Daniel Kawczynski is MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham.
An open letter to David Cameron
Dear Prime Minister,
Amongst your many current foreign policy concerns, we are sure you will agree that the situation in Libya comes high on the list.
In the latter days of Gadaffi’s dictatorship, we backed your decisive leadership in securing the UN mandate for military intervention and the resultant air attacks which destroyed his military capability. We rejoiced with you when you visited Tripoli to celebrate the Libyan people’s new-found freedom after decades of tyrannical rule.
Our intervention, along with that of our allies, beyond doubt saved thousands of Libyans from being slaughtered by Gadaffi as he had threatened to keep his grip on power. Nevertheless, four years on, and despite substantial British technical and logistical support for the new Libyan government, the situation has collapsed into a horrendous civil war amongst various Islamist factions and rival militias.
The fighting between ISIS and other radical terrorist groups has brought indiscriminate bloodshed and misery to the Libyan people. The new government operates in semi-exile, and the black flag of ISIS flies over Gaddafi’s birthplace of Sirte.
A major consequence of this insurgency has been the alarming exodus of terrified Libyan nationals and sub-Saharan refugees in fear of their lives. People traffickers are exploiting the situation by transporting thousands of refugees in boats and rafts, most in sub-human crowded conditions, from the Libyan coast to the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Many have drowned in the crossing. The survivors arrive with only the clothes they are wearing, and are being kept in transfer centres from where they hope to be able to enter Italy and other European countries. Moreover, it is widely speculated that ISIS activists have penetrated the refugees and are planning to exploit their position to launch attacks on Mediterranean nautical traffic.
We simply cannot stand by and let this humanitarian tragedy escalate day by day without any retaliation against ISIS and the other Islamist terrorist groups who are responsible for it. Accordingly, we would urge you to negotiate urgently with the Italian and Egyptian authorities and other allies to authorise immediate and targeted joint air strikes against ISIS targets in Libya.
The Egyptians recently launched such strikes against ISIS in Derna following the outrageous murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Sirte. If nothing is done to halt the inexorable takeover of swathes of Libya by terrorists, they will simply continue their reign of terror unabated.
With no action from us and our allies, these brutal and barbaric organisations will assume de facto control of Libya, with a coastline just a few hundred miles across the Mediterranean from the EU. As a result everything we stood up for in the successful overthrow of Gadaffi would be jettisoned. This cannot be allowed to happen.
Daniel Kawczynski MP
Chairman, All Party Group for Libya.