Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Libyan army in need of training in fight against ISIS: Saudi diplomat
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Saudi Minister of Defense Mohammed Bin Salman (L) shakes hands with chief of staff of the US Central Command Lloyd Austin in Riyadh on February 19, 2015. (Bandar Al-Jaloud)

Saudi Minister of Defense Mohammed Bin Salman (L) shakes hands with chief of staff of the US Central Command Lloyd Austin in Riyadh on February 19, 2015. (Bandar Al-Jaloud)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—A senior Saudi diplomat said that military chiefs gathered in Riyadh for a meeting of the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may have discussed the training of Libyan soldiers in the fight against the extremist group.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Libya Mohammed Al-Ali said the Libyan army is in an embryonic stage and is in need of training and rehabilitation.

“The situation in Libya today is no longer a domestic issue, instead it poses a threat to the neighboring countries as well as the world due to its proximity to European shores,” the ambassador said.

Chiefs of staff from 26 Western and Arab countries taking part in the anti-ISIS coalition concluded a two-day meeting in the Saudi capital on Thursday.

The closed-door meeting discussed the war on ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the deteriorating situation in Libya where ISIS recently released footage of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts, prompting Egypt to target the terrorist group with airstrikes.

Libya has been struggling to maintain stability and security for almost four years since the toppling of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi in late 2011.

“Libya’s security capabilities are limited and in urgent need of support from the international community, particularly from Arab states,” said Ali.

The UN Security Council turned down a request lodged by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for a resolution mandating military intervention in Libya earlier this week.

The Riyadh meeting emphasizes the significance of the role played by Saudi Arabia in the fight on terrorism, maintained the ambassador.

“The coalition remains the strength of our military campaign,” said the head of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. Lloyd Austin, at the end of the meeting on Thursday.

ISIS “has been degraded in Syria, and they are proving unable to take and hold new territory in Iraq,” he said in a statement, adding that the campaign “will take time.”