Egypt and UAE attack Islamist rebels in Tripoli
In yet another indication that the Arab world understands the implications of an Islamist takeover, while much of the West does not, the New York Times reports that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have taken matters into their own hands, 'secretly' carrying out airstrikes in Libya (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said.
The strikes are another high-risk and destabilizing salvo unleashed in a struggle for power that has broken out across the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolts, pitting old-line Arab autocrats against Islamists.
Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt one year ago, the new Egyptian government, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc exerting influence in countries around the region to roll back what they see as a competing threat from Islamists.
Arrayed against them are the Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by friendly governments in Turkey and Qatar, that sprang forward amid the Arab Spring revolts.
Libya is the latest, and hottest, battleground. Several officials said that United States diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes, believing they could further inflame the Libyan conflict at a time when the United Nations and Western powers are seeking a peaceful resolution.
“We don’t see this as constructive at all,” said one senior American official.
The only complaint I have is that the strikes were not successful - the Islamists have taken control of the airport. But the old line Arab countries have decided that it's better to go down fighting than passively. And they're right. If the Islamists take over this region, no one will be happy except for Obama.Officials said that the government of Qatar has already provided weapons and support to the Islamist aligned forces inside Libya, so the new strikes represent a shift from proxy wars —where regional powers playout their agendas through local allies —to direct involvement.
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