Following the recent Daesh attacks on Libya’s oil infrastructure and the Libyan police training center in Zliten, the UN Security Council on Friday held a meeting to issue a press statement and discuss what immediate measures are to be taken in order to combat the escalating turmoil in the country. As expected, the Security Council was united in releasing a statement condemning the terrorist attacks, expressing its condolences to the families of victims and again supporting the previous resolution “that will work for the benefit of all Libyans and the finalization of interim security arrangements necessary for stabilizing Libya.”
The attacks in Zliten were in a police training center and killed 50 civilians and injured many more. In Benghazi, 9 guards and 30 militants died due to the explosion of oil tanks caused by Daesh (or ISIS) firing. The tanks that were attacked held an estimate of 460,000 barrels of oil, causing a loss of almost 16 million dollars and making the explosion so large it could be seen from outer space. The magnitude and the image of this attack is exactly the publicity and message that Daesh seeks, and their success in this only encourages more attacks to be implemented, which is why severe preventative measures must be made.
In response to the attacks, the Security Council reaffirms that bringing members of such terrorist groups and any individuals affiliated to justice is vital. This includes not only perpetrators, but also sponsors who provide resources to these groups. Sponsors of Daesh range transnationally but are primarily concentrated in the Gulf states. The Fifteen urges all UN member states to abide by international law and cooperate in identifying and exposing affiliates with Daesh so they can be tried in the International Criminal Court. Such measures remain in unison with resolutions 2199 and 2253.
As an overall solution, the UNSC encourages all political parties in Libya to recognize Daesh and other terrorist organizations as the primary enemy and unite to prevent these groups from infiltrating the country. Moreover, the council acknowledges the political destabilization in Libya as the reason for the attacks and, therefore, the only way to effectively prevent future terrorist threats is to stabilize the government and have the Libyan Political Agreement.
In a statement, the Special Representative for Libya and head of the UN Support Mission there (UNSMIL), Martin Kobler, strongly condemned the deadly attacks: “I am shocked at this reprehensible terrorist attack. I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wish those injured a speedy recovery,” said Mr. Kobler, who emphasized that the “heinous act” once again shows that urgent progress is required towards the formation of the Government of National Accord and the activation and rebuilding of Libyan security forces. Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative urged Libyans to put their differences aside and unite to confront the scourge of terrorism. “This attack comes at a time when fighting is still going on at oil facilities in Sidra. Libya cannot afford to remain divided in the face of such serious terrorist threat,” he underscored, referring to an attack just two days before by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Sidra and Ras Lanouf oil terminals.
“Every wasted day in failure to implement the Libyan Political Agreement is a day of gain for Da’esh (an alternative name for ISIL),” Mr. Kobler said, adding that: “These oil resources are property of the Libyan people and future generations. Libyan parties must spare no effort to block any attempt by Daesh to finance its terrorist agenda through seizure of Libyan oil”.
The attacks this week were not the first ones conducted by Daesh in Libya as just this September the forces supporting the Islamic State attempted an attack on a prison in Tripoli. These attacks have been ongoing and will continue to be as long as Libya is in a state of civil war and very dire political instability. For this reason, immediate action must be taken to stabilize the North African country and, though the Council has not publicly spoken of military intervention by a NATO country like Italy, such measures would likely be supported if there were no domestic force that could achieve a stabilization of the government.
However, because Libya was a former colony of Italy, military intervention by the close European Country in Libya further exemplifies post-colonialism in international conflicts, just as the French military presence in Mali did. Though the Italian military intervention could contain or even extradite Daesh from Libya, weakening the organization, if any civilian casualties occur or if Libya becomes even further destabilized, in the International community there is concern that the post-colonialist precedent may fuel anti-western sentiment in North Africa which will in turn strengthen Daesh. For this reason, the situation in Libya remains complex and fragile, which is why any measures taken by the UN Security Council to solve this problem will be discussed again and will have to convince the Russians and Chinese governments of the necessity of a military intervention.