UN envoy on Libya warns conflict could trigger chaos

“Many Libyans feel abandoned by part of the international community and exploited by others,” Ghassan Salame said. (File photo: AFP)

The UN special envoy to Libya warned on Wednesday that without action by the Security Council, the country’s war could escalate if outside patrons step up support for the warring sides.

“Many Libyans feel abandoned by part of the international community and exploited by others,” Ghassan Salame said by video link with the council.

“Without the unequivocal support of this council and the broader international community for an immediate end to the Libyan conflict, I believe we are faced with two highly unpalatable scenarios,” Salame added.

One is “persistent and protracted low intensity conflict,” he said.

The other is increased support for either warring side by their outside patrons.

This, he said, would lead to “a sharp escalation that will assuredly plunge the entire region into chaos.”

“The idea that war should be given a chance and that a military solution is at all possible is quite simply a chimera,” said Salame, who has often complained that the council is not united on the Libyan conflict and that some members support one or the other of the warring sides.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising in which president Muammar Qaddafi was killed.

Khalifa Haftar, a retired general who had taken part in the revolt against Qaddafi, unleashed an offensive last Spring to conquer the capital, Tripoli.

His soldiers are fighting those of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), currently headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

A member of Lawyers for Justice in Libya, Marwa Mohamed, also told the council there was no clear message on Libya from the international community.

Major powers such as the US, Russia, France and Britain avoided giving speeches on Wednesday, saving their turns for a closed door session to be held after the public one.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:56 - GMT 06:56
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