Magharebia (Washington DC)

15 July 2014

North Africa: Neighbours Hold Crisis Talks As Libya Burns

Tunis — Libya's neighbours on Monday (July 14th) met for the second day to address the hotbed of terrorism and instability in their backyard.

Libya's own foreign minister could not attend the security conference, because rocket attacks had knocked out the tower at Tripoli's international airport and left ruined planes on the tarmac. At least 15 people were killed in the latest bout of fighting, according to Libya Herald.

The threat from armed groups in Libya was a growing concern for the foreign ministers attending the Tunis conference.

They decided to form two committees: one security related and the other political.

Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi said that the security committee would be chaired by Algeria. This committee will make concrete proposals for co-ordination between the neighbouring states in matters related to terrorism, organised crime, weapons smuggling and the establishment of a joint system to secure the shared borders.

The political committee, which will be handled by Egypt, will push all Libyan parties to initiate a national dialogue with the aim of reaching a peaceful solution to the crisis and cutting off the road to chaos.

Hamdi called for the adoption of a unified strategy to monitor the border between the neighbouring states through the creation of a Libyan joint operations room for security co-ordination and information exchange. He added that the issue of terrorism was not one for Libya alone and fighting it required the combined efforts of the region.

For his part, Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra confirmed that a collective effort was needed to help Libya get through the transitional phase and on the path toward greater security and stability.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki also noted that the way to meet escalating security risks was to create joint forces and secure borders between Libya and its neighbours. He pointed out that this solution had the consent of Libya.

Diplomats from Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Chad and Niger, as well as representatives from the Arab League and the African Union, attended the event.

The Libyan chargé d'affaires in Tunisia, Mohamed Maaloul, described the recommendations as positive.

"These are good decisions but now the application of these decisions on the ground is required in co-ordination with the concerned political stakeholders in Libya through a convergence of views. It is further necessary to find compromise solutions that are wished for by everyone," Maaloul said.

"Decisions are not important; their implementation is," remarked Ahmed Chibane, a private sector employee from Misrata. "I hope they meet acceptance and positive responses from the parties to the conflict without delay in order to spare our country from further tampering and chaos."

Journalist Fadia Sendesni applauded the plan for neighbouring states to work together, "especially with the escalation of activities of extremist groups in the region".

"Co-operation between the neighbouring countries of Libya would bring a measure of stability and security to the region and contribute to the reduction of the influence of terrorist groups," she added.

"The security of all these countries is entwined," she added. "We hope they will continue this unity and solidarity among themselves over the long term."

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