Operation OK Let's Go Back There And Maybe Clean Up Some Spots We Missed, But You Know We're Just Gonna End Up Making A Mess Again is a go. Too bad; we could probably have used that name next week, when the Libyan Republic of Jihad makes ISIS look like JROTC.
After three years of chaos since Moammar Gadhafi's fall, Libya is further crumbling into a failed state after Islamist-allied militias took over the capital Tripoli and other cities and set up their own government, driving out a parliament that was elected over the summer.
The militia takeover last month has raised alarm in the West. Among the militias are Islamic extremists, including Ansar al-Shariah, which now rules the country's second largest city, Benghazi. The group is blamed for the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in a 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in the city. France's defense minister in an interview published Tuesday warned that Libya is a "hub for terrorists" and called for international action, even talking of moving French troops to the borders.
It's unclear just how much of the ongoing mess will be controlled by the worst Islamist elements; much of their support comes not from hardcore lunatics from secular or regional political factions who were simply wary of the elected government and foreign influence.
But Libyan extremists and weaponry have already been funneled to support ISIS, thanks in part to a historical jihadist affinity between Libya and the wider Mideast, as well as porous borders. Analysts fear that if civil war and lawlessness persist in Libya for long, many ISIS fighters could return to the country for a proper Sharia hoedown. And U.S. success in smashing ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria could accelerate the exodus.
Until then? "Libya has entered the condition of a failed state," a Libyan analyst—hunkered down in Tunisia—told the AP. "We are very similar to Lebanon in the 1980s or Somalia. We are at the doorstep of a civil war."
[Photo credit: AP Images]