West stresses political solution in Libya

2015-02-18 17:05

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - Egypt pushed for action against jihadists in Libya ahead of a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday but faced reluctance from Western powers who stressed the need for a political solution.

After launching air strikes against Islamic State group targets in Libya this week in response to the jihadists' beheadings of Egyptian Christians, Cairo has asked the Security Council to provide a mandate for an international intervention.

Italy said time was "running out" to address the threat from ISIS on Europe's doorstep, but Rome and other Western powers said peace talks needed to be given another chance.

With the Security Council due to meet later in New York, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned of the risks of inaction.

In talks with UN envoys, Shoukry stressed "the need for the international community... to assume its responsibilities towards the deteriorating situation in Libya, as it represents a clear threat to international peace and security," his ministry said in a statement.

A US-led coalition is already carrying out air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, and Egyptian officials have suggested that effort should be expanded to Libya.

But Western powers have been wary of committing to action in Libya, where a Nato air campaign backed the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Talks are 'best hope'

In a statement released by Rome on Tuesday, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain stressed "the urgent need for a political solution to the conflict" in Libya.

An ongoing UN-backed attempt to get Libya's warring sides to negotiate on forming a government of national unity was the "best hope" for peace, they said.

Shoukry suggested another option for the Security Council, calling for the lifting of an arms embargo that Libya's internationally recognised government says has hobbled its efforts to tackle Islamist-linked militias who have seized parts of the country.

The Council must "reconsider the restrictions" on arms deliveries to the Libyan government which is seeking to "impose its authority and restore stability," the ministry statement said.

The UN arms embargo was put in place at the start of the anti-Gaddafi uprising and has remained in place.

Libya has descended into chaos since the revolt, with the government forced to flee to the country's east and militias in control of Tripoli and other main cities.

Some of Libya's militias have pledged allegiance to ISIS - the brutal Sunni Muslim extremist group in control of large parts of Syria and Iraq - and one this week released a video of the gruesome mass beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians.

The country's main militia groups, including the Islamist-backed Fajr Libya coalition that has declared a rival government in Tripoli and has been involved in the peace talks, have not linked up with ISIS.

But Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni warned on Wednesday of the threat of such an alliance.

"There is an evident risk of an alliance being forged between local groups and Daesh and it is a situation that has to be monitored with maximum attention," Gentiloni told lawmakers, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

No 'adventures nor crusades'

"We have to be clear, the situation has deteriorated. The time at our disposal is not infinite and is in danger of running out soon," he said.

But Gentiloni also stressed that Italy - the former colonial power in Libya - believed the solution to the country's problems was political, not military.

"Saying we are in the front line does not mean announcing adventures nor crusades," he said.

The chaos in Libya has also contributed to a dramatic increase in the number of African and Middle Eastern migrants attempting to travel across the Mediterranean from the country to Europe.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said "there is no choice" but to form an international coalition to tackle the militants by force in Libya.

Experts say Egypt's Sisi wants to be seen as a key ally of the West against Islamist extremism, deflecting international criticism of his crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood of former president Mohammed Morsi, whom he ousted in 2013.

As well as Libya to the west, Egypt is dealing with an insurgency in its own east, in the Sinai Peninsula, where jihadists have also joined ISIS and killed scores of troops.

Read more on:    un  |  isis  |  nato  |  muammar gaddafi  |  mohammed morsi  |  abdel fattah al-sisi  |  egypt  |  libya  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.