The Rise and Fall of the Islamic State in Sirte: Operation Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous

2 November 2021

Al Jazeera Centre of Studies issued a new book on Monday, 18 October 2021, under the title, Su’ud wa Suqut Tandhim ad-Dawla fi Sirte: ‘Amaliyat al-Bunyan al-Marsous (“The Rise and Fall of the Islamic State in Sirte: Operation Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous”), by Nizar Kawan and Abdel Razzaq al-Aradi.

The book sheds light on the military operation known as Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous that successfully liberated the strategically important city of Sirte from the control of the Islamic State (IS) during the period between May and December 2016.

The chapters of the book address the nature of the war waged by Al-Bunyan forces against IS, present details of the battle from a military perspective and the extent of coordination between the various weapons and formations of the military chambers, and follow the implications of the battle on the Libyan interior both militarily and politically. They also explore the impact of the battle at the regional level.

The authors drew the book’s content through field research using a questionnaire answered by a number of military and security leaders who participated in Operation Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous. They also obtained important information from the Libyan Attorney General's Office.

The book puts the war on IS in the context of events in Libya since the 17 February 2011 revolution and the stages and turns that followed it, especially after the emergence of General Khalifa Haftar and his pursuits to disrupt democratic transition in the country.

In addition, the book carries the position and point of view of its authors towards the events and facts Libya has witnessed during the period it discusses. However, as they mention, it does not fabricate or create unrealistic scenarios but seeks accuracy and avoids asserting facts unless their physical evidence is tangible or those involved in them are alive, responsible and willing to defend their narratives openly.

Kawan and al-Aradi reach a number of findings from the military operation, including: that it established the legitimacy of the Government of National Accord, changed the balance of power in its favour, and affirmed the importance of the political agreement that took place in Skhirat, Morocco. The operation also gave Libya immunity against the emergence of strong centres of terrorism after the expulsion of IS from its stronghold in Sirte in the centre of the country, and the expulsion of its cells and fighters from other regions, such as Derna and Benghazi in the east and Tripoli and Sabratha in the west. Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous also confirmed that the fight against terrorism "claimed by Haftar" was just a cover to satisfy his ambition to seize power by force.

The book also deduces that the operation rebuilt the relationship between political power and military power, making the latter subordinate to the former and entrusting its orders.

On the impact of the operation on the regional position, the book maintains that it revealed the use of politics to combat terrorism and took away the opportunity for regional powers supporting Haftar to impose a new political reality by taking advantage of the expansion of terrorism to open loopholes for military and security penetration, thus paving the way for his military and totalitarian rule once he reaches power.

Finally, the book concludes that Operation Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous contributed to the restoration of political and revolutionary awareness, directed it towards major national issues, and embodied the spirit of national unity exhausted by conflicts, divisions and counter-revolution through the synergy of cities, tribes, factions, trends, and regime and revolutionary formations.

The book can be read (in Arabic) and downloaded on the eBooks page of Al Jazeera Centre for Studies’ website here.