Libyan government ‘rejects overseas help to tackle Isis’
The Government’s rumoured plans to ship 1,000 troops to Libya are in doubt after the new government in Tripoli rejected any assistance from overseas forces.
The news that Britain was planning to send military personnel to the north African country emerged last month, after the Foreign Affairs Committee were tipped off during a visit to Libya.
The committee wrote to Philip Hammond to demand ministers face MPs in the Commons before making any commitments on sending forces.
Troops would operate in non-combat roles as trainers for the Libyan army and to provide security for the newly-formed ‘Government of National Accord’, the FAC said.
Italy had been assembling a non-combat force of 6,000 people, including French and British military personnel, to help train Libyan forces to tackle the Isis-contingent in Libya.
But the Libyan government, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, is said to be against bringing in foreign assistance to help tackle Isis in the region for fears it would exacerbate divisions in the country.
“Even though there are Isis fighters all along the coast they seem more worried about the impact that foreign fighters would have on trying to deal with the situation with the east of the country,” a source told the Times.
Plans for EU forces to be deployed in Libyan waters to stop migrants making the perilous journey to Europe and “neutralise” the people traffickers are also said to be in doubt.
“Permission has not yet been given for that either,” the source said.
An unnamed British minister expressed hope that Mr al-Sarraj might reconsider in the future.
“The idea that the PM is yet able to give the green light to anything is premature, he needs to make sure he has the necessary support,” the minister said.
“We are in a sensitive period. Nobody has drawn any firm conclusions. We’ve got a long way to go but there is a recognition things are extremely serious.”
The British role in Libya has been under growing scrutiny in recent days after Barack Obama said David Cameron had become “distracted” after the toppling Colonel Gaddafi in 2011.
The US president described the situation in the country as a “mess”, as Libya has failed to produce a cohesive government since the downfall of Gaddafi and is a growing base for Isis.