The Libyan government has called on the U.N. Security Council to lift its arms embargo as the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, continues to gain a foothold in the North African country. Information Minister Omar Qweri said the jihadis could be defeated by the end of the year if the ban were lifted, Russian news outlet Sputnik reported Monday.
“The ISIL positions have been identified and the militants have been surrounded. The Libyan Army is ready; one only needs to lift the embargo. If that happens, it can solve the ISIL problem before the end of the year,” Qweri said.
An arms embargo was imposed on the country four years ago following the deposition of former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi as the country slipped into a chaotic and multifaceted civil war. ISIS was able to take advantage of the country's instability and established it as a training ground for militants earlier this year.
The militant group, based in Syria and Iraq, released a video in April of their fighters beheading at least 30 Ethiopian Christians on a beach. A similar video was released of Coptic Christians from Egypt being beheaded by affiliates of ISIS on a Libyan beach in February.
ISIS is among one of the numerous rebel groups the internationally recognized Council of Deputies, based out of the northern port city of Tobruk, Libya, has been battling. Qweri said Western countries, which helped rebels oust Gadhafi four years ago, were responsible for keeping the country in chaos, alleging that they want to see a volatile Libya.
“The West supports chaos, rather than the General National Congress [in Tripoli]. Their strategy can be described as ‘acceptable violence,’ while Russia’s stance and Russian-Arab relations over the past 70 years have been wise and mature,” Qweri said in an interview with Sputnik.
The government representative also ruled out support for international intervention in the country, though he said he would be willing to accept support from Egypt. He blamed the country's current turmoil in part on international intervention four years ago.
The U.N. Security Council voted to keep in place an arms embargo on the country in March this year, Al Jazeera reported. Libya's internationally recognized government, which was at a standoff with a Tripoli-based rival faction, has asked that the embargo be lifted to allow the government to build up its army to take on ISIS fighters. The U.N. Security Council rejected that request, although members did vote to allow for case-by-case exemptions.
Libya has been flooded with weapons and was considered North Africa's most significant hub for arms smuggling. The Security Council also voted in March to extend the U.N.'s political mission in Libya trying to negotiate a power-sharing deal between the country's two major warring parties.