NATO Not Planning Any Combat Operations in Libya

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO stands ready to support the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) by assisting in the county in the building of defence and security institutions.

In a press conference on Thursday Stoltenberg said that NATO had a clear mandate to stand ready and help assist the GNA.

“I spoke with Prime Minister Sarraj some weeks ago and he will now send a team of experts from Tripoli to Brussels and they will sit down with our experts and look into what we can do to assist and help them.”

Stoltenberg insisted that NATO is not planning on any kind of combat operations in Libya, rather, with the request of the GNA, it is looking into what it can do to support Libya and help build their capacity to defend themselves.

“We are not talking about the combat operation but we are talking about how NATO can assist and help, especially in the field of building institutions, structures, and I think it’s very easy to underestimate the importance of institutions, structures, security, defence planning because especially in a country like Libya, that is something they really need.”

Last week during a meeting in Vienna between over 20 Nations about Libya, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj asked the international community to assist his government in their fight against ISIS by giving it weapons and by providing training for its military forces.

The United States along with other world powers agreed to partially lift the arms embargo placed on Libya after the 2011 ousting of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in order to assist in their fight against ISIS.  

Stoltenberg stated that NATO was planning on training Libyan forces and provide military equipment to Libya, however in order to do so effectively he stressed that that strong and organized institutions needed to be built.

In addition, Stoltenberg also discussed that NATO was planning on broadening its role in the Mediterranean to help the European Union in Operation Sophia, the anti-migrant smuggling military operation, by providing ships, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The GNA is in the process of trying to defeat ISIS in Libya and has launched Operation Strong Foundation against ISIS forces in the region between Misrata and Sirte.

Sarraj has repeatedly called on the international community to hasten providing the Libyan military with weapons and training, however, he has made it clear that Libya did not want foreign intervention in the form of boots on ground.

Western countries fear that ISIS could use the port and airbase from their stronghold in Sirte, which is just 100 kilometers from European shores, to launch attacks on the continent. Therefore, world powers are eager to support the GNA in their efforts at establishing security and stability in Libya.  

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