By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 28 January 2016:
For the first time, one of the likely participants in an assault on IS in . . .[restrict]Libya has said that the attack could go ahead even if a unity government is not formed and does not request the action.
Italy’s defence minister, Roberta Pinotti told the Italian paper Corriere della Sera that the anti-IS coalition members had all agreed IS propaganda would protest another Western invasion, unless the new Government of National Accord asked for help to take on the terrorists.
Nevertheless, she said IS was growing strong in the present political vacuum, prompting Italy and its allies to prepare for what she termed an emergency.
Pinotti laid some stress on the need for outside powers to avoid uncoordinated military action, adding that in the last month Italy had been working closely with the Americans, British and French.
The last week has seen a series of leaks and briefings that could be taken as softening up public opinion in North America and Europe for a new conflict.
Seven days ago, the most senior US general, Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that decisive action was now needed against IS in Libya.
The Pentagon has also admitted that the US has sent troops to Libya and was looking at military options. Spokesman Peter Cook said on Wednesday a small number of military personnel had been sent “”to engage in conversations with local forces to get a clearer picture of exactly what’s happening there”.
One such US team landed last December at Al-Wattiyah Airbase, controlled by government forces. The local militia told them to go away, which they did.
Less credence was given to reports last week that Russian and US troops had arrived at Tobruk airport. Such a military combination was unlikely.
Meanwhile, in recent months there have been persistent reports of drone and other aerial surveillance over most coastal areas. Since October, the EU’s Frontex force has been using airborne surveillance to gather intelligence on people smugglers.
On Tuesday, Moroccan media were reporting that a defence official in Rabat had said that the country had been requested by Washington to supply logistical support for an anti-IS operation in Libya. The official gave no further details. Since December 2014, Morocco has been involved in some airstrikes in Iraq using four F-16s against IS targets. [/restrict]