UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Libya’s foreign minister on Wednesday demanded that the UN Security Council lift an arms embargo so his country can fight the Islamic State (IS) terror group as it establishes a presence in north Africa and moves closer to Europe.
Foreign Minister Mohammed al Dairi spoke to an emergency session of the council stressing that Libya is not asking for international intervention. But he said the international community has a “legal and moral responsibility to lend urgent support” and that the region, including the Mediterranean, is in danger.
“If we fail to have arms provided to us, this can only play into the hands of extremists,” he said. He told reporters he wanted to see the same attention paid the danger in Libya as has been paid to Iraq and Syria.
The foreign minister of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry, called for a naval blockade on arms heading to areas of Libya outside the control of “legitimate authorities.” He did not rule out troops on the ground in Libya and said his country was seeking international support “by all means.”
Jordan was circulating a draft resolution on the issue to fellow council members later Wednesday calling for lifting the arms embargo and the withdrawal of militias from Tripoli, and it condemns any attempt to supply arms to non-state actors.
It’s possible for Libya to apply for weapons imports under an exemption in the arms embargo for the Libyan government, but the UN committee that considers such requests has been cautious about giving approval amid concern that weapons might be leaked to armed groups. The UN embargo has been in place since 2011.