Western — 22 March 2016

Mar 22, 2016 | International actors

The UK parliament’s foreign affairs select committee asked the government whether it intends to send 1,000 non-combat troops to Libya to train an army capable of driving ISIS from the country. Senior members of the committee said they were told in Tunis that the Italians would provide 5,000 troops and the UK 1,000, with more provided by the French. However, a government spokesperson strongly denied the allegations saying, ‘What members of the foreign affairs committee heard on their recent visit is wrong on a number of counts. There are no plans to extend airstrikes to Libya, nor are there plans to send British troops to provide security on the ground in Libya. It is therefore also wrong to suggest the defence secretary will agree to any UK contribution this week.”

On 15 March, the UN Security Council opted to extend the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya. The Security Council called on members to break their contact with the General National Congress (GNC) and House of Representatives (HoR), in favour of supporting the Government of National Accord (GNA), and urged the GNA to focus on addressing the ISIS threat in Libya. Meanwhile, the European Union agreed to sanctions on three Libyan leaders who oppose the GNA, which will institute travel bans and asset freezes on the individuals.

During a visit to Tunisia on 18 March, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met Libyan Prime Minister-designate Fayez Seraj to discuss ways to support the GNA’s move to Tripoli, but did not outline immediate plans to provide security. Seraj had previously noted the Presidential Council saw a need to take advantage of the ‘international momentum’, but it was up to Libyans to determine their needs. ‘If the international community provides assistance I do not think the Libyans would reject that, but within the rules and standards, and according to what Libyans want,’ he said. However, ‘Direct intervention is unacceptable, and we have sent that message clearly.’