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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs