Although the international approach to ISIS in Libya seems mostly bureaucratic and confused, despite the facade of international consensus on the UN, recent media reports are indicating a possible change in this approach by some European countries. France and the UK seem to be edging more towards openly employing a military intervention against IS in Libya. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on 14 Dec that the Islamic State group was spreading from its stronghold on the Libyan coast to the interior of the country with the aim of getting access to oil wells. ‘They are in Sirte, their territory extends 250 kilometres (155 miles) along the coast, but they are starting to penetrate the interior and to be tempted by access to oil wells and reserves,’ Le Drian told RTL radio. Recent reports also suggest that Italian PM Renzi, after talks with Russian foreign Minister Lavrov last week in the Euromed conference in Rome, is in favor of a focusing military efforts against ISIS in Libya rather Syria and Iraq.
All these scenarios however hinge on a successful enthronement of a UN-mediated Government of National Accord that enjoys a modicum of political and popular legitimacy and can support international actions. According to Renzi the international community will not tolerate a ‘unity’ government in exile, but this increasingly looks like the most likely scenario. Thus, it is highly unlikely the proposed GNA which may be on the verge of coming into being will be of any effective military utility to international efforts to counter ISIS. This pessimistic view is currently shared by almost all senior western political experts and analysts. The deep political divisions created by the latest attempts to rush through a political deal is fueling fragmentation of the local Libyan actors dissolving the much needed national unity and focus on the ISIS threat in Libya.