Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents over political Islam.
The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said. NYT
This is excellent news if true simply because it is well past time for the Arab world to start cleaning up the mess in its backyard. Not asking the americans for permission is also good news as asking would have interrupted the Big Zeros Golf Game of Grief.
The jihadis, whether Libyan or IS or Hamas need a good deal of bombing and Israel only has the one airforce. The feckless Americans seem content to fly the occasional mission to blow up a few IS US Army surplus armoured vehicles but it is a serious of pin pricks. The ladies running US Foreign Policy seem to have a thing about proportionality (indeed, I suspect the “appropriate” word will come up. So the required waves of B-1s with the cluster munitions are sitting idle.
But Egypt and the UAE are relatively unconstrained and willing to fly 2500 miles to at least make an effort to forestall the jihadis.
With a little luck the Saudis, owners of a deeply impressive set of aircraft, will notice that flying time from their northern air bases to Syria or Iraq is about twenty minutes and that those lovely airplanes could drop a load of bombs, fire a few armour piercing missiles and run the ground attack cannon and be home for lunch. If they want to get really ambitious, they could fly a mission in the afternoon as well.
No doubt the ladies at State will have very large kittens at this sort of thing. The President’s back swing, sketchy at the best of times, will go to Hell. IS will be really angry and threaten to drive to Mecca.
So, basically, win/win.