Friday, March 6, 2015

Libya Appeals for Arms Ahead of Peace Talks

The internationally recognized government in Libya made an urgent appeal (Middle East Eye) to the UN Security Council on Wednesday to approve requests for military purchases to fight militants tied to the self-declared Islamic State and to protect Libyan oil fields. The request follows reports that eleven oil fields became non-operational (AP) following recent attacks, according to Libya's state-run oil corporation. Meanwhile, the UN-recognized government carried out air strikes (Reuters) on a Tripoli airport Thursday, hours before UN-led peace talks between rival factions were set to resume in Morocco. The UN Support Mission in Libya said talks are anticipated to focus on addressing the formation (UN News) of a national unity government.
"In effect, Libya since then has become two quasi-states, each with its own government, parliament, central bank, and even its own news agency. Each side now effectively holds about 10 percent of the territory, with parts of Benghazi and Tobruk in the hands of Haftar, and Misrata and Tripoli in the hands of Libya Dawn, while the remaining 80 percent or so of Libya's territory is divided up between smaller militias, loosely affiliated with one side or the other," writes Hafed al-Ghwell in Al Jazeera.
"Libya has become a key node in the expansion of Islamic radicalism across North Africa, West Africa, and the Sahel, and into Europe. Arms and fighters have crossed Libya’s porous borders, feeding radical organizations from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to Boko Haram and reinforcing radical trends in the heart of the Middle East. If events in Libya continue on their current path, they will likely haunt the United States and its Western allies for a decade or more," argues Ethan Chorin in Foreign Policy.
"The country has long been vulnerable; the vacuum created by the deepening political crisis and collapse of state institutions is an attractive arena for terrorist groups. Further, control of Libya could potentially bring access to substantial revenues through well-established smuggling networks that deal in oil, stolen cars, contraband goods, and weapons," writes Geoffrey Howard in Foreign Affairs