Ghassan Salamé, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), had a stern warning Monday for other nations backing the warring parties in Libya, one he delivered after a closed-door session with the United Nations Security Council.
“Keep your hands off Libya,” he said, when asked for his message during a follow-up press briefing. “The country is suffering too much from foreign interference in different ways; in arms being sold to Libyans; in arms given to Libyans, in direct foreign military action in Libya; in looking for permanent bases in Libya. All these kinds of direct intervention are making things extremely difficult,” Salamé added.
Salamé pointed to an attack Saturday night on a military academy where dozens of unarmed student cadets from across Libya were killed. Libya’s Government of National Accord called the incident “a war against humanity” perpetrated by Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army, who have since April attacked the rival government based in Tripoli in fighting that’s left some 300 civilians killed and thousands displaced.
The UN representative said the cadets died by drone attack likely done by a country supporting the LNA. “We know it is a country supporting the LNA but there is more than one country supporting the LNA,” Salamé said. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and others are believed to support Haftar, while Turkey has made high-profile commitments to the GNA led by Fayez Al-Sarraj. A number of countries are investigated for violations of the arms embargo in Libya.
“I am really angry to see that everybody wants to talk about Libya and very few people want to talk about the Libyans. What happens to the Libyans?” he said.
“Libya is not only an oil story, Libya is not only a gas story, Libya is not only a geopolitical story, it is also a human story and people are suffering and for no other reason but for the fact that there is no international clear message that enough is enough.”
He also expressed frustration with the Security Council itself, noting it has met 14 times since Haftar announced his Tripoli offensive some nine months ago without producing a resolution on ceasefire.
“I care about the Libyans, and they are asking ‘where is the international community? Where is the international community that said in 2011 it will protect the civilians?’” he said. “What do I tell them? That the international community doesn’t care, is unable to produce a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire? That is the heart of the matter.”
To see a transcript of the complete remarks, check this link.