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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs