British soldiers to land in Libya without a vote from the House of Commons
British troops could be deployed to Libya without a vote in Parliament amid warnings that even a UK training mission would be seen as Western intervention.
On a visit to Tripoli, the Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond, said that because troops would only be acting to train Libyan forces, rather than operating a combat mission, MPs would not be given a vote as they were ahead of recent military action in Iraq and Syria.
Mr Hammond has travelled to Libya to offer his support to the fledgling Government of National Accord, led by prime minister Fayez Sarraj.
The new UN-backed government is attempting to restore order to a country that has been fought over by a number of armed groups, including ISIS fighters, since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011.
Mr Hammond said it would be for “the Libyan people to recapture their country from the Daesh [ISIS] invaders”.
He said he hoped other militias would “come inside the tent” of the national government, allowing the UK and allies to support a military training programme.
But such a “non-combat” mission for UK troops would not require a House of Commons vote he said.
It has been reported, but not officially confirmed by the Government, that special forces troops are already operating in Libya.
Senior Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has warned that even a training mission would “inevitably be seen as Western intervention” in Libya and would risk British troops coming under attack from “various militia and Islamic State”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, a former British diplomat in Libya also warned that any kind of military intervention by the West risked “adding fuel to the fire” of the country’s internal conflict.
Joe Walker-Cousins, former head of the British Embassy Office in Benghazi said: “The country is weaponised to an extent that has never been seen before and we’re trying to push some sort of representative government in an environment where any group, if they don’t like what’s happening, will be able to pick up arms and use them to effect.”
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