In mid-December, the United Nations brokered a power-sharing agreement between Libya’s rival factions, but there is no chance of implementing this. That means there is no chance that the Libyan government can fight back the advance of ISIS. Things are about to get messy, and U.S. air strikes will put only a small dent in a big problem.
According to U.S. intelligence figures, there are an estimated 6,000 ISIS fighters now in Libya, headquartered in the town of Sirte, as Oilprice.com has reported in the past. From here, they control hundreds of miles of coastline. There is nothing in Sirte they want; this is simply a strategic base.
ISIS fighters have also been tracked down to Benghazi, but here they have not solidified control yet. Still, Benghazi is an important recruitment venue. More specifically, this is where it can combine forces with it radical brethren in the form of Ansar al-Sharia and other radical factions. Benghazi is where ISIS gets bigger. And its pace of recruitment is faster than anything we’ve ever seen before. It absorbs new radical factions wherever it goes. The more successful its attacks and territory grabs, the more successful its recruiting becomes. In Libya, the former prowess of Ansar al-Sharia has quickly waned. ISIS is more brutal, and more decisive. It’s either join or be killed.
ISIS’ ability to launch attacks is not limited to Sirte, which is just the staging ground, or even to Benghazi. It can attack pretty much anywhere using hit-and-runs and suicide bombings.
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