News / Middle East

    Kerry Says Violence in Libya Must Stop

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Vienna, July 15, 2014.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Vienna, July 15, 2014.
    Reuters

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday called for a halt to “dangerous” levels of violence in Libya after militia clashes in Tripoli closed the country's main airport, destroyed most planes parked there, and prompted the United Nations to evacuate its staff.

    In some of the worst violence in months, at least 15 people have been killed in clashes in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi since Sunday, and a Libyan official said several Grad rockets hit the Tripoli International Airport on Monday, damaging the control tower.

    With its new government struggling to impose order since the 2011 rebellion that ousted Moammer Gadhafi, Libya is sliding deeper into turmoil with rival brigades of former rebels battling for political and economic power.

    So far the authorities have attempted to rein in militia fighters by putting them on the government payroll, but months of protests over oilfields and ports have cut into the government's revenues as its economic troubles mount.

    A NATO coalition helped rebels topple Gadhafi, but the military alliance has not intervened to stem the subsequent chaos despite Libyan suggestions that Tripoli was looking at ways that foreign troops might be able to help.

    “We are deeply concerned about the level of violence in Libya,” Kerry told a news conference following talks on Iran's nuclear program in Vienna.

    “It is dangerous and it must stop. We are working very, very hard through our special envoys to find the political cohesion ... that can bring people together to create stronger capacity in the government of Libya so that this violence can end.”

    Western powers fear chaos in Libya will allow arms and militants to flow across its borders. The south of the vast desert country has become a haven for Islamist militants kicked out of Mali by French forces earlier this year.

    Government spokesman Ahmed Lamine said Tripoli was studying the possibility of international forces to improve security. But it was unclear whether there was any real Libyan proposal or international willingness to have foreign troops based in the North African state where heavily armed militias often clash.

    NATO air strikes helped rebels in their civil war against Gadhafi's soldiers three years ago, but since his fall Libya struggled in its democratic transition and western governments have been frustrated in attempts to broker a political accord.

    A fragile government and parliament have been deadlocked in political struggles between rival Islamist, nationalist and tribal factions each allied to competing brigades of heavily armed former rebels who refuse to disarm and often use their military might to make demands.

    The latest heavy fighting broke out between rival militias vying for control of Libya's main airport on Sunday, killing at least seven people and forcing a halt of all flights in the worst fighting in the capital for six months.

    The U.N. mission in Libya said the closure of Tripoli airport and the deteriorating security situation made it impossible for it to operate.

    Sanctions flashback

    Misrata city airport was also closed on Monday, and  Benghazi airport has been closed since May. That leaves only two small airports in the south and a land route via Tunisia as the country's only gateways to the outside world, a flashback to the 1990s when Libya was under U.N. sanctions.

    Tripoli residents said a Grad rocket struck the airport perimeter late on Monday. A Reuters reporter at the airport heard anti-aircraft guns and other heavy weapons.

    The government spokesman said 90 percent of the planes parked at the airport were destroyed.

    In Benghazi, irregular forces loyal to renegade former general Khalifa Haftar, a former Gadhafi ally, bombarded Islamist militia bases as part of his self-declared campaign to oust militants. Special forces clashed with militia fighters in the city.

    Security and medical sources said at least six people had been killed and 25 wounded in Benghazi in heavy fighting between security forces and rival militias since late Sunday.

    Libya's government has managed to end a port blockade by one brigade of militiamen who had controlled four main oil terminals to demand more autonomy for their eastern region. That protest and others at oilfields slashed the OPEC country's production.

    Libya's oil production has risen to 588,000 barrels per day (bpd), the country's acting oil minister told Reuters on Tuesday, despite the increase in violence in the country since the weekend.

    Oil output has been recovering since the deal with rebels to bring most of the port blockades to an end. On Sunday a spokesman for the National Oil Corp said output was at 470,000 bpd as production at the El Sharara oilfield ramps up.  

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.