HoR rejects military cooperation with EU regarding migrants

Libya’s rival assembly rejects prospect of military cooperation with the EU to prevent Mediterranean migration

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The envoy to the UN of Libya’s rival House of Representatives (HoR) assembly, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told BBC Monday that the EU would not revive any military cooperation with Europe over the issue of migrants in his assembly.

"The Libyan government [HoR] has not been consulted by the European Union. They have left us in the dark about what their intentions are, what kind of military actions they are going to take in our territorial waters, so that is very worrying," said Dabbashi.

The EU is currently considering taking military action using air strikes against vessels docked in Libya suspected to be engaged in migrant trafficking.

Last month HoR army head Khalifa Haftar also ruled out assisting EU forces unless the UN arms embargo placed against all parties in the country is lifted for his militias.

"We will certainly not cooperate, because we were not involved in resolving this issue," he said in an interview with CNN, stating that the HoR had come to an agreement that doing so was not within its interests.

Haftar added that the HoR would only offer cooperation if the EU would assist his military campaign and said an “appropriate approach will benefit Libya” in its fight against the Tripoli based central General National Council (GNC) government that the HoR proclaims as “terrorists.” Haftar said that “lifting sanctions against Libya -- specifically those against the army" would be such an approach.

The EU has been discussing how to tackle the issue of naval migration following last month’s migrant tragedy in which over 800 are believed to have died in an attempted Mediterranean crossing.

EU officials are currently debating resolutions set on either reinstating search and rescue missions off the Libyan coast or launching an aerial campaign to target vessels believed to be involved in human trafficking before they set sail for Europe.

The EU’s external relations representative Federica Mogherini will ask the UN Security Council for permission to allow air strikes on smuggler vessels Monday.

Following the recent tragedy, GNC Foreign Minister Muhammad Giyani expressed Tripoli’s willingness to cooperate with the EU to prevent further migrations while urging against the use of military force due to foreseeable dangers.

“You cannot just decide to hit. Let’s say you strike a particular site. How will you know that you did not hit an innocent person, a fisherman? Does Europe have pinpoint accuracy? So we are saying, ‘Let’s do this together,’” Giyani said.

Following Giyani’s statements, the GNC began assisting Italian efforts at reducing the flow of ships packed with migrants shortly after leaving Libya.

On Wednesday the GNC announced that it had taken further steps to prevent migrant crossings by establishing a border patrol initiative to aimed at capturing and deporting migrants to their countries of origin.

“The National Salvation Government [GNC] is committed to take all necessary measures… of preventing the continuity of illegal immigration, and will adopt all deterring measures against the violators,” a statement by the Tripoli government read.

The GNC also announced that it would work together with the EU for the “Improvement of healthy and living conditions of detainees up until they are deported,” as part of a five point plan which also included greater cooperation with migrant hub countries to expedite the detainment and deportation process.

Inner turmoil in Libya, which began with the HoR’s attempted forced closure of the GNC in August, has made it a hub for immigrant entry from Africa and the Middle East as the two rival parliaments feud for control of the country - leaving internal matters such as immigration in disarray.

The GNC holds greater influence in Libya's internal affairs and economic institutions than than (HoR). However, the HoR has enjoyed a greater audience from some members of the international community and ongoing UN peace talks aim to unify the two bodies.

Illegal maritime migration from Libya is a growing concern for the EU as escalating regional conflicts and growing poverty in Africa and the Middle East have led to a considerable rise in migrant numbers.

Nearly 1,800 people are believed to have died since January in attempted Mediterranean crossings, while around 36,000 completed the perilous journey.

The Italian government believes that 200,000 more people will attempt illegal crossings by year’s end.

TRTWorld and agencies