Monday, February 08, 2016


"Can the U.S. prevent an ISIS haven in Libya?" PBS NewsHour 2/2/2016


SUMMARY:  While Iraq and Syria have been the focus of the coalition fighting the Islamic State, Libya has become a new hotspot for the militant group.  Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports on how American officials are responding, and Judy Woodruff learns more from Frederic Wehrey of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  The coalition fighting ISIS can claim some progress in both Iraq and Syria.  But now Libya, just 300 miles from Italy, has become a new magnet for the militant group.

The threat was very much on the minds of Secretary of State John Kerry and officials of 22 other countries in Rome today.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  That country has resources.  The last thing in the world you want is a false caliphate with access to billions of dollars in oil revenue.

MARGARET WARNER:  Yet the conference agreed only to monitor developments.

U.S. military officials say some 3,000 ISIS fighters have carved out territory around the coastal town of Sirte, birthplace of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi.  From there, the group mounts attacks on civilian targets and the country’s oil facilities.  The U.S. has already carried out airstrikes in Libya, killing a top ISIS commander last November, and ramped up reconnaissance missions.

And in Washington today, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called for a 50 percent spending increase on the broader anti-ISIS campaign.

ASHTON CARTER, Defense Secretary:  We must also take into account in our budget that, as destructive power of greater and greater magnitude falls into the hands of smaller and smaller and more aberrant groups of people, countering terrorists will likely be a continuing part of the future responsibilities.

MARGARET WARNER:  Last month, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, said a decision on how to expand the U.S. role in Libya is coming.  The New York Times quoted him as saying: “It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military actions In conjunction with the political process.”

For now, Libya’s political process remains in disarray.  Since NATO airstrikes helped oust Gadhafi in 2011, the country has been torn by violence between warring factions.  In December, the United Nations helped broker a new unity government between the two main rival groups.  But they have refused to carry it out.

No comments: