War against ISIL in North Africa hampered by Obama's restrictions on bombing

Bill Gertz:
The Islamic State terror group in Libya continues to grow inside the oil-rich North African state and is threatening attacks against Europe and elsewhere, the general nominated to lead the U.S. Africa Command told a Senate hearing Tuesday.

“An unchecked IS-Libya could become an external operations hub threatening Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, shipping in the Mediterranean, and our European allies,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser said in prepared testimony, using an acronym for the Islamic State branch in Libya.

The general warned that Libya’s instability combined with growing ISIS activities could “push the country toward civil war, threatening U.S. interests in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East,” the three-star general told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination for the AFRICOM post.

Waldhauser said during the hearing that he favors increased airstrikes and a greater U.S. troop presence in Libya to counter the terror threat.

Under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Waldhauser said he agreed that U.S. military forces should be undertaking bombing strikes there against ISIS forces.

U.S. military forces are authorized to conduct bombing strikes when an imminent threat from ISIS is detected, but so far no strikes have been launched, Waldhauser said. “There are targets being developed but there have been no flights … flown,” he said.

The general said he currently lacks authority to order airstrikes against ISIS in Africa without presidential approval, but that he would launch strikes if he had the authority. “It would certainly contribute to what we’re trying to do inside Libya,” he said.

A few U.S. drone attacks have been launched against ISIS leaders in Libya from bases in Italy, including one in November that killed a top terrorist leader.

Libya represents one of the Obama administration’s high-profile foreign policy failures. The president and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered the support of Libyan rebels opposing the regime of Col. Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Following Gaddafi’s ouster, the country became a failed state with multiple safe havens for terrorist groups, including ISIS and al Qaeda.
Waldhauser testified that arms proliferation resulting from the fall of the Gaddafi regime is fueling terrorism throughout Africa and the Middle East.
“The current unprecedented migrant crisis coupled with IS-Libya’s long-term intent to strike U.S. and European interests poses a growing threat to Europe’s southern flank,” Waldhauser said. “The ability to infiltrate IS-Libya operatives into Europe provides many more attack venues against Westerners as well as U.S. persons and property, though we have yet to see clear evidence of IS-Libya exploiting the cross-Mediterranean refugee flow for operations into Europe.”
Obama seems bent on perfecting the art of losing a war to inferior forces.  He has no strategy for defeating the enemy in North Africa and he refuses to turn the job over to people who are experts in fighting wars.  It appears he is mimicking the Lyndon Johnson approach to losing a war.  Putting amateurs in charge of combat decisions is a mistake.


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