Sunday, August 24, 2014

Libya: Militants Seize Control of Tripoli Airport, Islamists Hope to Seize Power in June 25 Elections

According to AFP, Islamist militias openly challenged the legitimacy of Parliament after announcing their seizure of Tripoli Airport, plunging Libya's rocky political transition into fresh crisis on Sunday (August 24).

The militias, which the elected Parliament characterized as "terrorists," said the house had lost its legitimacy through its alleged complicity with a deadly air strike on the airport that the Islamists blamed on Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

"The Emirates and Egypt are implicated in this cowardly aggression," Mohammed Hadia, spokesman for the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) militia, said late on Saturday.

Parliament, for its part, said the militias which announced their seizure of Tripoli Airport after a weeks-long battle against nationalist rivals for the control of the apex of Libyan society.

"The groups acting under the names of Fajr Libya and Ansar al-Sharia are terrorist groups and outlaws that are rising up against the legitimate powers," Parliament emphasized.

The Parliament, which sits in Tobruk, 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of the capital, said it was determined to deal with the challenge through the regular armed forces.

Fajr Libya is a coalition of Islamist militias, mainly from Misrata, east of the capital, while Ansar al-Sharia, which Washington also brands a terrorist group, controls around 80% of the eastern city of Benghazi.

COMMENT: As Washington seemingly focuses exclusively on domestic issues, the number of rogue nations that can only be described as "conflict zones," continue to mount and rise.

Curiously, where is the United Nations Security Council?

Early on Sunday, Islamist militiamen attacked the Tripoli studios of private television station, al-Assima, that supports the Zintan nationalists and kidnapped staff, the station said.

Politically, the outgoing provisional General National Congress (GNC), which was dominated by Islamists, was to resume operations at the request of Fajr Libya, despite being superseded by Parliament, its spokesman said.

Tripoli Airport, 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of the Libyan capital, has been closed since July 13, because of the deadly clashes between the Islamists and the Zintan force.

The Islamist fighters charged that the provisional government and Parliament had both lost legitimacy through an act of "treason" with their alleged approval of foreign intervention.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, quoted by state news agency MENA, said: "There are no Egyptian aircraft or forces in Libya and no Egyptian aircraft participated in military action inside Libya."

There was no early reaction from the Emirates, an ally of Egypt against Islamist extremism.

The Foreign Ministry in Cairo said on Sunday it would host a meeting Monday (August 25) of the foreign ministers of Libya, Egypt, and Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Chad and Niger, all of which border Libya.

The battle for Tripoli Airport was the fiercest in the capital since the 2011 revolt that ousted former President Kadhafi regime.

The Islamists aim to capitalize on their military success with a return to the political front after their defeat at the ballot box in June 25 polls.