Tunisia Slams UK Over Its Role In Libya

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TUNISIAN Prime Minister Habib Essid has stated that Libya’s current turmoil has largely come about as a result of the foreign military intervention in 2011, which the UK played a leading role in, to overthrow the government of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi.

After Gadaffi was murdered, the country was divided up between rival gangs of Islamists, who have been sponsored and organised by NATO. Now Libya has several governments with various militias fighting each other and seeking to grab the country’s resources and and with IS and Al-Qaeda seeking to export the ‘Libyan chaos’ to neighbouring states such as Tunisia.

The instability in Libya involves a split between a West-recognised government in the Far East of the nation and the Islamist-led government that seized the capital together with various militias. Essid has stated that the UK should consequently commit to assist Tunisia in its fight against terrorist activities and to help secure borders with Libya, where the gunmen from both the Bardo museum and the Sousse attacks were trained.

His comments coincide with statements from police in the UK suggesting that there is evidence to believe that the Sousse and Bardo terrorist attacks were connected. Scotland Yard believes there to be strong evidence between the killings, in which 60 people lost their lives. In an interview with the Guardian, Essid stated: ‘We are against all military intervention in Libya. We consider that the current situation is the result of the (2011) intervention, which created chaos.’

When asked about the type of role that the UK should play helping Tunisia secure its border, Essid replied: ‘They have responsibility. Terrorism has no borders.’ Following the attacks, the UK government issued a statement advising British people travelling to Tunisia against doing so. Essid has stated that, whilst he understands the reasons for doing so, this decision dented the country’s economic status, which is heavily reliant on tourism.

‘We have this problem of the travel warning, which we understand perfectly is the act of a sovereign state, which has a responsibility to protect its citizens,’ he said. In the aftermath of Islamic State claiming responsibility for the attacks, Tunisian authorities arrested a total of 150 people, 15 of whom have already been charged with terrorist offences.

A terrorist cell was dismantled in the region of Ben Arous on Tuesday and seven terrorists were arrested, the Ministry of the Interior announced in a press release on Wednesday. The operation is part of ongoing anticipative security operations conducted in co-ordination with the Public Prosecution, the ministry added. Meanwhile, two people were arrested on Tuesday in Kebili on suspicion of organising illegal journeys for youths and families of terrorists to Syria and Libya, a security source said on Wednesday. The suspects were handed over to concerned services in Tunis, the same source indicated.

A terrorist element supplying terrorist groups in Mount Ouergha with food was arrested last Saturday. The National Guard in El Kef said a large quantity of food products in cardboard boxes was seized in Douar Chaambia at the house of the terrorist.

• The United Nations announced on Thursday that a new round of peace talks between the Libyan conflicting parties will be held on Monday in Morocco. The new round talks came after extensive consultations with relevant Libyan stakeholders and international partners, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement.

In the statement, the UN Envoy Bernardino Leon urged the main parties to redouble their efforts and to narrow existing differences and forge a common platform that can be the basis for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Libya. It added that Leon acknowledged that while some of the parties continue to have reservations about what has been achieved to date, it is important for all the parties to continue working on jointly addressing and resolving these concerns within the framework of the dialogue process.

He stressed the fact that any final political settlement will also include ‘guarantees designed to reassure the different parties regarding any outstanding concerns they might have’. During the last round, which was held in July in the absence of the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC), the Tobruk-based parliament alongside representatives of political parties, municipalities and civil society groups agreed on the UN-brokered political agreement. The UN has brokered several rounds of dialogues between the conflicting parties since last September, but clashes persisted despite a truce agreed by the warring factions.

• EU officials said on Thursday that there is ‘no simple answer’ to dealing with migration after more than 400 people were rescued when a fishing boat capsized off the Libyan port of Zuwara on Wednesday. European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a joint statement on Thursday: ‘There is no simple, nor single, answer to the challenges posed by migration. And nor can any Member State effectively address migration alone. It is clear that we need a new, more European approach.’

At least 25 bodies have been recovered so far after the shipwreck, which Amnesty International on Wednesday called ‘the first incident of this scale since EU governments agreed to scale up search-and-rescue operations in late April’.

Amnesty also called on the European Union to provide safer travel for migrants, including increased pledges to resettle refugees, expanded access to Europe through humanitarian visas and family reunification and an easing of restrictions on freedom of movement of successful asylum seekers. ‘Migration is not a popular or pretty topic. It is easy to cry in front of your TV-set when witnessing these tragedies,’ Timmermans, Mogherini and Avramopoulos said in Thursday’s statement.

‘It is harder to stand up and take responsibility. What we need now is the collective courage to follow through with concrete action on words that will otherwise ring empty,’ the EU officials added. At least 100,000 migrants have fled to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea this year so far, according to the United Nations.