ISIS IN ACTION
On 23 August, Islamic State (ISIS) fighters attacked the Libyan National Army (LNA)-controlled al-Fugaha checkpoint in Jufra around 400km south of Sirte. LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said that eleven people were beheaded – two civilians and nine LNA fighters, including the commander of the battalion. On 24 August, the ISIS Amaq news agency released a statement claiming responsibility for the incident and announcing that 21 members of “Haftar’s militias” had been killed or injured. The same day two more LNA fighters were abducted north of Jufra.
This marks the second officially claimed ISIS attack since the GNA-aligned al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces defeated ISIS in Sirte in December 2016. The first attack was on 7 May when ISIS cells attacked and killed members of a Misratan Third Force convoy.
On 27 August, Amaq released its first video in almost half a year which showed several ISIS fighters guarding a checkpoint on the road between Jufra and Abu Grein, south of Sirte. The video also showed two men who were abducted on 24 August. They were identified as al-Sghaier Mohammed al-Majry, the deputy head of the High Commission for Elections, and LNA-affiliated fighter Mohammed Abu Bakr Mohammed, a member of the Asad al-Sahraa battalion which is part of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) unit in the Awbari region.
After this latest attack, the LNA said it was deploying additional reinforcements from the 210 infantry brigade to the region south of Sirte to secure oil ports and installations while the al-Bunyan al-Marsus operations room announced it was sending Misratan reinforcements.
On 24 August, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Benghazi, in the first high-profile visit by a British Minister to the city in years. Johnson’s Benghazi trip was part of a two-day visit to Libya during which he also met Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli and travelled to Misrata. This is his second trip to Libya in the last four months. During his visit to Benghazi, the FM met with Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander General Khalifa Haftar—the first major British move recognizing Haftar as a political actor.
The BBC reported that Johnson said of the two’s meeting, “I urged him to adhere to the commitments he made during recent meetings in Paris, to respect a ceasefire, and to work with Mr Salame in order to amend the Libyan Political Agreement. I have encouraged all sides to resolve their differences by dialogue, not conflict, and to respect international human rights law.” He also warned Libya against holding elections before the country is ready.
It was also announced that UN envoy Ghassan Salame will formally unveil a new roadmap for Libya on 20 September, after holding special UN Security Council session on Libya.
On 28 August, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting in Paris between the political leaders of Germany, Italy, Spain, Chad, Niger and Libya, and Serraj. The meeting focused on the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. President of the European parliament, Antonio Tajani, made the unpopular suggestion that the EU should be prepared to pay €6 billion to Libya to stop the flow of migrants. Following the meeting, the European leaders released a statement which prioritizes equipping and training the Libyan Coast Guard, but does not belie the importance of “protecting human rights.”
This article was republished with explicit permission from the author.