Obama Asks for Options to Fight Islamic State in Libya

President Barack Obama has directed his security advisors to prepare options for countering the expansion of the Islamic State in Libya and other countries where it is developing a presence. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said on Wednesday that the Pentagon is “developing options for what we might do in the future,” but said ...

GettyImages-507331580
GettyImages-507331580

President Barack Obama has directed his security advisors to prepare options for countering the expansion of the Islamic State in Libya and other countries where it is developing a presence. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said on Wednesday that the Pentagon is “developing options for what we might do in the future,” but said no course of action has been decided. “We’re watching the situation very carefully, and there's a lot going on there right now. But we haven't made any decisions to take military action there," Carter said.

The United States has a limited presence in Libya already -- in December, a group of U.S. Special Forces soldiers were asked to leave after trying to coordinate with local militias, and in November, a U.S. airstrike killed Abu Nabil, the head of the Islamic State in Libya.

Deadly Attack Targets Saudi Mosque

President Barack Obama has directed his security advisors to prepare options for countering the expansion of the Islamic State in Libya and other countries where it is developing a presence. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said on Wednesday that the Pentagon is “developing options for what we might do in the future,” but said no course of action has been decided. “We’re watching the situation very carefully, and there’s a lot going on there right now. But we haven’t made any decisions to take military action there,” Carter said.

The United States has a limited presence in Libya already — in December, a group of U.S. Special Forces soldiers were asked to leave after trying to coordinate with local militias, and in November, a U.S. airstrike killed Abu Nabil, the head of the Islamic State in Libya.

Deadly Attack Targets Saudi Mosque

At least two people were killed and seven others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated explosives while trying to enter the Imam Rida Mosque in al-Ahsa Governorate in eastern Saudi Arabia. A second attacker exchanged gunfire with security forces but was arrested without detonating the explosive vest he was wearing, according to the Saudi Ministry of the Interior.

Headlines

  • U.N.-convened Syrian peace talks are beginning today in Geneva, though delegates from the opposition High Negotiations Committee are not in attendance yet.

 

  • A mechanic working for EgyptAir whose brother joined the Islamic State in Syria is suspected of having planted a bomb aboard the Russian Metrojet that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31, 2015, according to a new Reuters report citing anonymous sources.

 

  • The Islamic State has claimed credit for a car bombing targeting Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s residence in Aden; Hadi was home but not hurt in the attack, but at least six people were killed and 11 others injured.

 

  • The United States has been reportedly been hacking and monitoring secret sorties by various air forces in the Middle East, including Israel’s, since 2008 from a base in Cyprus, according to reports citing information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

 

  • Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist who was recently released from an Iranian prison, attended the dedication for the newspaper’s new office in Washington, DC, where he thanked his colleagues and the U.S. government for their support during his imprisonment.

Arguments and Analysis

Jihadi Rivalry: The Islamic State Challenges al-Qaida” (Charles Lister, Brookings Institution)

“The competition between IS and al-Qaida for jihadi supremacy will continue, and will likely include more terrorist attacks on the West. The United States and its allies need a better set of policies to counter the threat these organizations pose. Such policies should include continuing to target al-Qaida leaders, containing IS within Iraq and Syria, and exploiting the liabilities of new IS franchises. The international community must also do more to disrupt jihadi financial activities and ramp up domestic intelligence and counter-radicalization efforts. Ultimately, however, state instability across the Muslim world must be ameliorated or jihadis will continue to establish themselves within vulnerable societies.”

 

My 41 Days in Iran’s Most Notorious Prison” (Matthew Trevithick, Time)

“In a building across the street, I’m given my clothes, bag, wallet, computer, passport—almost everything I had on me when I was taken. I’m blindfolded and driven to the gate. When the blindfold comes back off, there’s a man in a pink tie and crisp suit. It’s the best thing I’d ever seen. Matt, we’ll go now. It’s 100 mph to the airport, where I’m told I’ve overstayed my visa and need to pay a fee. I hold up my right index finger, which still has an ink stamp from my last fingerprinting. Evin, I say. The official smiles kind of awkwardly and is like, You still have to pay.

-J. Dana Stuster

Olivier Douliery – Pool/Getty Images

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