UN envoy warns of ‘long and bloody war’ in Libya

The UN envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame more than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting and 510 have been killed. (Screengrab)
Updated 21 May 2019

UN envoy warns of ‘long and bloody war’ in Libya

  • The UN envoy is warning that Libya is on the verge of descending into a civil war
  • Salame said that could divide the country and imperil the security of its neighbors and the wider Mediterranean region

UNITED NATIONS: The UN envoy for Libya warned Tuesday the battle for Tripoli was “just the start of a long and bloody war” and called for immediate steps to cut off arms flows fueling the fighting.
Addressing the Security Council, Ghassan Salame said many countries were supplying weapons to the UN-recognized government in Tripoli and forces led by Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar launched an offensive on April 4 to seize the capital but his forces have been bogged down in the southern outskirts of Tripoli.
“The violence on the outskirts of Tripoli is just the start of a long and bloody war on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, imperilling the security of Libya’s immediate neighbors and the wider Mediterranean region,” Salame said.
Without immediate action to stop the flow of arms, “Libya will descend into civil war which could potentially lead to a Hobbesian all-against-all state of chaos or partition of the country,” he said.
Salame also said that Daesh and al-Qaida extremists are already exploiting the security vacuum.
The Security Council failed last month to agree on a draft resolution demanding a cease-fire in Libya and a return to political talks to end the conflict.
Russia refused to include any mention of Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli while the United States said it needed more time to consider the situation, diplomats said.
The envoy urged the council to set up a commission of inquiry to “determine who has taken up arms” and prevent indicted war crimes suspects from taking part in military operations.
More than 75,000 people have been driven from their homes in the latest fighting and 510 have been killed, according to the World Health Organization.


Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

Updated 56 min 30 sec ago

Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

  • President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats
  • The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis met Iraq’s president on Saturday and the two agreed that the country’s sovereignty must be respected, following attacks on Iraqi territory this month by the United States and Iran.
President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, its foreign minister.
The talks “focused on the challenges the country currently faces and on the importance of promoting stability and the reconstruction process, encouraging the path of dialogue and the search for suitable solutions in favor of citizens and with respect for national sovereignty,” a Vatican statement said.
On Jan. 8, Iranian forces fired missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing US troops in retaliation for Washington’s killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike a Baghdad airport on Jan. 3.
The Iraqi parliament has passed a resolution ordering the 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq to leave the country.
Soon after the Iranian attack, Francis urged the United States and Iran to avoid escalation and pursue “dialogue and self-restraint” to avert a wider conflict in the Middle East.
The pope discussed the Middle East with US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday.
The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year.
The Vatican said the pope and Salih also discussed “the importance of preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country.”
The Christian presence in Iraq and some other countries in the Middle East has been depleted by wars and conflicts.
Iraq’s several hundred thousand Christians suffered particular hardships when Daesh controlled large parts of the country, but have recovered.