HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  August 14, 2016

Aerial Bombardment in Libya Unlikely to Have Defeated ISIS

Vijay Prashad: It's more likely that ISIS fighters have fled the city of Sirte
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support the real news because they deal with real issues, not meaningless articles and sound bites - Gary
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Vijay Prashad is the Executive Director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research and is also chief editor of LeftWord Books. Vija He is the author of over 18 books among them The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016).


SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

This week, the recently formed and UN supported Unity government of Libya announced that it succeeded in driving out Islamic state fighters out of the town of Sirte. It achieved this success with the help of US airstrikes which the Obama administration approved on August 1st. With the increasing pressure on the Islamic state, Syria, and Iraq, it would seem that it is defeated in Sirte, is another blow of course to the organization.

Joining us now to discuss all of this is Vijay Prashad. He’s a George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College. He is the author of some twenty books including, Arab Spring Libyan Winter, and the forthcoming--actually now published book The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. Thanks for joining us Vijay.


PERIES: So Vijay what happened in Sirte this week and what does it mean for Libya?

PRASHAD: Well it [tricky] here what happened. But from what is being reported from Sirte, the [Bunya and Marsus] Operation Center, which is essentially the renamed militia from the town of Misrata, claims to have taken the Ouagadougou Center, which is the main conference type hall in the center of Sirte which is a highly militarize building with bunkers and such like.

They also say they’ve taken the university. Now helped along of course by 28 US air strikes on the town of Sirte. What’s interesting about what is being reported because after all, even the government of National Unity in Tripoli has even said that Sirte has been taken by the Misrata militia. But nonetheless, what has been reported suggests that the fighting was minimal in the final stages.

This is something I think people need to bear in mind. The Misrata militia had held Sirte before ISIS fighters came from Tunisia and from the eastern side of Libya to cease the town and declare it the main city of ISIS in North Africa. And now the Misrata militia has taken the city back. It seems to me, rather than having killed a large number of ISIS fighters, one more under the cover of massive aerial bombardment, ISIS fighters have fled the city and they’ve gone elsewhere.

This has been exactly what they’ve been doing in large parts of Iraq and Syria. And this is what they had done in Syria previously when they were confronted in parts of Libya. So it seems likely that Sirte has been taken by the militia of Misrata. But it’s unlikely that ISIS has been obliterated.

PERIES: Now the US bombing assistance here, apparently of course, helped all of this. How involved is the US in all of this?

PRASHAD: Well there were 28 bombing raids that were declared. The United States said in briefings that the targets that they were going after were mainly heavy artillery. For instance, ISIS had control of some tanks and had used those tanks to block the advance of the Misrata militia, so that the US airstrikes were essentially used to take out tanks and other fortifications of ISIS.

So you know, we don’t really know what indeed has happened on the ground. There’s very little independent verification. We’ll wait till reporters start entering Sirte to better understand what the bombing had done. But certainly what it appears is that the ISIS fighters have left Sirte, rather than made some kind of final stand to defend the city.

As I said, this is the modus operandi of ISIS. They haven’t made a final stand anywhere. Anytime they get bombed, they’re like a pendulum. They shift and sway.

They are highly mobile and they haven’t been waiting to fight the final battle at this point. You know in ISIS literature, they say that in the northern town of Syria in [Dubik] which has residences in Islamic mythology and then in the Quran they say that there they will take their final stand against the west.

But thus far, whether it’s been in Palmyra in Syria or elsewhere, they basically, when they come under attack and they feel that the odds are against them they quit their positions and go elsewhere. So I think we should have a sober understanding of what has taken place in Sirte. I think it’s premature to say that ISIS has been defeated in Libya.

What is clear is that Sirte is most likely been taken by the Misrata militia. But it’s not clear where ISIS has gone.

PERIES: Alright Vijay, thank you so much for that insight and it was good to have you. And we’ll look forward to your report next week.

PRASHAD: Thanks a lot.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.




DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a  

recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Turkish Attack on Kurds Opens New Front, and Alignments, in Syrian War
Inside the Trump Administration's War on UNRWA and Palestinian Refugees
Pence Speech Fuels Conflict Between Israel and Palestine
Exclusive Interview with Congressman Ro Khanna on US Interventionism
Activists Push For Water Affordability In Baltimore
TRNN Replay: Will Honduras Get New Presidential Elections?
Community Members Sound Off On Troubled Baltimore School System
Despite School Closings, Chicago Mayor Pushes For New $95 Million Police Academy
Apple: The Biggest Tax Cheaters in History Repatriate Profits Under Trump's Tax Bill
Women March in Defiance of Trump
Cape Town Water Wars: A Literal Shitstorm
Massive Oil Spill in East China Sea Is the Size of Paris
Rather Than Address Crime, Baltimore Officials Try to Relocate It
TRNN Replay: Reality Asserts Itself - Troy LaRaviere
Real Media: Former British Diplomat Turned Anarchist
Laura Flanders Show: Star Power for People Power
Consumer Protection Moves to Throw the Weakest Under the Bus
Baltimore Spends Billions on Corporate Subsidies but Can't Heat Its Schools
Can a New Baltimore Police Commissioner Fix a Corrupt Department?
Trump Keeps US in Syria and Sets Off New War
Korean Olympic Unity Gives US War Plans a 'Bloody Nose'
Set Up By FBI Informant, NODAPL Activist Pleads Guilty
Prosecutors Push on Against 59 Protesters Despite Defeat
Mayor Announces New Baltimore City Community Grants Program
The US is Arming and Assisting Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, While Congress Debates Prohibition
After Hawaii Scare, Trump Worsens Nuclear Danger
Baltimore Mayor Fires Police Commissioner Kevin Davis
2017 Hottest Year On Record Without El Nino Push
Yemen's Crisis is Far Worse Than We're Told
IRS Private Debt-Collection Program is 'Indefensible',, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting