Administration officials today report they are determined to launch a full-scale drone war against ISIS in Libya, including surveillance operations and potential strikes against ISIS forces on the ground in the North African country. All they need is a base.
That’s providing tougher than imagined, as officials concede that so far not a single nation has expressed any openness to hosting the US drone base. Many are said to be afraid that they would be making themselves a more direct target for ISIS in hosting US forces.
The Obama Administration’s recent diplomatic moves in Northern Africa, removing restrictions on military aid to the Egyptian junta and declaring Tunisia a “major non-NATO ally,” are both seen as attempts to butter the respective nations up as a potential host.
How successful those efforts will be is unclear. Tunisia is eager to move against ISIS after recent strikes, but the obvious vulnerability of the tourism-dependent nation may make hosting a US base too dangerous. Egypt, by contrast, could likely weather any fallout from ISIS retaliation, but may insist on the US sharing more intelligence and operational control than the administration would be willing to give up.