Egypt and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes at militias in Libya twice over the last week without Washington's approval, four US officials tell the New York Times. Egypt, in fact, denied any involvement in the attacks. The first strikes came last week in Tripoli, destroying a weapons depot "controlled by Islamist-friendly militias" and blowing up six people, the Times says. The second, on Saturday, struck a warehouse, vehicles, and rocket launchers run by "Islamist-allied militia." Militants rebounded by seizing Tripoli's airport, which was then destroyed by fire yesterday amid strikes by "unidentified war planes," Reuters reports.
The UAE and Egypt had attacked Libya before, US officials say: A military team from Egypt (possibly comprised of Emirates fighters) recently leveled an Islamist camp in Libya. That may have encouraged the UAE and Egypt to think they could attack undetected again, the officials said. The strikes represent a new salvo in the Middle East conflict between Islamists and old-school autocratic leaders, the Times notes. Much Twitter reaction is focusing on how the UAE and Egypt, both close US allies, apparently launched the attacks without calling Washington first, the Atlantic Wire reports. Tweets Yair Rosenberg: "The problem w/ leading from behind is sometimes you get left behind."