By Lucas Theriault Presented with this new information, analysts are scrambling to determine what this means and news agencies are trying to explain the new turn of events. This particular analysis will look at a little bit of background for the situation, examine the Libyan wing of the Islamic State, and will answer what this means for the region (including why the Islamic State is praying for Western Intervention).The Islamic State shocked the world this past week with the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians, drawing attention to their growing presence in Libya. The public conscious imaged the Islamic State as the territory held by the rebel group ISIS in Syria and not as part of some broader movement.
After the Libyan Civil war, tensions between opposing political blocs in the government led to the establishment of two separate governments in either side of the country and a civil war. The Tobruk-based secular government controls most of the west of the country and is associated with Operation Dignity while the Islamist government out of Tripoli is associated with Operation Libyan Dawn and controls the east. The fighting was intense at the end of 2014, but there has been essentially no major violence between the parties in 2015 and they’ve agreed to a ceasefire. Nevertheless, the two governments still remain separate and talks to form a unity government are not guaranteed to succeed.
This instability and lack of unity, cited by the Brookings Institute as conditions ISIS feeds off of, allowed for the expansion of the Islamic State into Libya. ISIS-linked militants bloodlessly took the Egyptian-bordering town of Derna in October of 2014 and declared Allegiance to the Islamic State. They remained quiet until an attack on the five-star Corinthia Hotel, which has kicked off their campaign in Libya. In this past month, they have taken control of key towns, government buildings, and an oil field around the city of Sirte.