By Mick Krever and Ken Olshansky, CNN
As chaos rocks Libya, the EU envoy to that country expressed cautious optimism that the unrest could be alleviated.
“The only reason for hope at the moment is that it’s not complete chaos. At least it’s not complete chaos yet,” Bernardino Leon told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.
Libya is caught in the throes of what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calls "free-wheeling militia violence” – a war between heavily armed militias who swear no allegiance to any central authority, even though most are on the government payroll.
The firefight at Tripoli’s main international airport has spread to Libya’s largest refinery; a fire there threatens to engulf 6.6 million liters of fuel.
Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli evacuated at dawn Saturday. The U.N has already pulled out and other countries are following suit.
Gorani asked Leon, “Is Libya a failed state?”
“To answer this we should wonder first of all whether Libya has ever been a state,” he said.
“It is important to remember that it is not only about combat in Tripoli, but there are also combats in the east.”
“There is still this ongoing revolt by former General Haftar” – whom Amanpour has also interviewed – “and this is also a matter of concern. And I think it’s very important if we want to have an opportunity to find a solution for Libya to remember that combat should stop everywhere in the country.”
Libyan author Mansour El-Kikhia, on the phone from Benghazi, gave a picture of just how chaotic the east of the country is.
“There are so many bodies that they don’t know who they belong to, because many of them are not even Libyans, as a result of the influx of so many foreign fighters in the country,” he said. “And so it’s really a huge mess. There’s no place to keep them in coolers, they can’t bury them, and so it’s just a huge mess in Benghazi.”
“One of the key questions in the last months,” Leon said, “has been that Libyans were very adamant on trying to find solutions by themselves. The United Nations has done incredibly important work, supported by the international community, supported by the countries and international institutions that supported the intervention.”
“Libyans won’t be able to find a solution by themselves, and that the international community has indeed to be much more active to find solutions for the country.”