Reprinted from Strategic Culture
The US air strikes on Libya this week mark a major escalation of American overseas military operations. A Pentagon spokesman said the air campaign would continue indefinitely in support of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli against Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
It was the first "sustained" aerial intervention in Libya since 2011 when US and other NATO warplanes conducted a seven-month bombing campaign in order to oust the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
The timing of the latest US air strikes on the Libyan port city of Sirte seems significant. For nearly two months, the Tripoli-based government has been making inroads against the IS brigades in Sirte. So why should US air strikes be called in at this precise juncture?
The deployment of US air power in Libya followed within days of the decisive offensive launched by the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian allies on the strategic city of Aleppo in northern Syria. As the Syrian and Russian allies move towards defeating anti-government militias holed up in Syria's biggest city that victory portends the end of the five-year Syrian war.
Frustration in Washington over Russia's successful prosecution of its war against foreign-backed terror groups in Syria has been palpable since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered in his forces to the Arab country -- a longtime ally of Moscow -- nearly 10 months ago.
American frustration reached boiling point when Russia unilaterally announced last week that it was proceeding, along with Syrian forces, to take back the city of Aleppo. Syria's second city after the capital Damascus has been besieged by illegally armed groups for nearly four years. With its proximity to the border with Turkey, Aleppo has been a crucial conduit for foreign fighters and weapons fueling the entire war -- a war that Washington and its NATO allies and regional partners have covertly sponsored for their political objective of regime change against President Bashar al-Assad.
When Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that humanitarian corridors were being opened around Aleppo for fleeing civilians and surrendering fighters, the plan was mocked as a "ruse" by US Secretary of State John Kerry. The US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power described the Syrian-Russian offensive on Aleppo as "chilling."
However, the sovereign, elected government of Syria has every right to take back control of Aleppo -- formerly the country's commercial hub -- which had been commandeered by an assortment of illegally armed groups, some of whom are designated as internationally proscribed terror organizations.
What the pejorative words of Kerry and Power indicate is Washington's perplexity at Moscow's success in Syria. Russia's military intervention has thwarted the US-led foreign conspiracy for regime change. Washington may have got away partially with regime-change schemes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. But Russia's intervention has put paid to a similar maneuver in Syria.
Not only that, but as Russia and its Syrian ally close in for a final defeat of the anti-government mercenary networks in Aleppo, it is becoming excruciatingly obvious that Washington's charade of "moderate rebels" mingling among terrorists is also exposed. For months now, Washington has procrastinated on Moscow's demands that it provide clear demarcation between so-called moderates and extremists. Washington has studiously balked at providing any distinction or physical separation. As Russian and Syrian forces corner the militants in Aleppo, it becomes evident that Washington and the Western media are caught on a damnable lie, which has been used for the past five years to justify the war in Syria. Furthermore, Russia emerges vindicated in the way it has prosecuted its military campaign in support of the Syrian government.
In other words, Russia is seen as genuinely fighting a war against terrorism, whereas Washington and its allies are evinced as having a mercurial, if not criminal, relationship with terror groups that they claim to be combating.
On Friday, Washington's top diplomat John Kerry was anxiously waiting for clarification from Moscow on what the Aleppo offensive was about. By Monday, it was clear that Moscow was not going to pander to Washington's apprehensions about the offensive plan.
"Once again, the Obama administration appears to have been blindsided by Mr Putin, just as it was when Russia dispatched its forces to Syria in September," declared an editorial in the Washington Post on Tuesday.
It was on Monday-Tuesday night that US air strikes were ordered on Libya.