Since the emergence of Da’esh in Libya and its takeover of key areas such as the city of Sirte, there has been an ongoing debate over an international intervention to avert the expansion of the terrorist organization. The west stressed the need for the implementation of the Skhirate agreement and the formation of a national unity government which will in turn request an international intervention. Yet, western officials make remarks regarding such an intervention that show stark contradictions between the US and European perspectives. For its part, the Libyan Unity Government, formed upon the Skhirate agreement, did not make a stand yet. So, what is the exact western position towards Libya and what prevents the new Libyan government from requesting a foreign military intervention?
After a series of western comments on intervention in Libya, US President Barrack Obama announced at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron that deploying ground forces to fight Da’esh was not necessary as such an act will be met with objection from the new Libyan government.
A day later, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond did not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Libya on the request of the Libyan government. These statements show a sort of rift between the European and American stands on how to combat Da’esh. These different views may originate from different perceptions of the threats posed by Da’esh. Washington considers Da’esh a major threat to its interests and those of its allies in Europe, but distance makes the US less affected by the terrorist organization and less in a hurry to uproot it. Therefore, Washington focuses on airstrikes and special operations.
As for Europe, it is obvious that Da’esh represents a big risk as it has stricken European depth in France and Belgium leading to increasing fears of new terrorist attacks elsewhere in the continent. The Europeans, especially the French, the Italians and the British tend to favour a direct military intervention conditioned by a request from the Libyan government. In this respect, the question that matters is why the Libyan government have not yet made such a request?
It is a known fact that the Libyan Unity Government enjoys a much needed support from the international community, and western countries in particular, as it is still in a transitory period which requires foreign help amid the instable security conditions and the existence of adversary forces to the east and the west of the country. In this context, European countries await a request from the Libyan government for intervention. Such a request may not be in sight because the new government is aware that such an action stirs strong animosity at the local and regional levels, in light of Tunisia's firmly rejection any foreign intervention against Da’esh.
From another perspective, the domestic conditions is not propitious for such a move that involves multiple scenarios. The new government is in the process of gaining local support through building bridges with different opposition forces. Requesting foreign intervention at this critical period will discredit its attempts at winning support at home.
In the face of the complications surrounding the request of a western military intervention, the new Libyan government may opt for training Libyan forces by European armies to counter Da’esh with prospects for enlarging this military cooperation in the future.