Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tripoli Airport Battle

It is easy to watch events in Iraq and Israel/Palestine and forget that Libya is also in turmoil.  Today marked the fourth day of a battle for control of Tripoli's main airport, a crucial line to the rest of the world.  Yesterday the New York Times reported:
At the Tripoli airport, no quick end to the fighting was in sight. Fighters from the western mountain city of Zintan took control of the airport in 2011, after the revolt against Colonel Qaddafi, when the militias involved in the revolt embarked on a mad dash for spoils.
Hundreds of Zintani fighters were in the airport on Tuesday, defending their turf. In the passenger terminal, some cooked dinner, preparing to break the Ramadan fast. On the airfield, the fighters used tanks, mortar shells and antiaircraft guns against their enemies: rival fighters, including from the coastal city of Misurata, who had taken up positions in a village next to the airport...
The violence had links to a battle on the other side of the country, in the eastern city of Benghazi, where a general named Khalifa Hifter has declared that fighters loyal to him constitute the national army, with a mission to vanquish Libya’s Islamist militias and politicians. The fighting at the airport also seems to reflect the unsettled politics in Libya, where recent elections were expected to return fewer Islamist lawmakers to Parliament.
To complete the circle, the militias attacking the airport are affiliated with Islamists, the political tendency targeted by General Hifter and his allies.



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