Whilst the American-led coalition continues its largely ineffectual air strikes in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has spread its barbaric tentacles into Libya with alarming rapidity.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for:
- Attacking Tripoli’s downtown luxury hotel in January - the Corinthian - which left 11 dead
- The brutal mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Christian Copts
- A multi-pronged suicide attack that killed at least 45 people in the town al Qubbah in Libya’s east.
- Seizing the university in Sirte - deposed dictator Muammar Gadaffi’s hometown.
Egypt’s President - Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi – has called for intervention by the United Nations:
What is going on in Libya could change this country into a breeding ground that could threaten the whole region, not only Egypt. Egypt, the Mediterranean Basin and Europe have to deal with this problem because the mission was unaccomplished, was unfinished by our European friends. We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias.
An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was told this week by Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Dayri:
Libya needs a decisive stance from the international community to help us build our national army's capacity and this would come through a lifting of the embargo on weapons ... so as to deal with this rampant terrorism...
The Security Council ignored his plea – and with good reason.
Libya currently has two Governments – one located in Bayda and the other in Tripoli. In November 2014 Libya’s Supreme Court held the Bayda Government to be illegal and unconstitutional - a decision ignored by its two principal backers - the United States and the European Union.
Removing the arms embargo – in force since 2011- would mean new shipments of arms could risk ending up under Islamic State’s control.
U.N. special envoy to Libya - Bernardino Leon - has said that Islamic State and other militants can only be defeated with a united Libyan government in place that has strong international support.
Any expectation that the United Nations can mediate between these rival Governments to forge a unity government to end ongoing hostilities and divisions in Libya is fanciful.
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