The Islamic State’s Libya expansion
Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, a member of the Libyan political dialogue and deputy chairman of the former National Transitional Council, said that the Islamic State (IS) expansion in Libya will push toward achieving consensus and dialogue and toward the formation of a national unity government. He also added in an interview with El-Khabar that “foreign regional countries are supporting terrorist organizations, seeking to exploit Libya’s resources.”
El-Khabar: Is it possible that the IS expansion in Libya would undermine dialogue paths and affect the rounds of talks taking place in Algeria?
Ghoga: I do not believe so. On the contrary, IS’ expansion will push toward achieving consensus and dialogue and toward the formation of a national unity government, as the group is now threatening all parties. I believe that IS and the rest of the terrorist groups benefited from the division on the political landscape between the East and West, and took advantage of the crisis to expand. They took over many strategic cities in Libya, which is why the dialogue has become more urgent than any time before. The third and last round of talks is taking place now in Algeria. The agreement has reached its final stages. Participants are left with determining how to implement what has been provided for in the draft, regarding the national unity government, disarmament and dismantling of militias. This necessitates power and international guarantees.
El-Khabar: Will there be a force to provide protection for the said government, enabling it to perform its job?
Ghoga: We do not wish for this national unity government to be like its predecessors. We want it to be able to implement its program, especially in the field of security arrangements.
El-Khabar: Would a multi-path solution lead to overcoming or to worsening the current critical situation?
Ghoga: We need to be consensual as much as possible on many issues. Different paths included political forces, independent figures, MPs, women and men, and the local governance is represented by municipalities. They also included military men, in order to build greater consensus according to the United Nations, which is something good, especially since Libya’s situation is not like any other country.
El-Akhbar: Do you not think that the foreign role has helped IS expand to the extent of threatening to divide Libya and the oil crescent?
Ghoga: Certainly, the foreign intervention in Libya has been clear since the early years of the revolution, and became more pronounced in light of the growing influence of armed groups. Where do they get their weapons from, and all the equipment? Regional states are supporting them.
IS has been provided with arms, while the states are fighting the group in one location and turn a blind eye in another. These terrorist organizations and groups were led to gather in Libya and this is what is happening now. The UN and Security Council resolutions indicate that there is an international monitoring force to guard regional water, but this has yet to be implemented, despite the Italian battleships that play a role in strengthening political Islamic groups regardless of their degree of extremism. However, all these groups stem from one source, which is the main problem. It has been said that these forces are there to monitor, but to monitor what? No one knows. The [UN] forces are deployed on the Libyan coast, but arms and foreign fighters are flowing into Libya. There is complicity with these groups. They already know these groups’ plans and are well aware that they are getting ready to take over ports and oil fields. This is what is happening now, especially in the oil crescent region. The extremist groups are surrounding the region and have already entered to a number of key fields such as the Mabruk field. The plan is well known. The last terrorist that was killed by the international coalition in Syria was found with personal and electronic papers, showing that the organization [IS] had plans to benefit from Libya’s capabilities. Thus, no one is lifting a finger to change things, although they know what is going on. It is all for political reasons.
El-Khabar: What does it mean that IS is now threatening neighboring countries?
Ghoga: Undoubtedly, this is what is happening, as IS considers the region to be territories in the Islamic caliphate. It is only normal for the group to expand toward the North Africa. Look at what is happening in Nigeria and Mali. Eventually, everyone is pledging allegiance to IS. Fighting the group in Libya, would limit its spread in Tunisia and Algeria.