Why the War in Libya Matters to Israel and the West

On April 4, the Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar launched a major offensive from his stronghold in the eastern part of the country to take Tripoli from the Islamist government ensconced there. His attack has since bogged down in heavy fighting. Jonathan Spyer examines the implications of this ongoing civil war, which he understands as a conflict between two regional alliances:

Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) have benefited since 2014 from the support of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE, according to regional media reports, has carried out air and drone strikes in support of the LNA. Egyptian and Emirati provision of funding, arms, and equipment is crucial to Haftar’s efforts. In the period immediately preceding the launch of his offensive, Haftar appears also to have secured the support of Saudi Arabia. . . . Haftar is thus the ally and client of those broadly Western-aligned, authoritarian Arab states that find a common enemy in the Sunni political Islam of the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.

On the other side, Turkey and Qatar (and the now-deposed Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir) are strongly supportive of the Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood-associated elements that share power with the government in Tripoli. . . . Ankara and Doha seek to expand and deepen their regional influence through support for Sunni Islamist political and military organizations. This pattern may also be observed, of course, in Syria, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq.

It is worth noting that Haftar and his forces are currently in the unusual position of enjoying the tacit support of both Russia and the U.S. . . . Israel’s position in the regional contest between Western-aligned authoritarianism and Sunni political Islam is also not ambiguous. What is good for Sisi and bad for the Muslim Brotherhood and Erdogan is likely to be welcomed in Jerusalem. It remains far from certain, however, if any such neat outcome will occur. Libya may well continue to share the fate of Syria, Yemen and, to a lesser extent, Iraq: . . . namely, fragmentation, chaos, and ongoing proxy war.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Islamism, Libya, Middle East, Qatar, Turkey

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month


Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media