WHILE LIBYA BURNS, SECURITY COUNCIL FIDDLES

Tamara Kovacs for THE NEW YORK TIMES.
Tuesday September 22.

Despite the release of another filmed execution of an American journalist by IS, the UN Security Council appears to be no closer to a clear resolution or action towards the Islamic State.

As news of the execution reached the UNSC, many delegates called for calm and for the UNSC to not react to this provocation.

In a short statement to the press, the delegate for the United States expressed that “the US will be giving directions to its Secret Service to get its citizens out of Libya”.

The UK also released a statement that they are calling on all UK citizens to leave Libya and will be banning travel to the country. The UK will further send SAS forces to secure and extract citizens from Libya to prevent IS from taking more hostages, and that “we will not stand idle when our citizens could be taken hostage and executed by IS”.

In another press release, France commended the US and the UK on the working paper as ‘robust’ and “considering multiple avenues of resolution to the ongoing crisis”. In the statement, France looked forward to further constructive debate, and stated that “it is imperative that IS is neutralized”. Other delegates disagreed, taking issue with a number of clauses that were too vague in wording or seen as a ‘blank cheque’ to peacekeeping forces. Chad also deeply questioned the efficacy of airstrikes.

Meanwhile, the Security Council remained stuck in a circular debate, and delegates were becoming more and more frustrated. Chile called the debate an ‘argument on semantics’, while the United Kingdom was forced to repeat its statement that ‘we are not writing a blank cheque’ several times. Humanitarian aid saw greater agreement, but all agreed that sending humanitarian workers without a security force would be foolish.

China continued to preach development and protection of infrastructure, while Nigeria caused controversy by suggesting that sending aid would be inappropriate given Libya’s previous rejections of aid. “If the world cannot stand to watch [the conflict], Nigeria suggests the world should turn its back,” the delegation declared.

Russia’s frequent accusations of oil interests caused clear irritation to the US delegation, and a hyperbolic statement that ended with an accusation of racism drew glares all around the chamber. By four o’clock, the working paper remained exactly as it had when first proposed, despite Chile’s repeated proposals for rewording of the controversial clauses.

No matter the direction the Security Council takes in later sessions, IS is poised to take Benghazi and Tripoli has descended into chaos once more. The situation remains dire – and with a paralyzed Security Council, any action is too distant for the Libyan people.

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