News / Middle East

Western Countries Alarmed as Libya Slides Towards Chaos

Men inspect Libya's General National Congress (GNC) building a day after protesters stormed into the building in Tripoli, March 3, 2014.
Men inspect Libya's General National Congress (GNC) building a day after protesters stormed into the building in Tripoli, March 3, 2014.
Reuters
— Western countries voiced concern on Thursday that tensions in Libya could slip out of control in the absence of a functioning political system, and they urged the government and rival factions to start talking.

Two-and-a-half years after the fall of former leader Moammar Gadhafi, the oil-rich North African state is struggling to contain violence between rival forces, with Islamist militants gaining an ever-stronger grip on the south of the country.

"The situation in Libya is very worrying," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on the margins of a conference in Rome to discuss the Libyan crisis.

He said the uncertain security position, especially in the south, worsened an unstable political situation which required Libyan political forces to come together to reach a solution.

"We are asking the Libyans to talk to each other and to find a stable solution," he said.

The conference in Rome was overshadowed by the crisis in Ukraine, with a hectic round of bilateral talks at the margins culminating in a 40-minute meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

But with violent disputes between rival tribal factions disrupting exports of Libyan oil, the lack of a stable political foundation is causing growing concern for energy-hungry western countries, several of which were involved in overthrowing the Gadhafi government.

"It's incredibly important for the simple reason that oil is clearly a key driver of the economy," said Hugh Robertson, a junior minister in Britain's Foreign Office. "As long as the economy remains depressed that means there are a lot of young people in Libya for whom there is no real viable future inside a new democratic state of Libya."

Militias

The weak government in Tripoli is struggling to control well-armed former anti-Gadhafi rebels and Islamist militias, while parliament was stormed by protestors at the weekend who blamed the politicians for the growing chaos.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur Tarek Mitri said the Libya situation would be discussed at a Security Council meeting on Monday.

"There must be a consensus also within Libya to address what seems like the intractable problem of insecurity," he said.

However no concrete decisions were announced after the meeting beyond vague promises of help with security.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz pointed to the difficulties of creating a stable political culture in a country that had only recently gone through a civil war after four decades of authoritarian rule.

"We do not deny that we have political struggles and problems," he said. "We suffer from the absence of a regime.

Libya was kidnapped for more than 40 years. Political parties were forbidden under the former regime."

But he said that stability and security could not be the responsibility of Libya alone, which was fundamentally weaker than neighbouring states in North Africa and the Middle East.

"We suffer from the inexistence of institutions, and that's what makes us different from Tunisia and Egypt," he said.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid