Monday, November 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

United States-Libya

In this Sunday, July 13, 2014, file image made from video by The Associated Press, smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport in Tripoli, Libya. The United States shut down its embassy in Libya on Saturday, July 26, 2014, and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli as fighting intensified between rival militias, the State Department said. (AP Photo/File)

By
From page A1 | July 27, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said “free-wheeling militia violence” prompted the move.

American personnel at the Tripoli embassy, which had already been operating with limited staffing, left the capital around dawn and traveled by road to neighboring Tunisia, with U.S. fighter jets and other aircraft providing protection, the State Department said. The withdrawal underscored the Obama administration’s concern about the heightened risk to American diplomats abroad, particularly in Libya where memories of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in the eastern city of Benghazi are still vivid.

The evacuation was accompanied by a new State Department travel warning for Libya urging Americans not to go to the country and recommending that those already there leave immediately. “The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security,” it said. “Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including anti-aircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation.”

Speaking Saturday in Paris where he was meeting with other diplomats on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry said the U.S. remains committed to the diplomatic process in Libya despite the suspension of embassy activities there. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the evacuated employees will continue to work on Libyan issues in Tunis, elsewhere in North Africa and Washington.

“Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly,” Harf said. “Security has to come first. Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions.”

The Pentagon said in statement that F-16 fighter jets and other U.S. aircraft provided security. “The mission was conducted without incident, and the entire operation lasted approximately five hours,” the statement said.

The State Department said embassy operations will be suspended until a determination is made that the security situation has improved. Tripoli has been embroiled for weeks in inter-militia violence that has killed and wounded dozens on all sides. The fighting has been particularly intense at the city’s airport.

“We are committed to supporting the Libyan people during this challenging time, and are currently exploring options for a permanent return to Tripoli as soon as the security situation on the ground improves,” Harf said.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the House Armed Services Committee chairman, expressed gratitude for the work of the U.S. forces that helped in the evacuation.

The move marks the second time in a little more than three years that Washington has closed its embassy in Libya. In February 2011, the embassy suspended operations during the uprising that eventually toppled longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. After the formation of a transitional government in July 2011, the embassy reopened in September. Gadhafi was killed in October 2011.

The Obama administration has been particularly sensitive about security of U.S. government employees in Libya since the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in the country’s second largest city of Benghazi. The attack killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The administration is still fending off criticism from Republicans and others that it did not take the needed steps to enhance security in Benghazi or evacuate the mission due to rising violence in that city in the months prior to the attack.

The Benghazi mission was abandoned after that attack and never reopened. The embassy In Tripoli has been operating with reduced staff since but has remained open even as the violence intensified.

On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones appealed for fighting near the embassy to stop. “We have not been attacked but our neighborhood a bit 2 close to the action,” she tweeted. “Diplomatic missions 2 B avoided pls.” Jones had also tweeted about “heavy shelling and other exchanges” of fire in the vicinity of the embassy. Speculation about an evacuation had been rife at the State Department for more than a week.

Libya is now witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since Gadhafi’s ouster. In Tripoli, the militias are fighting mostly for control of the airport. They are on the government’s payroll because authorities have depended on them to restore order.

The U.S. is the latest in a number of countries to have closed diplomatic operations in Libya. Turkey on Friday announced that it had shut its embassy and militia clashes in Benghazi have prompted the United Nations, aid groups and foreign envoys to leave.

In Tripoli, clashes near the international airport have forced residents to evacuate their homes nearby after they were hit by shells. On Friday, the official Libyan news agency LANA reported that explosions were heard early in the day near the airport area and continued into the afternoon.

The battle in Tripoli began earlier this month when Islamist-led militias – mostly from the western city of Misrata – launched a surprise assault on the airport, under control of rival militias from the western mountain town of Zintan. On Monday, a $113 million Airbus A330 passenger jet for Libya’s state-owned Afriqiyah Airways was destroyed in the fighting.

