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UN warns of huge risk of regional war in Libya

The Acting UN envoy to Libya, Stephanie Williams has warned of the huge risk of a miscalculation triggering direct confrontation between rival foreign powers in Libya as weapons and mercenaries continue to pour into the country.

Stephanie Williams told the Financial Times that an “alphabet soup” of foreign states were violating an international arms embargo as forces mobilized around the strategic city of Sirte.

“There has been no effort to stop the influx of mercenaries or weapons, so what’s clear is that there’s complete international impunity, which is matched by impunity on the ground,” Williams said.

She added that the risk of this issue turning into a pure proxy war is very serious indeed, adding that the overall picture is one of continuing foreign intervention.

Williams said the risk of a miscalculation around Sirte was “huge”. adding that “you never know what could trigger a wider conflagration”.

“The appetite among Libyan factions for a political process to end the conflict had increased, but there was no agreement on how to demobilize Sirte, which is home to about 125,000 people.” She added.

She also said that foreign intervention was complicating the peace efforts, adding that Libyans are increasingly losing their voice in all of this as decisions are being taken on their behalf in foreign capitals.

“A compromise is within reach but we need support and the Libyans need support. It’s not practical for any one side or their backers to take a zero-sum approach.” Williams told Financial Times.

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