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Arab League Calls for Action, Dialogue in Libya


Libyan representative Ashour Abu-Rashed attends an emergency meeting to discuss the conflict in Libya, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Jan. 5, 2015.

The Arab League is calling for both "action" and "dialogue" to prevent the chaotic situation in Libya from getting worse. Libya's representative to the League urged the world to help arm the Libyan Army, while the country's parliament speaker called for help in protecting the country's oil infrastructure.

The Arab League meeting on the crisis in Libya took place as a long-awaited national dialogue session of rival leaders in Libya was again postponed.

Arab League chief Nabil Elarabi told delegates to the Cairo conference the solution to the conflict “must respect the free will of the Libyan people,” as well as “the sovereignty and unity of the country.” He added that the League supports Libya's “legitimately elected parliament" and the government stemming from it.

Elarabi stressed that everyone involved must adhere to the principles of dialogue and renounce violence and terrorism.

"A decisive position must be taken towards all acts of terrorism on Libyan soil, which are leading to chaos and a political and security vacuum in the country," said Nabil Elarabi.

Libya's representative to the League, Ambassador Ashour Bou Rached, said military action must be taken quickly to put an end to bloodshed and urged the international community to help arm the Libyan Army.

"Every delay in taking action against Islamist militias means there is less chance for a negotiated solution. I urge the international community to sanction those who are destroying public infrastructure and impeding a solution to the conflict," said Rached.

Paul Sullivan, who teaches at Georgetown University, told VOA that he is not extremely optimistic about the Arab League's ability to affect a positive change in Libya, given its record of “impotence” in past conflicts and crises.

He argues that talk of “dialogue,” at this point would be equivalent to “being in the middle of a heated gang war in old Chicago,” and asking [notorious gangster Al] Capone to have tea and discuss matters.” Sullivan goes a step further and suggests that Libya “may already be finished as a state” and that the current chaos “may breed new countries in its place.”

The speaker of the Libyan parliament, elected last June, Aqelah Saleh, urged Arab states, during a press conference after the Cairo meeting, to “take action to help protect Libya's oil infrastructure.” Considerable damage has been inflicted on oil storage facilities by Islamist militiamen in the port of Ras es Seder.

Saleh also accused Turkey of helping to arm the Islamist militias, known as Fajr Libya, or Libya Dawn, which seized control of the capital Tripoli last year. Those militias have set up their own government which is not recognized internationally.

Libya's internationally-recognized government, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, issued a decree Monday forbidding foreign nationals from Syria, Palestinian territories and Sudan from entering the country to take part in the ongoing conflict.

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