“The Obama administration did not know ahead of time about the highly unusual military intervention….” That’s how the Washington Post describes a recent series of airstrikes in the Libyan capital of Tripoli by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The secret attacks, according to the New York Times, were aimed at Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli; and they represent “a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts.”
In what could be a sign of increasingly strained international relations, the Times also reports:
The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines.
Some observers note that both the UAE and Egypt appear to be doing more to combat the rise of Islamist extremism than the United States.
Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt last year, the new government and its backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have launched a campaign across the region — in the news media, in politics and diplomacy, and by arming local proxies — to roll back what they see as an existential threat to their authority posed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
And in typical “talk not act, lead-from-behind” fashion, as the Washington Post reports, a U.S. State Department spokesperson advised diplomatic solutions to the rising Middle East threat from radical Islam.
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“Libya’s challenges are political, and violence will not resolve them,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “Our focus is on the political process there. We believe outside interference exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition. And that’s why our focus remains on urging all factions to come together to peacefully resolve the current crisis.”
Photo Credit: The White House
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