Cairo (dpa) – Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on Tuesday urged the UN Security Council to authorize intervention in Libya, two days after Islamic State published a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.
Any intervention would require the backing of the Libyan people and government, al-Sissi told French radio station Europe 1 a day after the Egyptian air force struck militant targets in eastern Libya.
As al-Sissi pushed for support for Libya’s internationally recognized government, UN envoy Bernardino Leon warned that “all options are on the table” if talks with rival authorities based in the capital Tripoli fail.
An agreement with all stakeholders should be a priority, Leon told Maltese radio station One, but if that failed, the security council would ask the UN to fill the vacuum with “concrete action and decisions.”
Tripoli’s Islamist-leaning parliament – which condemned the Egyptian airstrikes as a violation of Libyan sovereignty – last week joined UN-brokered peace talks aimed at forming a unity government.
Libya’s division between forces loyal to Tripoli and those backed by the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk in the far east has helped Islamic State and other extremists broaden their foothold in the troubled north African country.
While the US and EU have backed the unity talks, Egypt and the UAE have thrown their weight behind the Tobruk government and retired general Khalifa Haftar, who last May launched an assault on radical Islamists in the eastern city of Benghazi.
“Very simply, we have to support legality and the choice of the [Libyan] people,” al-Sissi told Europe 1.
Asked if he was calling for the UN to form a coalition to intervene in Libya, al-Sissi said: “Yes, yes, there is no other choice – taking into consideration whether the Libyan people are in agreement and the Libyan government is in agreement and calls on us to act to restore stability and security in cooperation with them.”
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is in New York for discussions with UN Security Council members. France and Egypt have called for an urgent meeting of the Council, which has the power to authorize military action.
Leon called on Libyans to recommit to the revolution’s goals of building a democratic state based on human rights and the rule of law and to agree to the formation of a national unity government.
“Libya’s problems do not just affect Libya,” Leon said, referring to the ripple effect of migration, and the economic and political instability the situation was having on the rest of the Mediterranean and the European Union.