Anti — 5 Jan 2016

Jan 5, 2016 | Libyan actors

The ongoing IS attack on Sidra, while representing a grave local and international threat, also represents an important opportunity for the formation of a genuinely Libyan Anti-ISIS coalition. Despite their political differences, a range of social groups could be united by the fact that ISIS is targeting the only source of income for all Libyans,. However, the power dynamics within both major political factions continue to hamper such a coalition from emerging.

After the HoR-affiliated, Federalist-dominated PFG successfully pushed ISIS out of Sidra on Monday, the head of the force, Ibrahim Jadhran, issued a heated statement attacking Haftar, saying that he is the other side of the ISIS coin, implicitly accusing him of destabilizing Ajdabiya via the latest LNA offensive against local Islamist militias in the city. Importantly, Jadhran also stated that the PFG now recognize the GNA and will fight against any form of terrorism, whether by ISIS or Haftar.

In Derna, Saad Al-Tayra a senior commander of the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council, the local Islamist group fighting with ISIS in the city, denied any links to Al-Qaeda, and said that council fighters would make no secret of any links to Al Qaeda if they had any. Instead, he said, they were simply Islamic conservatives. Tayra insisted that the IS forces in the Fatayah hills above Derna had almost been defeated, saying that their request to be allowed to withdraw to Sirte, presumably by sea, had also been turned down.

However, in the west of Libya, other power dynamics resulting from the rifts between Dawn militias over recognition of the GNA are hampering the anti-IS coalition in different ways. Militias affiliated to hardliner forces in the GNC are also rejecting the GNA, and will likely enable ISIS if a conflict erupts in the capital between pro and anti GNA militias. The local council of Sabratha also stated its opposition to the GNA. This shows that rather an anti-ISIS coaltion materializing very much the opposite is the offing and forces opposed to the GNA are drawn to ISIS.

The meeting of key regional militias in western Libya from Zintan and Misrata, with the Military adviser to the UN envoy Paolo Serra in Tunis, could represent an encourage step to forging this anti-IS coalition and combating the aforementioned developments.