U.S. Condemns Ongoing Violence in Libya in Joint Statement with EU members

libyaPhoto Credit: al-Ahram

France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint statement Saturday, condemning the ongoing violence in Libya and calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities.” The statement expressed concern for General Khalifa Haftar‘s recent assault on Islamist positions in Benghazi. Haftar is a former general who served¬†under former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and is one of several commanders of “irregular forces” making decisions in the country.

Haftar’s campaign in Benghazi, dubbed “Operation Dignity” was endorsed by the internationally recognized Libyan government now based in Tobruk. The endorsement, however, may intensify internal divisions within the Tobruk bloc, with critics of General Haftar denouncing him as a “loyalist” to the former regime. The United States’ joint statement asserted that Libya’s security challenges “can only be sustainably addressed by regular armed forces under the control of a central authority which is accountable to a democratic and inclusive parliament.”

The statement also expressed disappointment that after meetings in Ghadames and Tripoli, the competing parties in the Libyan conflict were unable to respect calls for a ceasefire. The authors of the statement affirmed their readiness to “use individual sanctions,” in accordance with the UN, “against those who threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya or obstruct or undermine the political process.”

Italian freelance journalist, Tomaso Clavarino, argued that NATO intervention in the overthrow of Ghaddafi helped exacerbate Libya’s institutional failures. Clavarino questioned¬†whether the situation in Libya deteriorated after Ghaddafi was ousted, citing a UN report from September 4 which found that about 250,000 Libyans fled their homes due to the conflict. Clavarino criticized the West’s “disinterest” in Libya’s decline.