Daesh is continuing to regroup in other areas of Libya, the United States’ special envoy for Libya has warned.
In a hearing statement, US Department of State Special Envoy, Jonathan Winer, told legislators that Daesh fighters who have managed to escape the fighting in Sirte and Benghazi have probably “gone underground, forming cells elsewhere in the country”. “We believe they are waiting for opportunities to engage in further attacks in Libya or its neighbours, and if possible to reassert [Daesh] geographically,” he explained. Winer praised Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) for being a “steadfast” partner with the US in the fight against Daesh, however, he warned Libya against any complacency in its progress against Daesh militants.
“The gains against [Daesh] are real,” Winer testified at the hearing. “But they also could be reversible, if Libyans do not come together to participate in the Government of National Accord and to help it perform its work for the Libyan people and to unify against the common threat to all.” However the dire political and economic situation which caused the rise of Daesh in the first place in 2011 has not escaped Libya and is likely to still provide a fertile situation for Daesh to flourish.
Libya’s UN-backed GNA government began its operations against Daesh in May this year to oust it from its stronghold in Sirte. Though making considerable gains initially, the battle has since slowed with Daesh suffering large losses but still maintaining strong resistance.
The US has worked closely with the GNA in its fight against Daesh by providing millions of dollars in aid and military assistance. According to Winer, President Barack Obama recently requested $148 million in foreign assistance to Libya next year “to provide the United States government with the flexibility necessary to respond quickly to Libya’s stabilisation requirements”.