Earlier today Mike Gapes MP questioned Philip Hammond, The Foreign Secretary, on his update to the House of Commons on the situation in Libya.
Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South): The Foreign Secretary has said that there is no appetite in Libya for foreign combat troops on the ground. Is there any appetite in the Libyan political system for foreign air forces or foreign naval forces operating in Libyan territorial waters?
Philip Hammond (Foreign Secretary): On the latter point, we have already seen a clear wariness of any suggestion of foreign naval forces operating in Libyan territorial waters, even if the focus is counter-migration rather than counter-Daesh. I cannot rule out—it would be wrong to do so—any future requests for air or naval support for a counter-Daesh operation. I can envisage Prime Minister Sarraj, if his Government are successful, being able to muster enough ground forces to mount an attack on the Daesh stronghold around Sirte which, of course, is a coastal port. It is certainly the case that the Libyans will not be able to develop naval or air assets in any reasonable period of time to support such an operation, and it is quite possible that, from a military point of view, they would seek assistance from outside. Prime Minister Sarraj would have to balance that military imperative with the political issues that would arise if he were to request foreign assistance. There has been no such request and no discussion of such a request, but if it comes, we will consider it. If we think that the UK should participate in such action, we will come to the House and allow it to express an opinion through a vote.