Western — 15 March 2016

Mar 15, 2016 | International actors

In an Atlantic article from the April 2016 issue, US President Barack Obama hinted that America’s European and British partners have gravely disappointed in their support for Libya. Meanwhile last week’s comments by Italian Prime Minister Renzi against French ‘haste’ in 2011 have generated their fair share of scorn.

The US, UK and EU called on Libyan politicians to hand over power to the UN-mediated Government of National Accord (GNA), despite its lack of parliamentary approval. France has threatened sanctions against three high-level politicians who oppose the GNA. However, Greece’s objection during a foreign minister’s summit held on 14 March, has prevented any agreement on a sanctions backed by full EU consensus.

Although the UN Security Council issued a statement on 14 March recognizing the GNA as the sole government of Libya, Russia has said that military intervention in Libya will still require Security Council approval. The Russians noted, ‘A possible mandate for an operation against terrorists in Libya must be defined unambiguously so as not to allow perverted and false interpretations’.

UK Ambassador to Libya Peter Millett said on 13 March that the UK would be happy to apply for an exemption to the Libya arms embargo for the GNA, provided that the request is made by the GNA itself and that it is specifically limited to fighting ‘extremists’. However, UK parliament members are reportedly skeptical of British plans for a new intervention, in light of many unanswered questions regarding the previous intervention and policy thereafter.

The Libya Panel of Experts report to the UN Security Council, distributed on 9 March, has revealed that Libyan officials in Tripoli and Misrata have assisted the entry of jihadists into Libya, and that some fighters were sent to fight in Benghazi. The report also shows that foreign fighters have used Sudan, Turkey and Tunisia as avenues to travel to Libya over the past two years. According to the report, Libya government salaries are still being paid to combatants affiliated with jihadist groups and that ISIS cells benefited from local ties as its fighters have been hosted in private residences and give access to local smuggling networks.