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Libya Announces State of Emergency

September 2, 2018

On September 2, the UN-supported government of Libya declared its capitol city, Tripoli, in a state of emergency after continued fighting between different factions.

The battles broke out on August 27 in Tripoli’s southern suburbs. According to the health ministry, an estimated 100 people have been injured and at least 39 people killed since that time.

The government announced the state of emergency with a prepared statement. It said that, "Due to the danger of the current situation and for the sake of the public interest, the presidential council declares the state of emergency in the capital, Tripoli, and its suburbs to protect and secure civilians, public and private possessions and vital institutions."

The struggle for control of Libya has been ongoing since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011. The current national government is backed by the United Nations, but that has not stopped others from working to destabilize the region. The UN-supported part functions with Tripoli as its capitol and power center, protected by federal militia. There is a second major faction which controls another part of the country, headquartered in Tobruk. It too has its own military forces.

Islamic State (IS) jihadists connected to the Tobruk faction took control of Sirtre, a city located 280 miles east of Tripoli. From that base they have recently extended their offensive with direct attacks against oil rigs offshore.

The trigger for the current violence comes in part from a vote in the country’s legislature on a proposed new government from the UN-backed side. Tobruk factions blocked the approval with 89 votes against it out of a legislature of 104 seats.

Because of the dangerous situation in Libya, the United States has stated through the Pentagon that it is considering a military intervention in the country. It claims the need is there because of the ongoing rise of IS jihadists there. Peter Cook, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said that, “We’re looking at military options, a range of other options as… the situation in Libya unfolds.”

As the situation is getting more tense every day, even the state of emergency may not be enough to bring the parties to a cease-fire or anything close to it. A U.S. led move against the insurgents might provide temporary stability, but far deeper problems than just weaponry and brute force are needed to heal divisions and bring the people together.