U.N. warns of ‘full-blown civil war’ in Libya

Members of the Weshavana Brigade survey the damage at a former Libyan Army camp known as Camp 27 following clashes between rival militias in the 27 district, west of Tripoli. (File photo: Reuters)

Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations sounded the alarm on Wednesday when he warned of a “full-blown civil war” if the chaos and division in the Arab country continue.

Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi told the U.N. Security Council that he had always excluded civil war as a possibility, “but the situation has changed.”

“The situation in Libya is complicated,” Reuters quoted Dabbashi as telling the council. “Yet the situation since the 13th of July has become even more complicated and the situation might unravel into a full-blown civil war if we’re not very careful and wise in our actions.”

On July 13 heavy fighting broke out between rival militias vying for control of Libya’s main airport, killing at least seven people and forcing a halt of all flights in the worst fighting in the capital for six months.

The council, meanwhile, unanimously approved a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, tightening arms embargo on Libya and  sanctions to groups and individuals that threaten the country’s peace and stability.

Libya currently has two rival parliaments in different parts of the country, and two different governments, after the outgoing parliament reconvened and appointed a new prime minister. The divisions are rooted in rivalries between Islamists and non-Islamists, as well as powerful tribal and regional allegiances.

“In the past, security incidents were limited, isolated and rare," Dabbashi added.

“But today the clashes ... (are) between two armed groups using heavy weaponry. Each group (has) its own allies scattered in the other regions of the country.”

He said it was crucial to disarm those groups.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the current Security Council president, said the council’s Libya sanctions committee will meet early next week to decide which individuals will be sanctioned.

The U.N. secretary-general’s special representative to Libya, Tarek Mitri, said the U.N. had no way to confirm that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates secretly carried out airstrikes against Islamist militias inside Libya, as the United States publicly acknowledged Tuesday.

“It’s worth noting there was no clear denial of those airstrikes,” Mitri said, adding that such a move cannot help Libya achieve a cease-fire.

Mitri also stressed that no military solution is possible in Libya, which continues to be torn apart by turmoil more than three years after the uprising that forced longtime strongman Muammar Qaddafi from power.

Council members expressed concern about regional rivalries and their effect on Libya’s divisions. Lyall Grant called the situation “extremely worrying” and discouraged regional countries from taking sides among militia groups.

(Associated Press and Reuters)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44
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