British airstrikes could recommence over Libya as a UK-sponsored UN resolution is looking likely to win approval on Wednesday.
The resolution, primarily intended to endorse the new regime in Libya, is also a first step towards potential military action, opening the way for the Libyan government to invite foreign countries to help tackle the spread of Isis.
If passed, the resolution would permit more active military support to Libyan authorities, which are now operating with greater unity after the country’s two opposing governments reached a deal.
While the resolution’s main significance is to endorse and legitimize the new unity government, it would also pave the way for military action.
It would remove the requirement for a UK parliamentary vote because UK forces would be engaging in operations at the request of the Libyan government.
While the UK had already said it would send up to 1,000 troops and a Special Forces team, the Royal Air Force (RAF) would be in action much sooner.
Libyan ambassador to the UN Ibrahim al-Dabashi told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper he expected airstrikes soon involving the “United States, Britain, France and Italy.”
Of the resolution itself, he said: “[It] asks all countries to fight terrorism in Libya, which represents a clear-cut authorization only requiring of different countries to inform the government in Libya in advance, and coordinate with it.”
Libya has been in disarray since Western-backed forces removed Gaddafi in 2011. The ensuing chaos has given rise of a number of extremist groups including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The UK has said it will not commit ground forces in a combat role and any troops deployed will be there to train local forces.