First Published: 2014-07-18

Libya warring militias agree ceasefire at Tripoli airport
Libyan FM asks UN to dispatch experts to train Libyan forces to ensure they can protect vital sites.
Middle East Online

By Imed LAMLOUM - TRIPOLI

Serious damages

Powerful militias battling for the Libyan capital's airport have agreed a ceasefire, Tripoli said Friday, after the government sought UN help to stop the country from becoming a "failed state".

Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz asked the UN Security Council to dispatch experts to train Libya's defence and police forces to ensure they can protect oil fields, airports and other vital sites.

The call came amid a surge of violence in the country with clashes between rival militias sparking fears of all-out civil war.

Tripoli's mayor and leaders of battling militia said overnight that a truce had been agreed and that control of the international airport would be handed over to neutral forces.

The airport has been closed since fighting erupted on Sunday, when Islamist gunmen from the city of Misrata launched an attack on the facility, which has for the past three years been held by liberal, anti-Islamist fighters from Zintan, southwest of the capital.

Mokhtar Lakhdar, a commander for the Zintan forces, said that a truce had been agreed under the authority of the city's government council.

Dozens of rockets have been fired at the airport, badly damaging planes as well as the main terminal, but Lakhdar confirmed this had halted Thursday night.

Ex-rebel fighters from Zintan and Misrata, east of Tripoli, both played a key role in the NATO-backed uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Gathafi in 2011.

But they have become fierce rivals in the deadly power struggle between armed groups that followed and which is now wracking the North African country.

Ahmed Hadeia, a spokesman for the rival Misrata fighters, said the ceasefire was "only around the airport" and did not include other sites controlled by the Zintan forces.

Misrata leaders said in a statement read out Thursday on television that the fighting at the airport was a "battle of revolutionaries... against followers of the old regime" of Kadhafi.

- 'Far-reaching consequences' -

The clashes revived fears of the conflict spreading inside Tripoli itself, with official results still awaited from a June 25 election to the parliament previously dominated by Islamists.

"Should Libya become a failed state, kidnapped by radical groups and warlords, the consequences would be far-reaching and perhaps beyond control," Abdelaziz warned the Security Council as he requested UN help.

"We are not asking for military intervention," he said. "We are asking for a team from the UN specialised in the field of security."

Libya could become a "hub for attracting extremists," feeding radicalism and the arms flow in the region and further afield in Syria, said Abdelaziz.

"Don't you think that such patterns that are indicative of heading toward a failed state would justify a stronger, more strategic engagement from the Security Council?"

In a statement, the 15-member Security Council said it condemned the recent violence in Libya and said it made "it even more difficult for the Libyan authorities to govern effectively".

The Council would ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to look at the Libyan request for aid and present "options," said Eugene-Richard Gasana, the Rwandan chair of the UN body.

Last week, the United Nations evacuated its staff from Libya after the latest upsurge in fighting.

Abdelaziz said a new UN mission to help train the security forces would ensure Tripoli keeps control of vital oil revenue after militant groups seized oil terminals last year.

The blockades of the oil facilities that finally came to an end this month deprived Libya of more than $30 billion in revenue over 11 months, said the foreign minister.

 

At least 235 killed in Egypt mosque attack

Saudi Crown Prince calls Iran supreme leader 'new Hitler'

Syrian opposition agrees to send united delegation to Geneva talks

Saudi-led coalition clears passenger flights to Sanaa

Baghdad's Shabandar cafe marks century since opening

Turkey says Trump pledged to stop arming Kurds

Turkey president sues main opposition party leader

Lebanon's Hariri brings status quo back with him

Activists say 'everybody knew' about Libya slave trade

Erdogan says no contact 'at the moment' with Assad

Lebanon's Jumblatt criticises Saudi Arabia, Iran

China says it will make efforts on Syria reconstruction

Turkey to detain 79 former teachers in post-coup probe

Hezbollah hails PM's suspension of resignation

Syrian opposition aims for unity at talks in Riyadh

Egypt police kill 3 Islamists in shootout

Turkey unsure if Assad to be part of Syria political transition

Migrant arrivals from Libya down since EU deal

Palestinian factions leave Cairo talks with little progress

Sudan’s Bashir looks to Putin for ‘protection’ from US aggression

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home