Leave Libya Alone: Ghassan Salameh

Published on 7th January 2020

Ghassan Salameh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) comments on the latest situation in Libya.

Keep your hands off Libya. The country is suffering too much from foreign interference in different ways; in arms being sold to Libyans; in arms given to Libyans, in direct foreign military action in Libya; in looking for permanent bases in Libya. All these kinds of direct intervention are making things extremely difficult. What I ask the Security Council, what I ask all these countries is very clear, keep out of Libya. There are enough weapons in Libya, they don’t need extra weapons. There are enough mercenaries in Libya, so stop sending mercenaries as is the case right now, with hundreds or thousands right now coming into the country of late.

Stop all kinds of foreign interference and I will go back to the principle, there is a resolution calling for arms embargo in Libya, those who voted on this resolution are necessarily in need to implement it. If everybody violates the arms embargo it is a problem, but if those who adopted the arms embargo are violating it, it is an even bigger problem.

There is no military solution possible in Libya. I know it is a UN cliché, but in this case it is not a UN cliché, because if you look at the composition of forces on both sides, you will discover that there are a lot of mercenaries, in addition, the country is huge and to capture and to control that country, I don’t see any party able to do that, that is way it is not a cliché but rather a realistic assessment that there can be no military solution in Libya and the Libyans should come together and stop this “prima donna behavior” and accept mutual concessions to divide power, which is the basic part of a political settlement.

Get out of the Libyan nightmare, that is what I am asking all the countries. Remain outside this situation because there is no military solution. The more we give hopes to this side or to that side, the more you render the political situation extremely different. So better to avoid escalating and internationalizing this conflict.

The international system is fractured enough on Libya and other issues, but I do believe that Libya can be a place where this fracturing of the international system can be contained, because it is a rich country and can satisfy a lot of international interest if it is prosperous and stable and not at war. Therefore, I call upon the Security Council not to lose a moment and that my brief to the Security Council, which is the 15th since the 4th of April, leads to a decision that enough is enough, that the Libyans have suffered enough.

I am really angry to see that everybody wants to talk about Libya and very few people want to talk about the Libyans. What happens to the Libyans? What happens to millions of migrant workers in Libya? What don’t we ask about them?

Libya is not only an oil story, Libya is not only a gas story, Libya is not only a geopolitical story, it is also a human story and people are suffering and for no other reason but for the fact that there is not international clear message that enough is enough.

My feeling is that if we leave it alone, it will also impact neighbouring countries and I think we should care about the stability of other countries, very fragile countries. To the East, to the South and to the West and there is some kind of “laziness” in recognizing the gravity of the Libyan situation. I have been saying this for a long while, but in light of what is happening in the past three weeks, with calls for Jihad, with agreements with other countries to provide weapons, with attacks against Sirt today while I am taking to you, the things are becoming much more serious. I hope that this aggravation of the situation opens our eyes to the fact that it is detrimental to six or seven million Libyans but also to the neighbouring countries and to peace and security in the Mediterranean.

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