Sunday 22 October 2017

Egypt's President Sisi urges UN mandate for Libya coalition

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Reuters World Service

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called for a United Nations resolution mandating an international coalition to intervene in Libya after Egypt's airforce bombed Islamic State targets there.

"There is no other choice, taking into account the agreement of the Libyan people and government and that they call on us to act," he told France's Europe 1 radio in an interview aired on Tuesday. "We have to work together to defeat terrorism."

Egypt directly intervened for the first time in the conflict in neighbouring Libya on Monday after an Islamic State group in the country released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

Read more here: Beheadings spark call for new offensive against jihadists 

Sisi said a 2011 NATO operation, which played a critical role in toppling former leader Muammar Gaddafi, was an "unfinished mission".

The Western alliance imposed a no-fly zone on Libya and used air power to try to prevent Gaddafi's forces from attacking civilian areas held by rebels. But it then did little to prevent the country from sliding into anarchy and chaos.

Relatives of Egyptian Coptic men killed in Libya mourn at their house in El-Our village, in Minya governorate, south of Cairo
Relatives of Egyptian Coptic men killed in Libya mourn at their house in El-Our village, in Minya governorate, south of Cairo
Coptic Christian men whose relatives were abducted by Islamic State militants in the central city of Sirte, Libya more than a month ago, protest at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
A Coptic Christian woman prays for the release of 21 Coptic Egyptian men whose were abducted by Islamic State militants in the central city of Sirte, Libya more than a month ago, during a protest at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Family relatives of abducted Coptic Christian Samuel Walham, one of 21 Coptic Egyptian men seized by Islamic State militants in the central city of Sirte, Libya, more than a month ago, weep outside their home in the village of el-Aour, near Minya, 220 kilometers (135 miles) south of Cairo, Egypt AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Coptic Christian men whose relatives were abducted by Islamic State militants in the central city of Sirte, Libya more than a month ago, protest at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Relatives of abducted Coptic Christian Samuel Walham weep outside their home in the village of el-Aour, near Minya, south of Cairo (AP)

"We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias," the Egyptian president said.

In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also called for action from the United Nations, but did not say whether Italy itself would support any direct military operation in Libya.

"There was renewed Italian commitment for strong diplomatic action within the framework of the U.N. and support for an urgent initiative at the Security Council to promote stability and peace in Libya," said a statement following a meeting between Renzi and his defence and interior ministers.

Read more here: New Isil horror video shows 21 kidnapped Christians being beheaded on beach 

Libya is separated from the Italian island of Sicily by only a few hundred kilometres of sea and has been a launching pad in recent years for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle East migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti have both said Rome would be ready to join any military intervention but Renzi has struck a more cautious note, saying on Monday it was important to avoid "hysteria" and that any action had to be under U.N. authority.

Sisi called on various Libyan militias to disarm, while urging the outside world to send weapons to Libya's internationally recognised government, which is based in the eastern city of Tobruk after rivals seized power in Tripoli.

The Tobruk government has also asked for the lifting of an arms embargo to help it take back control of the country.

Press Association

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