Hundreds of Libyan tribal leaders have begun a four day conference in Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian government to seek ways of preventing Islamist violence from spilling over their shared border.
With Islamist militants having thrived in the chaos that is today’s Libya, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said the conference could be a turning point in confronting extremism.
“Heads of tribes, I’m not exaggerating when I say that the whole world is watching you today, waiting for your unified word and looking forward to your important role in creating stability in Libya.”
Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi , Libya has had two rival governments backed by tribal leaders and competing militias.
The internationally recognised government, which Egypt backs, has operated out of eastern Libya since a rival armed faction called Libya Dawn seized the capital Tripoli in August and set up its own government.
Egypt wants them to tribal leaders to unite, lay down their arms and restore law and order, otherwise it may seek to carry out a Yemen-type intervention to combat Islamic extremism.
However analysts said most of the tribes in attendance in Cairo were known supporters of the internationally recognised government, with supporters of its Tripoli-based rival not well represented.
Reporting for euronews in Cairo, corespondent Mohammed Shaikibrahim said:
“The tribal influence in Libya still holds sway and has been rooted in state institutions for years giving rise to the belief that they are the key to any solution to the current crisis in Libya.”