Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Islamic State Loses its Libyan Stronghold

Pro-government Libyan militias have taken the city of Surt from the Islamic State, after a battle that began in early June. This pretty much eliminates IS-held territory in Libya. The IS had hoped to make Surt into "Raqqa on the Mediterranean," and at one point they controlled the coastline for 150 miles around the city. Now they have no territory left in Africa. The main anti-IS fighting force was the militia from Misurata, which for some reason has been the most effective fighting force in Libya since the civil war began. US and British special forces supported the offensive from the beginning, and it final stage was assisted by a handful of US bombing attacks on heavily fortified buildings in the city center.

Two teenage boys interviewed by the Times said life in the city had been awful:
“Life was hell,” said Hammad, a lanky 16-year-old with a shock of unkempt hair, describing the Islamic State’s brutal 18-month rule. Cafes were closed, schools renamed and girls flogged for not covering their faces, he said. He watched in horror as a hooded figure chopped off the hand of a thief — a desperate man who had stolen medicine. Nightmares came after the Islamists crucified people accused of crimes at a major traffic junction, then left their bodies to rot.

“I would wake in a panic, thinking I was suffocating,” he said. His brother Mohammed, 19, nodded in agreement. The Islamists had executed his friend Abdullah by pushing him from a tall building, accusing him of blasphemy. Abdullah was 15 years old, Mohammed said.
I think this counts as a victory for civilization. Libya remains a catastrophic mess, its "unity government" blessed with no unity and not much to govern, but at least it won't become a caliphate of slavery and torture.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Falling flat on your face and then standing up and dusting yourself isn't a victory, and neither is this.

We haven't won a victory, we've simply minimized the severity of a tragic loss. This isn't an accomplishment, this is an abject failure that we've managed to make slightly less awful. We should be utterly ashamed that any of this was ever even necessary.