TRIPOLI (Web Desk) – World powers are ready to consider the new Libyan unity government’s request to be exempt from a United Nations arms and military equipment embargo in its fight against the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” and other terror groups.
The United States, four other permanent UN Security Council members and 15 other nations participating in the talks on Libya said that they were “ready to respond to the Libyan government’s requests for training and equipping” government forces.
The joint decision, announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, followed a meeting in Vienna which was attended by diplomats from more than 20 countries.
“The Government of National Accord has voiced its intention to submit appropriate arms embargo exemption requests to the UN Libya Sanctions Committee to procure necessary lethal arms and material to counter UN-designated terrorist groups and to combat [ISIL] throughout the country,” Kerry said.
“We will fully support these efforts while continuing to reinforce the UN arms embargo.”
On the other hand, security analysts fear the weapons could fall into the wrong hands. “Now, if you give arms to the Tripoli-based government with its separate military, and if you try to encourage them to also participate, you have essentially taken sides in a civil war,” Hafed Al Ghwell, a senior adviser at Oxford Analytica, told Al Jazeera.
“And the trouble also comes with the fact that there are no clear guidelines as to how these new arms are going to be handed over to this Tripoli government.”
While the joint statement spoke of intentions, the fact that all five permanent Security Council members back the plan to arm the internationally-back Libyan unity government means that it is unlikely to face significant opposition from any quarter.
The Libyan unity government has said it will submit an arms embargo exemption request to the UN, to be able to gain the necessary arms to combat ISIL (also known as ISIS) throughout the country. The ban was put in place five years ago.
According to the Libyan government officials, the lifting of the arms embargo is going to allow his government to get more weapons in the fight against ISIL which has expanded its influence in the northern part of Libya, at the doorstep of Europe.
Libya descended into chaos after the toppling and death of Muammar Gaddafi five years ago and soon turned into a battleground of rival groups battling for powers.
The power vacuum has allowed ISIL to expand its presence. The group is estimated to have around 5,000 fighters in the country.