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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid