BEIRUT

Middle East

Libya's neighbors fear spillover of violence

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdul-Aziz (R) and his Egyptian counterpart (L) attend the Fourth Ministerial Meeting for the Neighboring Countries of Libya in Cairo August 25, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)

CAIRO: Egypt Monday called for an international push to disband militias in neighboring Libya after weeks of inter-militia fighting wreaked havoc in the country, saying that the violence could prompt international intervention.

Speaking in Cairo to envoys from countries that neighbor the North African state, Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said the escalation of violence threatens the entire region with spillover effects such as weapons trafficking and cross-border infiltration by extremists.

"The developments in Libya have left an impact we have felt on the security of neighboring countries, with the presence and movement of extremist and terrorist groups whose activists are not only limited to the Libyan territories but also spillover to neighboring countries," he said.

"This can also impact countries outside the region," Shukri said, adding: "All this may push toward different types of interventions in Libyan affairs that we should work to avoid."

Joined by his counterparts from Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan and Chad along with chiefs of the Arab League and the African Union, Shurki urged the international community to work on disbanding all militias, "without distinction and simultaneously."

He said his proposal is part of Egypt's initiative to end violence in Libya and "restore the role of the state."

Shukri said Monday's meeting is meant to support the Libyan government's efforts in "combating terrorism and organized crime, securing and protecting borders from dangers posed by terrorist groups, and draining the terrorist groups' sources of finance and armament."

The meeting comes as Islamist-led militias in the Libyan capital say they have consolidated their hold on Tripoli and its international airport, driving out rivals to the city's outskirts after battles that largely destroyed the strategic facility.

It's the worst violence in Libya since the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, during which rebel forces were supported by NATO airstrikes.

Many in Libya, including the parliament, have called for United Nations intervention, which they see as the only way to end the lawlessness and violence. Both the transitional government and the newly elected parliament have failed to rein in the militias, particularly due to the absence of a strong police and military.

Tunisia's Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi stressed that a political solution was in his country's view "the only way to cut the road to violence, bloodshed and anarchy in Libya."

"It is too early to talk about foreign intervention at the time being," he told reporters after meeting with Shukri.

 

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Summary

Egypt Monday called for an international push to disband militias in neighboring Libya after weeks of inter-militia fighting wreaked havoc in the country, saying that the violence could prompt international intervention.

Speaking in Cairo to envoys from countries that neighbor the North African state, Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said the escalation of violence threatens the entire region with spillover effects such as weapons trafficking and cross-border infiltration by extremists.

It's the worst violence in Libya since the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, during which rebel forces were supported by NATO airstrikes.

Many in Libya, including the parliament, have called for United Nations intervention, which they see as the only way to end the lawlessness and violence.


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