Tuesday, May 17, 2016 5:50 am
Global and regional powers have agreed to supply Libya’s fragile unity government with arms, by making exemptions from a UN arms embargo.
Top diplomats from 21 countries stated this in a joint statement at the diplomats meeting on Monday in Vienna, on ways to strengthen Libya’s UN-backed government and stabilise the country.
They said the support became imperative because Libya had become a hub for Islamic State extremists and people smugglers.
“We will fully support these efforts while continuing to reinforce the UN arms embargo.
“Acknowledging the unity government’s request for exemptions to the embargo.
“Ensuring security and defending the country from terrorism must be the task of unified and strengthened national security forces,” the foreign ministers of UN veto powers as well as North African, Arab, and European countries, said.
German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said the power vacuum created by Libya’s two rival administrations since mid-2014 had enabled the Islamic State militia to establish a foothold in the North African oil-producing country.
“Libya’s two rival administrations, each is backed by competing militias, and the chaos following the toppling of Gaddafi in 2011.
He noted that at this moment, it was still an open question,whether terrorism, criminal smuggling and instability would further expand in the North African country near Europe, or whether the new government would be able to win back stability and a sense of national unity.
“At this moment, this is still an open question,” he said.
A U.S. official said security issues topped the agenda at the talks hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
He said Libya was a keystone for access to the Sahel, the Maghreb, the Near East, the Mediterranean, and Europe, and to have Daesh get a foothold in Libya was bad for everybody.
In March, a national unity government formed under a UN sponsored peace deal revived international hopes that it would be able to re-establish stability and stop Islamic State’s expansion.
Meanwhile, UN Libya Envoy, Martin Kobler, noted that some Western countries had been mulling airstrikes against Islamic State in Libya.
He warned that such operations would be premature if there is no effective Libyan army that can take control of bombed cities.
The envoy noted that European countries were keen to see a stable Libya because they want to stop the lawlessness that had turned the country into a major hub for migrants seeking to go to Europe.
Kobler estimated that not less than 100,000 people had crossed the Mediterranean from Libya to southern Europe this year.
The envoy said officials would also hold crisis talks on Syria on Tuesday, and were expected to broker talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan after the recent flare-up of violence between the two countries.