U.S. Gulf Arab Ally Sees Risk of ‘Huge Ticking Bomb’ in Libya

Libya risks becoming a “huge ticking bomb” for the Middle East after the NATO-led coalition that helped topple Muammar al-Qaddafi failed to stabilize the country, the United Arab Emirates foreign minister said.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in an interview on Fox News that countries that took part in the campaign to oust Qaddafi in 2011 “should have played a far bigger role the day after. They haven’t.”

The U.A.E. and Qatar were part of that coalition. A transcript of the interview that aired Nov. 21 was distributed by the state-run Wam news agency over the weekend.

Libya, holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves, plunged into chaos after the ouster and subsequent killing of Qaddafi, the autocrat who ruled the country unchallenged for four decades. Three years after the NATO-led campaign, rival politicians and militias vie for everything from oil and power.

The U.A.E., part of the U.S.-led military coalition against Islamic State in Syria, backs the government of Abdullah al-Thinni against Islamist groups. In August, U.S. officials also said the U.A.E. teamed up with Egypt to launch airstrikes against Islamist militants in Libya. U.A.E. officials never acknowledged that the raids took place.

Responding to a comment on the August attack, Sheikh Abdullah said that members of the coalition against Qaddafi still “have a huge responsibility in getting Libya on the right side.”

“Forget being useful and helpful,” he said. “Libya could be a huge ticking bomb for the region.”

Sheikh Abdullah also defended the government’s decision to include two U.S.-based groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society, on a list of more than 80 “terrorist” organizations.

“Our threshold is quite low when we talk about extremism,” he said. “We cannot accept incitement or funding when we look at some of these organizations. For many countries, the definition of terror is that you have to carry a weapon and terrorize people. For us, it’s far beyond that. We cannot tolerate even the smallest and tiniest amount of terrorism.”

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