Daniel McAdams / AntiWar.com & Jamie Merrill / Middle East Eye & Hon. Barbara Lee / US House of Representatives – 2016-08-04 12:37:29
US Airstrikes Hit Libya To Bolster UN-Created Government
Daniel McAdams / AntiWar.com
(August 1, 2016) — The Pentagon has announced today that the US has begun conducting military airstrikes against Libya with the stated intent of defeating ISIS in that country. According to the Pentagon spokesman, the Libyan “Government of National Accord” requested that the US begin airstrikes against what they claim is an ISIS stronghold in the Libyan town of Sirte, the birthplace of murdered Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook has indicated that this is the beginning of a more sustained US air campaign against Libya and that each US airstrike is approved by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
1) No ISIS Before 2011 US “Liberation”
It goes without saying that before the US “liberation” of Libya in 2011, there were no ISIS forces in Sirte, or anywhere else in Libya. ISIS in Libya is a problem created by the US intervention in Libya in 2011.
2) Libyan Government Created by UN
The Pentagon cites the “Government of National Accord” as the legitimate Libyan government and its willingness to carry out airstrikes in favor of that government signifies US policy favors consolidation of power in the hands of this one of several factions competing for power in Libya.
It should be noted that the “Government of National Accord” is a governing body that was not selected by the Libyan people, but rather created by the United Nations and sent into Libya on a ship from Tunisia.
At the time this government was imposed on the Libyan people by the UN, that body’s envoy for Libya, Martin Kobler told the Libyan people they should accept this new governing body even though they had not elected it He said:
I call on the Libyan people to extend to the Presidency Council and the Government of National Accord their full support and cooperation. The international community stands firmly behind them and is ready to provide the required support and assistance.
The US-led attack on Libya was supposed to give the Libyan people back their sovereign vote by deposing a leader not sufficiently democratic by US standards.
The US is bombing Libya to consolidate the power of a non-elected government that the US installed because the previous government was not elected.
3) US Claims 2001 Force Authorization as Authority
At the 28:04 minute mark of today’s briefing on the airstrikes, one journalist finally asked the Pentagon spokesman under what legal authority these strikes were being conducted. The Pentagon spokesman replied that they were authorized by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
This Administration claim is an incredible stretch â€“ beyond the breaking point. Libya was not involved in any way with the 9/11 attacks on the US and ISIS did not even exist at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
None of the journalists followed up on the Administration’s claim of authority to attack Libya based on legislation targeting those who attacked the US on 9/11.
4) Millions Spent on Strikes to Hit a Tank
According to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, this US airstrike resulted in the bombing of a tank and a few trucks. The cost of a round of airstrikes on Iraq or Syria is approximately $8.5 million.
5) No Media Interest in ISIS Appearance in Libya
Through the entire 37 minute Pentagon briefing, no one in the press corps asked why ISIS is in Libya where it had not been before the 2011 US attack. No one challenged the Administration narrative.
Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.
US Authorizes 30 Days of Libya
Air Raids as UK Role Questioned
Jamie Merrill / Middle East Eye
(August 4, 2016) — President Barack Obama has authorised a month-long bombing campaign against the Islamic State group in Libya, as questions remain over possible UK and European military involvement in the country.
In fresh air attacks on Tuesday, a US Marine Corps Harrier jet launched from amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, and US drones operating from Jordan, struck at least two Islamic State targets in the coastal city of Sirte, after Obama said he had authorised US forces to carry out a 30-day mission.
The US has stepped up its bombing campaign on Islamic State, with reports that helicopters and fixed-wing jets operating from USS Wasp and unmanned drones have already carried out at least seven air strikes since the campaign began on Monday.
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Obama said: “At the request of [the Libyan] government, after they had already made significant progress against ISIL [IS] and had essentially pushed ISIL into a very confined area in and around Sirte, it is in America’s national security interests in our fight against ISIL to make sure that they’re able to finish the job.”
Obama’s defence of the air strikes, which he said were in America’s national interest, came as attention was shifting to European and UK military involvement in Libya and whether and US allies will join in strikes against Islamic State in the country.
In February, as the US launched an initial strike on Libya by F-15 fighters from a US base in the east of England, the then foreign office minister Tobias Ellwood said the Royal Air Force was flying reconnaissance missions over Libya, but the following month the government denied there were plans for British air attacks on Libya or the deployment of British ground forces.
However, only days later Middle East Eye revealed that troops from the elite SAS regiment had been sent to tackle IS in Libya.
On Wednesday, sources at the Ministry of Defence in London refused to be drawn on “potential UK flights and Libya” when asked to clarify the UK’s position by MEE. This comes after Prime Minister Theresa May promised to work toward preventing Libya “becoming a base for Daesh [IS]”.
She made the comments alongside her Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi in Rome last week. Both Italy and the UK have been working to stabilise Libya, which descended into civil war following the 2011 overthrow of the country’s authoritarian leader Muammar Gaddafi.
On Wednesday, the Italy’s defence minister, Roberta Pinotti, signalled that it was increasingly likely that the country would allow the use of its airspace and a base on Sicily for drone strikes against IS in Libya.
Drones launched from Jordan
US drones are already launching strikes over Libya, but Pentagon officials declined to identify from which states they were being launched. However three military officials told the New York Times that armed MQ-9 Reaper drones were operating from a base in Jordan, more than 1,900 kilometers from Sirte. The Reaper drones is thought to have a range of around 1,600 kilometres and does not have a known capacity for aerial refuelling.
