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Global powers agree to arm Libya against Islamic State

Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Gaddafi [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 May, 2016

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International powers are set to provide arms and support to the internationally recognised Libyan government to help tackle IS militants.
World powers have said they will supply Libya's new unity government with weapons to counter the threat posed by the Islamic State group [IS], which has gained a foothold in the country's lawless regions.

The United States along with the four other permanent United Nations Security Council members and more than 15 other countries said on Monday they will approve exemptions to a UN arms embargo to allow military sales and aid to Libya's Government of National Accord [GNA].

In a joint communique released after talks in Vienna, the countries said that while the broader embargo will remain in place, they are "ready to respond to the Libyan government's requests for training and equipping" government forces.

"We will fully support these efforts while continuing to reinforce the UN arms embargo," the communique said," it read.

The talks gathered US Secretary of State John Kerry and top officials from more than 20 other nations to discuss ways to strengthen Libya's new government in its fight against IS and end its rivalry with a group to the east claiming legitimacy.

Kerry called the plan "a delicate balance".

"But we are all here today supportive of the fact that if you have a legitimate government and that legitimate government is fighting terrorism, that legitimate government should not be victimised by [the embargo]," he told reporters.

The recently formed GNA backed by the international community has been slowly asserting its authority in Tripoli.

In a bid to stabilise the country, the fledgling Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj drew up a list of requests for Western partners to assist its forces with arms, training and intelligence

At present, the US, UK, France and Italy maintain a military presence around Libya, however, their shifting associations with various rebel groups have meant that efforts to strengthen the government in Tripoli have often been hindered.

To complicate matters further, Western-backed countries including the UAE and Egypt have advocated a greater role for the rival forces of General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National army in the country's east.

Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi, with rival militias vying to control the oil-rich country.

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