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US Could Finalize New Military and Diplomatic Policy for Libya in Coming Weeks

ISIS IN ACTION

Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces, who nominally support the Government of National Accord (GNA), announced last week that they had skirmished with three units affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Qasr Abu Hadi, south of Sirte, while they were on an anti-ISIS reconnaissance mission in the area. There are hopes that Ali al-Haddad, the Misratan commander of the Central Region Military Zone recently appointed by the GNA’s Presidency Council, would reach a de-confliction arrangement with Haftar’s LNA in the buffer zone between the two forces around Sirte and Jufra. However, such a development remains unlikely, according to local sources.

Recent tensions among BM forces and locals in Sirte, as well as tensions between the BM and the GNA regarding entitlements and working arrangements in the city, had reportedly convinced the remaining BM brigades to pull out of Sirte imminently. However, this skirmish, which has not been confirmed or elaborated upon by the GNA or the LNA, is likely to delay these plans.

WESTERN RESPONSE

CNN has reported that according to US officials, there is a new diplomatic and military policy for Libya that could be finalized by the Trump administration in the next few weeks. This policy, if approved, could reportedly significantly expand US involvement in Libya by supporting political reconciliation efforts, establishing a new counterterrorism intelligence sharing coordination center with Libyan officials led by US special forces, and facilitating the re-opening of the US embassy in Tripoli, as well as potentially re-establishing a US presence in Benghazi. If this policy is approved, the CNN’s sources expect that up to 50 US special operations troops could be sent to Libya on a rotating basis to share counterintelligence information.

Last week, the Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders invited representatives of the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS) to the Netherlands in an attempt to kick start discussions to amend the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). The new UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame was invited to attend but is reported to have declined. These meetings are part of an emerging Dutch initiative which aims to end the current political stalemate in Libya. As part of this, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and foreign minister Mohamed Taher Siala visited the Netherlands at the end of June. There are also plans to reopen the Dutch embassy in Tripoli within the coming months.

On 8 July, Haftar traveled to Abu Dhabi where he met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. They reportedly discussed joint cooperation between the two countries in combating extremism and terrorist organisations.

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

This article was republished with explicit permission from the author.