Tactical Lessons from the Ejection of ISIS from Sirte

May 23, 2017

In the second instalment for Atlantic Council, Dr Alia Brahimi and Jason Pack discuss the tactical lessons that can be learnt from the ejection of ISIS from Sirte in December 2016. Although the authors stress that ISIS is far from defeated in Libya, the group’s loss of territorial control is significant. They argue that reliance on local anti-ISIS militia is double-edged,  a light and targeted Western military footprint can be effective, and that the timing of any anti-ISIS military operation is key.

As in Iraq and Syria, the frontline against ISIS in Libya is dominated by non-state actors pursuing competing goals and ideological visions. These centrifugal forces inevitably complicate the larger war against ISIS and like-minded groups, which must be predicated on unity and peacebuilding…

It seems that any effective anti-ISIS coalition ought to be national rather than parochial, and political rather than purely military. As Western policymakers chart a course for the eviction of ISIS from its native strongholds in the Levant, it would make sense for their battlefield efforts to actively reflect a strategic, post-conflict solution for Iraq and Syria. The military track may contain the problem of ISIS, but only a national political track can solve it.

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