The New York Times reported that the US drone attacks are the first time that the US has flown armed drone missions from Jordan, a staunch ally in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The Pentagon also conducts armed drone flights from the Sicily base, but those aircraft must have Italian permission to operate and are only able to launch strikes in protection of US forces on the ground.
The UK has refused to comment on whether RAF drones are currently operating over Libya, and Prime Minister May is likely to face stiff opposition from Labour over any expansion of the RAF’s bombing campaign against IS.
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Clive Lewis MP, told MEE that Labour would “look at the detail” of any US requests for UK involvement but said that the Libya conflict won’t be “solved by military action alone”.
He said: “We will look at the detail of any request from the Libyan authorities, if and when such a request for military assistance is made.
“Either way, it’s clear that the underlying drivers of conflict in Libya will not be solved by military action alone. After five years of civil war, Libya desperately needs a comprehensive strategy to address the political, economic and social problems that continue to make this conflict seem so intractable.”
“Evidence of a commitment to such a political strategy has so far been lacking in Whitehall, and that needs to change regardless of whether or not military action is being considered.”
In an interview with MEE last month, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for an American-style “war powers act” to give Parliament new powers to block military intervention, in comments many saw as pointed toward covert British operations in Libya.
Asked at the time about MEE reports establishing the presence of British special forces in Libya, the Labour leader said: “Clearly Britain is involved. Either through special forces in Libya or through arms supplies to Saudi Arabia to the war in Yemen. And indeed by the same process to the supply of anti-personnel equipment that is being used in Bahrain by Saudi Arabia. So I think we have to have a War Powers Act that is much more watertight on this.”
Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said on Wednesday that Italy signalled it would most likely allow the use of its airbases and airspace for strikes against Islamic State militants in Libya if the United States asks.
“The government is ready to consider positively a request to use airbases and national airspace, and support the operation, if it is believed that it would lead to a more rapid and effective conclusion of the ongoing action,” Pinotti said in testimony to the lower house of parliament.
Anti-IS Advances in Sirte
Focus on western action in Libya came as pro-government forces used cover from fresh air strikes to advance on Sirte, disable mines and snipers
“Our forces… are trying to strengthen their advance with the support of ongoing American air strikes that have given momentum to the military operation,” said Reda Issa, a spokesman for forces loyal to Libya’s unity government.
The IS bastion, located just across the Mediterranean from Europe, has been shaken by weeks of fierce clashes between militants and fighters allied to Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
GNA forces have been battling to oust militants from the town since 12 May. They entered the city on 9 June and have pushed the militants out of the city’s port, international airport, an air base and a hospital.
But their advance slowed as IS hit back with sniper fire, car bombs and suicide attacks. “There are targets that are hard to hit because they are among the houses,” added Issa. “American air strikes, which are very accurate, will help to destroy those targets.”
He added: “But there is no doubt that the presence of effective and accurate weapons will accelerate the end of the battle.”
Statement on US Airstrikes in Libya
Hon. Barbara Lee / US House of Representatives
(August 01, 2016) — I am deeply concerned about the expansion of US airstrikes in Libya. The US military continues to become more engaged in the Middle East, despite the lack of a Congressional debate or specific authorization.
As our brave servicemen and women become increasingly involved in this war, Speaker Ryan and Congressional Republicans closed the House for a historically long summer recess. Instead of shutting down the House, Congress should be debating this nearly two-year war.
The American people and our brave men and women in uniform deserve a public debate on this war, including the costs and consequences to our national security and domestic priorities. They deserve a Congress with the courage to debate the war that we are asking them to fight.
I have called for and will continue to use every available legislative lever to force a full congressional debate and vote on any military action, as required by the Constitution. We must stop relying on an outdated and overly broad authorization that was passed nearly 15 years ago.
Our military experts are clear: there is no military solution to this crisis. Only a comprehensive, regionally-led strategy that addresses the underlying political, economic, humanitarian and diplomatic challenges will be effective in ultimately degrading and dismantling ISIL.”
Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Democrat Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity.
ACTION ALERT: Add Your Name to Oppose Expanded Airstrikes in Libya
Hon. Barbara Lee / House of Representatives
(August 4, 2016) — When we send our dedicated servicemen and women into war zones, it should be after careful consideration and rigorous discussion. They deserve a Congress with the courage to debate the war that we are asking them to fight.
That’s why it is both concerning and disappointing that the US has decided to expand airstrikes in Libya. Even though it is the job of Congress to debate war, the Pentagon is using a 15-year-old war authorization to maintain US military presence in the Middle East.
ACTION: Add your name if you agree: expanding airstrikes in Libya is not a solution. If we want to dismantle ISIS, we must address the underlying political, economic, humanitarian and diplomatic challenges that contributed to the rise of terrorism.
US military efforts in the Middle East have created the longest war in our nation’s history, and the stability of Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries has not improved as a result.
It is the constitutional responsibility of Congress to vote on US military action and to take part in open dialogue about its costs and consequences. We must not lose sight of the gravity of war including the human sacrifice, suffering and strife that come with it.
Our prolonged presence in the Middle East has cost thousands of lives of our brave servicemen and women, as well as trillions of dollars in government funds. Yet conflict still remains. It is time we employ a region-wide strategy that gets at the root of the problem rather than using military force in an attempt to overcome the unrest.
Increasing airstrikes will create more tension in the region and does not serve as a long-term solution for defeating ISIS. As a world leader, the US should instead work to bring peace and security to countries in conflict.
ACTION: The US military should not continue to become more engaged in the Middle East. Add your name if you agree that we should scale back, not expand, US airstrikes in Libya.
Thank you for standing with me on this important issue.
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