News / Middle East

Libyan Minister Calls for Unity Amid Militia Violence

Lawmakers from Libya's newly-elected parliament assembled in Tobruk, August 2, 2014.
Lawmakers from Libya's newly-elected parliament assembled in Tobruk, August 2, 2014.
Sharon Behn

Even as a British warship evacuated British nationals and clashes continued in the capital, Tripoli, Libya's Justice Minister Salah al Marghani on Monday called for unity in the country and an end to the violence.

“The transitional government is proposing an urgent vision, at the core of which it to put in place all necessary solutions to preserve security, using all means possible, that will produce a balanced situation in Libya,” he told lawmakers.

The United Nations welcomed the new parliament, saying it represented the true will of the Libyan people for a democratic process and building a state based on the rule of law.

But militia violence in Tripoli and in Benghazi has made those cities so unsafe that al Marghani and Libya's newly elected parliament were forced to hold their first session Monday in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Hundreds have died in the recent struggle for power between warring militia groups, the military and breakaway military factions. The fighting has forced most countries to evacuate their nationals.

Speaking in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was committed to working closely with the Libyan government. But, he added, "Libya’s challenges can really only be solved by Libyans themselves."

Analyst Mohamed Elmenshawy of the Washington-based Middle East Institute says the chances of creating al Marghani’s vision of a unified Libya anytime soon are slim.

"There is a lot of militias, regional militias. Each city has its own militia and its own ideology and own interests, and the fragmentation of powers make it very difficult to have a unity government or representative government," he told VOA.

Islamist groups, who lost seats in the last parliamentary elections, boycotted Monday's session.

Libya's central government also has been unable to protect its significant oil and gas sectors from rebel forces. Unable to directly export themselves, militia commanders are taking those assets hostage for increased economic and political leverage.
 
On Monday, eight fuel tanks caught fire in Tripoli amid heavy fighting around the city’s airport. Libya says 22 people were killed Saturday in the airport fighting.

Violence between rival militia groups in Tripoli and Benghazi have killed more than 200 people in the last two weeks.

Michael Nayebi-Oskui, a Middle East analyst for the geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, says that while the conflict inside Libya is mainly ethnic, tribal, ideological and local, the breakdown in security is allowing al-Qaida-linked groups to move in.

"The weakness of the Libyan state, specifically of central government, has allowed the absolute vastness of Libyan territory to be used as a potential refuge and training and recruitment ground for various regional militant groups, including al-Qaida linked jihadists.”
 
Elmenshawy adds that neighboring Egypt is concerned that militant Islamist fighters could spill over the border and join forces with its own banned Muslim Brotherhood. But he says there is little that the international community can do to defuse the violence that started with the overthrow of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

"The international forces, or international community, has a minimum role. They can't do much really. It is very difficult and unmanageable and unfixable anytime soon," Elmenshawy says.

On Monday, a British navy ship evacuated 110 people, most of them British, from Tripoli. The United States already has advised all Americans to leave the country. Thousands of Philippine workers have been told to leave, and thousands of Pakistanis and Egyptians workers are now trying to flee across the border.

 

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs