By Mick Krever, CNN
Saying “the Libyans will not make it alone,” Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz appealed to America and the international community on Thursday to follow through on its intervention that helped topple dictator Moammar Gadhafi from power in 2011, and help rebuild a failing Libyan state.
“We have one side of the coin to get rid of the dictatorial regime,” he told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour. “The other side is to build a state. If you are going to build a state, it means you have to provide the required assistance in a timely manner.”
Libya has sunk to even more chaotic depths of late, as militias – some of whom helped oust Gadhafi – battle across the country.
Fighting in the capital, Tripoli, has gotten so bad that the U.S. Embassy has evacuated its personnel and the country’s fledging new parliament has been forced to meet on the opposite end of the country, in the eastern city of Tobruk – about as far away from Tripoli as you can get while remaining in Libya.
“We are not a charity case,” Abdelaziz said. “And I have to make it very clear: It is the obligation of the international community, on the neighboring countries – either north of the Mediterranean, south of the Mediterranean – to take the case of Libya very seriously.”
Abdelaziz is in Washington for a U.S.-Africa summit, and to lobby the American government for more “engagement” in the Libyan chaos.
“If Libya is becoming a failed state, the price will be paid very high not only for the Libyans, but also for the neighboring countries and the community as a whole.”
He is not, he emphasized, asking for military intervention.
“I make a big difference between military intervention and engagement,” he said.
The international community “should equip the state to build its institutions, starting with the defense, starting with the police, the intelligence services, institution building, capacity building – to build the capacity of the country, to give the responsibility of the Libyan people to shape their own destiny.”
The United States has said it is “committed to supporting the Libyan people during this challenging time,” but Abdelaziz is clearly seeking more than verbal support.
“It is really unfortunate that the international community continues to see Libya as a state that is going in the wrong direction and yet nothing has been moved.”
“All the factors at the moment are leading in the direction of a failed state,” he said. “I think the Libyan people should not be deserted at this particular stage.”