World Powers Approve Arms for Libya’s Unity Government

World Powers Approve Arms for Libya’s Unity GovernmentWorld Powers Approve Arms for Libya’s Unity Government

The United States and other world powers have said they are ready to provide weapons to Libya’s unity government. The West is looking to shore up the government to fight militants and prevent a refugee influx.

Major world powers convening in Vienna on Monday said they were prepared to lift a UN arms embargo on Libya’s unity government to help it secure control over the chaotic North African oil state, DPA reported.

The West and Libya’s neighbors hope a new UN-backed government will be able to dislodge the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group and prevent an influx of migrants from crossing the sea to Europe.

“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,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, summing up the issues ahead of a meeting of top diplomats from 21 countries.

The foreign ministers said in a communique they were “ready to respond to the Libyan government’s requests for training and equipping” of government forces.

The approval, including from all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, all but ensures an exemption from a 2011 UN arms embargo for the new unity government. Any lifting of the arms embargo would not apply to other armed groups in the country.

International powers prodding Libyans to overcome their differences had said they would support a new government. However, the decision to partially lift the embargo is risky.

There are concerns over whether the new unity government will be able to keep weapons out of the hands of extremists and a multitude of militias, as well as the potential for human rights abuses.

The new UN-backed unity government led by Fayez al-Sarraj sailed into the western city of Tripoli at the end of March to bring stability to Libya five years after NATO-backed rebels ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi and the country descended into chaos.

The Government of National Accord has only very loose control in a collapsed state filled with competing armed groups. It has secured the support of the administration in Tripoli but not a rival parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk.

The two rival administrations have been fighting each other for more than a year. A power vacuum has enabled IS to carve out an area of control around the central coastal city of Sirte, where western intelligence agencies estimate the extremist group has more than 5,000 fighters.

Europe is concerned IS could use Sirte to launch attacks on the continent.