MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - The governments of France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States have released a statement threatening sanctions against Libya in the face of growing violence, which has recently culminated in clashes in coastal cities between jihadist militants and the forces of the retired general Khalifa Haftar.
In the statement, the countries “condemn the crimes of Ansar al-Sharia entities, and the ongoing violence in communities across Libya, including Tripoli and its environs”, while also relaying that they are “concerned by Khalifa Haftar’s attacks in Benghazi.”
Libya has seen increasing violence since the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi by armed rebels in 2011; during the conflict Haftar served as a general for the anti-Gaddafi forces. His forces began an offensive on Wednesday against Islamic militant groups, who since August have been running their own government in Tripoli to rival that of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinn.
The statement further warned that the governments, “stand ready to use individual sanctions in accordance with UNSCR 2174 against those who threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya or obstruct or undermine the political process”, though they “agree that there is no military solution to the Libyan crisis”.
The release follows a proposal by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya for the cessation of military operations in the areas of Kikla and Qala in western Libya for at least four days in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The ceasefire was due to begin at midnight on Saturday 18th October.
The announcement also called for the international community to act “in a united manner” to help solve the crisis, which has been discussed in recent high-level meetings held in New York and Madrid that were attended by representatives of the European Union, Arab League and African Union. Along with these meetings, talks have recently been held in Ghadames between the House of Representatives in renewed efforts to solve the crisis using political means.
The statement also warned that “Libya’s hard fought freedom is at risk if Libyan and international terrorist groups are allowed to use Libya as a safe haven”, and that the problems which beset the country can only be tackled using the framework of a central government accountable to a democratic parliament.