At present, the world continues to send mixed messages regarding the threat posed by ISIS in Libya. After months of measured statements by foreign ministers and top officials dismissing the notion of direct military intervention in Libya, recent reports indicate that the UK and possibly France could extend ‘Syria-style’ anti-ISIS strikes to Libya, subject to the establishment of a GNA which invites them to do so. In a report by the Telegraph, sources in the British government said that they are ‘extremely concerned’ by the rapid rise of ISIS and other extremist groups in Libya and are considering plans for an intervention to tackle the threat.
Similarly, the British defence secretary, Michael Fallon, said it was important to ‘keep an eye on Libya’, but Britain had to target the ISIS leadership in Syria. On Friday, the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, also called to extend international efforts to crush ISIS in Libya. While these statements have renewed speculation about the possibility of renewed airstrikes at the least or international intervention at the most, the Russian foreign minister Lavrov highlighted his caution about the extent of ISIS presence and potential in Libya, citing ‘conflicting information’. This makes clear that the geopolitical divisions that stymie coordinated action against ISIS in Syria are sure to be mirrored in Libya — especially those concerning various Gulfi actors.