The top US general in Africa on Tuesday declared Libya a "failed state," saying that foreign fighters, arms and illegal migrants easily move throughout the country, aiding combatants in the wars in Syria and Iraq, according to reports by the Associated Press and other agencies.
Army Gen. David Rodriguez said in a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the recent agreement to form a unity government in Libya was important progress, but even with considerable international support, the government will struggle to establish authority and security in the country.
Rodriguez estimated that “10 years or so” would be needed to achieve long-term stability in the oil-rich north African country.
“The continued absence of central government control will continue to perpetuate violence, instability and allow the conditions for violent extremist organizations to flourish until the [government] and appropriate security forces are operational within Libya,” Rodriguez said.
Just two weeks ago US Secretary of State John Kerry stopped short of calling Libya a failed state, citing progress with leadership in the newly-formed government.
Rodriguez also said that Daesh controls the area in and around its stronghold of Sirte.
Daesh has steadily recruited foreign militants into Libya, using the chaos and political vacuum in Libya to establish a stronger prsence there.
On Wednesday Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Daesh has around 5,000 fighters in Libya.
Last month the Pentagon gave the White House plans for up to 40 airstrikes against Daesh in Libya, according to a report by the New York Times. Plans for the strikes are currently on hold pending diplomacy.
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