The brutal murder of Egyptian Christians in Libya by the Islamic State has brought the ongoing chaos in Libya to the forefront. Speaking on KCRW’s To the Point, Carnegie’s Frederic Wehrey explained how the Islamic State has exploited the vacuum created by the civil war in order to gain a foothold in the country.
General Khalifa Hifter is a polarizing figure who is fighting with one faction, Operation Dignity. Wehrey said that many fear that General Hifter wants to bring back the “deep state” in Libya. “But he’s selling something that’s very appealing and that’s a return to stability, a return to security,” Wehrey added. He explained that the problem is the way Hifter is trying to bring stability back, through labeling all Islamist opposition as terrorists, which could further polarize and destabilize Libya.
Wehrey concluded that while there are extremist Islamist militias in the east, militias are not necessarily ideological and instead fight “for their town, for their tribe, for their particular region.” Labeling those militias as terrorist can be dangerous as some subscribe to democracy and the constitution, he warned.