A request from Libya’s new unity government to be allowed to import arm to help it end anarchy in the country, is being considered by the U.N. despite a five-year old arms embargo.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, addressing the media after a meeting in Vienna on 16 May attended by diplomats from more than 20 countries, said: “We have now had a request come to us and obviously (it has) to be discussed and go through the process with respect to the U.N.”
Even if Fayaz Seraj and the Goverment of National Accord (GNA) that he heads have not yet won complete control of the north African country’s capital, Tripoli, since entering it on 30 March, diplomats hope that the internationally-recognised Libyan government will, in time, be able to counter Daesh insurgents and end the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Europe.
Seraj has said that relevant authorities would soon receive his shopping list of weapons. “We have a major challenge facing us in fighting Daesh,” Seraj told reporters, adding that “we hope for assistance on training and equipping our troops.”
Kerry explained that “it’s a delicate balance, but all of us here are supportive of the fact that if you have a legitimate government and the legitimate government is struggling against terrorism, that legitimate government should not be made the prisoner, or should not be victimised, by virtue of the U.N. action.”
The Libyan government can only import weapons and related materiel if it gains the approval of a U.N. Security Council committee that has been overseeing the arms embargo imposed in 2011. Libya had already made a request in spring 2015 to import weapons, tanks, jets and helicopters to tackle Daesh but eight U.N. Security Council members delayed approval after U.N. sanctions monitors had told the Security Council committee they were concerned that, were the request approved, some of the weapons and equipment could find their way to insurgents.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier outlined the high stakes. “The key question is whether Libya remains a place where terrorism, criminal human smuggling and instability continue to expand, or if we are able, together with the government of national unity to recover stability,” he said.