The Wall Street Journal has reported that the United States is discussing with North African countries the possibility of placing drones in the region. The possible placement of these drones comes as the United States seeks to strengthen its ability to monitor ISIS activity in Libya. As ISIS increasingly moves into North African countries, monitoring its activities becomes crucial to ensuring the region’s safety. Locating a base near Libya would allow the United States military and intelligence officials the ability to have real-time information regarding ISIS activities taking place in Libya.
ISIS allies in Iraq and Syria have recently gained strength in Libya where two competing governments are fighting for control. Militants have taken advantage as a result of the lack of security. Since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall, Libya is the home to factional fighting. Libyan diplomats have left the country; Tripoli’s airport is a shell of itself due to bombing; and oil flow is barely existent. Tunisian newspapers print death notices of jihadists who have died in Syria, Iraq, and also Benghazi, Libya.
Earlier this year, ISIS militants in Libya assaulted the Tripoli Corinthia hotel, killing nine people. ISIS gunmen also attacked Libya’s Al-Mabrook oilfield where some victims were beheaded. The execution of 21 Egyptian Christians by ISIS militants in Libya further illustrates the dangerous reality that ISIS has successfully spread its terror to North Africa. This move has likely attracted more ISIS recruits while increasing Western fears of a new North African base for these militant fighters. As a result of this increased activity, it is understandable why the United States is eager to place drones in the region.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that as of now, no North African country has yet to agree to offer access to a base. It appears that the United States plans to seek permission from a host country to utilize an existing base to place American drones. The U.S. also plans to seek permission to accompany the drones with a limited military presence. Drones launched from the base would have the capability of conducting airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya. The base would further serve as a launching point for special operatives to conduct missions against militants in the region.
United States allies Egypt and Tunisia border Libya, however officials have declined to identify which possible countries would host the drones.