By Libya Herald staff.
Tunis, 7 February 2015:
The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US have expressed fears that . . .[restrict]terrorist groups are gaining a foothold in Libya because of the continuing fighting in the country.
“We are concerned by the growing presence of terrorist organisations in Libya, and by the attacks on the Corinthia last week and on the Mabrook oil field earlier this week,” the six said in a joint statement issued yesterday.
Condemning Tuesday’s attack on the Sidra oil terminal by Operation Sunrise forces, the western allies warned that “the only people who ultimately benefit from continued fighting over Libya’s oil terminals and cities are terrorists”.
Although the Beida-based Libyan government of Abdullah Al-Thinni has similarly spoken of the growing threat from Islamist militants, notably the Islamic State, the Tripoli-based administration of Omar Al-Hassi and its supporters have consistently denied their existence not just in the capital but in the country, instead blaming all attacks on Khalifa Hafter and the House of Representatives.
In their warning, the six governments said that the Sidra oil attack undermined efforts of those Libyans who were trying to bring peace and stability to the country through the UN-led dialogue talks.
“We share the UN’s assessment that these attacks constituted a major break in the public pledges made by the main commanders to refrain from actions that could harm the political process,” the statement read.
The statement was referring to the declaration on 16 January by the spokesman of the Misrata-based Central Libya Shield forces, Ahmed Hadia, that it would join the ceasefire called by delegates to the dialogue talks in Geneva. Central Libya Shield had been a major component in Operation Sunrise assault on Sidra, begun some eight weeks ago.
However, it is reported that the Misratans involved in Tuesday’s attack were primarily those of the Haten brigade of leading Misrata hardliner Salah Badi. At least 24 people died, in the offensive, mostly Misratans.
UNSMIL has already condemned the Sidra attack.
The six said that there could be no military solution to Libya’s problems.
“We call on all Libyan parties to participate constructively in the UN-led dialogue in order to reach rapidly a sustainable ceasefire and a national unity government. We are encouraged by the progress made in that direction so far and call on all concerned parties to strengthen their effort for this process, which is crucial to Libya’s future.”
They also said that they were “deeply concerned” about the economic consequences of the current crisis.
“In light of low oil production and prices, Libya faces a budget deficit that has the potential to consume all of its financial assets if the situation does not stabilise.” [/restrict]