Libya, neighbor nations snub military intervention

AP News
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Posted: Sep 17, 2014 12:46 PM

MADRID (AP) — Libya's struggling elected government and representatives of 15 neighboring nations on Wednesday unanimously rejected the idea of military intervention as a way to restore stability in the oil-rich nation, which some say is on the brink of civil war.

Meeting in Madrid, officials from countries surrounding Libya and to its north across the Mediterranean concluded "there is no military solution to the current crisis."

But Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo warned that the status quo puts Libya in a position where it could slide into a Syria-style civil war.

Libya currently has two rival parliaments and governments. One is recently elected but based in Tobruk, where it moved after Islamist militias took control of both Tripoli and Libya's second-largest city, Benghazi. The previous Islamist-led parliament remains in Tripoli and is backed by the militias.

Libya Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz offered no specifics on how his government could regain control of Tripoli but said he did not believe a recent series of mysterious airstrikes in Libya or future airstrikes would shift the balance of power.

"We are convinced that is impossible for us to overcome terrorism only through air strikes," Abdulaziz told reporters.

U.S. officials have said some airstrikes were carried out by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, reinforcing the perception that Libya has become a proxy battleground for larger regional struggles — with Turkey and Qatar backing the Islamist militias and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE supporting their opponents.

The specter of regional intervention has cast a pall over the increasingly fractured country, which was plunged into turmoil following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi but gave rise to a patchwork of heavily armed and increasingly unruly militias.

Abdulaziz said his government is "not inviting any country to do any kind of military intervention in Libya. What we have seen is foreign intervention has always lead to disaster."