Report

Sisi Calls for U.N. Mandate Following Egyptian Strikes on Islamic State Targets in Libya

Egyptian jets bombed Islamic State targets Monday in Libya after militants released a video appearing to show the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

EGYPT-FRANCE-DIPLOMACY-DEFENCE-RAFALE
French Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) and Egyptian Defence Minister General Sedki Sobhi (R) sign military contracts in the presence of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) on February 16, 2015 at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo. Eric Trappier, chief executive officer of France's Dassault Aviation, signed a multi-billion-euro contract for Rafale fighter jets, with Egypt agreeing to buy 24 of the warplanes. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for a U.N. resolution mandating an international coalition to intervene in Libya. Egyptian jets bombed Islamic State targets Monday in the neighboring country after militants released a video appearing to show the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, who were abducted in December and January in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte. Sisi called for militias in Libya to give up their weapons, but pushed for arms to be supplied to Libya’s internationally recognized Tobruk-based government. Egypt’s airstrikes targeted camps of militants linked to the Islamic State group as well as training and weapons storage sites mainly near the port city of Derna, killing up to 64 fighters. Libyan officials allied with the Tobruk-based government said the raids were conducted in coordination with the Libyan army and forces allied with General Khalifa Hifter. Libyan army spokesman Colonel Ahmed al-Mosmari said Libya didn’t currently need foreign ground troops, but asked for arms support.

Syria

Syrian pro-government forces have advanced north of Aleppo, working to cut off a major supply route to opposition fighters. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Syrian army took control of several villages including Bashkuwi and Sifat, and fighting has blocked the main road to Turkey. Staffan de Mistura, U.N. special envoy for Syria, is briefing the U.N. Security Council Tuesday on his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad about a proposal to “freeze” fighting in Aleppo. De Mistura angered opposition leaders last week when he said Assad remains “part of the solution” in reducing violence in the Syrian conflict. On Monday, the opposition Revolutionary Command Council released a statement saying it would not meet with de Mistura calling him “biased.”

Headlines

  • Forces loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who resigned in January and remains under house arrest, have seized key buildings in Yemen’s southern city of Aden after hours of fighting with security forces allied with the Houthi movement.
  • The Italian coastguard rescued more than 2,000 migrants off the Libyan coast Sunday.
  • A Muslim Brotherhood leader in Jordan has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for criticizing the United Arab Emirates, charged with damaging relations with a “friendly nation.”

Arguments and Analysis

The situation in Syria is only going to get worse … and here’s why’ (Melissa Fleming, The Guardian)

“Over 12 million people inside Syria are in need of aid to stay alive. That’s half the country. Almost 8 million have been forced from their homes, forced to share rooms with other families, or camping in unheated, abandoned buildings, praying the fighting won’t spread. An estimated 4.8 million Syrians are in areas that are hard to reach including 241,000 who are trapped in besieged areas, cut off from humanitarian aid and medical supplies and unable to escape. Millions of children are suffering from trauma and ill health. A quarter of Syria’s schools have been damaged, destroyed or taken over for shelter. More than half of Syria’s hospitals are destroyed, or so damaged they are unable to function. Parts of the country endure relentless bombing and extremist groups commit unthinkable atrocities.”

The Unravelling’ (Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker)

“In a sense, Libya’s unravelling began even as the country achieved its ‘liberation.’ On October 20, 2011, after nine months of fighting, a group of thuwar—battle-hardened militiamen—from the port city of Misrata found Qaddafi hiding in a drainage pipe and killed him on the spot. Afterward, his mutilated body was taken to a cold-storage room and left there for several days as thousands of people came to view it and take pictures. Another group of Misratan militiamen massacred sixty-six of Qaddafi’s last loyalists in the garden of a Sirte hotel, after they videotaped themselves tormenting their captives.

It had been clear from the start that the militias were going to be a deeply troublesome feature of post-Qaddafi Libya. The rebel alliance was hastily thrown together from many disparate groups—some friendly to Western ideals and others driven by Islamist dreams of a new caliphate. Even as Western governments deliberated over whether to support the rebels, jihadists from the eastern city of Derna emerged as a force on the battlefield. In an ugly episode in July, 2011, the rebel coalition’s military commander, General Abdel Fattah Younes, was abducted and murdered, likely by Islamists seeking revenge for Younes’s persecution of them when he was Qaddafi’s interior minister.”

— Mary Casey-Baker

 KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

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