The rival militias, made up largely of former anti-Gadhafi rebels, have forced a weeklong closure of gas stations and government offices. In recent days, armed men have attacked vehicles carrying money from the Central Bank to local banks, forcing their closure.

Libyan government officials and activists have increasingly been targeted in the violence. Gunmen kidnapped two lawmakers in the western suburbs of Tripoli a week ago and on Friday armed men abducted Abdel-Moaz Banoun, a well-known Libyan political activist in Tripoli, according to his father.

An umbrella group for Islamist militias, called the Operation Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, said in a brief statement on its Facebook page on Friday that “troops arrested Abdel-Moaz over allegations that he served under Gadhafi” and “instigated rallies against” the Islamists.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Cadets raise cash to help wounded Air Force veteran

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Solano cities gather for Thanksgiving meal

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

     
    Food Addicts group sets Thanksgiving Day meet

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Local government board schedules meeting

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Turkey Trot returns Thanksgiving Day

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

    Holiday tree-lighting events begin

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

     
    Holiday boutiques in full swing

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    .

    US / World

    Anxieties mount as Ferguson waits on grand jury

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    3 months after Napa quake, recovery rolling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    San Jose police arrest man after airport chase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Surfer missing off beach south of San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Thief suspect falls through ceiling, leaves phone

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    1 killed, dozens injured in California bus crash

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Boy with fake gun dies after shot by Ohio officer

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Israeli Cabinet moves to define Israel as Jewish

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Former DC Mayor Marion Barry dies at 78

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Islamic State group recruits, exploits children

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Giffords rides in Tucson cycling event

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Suicide bomber kills at least 45 Afghans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Some 30 horses die in stable fire outside Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Crew blasts off for International Space Station

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    US tells Iran to consider nuclear talks extension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Damage worse than thought in Japanese earthquake

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Joey Chestnut devours turkey to win eating contest

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Strong quake in west China kills 5; 54 hurt

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Health care M&A leads global deal surge

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    .

    Opinion

     
    Does D stand for deliberate, deception, denial?

    By Colleen Britton | From Page: A8

    OMG, am I eating a GMO?

    By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Nov. 24, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Horoscopes: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    My sister-in-law expects me to pay her for damages, but she won’t pay me

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

     
    Horoscopes: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

    .

    Entertainment

    ‘Mockingjay, Part 1′ opens with $123 million

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    List of winners of the American Music Awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    1D, Katy Perry win big at American Music Awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    TVGrid Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Sports

     
    Speights scores 28 as Warriors hold off Thunder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hyde scores go-ahead TD, lifts 49ers past Redskins

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Federer leads Swiss past France for Davis Cup

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hamilton answers Rosberg in style to clinch title

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Stacy Lewis sweeps 3 biggest LPGA awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    UCLA honors Robinson, retires No. 42 for all teams

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Katy Perry to perform at Super Bowl halftime show

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    NFL roundup: Seahawks roll past Cardinals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Athletics acquire 1B Ike Davis from Pirates

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Revs win 2-1 at Red Bulls in East final 1st leg

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Sarvas puts Galaxy past Seattle 1-0 in West opener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    First lady attends Princeton women’s hoops game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Leslie “Esi” Gros

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jack I. Johnson

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

    Dorothy Pouge Arnold

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Arthur Irving Weiner

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    .

    Comics

    Get Fuzzy Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baldo Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Garfield Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Frank and Ernest Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Wizard of Id Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baby Blues Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Pickles Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Blondie Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Rose is Rose Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Zits Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Beetle Bailey Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sally Forth Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    B.C. Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sudoku Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Cryptoquote Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Word Sleuth Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Crossword Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Bridge Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    B.C. Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Garfield Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Dilbert Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Rose is Rose Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Frank and Ernest Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Peanuts Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Beetle Bailey Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Pickles Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Wizard of Id Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sally Forth Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Baldo Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Get Fuzzy Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Zits Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    For Better or Worse Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Blondie Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Cryptoquote Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Word Sleuth Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crossword Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Bridge Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Sudoku Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7