News / Middle East

    Libyans Face Escalating Violence, Turmoil

    In this July 26, 2014 frame grab from video obtained from a freelance journalist traveling with the Misrata brigade, Islamist Misrata brigade fighters fire towards Tripoli airport in an attempt to wrest control from a powerful rival militia, in Tripoli, Libya.
    In this July 26, 2014 frame grab from video obtained from a freelance journalist traveling with the Misrata brigade, Islamist Misrata brigade fighters fire towards Tripoli airport in an attempt to wrest control from a powerful rival militia, in Tripoli, Libya.
    Mohamed Elshinnawi

    Libyans had high hopes after their country’s liberation from dictatorship in 2011, but now face escalating violence and a growing humanitarian crisis.

    Recent weeks of inter-militia fighting have left hundreds dead in Tripoli and Benghazi, while food, water and fuel supplies to civilians have been disrupted.

    International concern

    The power vacuum in Libya has resulted in the smuggling of weapons, drugs, and people across the Sahel region and provided resources, training, and recruitment opportunities for terrorists, analysts say.

    And that is causing international concern.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently assured Libyan prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni of continued U.S. support.

    “We intend to work very, very closely with our Libyan friends in an effort to try to help to build the capacity of the government to be able to restore stability,” Kerry said.

    Thinni warned that Libya is at risk of being divided and has called for international intervention to stop the fighting or at least to protect key installations and civilian populations.

    At risk 

    Karim Mezran, a senior fellow at Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, said the risk is real.

    “The violence gripping Libya is due to a political struggle between groups that could broadly be characterized as Islamists and anti-Islamists,” he said. “As Libya urgently needs help from its allies, most countries, including the United States, are evacuating their embassies or drastically downsizing.”

    A collapsed criminal evidence building after an attack by Islamic hard-line militias in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 1, 2014.
    A collapsed criminal evidence building after an attack by Islamic hard-line militias in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 1, 2014.

    Mezran said that Libya’s allies wish to mediate a solution to the conflict, they must maintain contact with Libya’s major political actors — the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Forces Alliance, and the leaders of the warring militias from Misrata and Zintan.

    He said neither the “Islamist” nor the “anti-Islamist” forces seem capable of winning a quick or conclusive victory over the other.

    “Only a mediation process, aligned with the new parliament and a new constitutional settlement, and backed by the international community, offers any prospect of breaking the cycle of fear and violence in Libya,” Mezran said.

    Military intervention?

    Mezran said the U.S. and the European Union should consider a threat of limited military intervention to force the warring sides to accept a ceasefire.

    “The United States and its allies have strategic interests in ensuring that Libya does not collapse back into civil war or become a haven for al-Qaida or other terrorist groups within striking distance of Europe,” Mezran said.

    Still, Mezran said there is not much interest in Western capitals for a military response.

    Libyan foreign minister, Mohamed Abdulaziz, has asked for “trainers” to support the weak Libyan security forces.

    The United States, United Kingdom, Italy, and Turkey have announced plans to train abroad 15,000 to 18,000 security personnel and former members of militias for a “General Purpose Force” whose members would join the Libyan military after an approximately six-month training cycle.

    Ambassador David Mack, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, said the United States is honoring its agreement to provide such needed training.

    “The U.S. is playing an active role in helping the Libyan government establishing security; training Libyan security personnel, and having discussions with Libyan officials on how to support institution building,” Mack said.

    Political consensus

    But Mack said that it is up to Libyans to reach a political consensus regarding what kind of future they want and said that there is a limit to what the U.S. can do in the Middle East and Africa post-Arab spring.

    “The U.S. does not have a magic formula for democracy, it can provide a certain amount of assistance, but ultimately a lot of the hard political decisions have to be taken by the countries themselves,” Mack said.

    Each Arab Spring country has its own circumstances, he said. While Libya is suffering from an absence of institutions after so many years of one-man rule, Mack said, institutions in Egypt were overwhelmed by one institution - the strong military.

    But Mezran said that the U.S. and the international community must act in Libya because tensions may spiral quickly.

    “Both the U.S. and the international community should have a contingency plan if the situation in Libya continues to deteriorate,” he said.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    Party's presumptive presidential nominee, her vice presidential pick deliver optimistic message in Florida as they campaign for first time together

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: writt1 from: USA
    August 18, 2014 2:00 AM
    The US Dept. of State posted a condemnation of violence in Libya on its website about a week ago. One sentence reads, "Violence cannot and must not be a means to achieve political goals or settle ideological differences." The US State Dept. is completely disingenuous. Our government lies to us. The US promotes and uses violence in Libya. It bombed the Libyan government into the dust in 2011. The US may not plan to do so, but it makes Islamic extremist more extreme. Just consider Fallujah. Donald Rumsfeld ordered the destruction of Fallujah in 2004. Marines who went into Fallujah say that 5,000 women and children died in Fallujah. Thousands of out veterans have PTSD. 22 of our veterans commit suicide every day. The brutal attack on Fallujah killed Iraqi Sunni residents and some foreign insurgents, who entered Iraq because of the US invasion. The Islamic State is mostly Sunni. Violence begets violence.

    by: Faouzi from: Ireland
    August 17, 2014 9:30 PM
    I beleive steps were'nt taken by the US and allies to support the right of kind of people such as civil society,the army,police and other institutions that make society function. Instead Abd Aljalil the former president of NTC made sure the extremist-islamist got financial and logistical support in the begining of revoltion under the banner of "Sharia law or death", and from then on everthing was acheived by the barel of a gun starting with the taking hostage of foreign affairs ministry and justic ministry in 2013 to force the political isolation law while the GNC was terrorized by thug frenzy behavior. This became the basis of how things get done and how people get paid...complete pandimonium. Now that the people of Libya voted for new parliment and islamist lost , the same tactics are being used by these same extremist under the name "fajr libya" and being the bad sports they usual are, they are litteraly tearing tripoli apart, while in the east in Benghazi Ansar sharia(mind you the very group behind the attack on US consul in sep2012) are saying without fear or reservation that they are against democracy and the usual "we hate the west!" rhetoric and claim Benghazi is an Islamic emirate. Conclusion: Nato and allies havent finished job yet , and the world should make a clear standing with regards to why they supported the Libya intervention and support the democratic new parliments decisions , and get rid of these alqaeda elements. If this is alowed to continue these terrorists will have tens of billions and a whole state under them, with Libya s location this really could end up to be a deadly cocktail.
    Libyas only hope are the new parliment ,operation Karama, and the international community standing behind human rights and democracy.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 17, 2014 11:34 AM
    AFTER the US led the air attack with NATO and a few Muslim Gulf monarchies, on Libya and destroyed the country, and killed Qaddafi in 2011...

    US President Barack Obama "quote" said it;.. "We've protected thousands of people in Libya; we have not seen a single US casualty; (there's no risks of additional escalation). This operation is limited in time and in scope.".. (and then).. Obama also "quote" said;.. "Qaddafi is dead, and the world is a safer place."..... (How naïve was Obama, when he "quote" said those stupid things?)...

    The whole Islamic world is erupting in chaos, violence, destruction, killings, and wars that keep going on and on, (and America is led by Obama), who's interference in the Islamic countries politics is causing all of it, and who hasn't got a clue on what he's doing, or what he's causing, or what to do about solving all the problems he's caused.... Obama "quote" said it;.. "Bin Laden is dead, and the world is a safer place."...... IS IT?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora