Fighting broke out near the Libyan capital’s airport on Sunday between rival militias, hours after the United States expressed deep concerns at the ongoing violence in the country.
A Libyan official told AFP that flights were interrupted after “rockets struck inside the perimeter” of the Tripoli International Airport. These reports came one day after the Brega oil port, located in Ajdabiya in northeast Libya, was shut down by protesters. If the protests continue, they threaten to halt state oil production of 43,000 barrels a day, the Libyan state agency LANA reported.
The US State Department said in a statement on Saturday that it is deeply concerned that ongoing violence and “dangerous posturing could lead to widespread conflict.”
“Libya’s future will not be secured through force of arms but only through a political accord and national dialogue that allow the state to ensure security and rule of law throughout the country,” the United States said. It urged all parties to engage in constructive dialogue.
Violence has repeatedly surged and died down in Libya after the overthrow of former president Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed by militants in October 2011. However, the violence drastically escalated in 2014 when General Khalifa Haftar launched a campaign in May to root out “terrorism” in the coastal city of Benghazi. Libyan authorities have denounced his actions, labelling him an outlaw.
The United States said it supports the country’s “democratic transition” and urged the seating of the House of Representatives as soon as possible. Last month, Libyans elected a House of Representatives and a constitution is currently being drafted by an elected constituent assembly. The US said that the work of the constituent assembly “must advance without interference or violence.”
The violence in Libya has been on the agenda of its neighbours. Tunisia is hosting a two day conference on Sunday and Monday for foreign ministers of countries that neighbour Libya. The Tunisian Foreign Ministry said the talks will address ways in which Libya’s neighbours can offer support to parties in Libya to help create national dialogue, achieve transitional justice and strengthen state institutions.
Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry has delegated Assistant Minister for Neighbouring Countries Mohamed Badr El-Din Zayed to represent Egypt in the Tunisia talks.
On 7 July, Libyan Chief of Staff Jadallah Al-Salihin held talks with his counterpart Mahmoud Hegazy in Cairo, discussing security at Egypt’s western border. The talks came one day after Shoukry received his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Abdulaziz in Cairo where the two discussed security challenges in Libya.
Egypt is currently preparing a conference on Libya’s border security, to be held in Cairo.