As Libya Continues to Disintegrate, Intervention Looms

The President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, called for international intervention in the rapidly escalating Libyan civil war that is causing regional instability. On Friday he spoke after meeting with the French Minister for Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian in the capital, Niamey.

President Mahamadou Issoufou said in remarks shortly after his meeting "I do not see how the armed terrorist militias can create the conditions for reconciliation among Libyans. An international intervention is essential to the reconciliation of all Libyans."

French Minister for Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian was touring the Niger and Chad and visiting French military bases there. He said that "Libya is in chaos today and it is a breeding ground for terrorists that threaten the stability of Niger and, further afield, France. We think that the moment has come to ensure that the international community tackles the Libyan problem. I think this is also what President Issoufou believes."

The conflict began in May when General Khalifa Hafter launched an assault against Islamist militias in Benghazi, an Islamist stronghold. In July after fresh elections that saw the Islamist government lose power, the previous parliament continued to sit and demand legitimacy. Fearing for their lives, the newly elected parliament relocated to the eastern city of Tobruk. Since then there have been two rival parliaments in Libya. Egypt and the UAE have been backing the internationally recognized government of Abdullah al-Thinni and the army under General Hafter, while an alliance consisting of Qatar and Turkey have been supporting the Islamist forces aligned as the 'Libya Dawn' militia coalition.

The outgoing Prime Minister of Tunisia, Mehdi Jomaa, has expressed grave concern about the chaotic situation in Libya, regarding it as a very serious threat to Tunisia.

Meanwhile violence has continued to worsen.

At a checkpoint near the southern city of Sabha, Islamic State militants ambushed and killed 14 Libyan army soldiers on Saturday. At the end of October, Islamic State affiliated militants declared an 'Emirate' in the coastal town of Derna, affiliated to the Islamic State.

In a separate assault on Saturday,  Ansar al-Sharia kidnapped 13 Christians from near the Islamist controlled town of Sirte. Armed men went door to door inside an apartment building housing foreign workers and separated Muslims from Christians, seizing the Christians. In the days prior, 7 other Christians had been kidnapped.

The air force meanwhile bombed Misrata, an Islamist held coastal city. Warplanes targeted the commercial port, which the parliament said was being used to supply weapons and other resources to the Islamists. Maj. Mohamed al-Hijazi, the spokesman for General Khalifa Hafter, the general leading the army's assault against the Islamists, told reporters "we’ve said before that we would bomb the port of Misrata if it comes to pose a threat. On Saturday, our air force bombed the [Misrata] port, because it was being used to transport weapons, ammunition and terrorist elements."

A convention of the Arab League has been called in Cairo for Monday to discuss the war in Libya and the appropriate response.

The League's deputy secretary general, Ahmed ben Helli said "The meeting will be devoted to discussing the dangerous developments that Libya is experiencing, the increase in violence and acts of terrorism." 

 

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