fighters in Libya—more than double what the experts had previously estimated.
The Obama administration is reluctant to engage militarily in yet another war in yet another Muslim Middle Eastern country where things have gone wrong before. But the case for intervening “has been laid out by virtually every department,” and “the White House just has to decide,” an anonymous senior State Department official told the New York Times.
Secretary of State John Kerry warned last week, “The last thing in the world you want is a false caliphate with access to billions of dollars of oil revenue.” He was speaking in Rome at a conference of 23 nations that met to discuss the growing threat of the Islamic State in Libya.
The Islamic State has revolutionized non-state jihadism by attaining state-like wealth and power—Iraq (especially Mosul) and Syria (especially Raqqa) being the most notable examples. It has both the experience and the audacity to carve out a self-sustaining sanctuary for itself in lawless, yet oil-rich, Libya.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned about the inevitable devolution of governance in Libya even before Qadhafi was killed during nato’s Operation Unified Protector five years ago. He wrote in October 2011 that “the government that replaces Qadhafi will be a thousand times worse.”
Since Qadhafi’s death in 2011, Libya has had eight different prime ministers. Today, there’s practically no functioning government running the nation. On paper, there are two governments: an internationally recognized one in Tobruk and an illegitimate one in the capital Tripoli. That state of affairs is in many ways much worse than Syria, where President Bashar Assad still receives international recognition and support from nations like Russia and Iran.
Also making things worse in Libya than in Syria is that the Islamic State can tap into a much greater supply of oil—20 times greater! Already, the terrorists have seized vast oil fields in Libya.
The most significant concern regarding the Islamic State’s growing influence in Libya is its proximity to Europe. Reconnaissance drones and satellites have shown militant fortifications in the Islamic State’s stronghold in Sirte, along the Mediterranean coastline. This location not only makes a valuable sanctuary for the jihadists, it provides a potent launching pad for terrorist attacks in North Africa and Europe.
On several occasions, the Islamic State has singled out Rome as a primary target for conquest. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared in June 2014: “If you [Muslims] hold to it, you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills.” Islamic State militants see Libya as the gateway to Europe, at just 400 miles away.
In response, European leaders proposed an Italian-led European force of about 6,000 troops to stabilize Libya. But “time is running out to stabilize war-torn Libya,” Al Jazeera paraphrased Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni saying. Some leaders would rather delay intervention until a unity government is formed in Libya. But establishing a coherent government, if it actually happens, will take time—time which the Islamic State will gladly use to consolidate its gains in Libya.
German diplomat and the United Nation’s special representative to Libya, Martin Kobler, told Spiegel Online that the Islamic State in Libya can be defeated, “but there isn’t much time left.”
Germany was not involved in nato’s assault in 2011. Many Germans both then and now believe nato should not have intervened in Libya. Regardless, Kobler believes something has to be done:
“We simply can’t give up on Libya. There are 6 million people living there, and we need to help them. Of course, the presence of [the Islamic State] there is also a threat to Europe. …
“I think it was a mistake to have left Libya alone after 2011. We got ahead of ourselves. And that is precisely why it is so important now that we not abandon the country again.”
While the Obama administration might intervene militarily in Libya in some capacity, it doesn’t appear as urgent as some of the top national security officials even in the United States. And it certainly doesn’t appear as urgent as the leading officials in Europe.
Don’t expect Europe to give up on Libya. It is increasingly wary of radical Islam. It is facing a growing threat of terrorism.
However Europe responds to the Islamic State threat today, the Bible indicates that the ultimate military intervention in Libya will be part of a “whirlwind” attack by Europe on Islamist nations in the Middle East and North Africa (Daniel 11:40-43). Specifically, it will be an attack on Iran and Iranian-allied or -affiliated nations. The chaos in Libya today makes it vulnerable to outside powers, particularly those with vested Islamist aspirations in the region, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In his October 2011 article, Mr. Flurry wrote about Iran’s shady involvement in Libya’s problems: “Now America and the West have paved the way for another Iranian victory in Libya. We are rejoicing about the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi, while we should be mourning. Libyan chaos is now the ideal setting for Iran to bring that nation into its deadly terrorist web. The government that replaces Qadhafi will be a thousand times worse.”
The good news about Europe’s prophesied “whirlwind” intervention in Libya is that it will be the last invasion Libya will ever face. Our free booklet The King of the South explains this in great detail.