“There is no reason to treat Libya as an isolated case, especially when it is the most important country when it comes to resources,” Nayed said. “You cannot fight [IS] effectively in Iraq or Syria without including Libya, because of the flow of arms, fighters and money. It is a network, and a network of darkness needs a network of light to fight it. You cannot fight networks by simply focusing on certain nodes; it’s like trying to eliminate cancer from a body by treating one tumor.”
The embattled government is seeking help with humanitarian assistance, as well as technical coordination with NATO, Africom and regional forces on counter-terrorism, border control and trafficking of arms and fighters, Nayed said. The Bayda-based government doesn’t want US boots on the ground, but may welcome air strikes such as those targeting Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.
Just as important, he said, the international community needs to put its support behind Libyan government entities that it has formally recognized, such as the Central Bank, the National Oil Company and the Libyan Investment Authority.
“Ambiguity about who’s in control of Libyan assets is a very destructive thing — it leads to the misuse of these assets and continued looting for the use of terrorism,” Nayed said. “We need to act on actually supporting these entities. For example, it’s ludicrous that the Libyan army still cannot import the equipment it needs because of UN sanctions.”
The Obama administration and Congress soured on Libya after the civil strife that followed the fall of strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Relations further deteriorated after the attack that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens in 2012, but Nayed said the previous government’s seeming reluctance to help catch and punish those responsible argues in favor of getting involved now.