War-tron Libya is a growing worry for the US


Libya is rapidly growing as a concern for the United States, joining Iraq and Syria as areas where the presence and influence of the Islamic State are increasing.

In the absence of a government, which was destroyed in 2011 by the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and some internal elements, Libya remains the principal springboard for Africans fleeing across the

Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe. Migrants from the south are not as big a problem for Europeans as the refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, but they, too, are difficult to absorb.

Libya is partly presided over — not governed — by rival groups, one in Tripoli, the former capital, and the other at Tobruk. Both pretend to be the legitimate government, but neither is accepted across the country. Other nations tried to assemble a government of national unity, incorporating elements of both groups, in Rome last year. It didn’t hold when the opposing leaders returned to Libya.

Another important element is the Islamic State group, based in Sirte, a port on the Mediterranean. Some speculate that IS is looking for a staging area outside Syria and Iraq, where it would be potentially safer from U.S. bombing and possible ground attack. Libya offers the added advantage of access to oil money. Under former leader Moammar Gadhafi, Libya pumped more than a million barrels a day. Its daily production is now down to 400,000 barrels, but IS would have the income from at least part of that.

Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States needs to do something about Libya, a problem he inherited from predecessor Hillary Rodham Clinton, who pushed the intervention that overthrew Mr. Gadhafi. He recently ruled out U.S. boots on the ground, something that should please Americans, given the futility of trying to resurrect Libyan governance.

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