Libya Asks U.N. Security Council to Lift Arms Embargo

Libya asked the U.N. Security Council at an emergency session Wednesday to lift an arms embargo so that it can fight Islamic State militants.

<> on February 18, 2015 in New York City.

Libya asked the U.N. Security Council to lift an arms embargo so that it can fight Islamic State militants. At an emergency session Wednesday, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Dairi said the international community left the country “prey” to extremists following the ouster of Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011, and that it had a “legal and moral responsibility to lend urgent support.” However, he stressed Libya was not requesting an international intervention. The emergency session came after Egypt launched airstrikes targeting Islamic State affiliated militants in Libya after a video was posted appearing to show the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, who were abducted in Libya. Egypt’s foreign minister joined Dairi in calling for the end to the embargo and pushed for a naval blockade on weapons headed for areas not under control of the Tobruk-based government. However, council members didn’t show much support for the proposals from Egypt and Libya. Libya has been under an arms embargo since the 2011 uprising, though the government is exempt if arms suppliers receive approval from the Security Council in advance.


Opposition fighters said they had regained territory near the northern city of Aleppo Wednesday after the Syrian government launched an offensive. Activists reported opposition fighters retook the village of Ratyan and captured 32 pro-government forces. Syrian opposition groups on Wednesday rejected a cease-fire proposed by U.N. special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, saying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has never negotiated in good faith. Meanwhile, the Pentagon reported Wednesday that the United States had identified about 1,200 Syrian opposition fighters that could potentially be included in a U.S. train and equip program to help in the fight against Islamic State militants, which is expected to begin in March.


  • Qatar has recalled its ambassador to Egypt in a dispute over Egyptian airstrikes in Libya, after Egypt’s delegate to the Arab League accused Qatar of supporting terrorism.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will join negotiators in Geneva Sunday for talks on Tehran’s nuclear program.
  • Iran has scheduled parliamentary elections for Feb. 26, 2016.

Arguments and Analysis

Iraq After the Islamic State: Politics Rule’ (Douglas A. Ollivant, War on the Rocks)

“The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – known by most people in the Middle East as Daesh – will lose its battle to hold territory in Iraq. It may well take one to two years to reduce their defenses in cities like Mosul, Tikrit, and Fallujah, but the ultimate outcome is no longer in serious doubt. This does not mean there will not be sizeable battles — and perhaps ISIL tactical victories — in the coming months. This does not mean that ISIL will be eliminated as a cell-based terrorist group in Iraq. This does not mean that groups from Afghanistan to Libya may not decide to affiliate themselves with ISIL. And above all, it does not mean that there is a plan to eject ISIL from Syria. But the outcome in Iraq is now clear to most serious analysts.

However, the occupation of about one-third of Iraq’s territory by ISIL has changed the fabric and politics of Iraqi society, perhaps forever. Politics will, as always, remain primary. All three major ethno-sectarian groups in Iraq have been shifted by the ISIL earthquake, but too few are thinking at this macro political level. Instead most analysts tend to focus on the latest micro-level event, but good analysis must look beyond day-to-day headlines and, indeed, beyond the horizon. Changes at Iraq’s macro-level, combined with older trends, provide reason for both pessimism and optimism for the future of Iraq.”

Al-Qaeda’s Loss in Syria is Balanced by Gain in Yemen’ (Lina Khatib, Carnegie Middle East Center)

“Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been watching these developments with interest, since al-Qaeda thrives on chaos and sees in countries with weak governance an opportunity to exert control. Building on the resentment against the Sanaa government in the south, and on the lack of government capacity to respond following the Houthi takeover, AQAP has begun a process of resurrection in the south. Last week it was reported that Ansar al-Sharia seized an army camp in the southern province of Shabwa and obtained heavy weaponry through the attack. AQAP has also announced its intention to establish an Islamic emirate in Yemen.”

— Mary Casey-Baker

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