The U.S. Military Has Conducted a Total of 367 Airstrikes in Libya Since August 1 | GEOPOLITICS ALERT

The U.S. Military Has Conducted a Total of 367 Airstrikes in Libya Since August 1

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On 6 November, Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces aligned with the GNA stormed al-Jiza al-Bahriya, the final area held by ISIS in north-east Sirte. Intermittent clashes took place in this area throughout the week. BM forces evacuated more families from the ISIS enclave who had been held as human shields. On 6 November, two young ISIS fighters from Derna were killed during the latest push by GNA forces in Sirte. There were reports that US airstrikes to support the GNA in Sirte ended on 31 October when the current authorisation expired, however US officials have said that authorisation to conduct airstrikes will be renewed.

A declaration of victory by BM forces is expected imminently. The delay in announcing mission accomplished is likely related to the post-Sirte scenario. There are fears that ending the anti-ISIS operation in Sirte would further weaken the GNA, leading to more instability. Furthermore, the Misratan forces currently engaged in the fighting would either need to remain stationed in Sirte or would be re-deployed. This would likely aggravate tensions between Misratans and the LNA.

The U.S. military has conducted a total of 367 airstrikes since August 1, according to the last press release issued by the U.S. Africa Command. According to media reports, no American airstrikes have taken place since 31 October however there are conflicting claims about why this is. Some reports say it is because President Obama has not reauthorized strikes for this month, while others say the Pentagon still has authority to launch airstrikes in support of the GNA if required.

The highly controversial economic meeting held in London on 31 October – 1 November and jointly led by UK and US foreign secretaries, has complicated rather than ameliorated political tensions. It is still unknown if the meeting achieved its objective of facilitating the payment of the budget for Quarter 4 of 2016. The budget payment had not been disbursed due to a rift between the GNA and the current Central Bank of Libya (CBL) governor Sadiq al-Kabir, whose mandate expired more than a month ago. The outcry by anti-GNA factions against the meeting threatens to significantly undermine the stability of Libyan financial institutions. There are hopes of a new meeting taking place between key stakeholders in Malta later this month to discuss a new political solution.

Libya-Analysis is the most read independent English-language blog on Libyan affairs. It is run by Jason Pack, founder of and researcher of World History at Cambridge University