The arms embargo placed on Libya has been allowing Islamic militants to increase their hold within the country says Mohamed al-Dayri, Libya’s foreign minister who has called for international air strikes against the terrorists.
“The situation is extremely serious.” he said in Paris, where he is trying to get more support for his Tobruk based, internationally-recognised government’s fight against Islamic State forces.
“People are dying, are crucified, are disinterred from their graves, are burned alive. Libyans don’t understand why the international community doesn’t wake up to these dangers.” he said.
Ever since the international community helped oust Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, the country has been in a state of civil war with two rival governments, one of which Dayri is a minister, and which controls most of the country’s eastern regions. The other, which controls the rest of the country and the former capital Tripoli, is made up of a coalition of Islamists and militants.
According to Dayri, Islamic State (IS) groups are controlling the towns of Benghazi, Sabratha and Derna Sirte.
“They have not yet seized oil fields, but we fear they might come to control several wells,” he said. “On Saturday, there was a call from their leaders in Iraq and Syria to reinforce their ranks in Libya. They want to make Libya a rear base.”
He said currently ISIS has limited support within Libya and was opposed by Al-Qaeda and other splinter Islamic extremist groups, but that if there was no international help for his Government, the situation would change quickly. Calling on the United Nations to lift its 2011 imposed arms embargo, he said once Gaddafi and his Government had been eliminated “Libya was abandoned to its fate”.
“We are not talking about sophisticated military equipment, but we need the minimum to fight terrorism in an adequate manner,” he said. “We also hope for an international intervention as soon as possible because the danger is growing. But not troops on the ground. We are hoping for aerial support for the Libyan armed forces on the ground. The international community waited for Mosul to fall before intervening in Iraq. We don’t want to see Tripoli or Misrata fall.”