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Time and 'ideas' running short in Libya, says U.N.

January 6th, 2015
05:33 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The situation in Libya, a country nearly lawless since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, is increasingly dire, the U.N. Special Representative to the country told CNN's Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

Bernardino León warned that “we are running out of time, we are running out of ideas and if in the coming weeks it is not possible to revive this political dialogue, the international community should think of other formulas and speak in a different language in Libya.”

“If we give up [on Libya],” Bernardino added, “and this is something that might happen in the coming weeks… then we will have different types of solutions but also a longer time and a missed opportunity for the political life in the country.”

Three years after Gadhafi's death, the intensifying power struggle between rival factions has plunged the country into turmoil.

“There is ongoing violence in several points of the country, but the recent fighting in Ras Lanuf is threatening with a conflict that might be generalized all over Libya. So there is political chaos, military, security chaos, and of course economic chaos.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

Envoy sees promise in talks to end Libya chaos

October 3rd, 2014
08:17 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

U.N.-brokered talks between rival factions in Libya have a reasonable chance of ending the three-year-long chaos that has gripped Libya since the fall of Muammar Gadhafi, British envoy to Libya Jonathan Powell told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“Libya is not Syria or Iraq. It hasn't got the division between Shiite and Sunni. It hasn't got the division between Kurds and Arabs. It hasn't even really got political divisions.”

“This fighting mainly has been, as I say, a state of anarchy and fighting about power and about money.”

That state of anarchy has been almost impenetrably complex, with a parade of civilian and militia leaders claiming to be Libya’s salvation.

“The problem in Libya was that NATO played its role in getting rid of Gadhafi, but afterwards the West sort of walked away. They left it alone. They thought it was for the Libyans to sort out.”

“And out of that arose chaos, arose a state of anarchy. No one was in charge. There were thousands of sides.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

Controversial former militia leader puts himself forward as Libya’s savior

October 1st, 2014
07:58 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A Libyan former militia leader who fought alongside Osama bin Laden against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and claims to have been abducted and “rendered” by the CIA is putting himself forward as the savior for Libya’s astounding chaos.

“We have to unite our efforts, all Libyans, all patriotic Libyans, regardless of their affiliations, regardless of their ideologies,” Abdelhakim Belhadj told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

If you thought the meteoric rise of ISIS was complicated, don’t even think about trying to understand Libya.

Militias have run the country since the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi over three years ago. Last month, Islamists seized control of the capital, Tripoli, and forced the internationally recognized parliament to flee to Tobruk, a thousand miles away.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

As chaos reigns, Libya insists West must follow through after intervention

August 7th, 2014
02:45 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Saying “the Libyans will not make it alone,” Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz appealed to America and the international community on Thursday to follow through on its intervention that helped topple dictator Moammar Gadhafi from power in 2011, and help rebuild a failing Libyan state.

“We have one side of the coin to get rid of the dictatorial regime,” he told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour. “The other side is to build a state. If you are going to build a state, it means you have to provide the required assistance in a timely manner.”

Libya has sunk to even more chaotic depths of late, as militias – some of whom helped oust Gadhafi – battle across the country.

Fighting in the capital, Tripoli, has gotten so bad that the U.S. Embassy has evacuated its personnel and the country’s fledging new parliament has been forced to meet on the opposite end of the country, in the eastern city of Tobruk – about as far away from Tripoli as you can get while remaining in Libya.

“We are not a charity case,” Abdelaziz said. “And I have to make it very clear: It is the obligation of the international community, on the neighboring countries – either north of the Mediterranean, south of the Mediterranean – to take the case of Libya very seriously.”


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Libya

Libya ‘is not complete chaos … yet’

July 28th, 2014
03:37 PM ET

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.”


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Libya

‘A mosaic’ of militias wreak havoc in Libya

July 23rd, 2014
03:23 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Libya is being gripped by the worst violence since the fall of Colonel Gadhafi in 2011.

Rival militia groups are taking over large swathes of the country, fighting for power, territory and oil wealth, and successive weak governments have been unable to disarm them.

In Tripoli, two different militant groups are firing rockets and mortars at each other as they try to take control of the city's airport. Civilians are also being caught up in the fighting, with hospitals now warning they are running out of drugs.

Last week the country's foreign minister went to the U.S. to plea for international help.

But Chris Stephen, a journalist for the Guardian newspaper, says the international community does not seem eager to help.

“The feed you get from diplomats is that there are so many sides, like a sort of mosaic,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. “Three years ago with the rebels against Gadhafi, so it was – for NATO it was easier to know who to bomb.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

'Sowfa Tabqa Huna' – She shall remain here

'Sowfa Tabqa Huna' – She shall remain here
June 30th, 2014
10:00 AM ET

By Lina and Rima Bugaighis

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lina and Rima Bugaighis are sisters, and nieces of Libyan activist Salwa Bugaighis, who was assassinated in her own Beghazi home last Wednesday.

“Dam el shohada ma yimsheesh haba” – the blood of the martyrs will not go in vain. Never did these words resonate as deeply as they do today.

Salwa Bugaighis was assassinated in the confines of her own home in Benghazi on the evening of Wednesday June 25th 2014. She was a lawyer and a political and human rights activist. To Libyans, Salwa embodied the change the country yearned for. She was bold, courageous, and determined. She was also a mother, a wife, a daughter and a sister. And to us, she was our aunt.


Filed under:  Libya

Rogue Libyan general: Salvation or menace?

May 23rd, 2014
07:15 AM ET

It's called “operation dignity.” It started as a rogue campaign by a former Libyan general to purge the chaotic country of extremist Islamist militias – and the government that is said to support them.

Now, an array of Libyan military, tribal and political leaders have jumped on General Khalifa Haftar's bandwagon, even though he's played all sides.

As one said, “The dilemma is that no-one trusts him but everyone likes what he's doing. We want the Islamists out.”

So could General Haftar and his "Operation Dignity" be just what the doctor ordered? Or could he drag Libya back into a military dictatorship, much like General Abdel Fatah El-Sisi in neighboring Egypt?

“I have decided to face this threat and those who are against the Libyan people, and we hope that the Libyan tribes and the civic institutions in Libya do support us,” General Haftar told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Thursday on the phone from the eastern city of Benghazi.

“I want for Libya to be together, and I did not come out only to provide security for Libya. And I want for the Libyan society to be safe and secure. Personally, I do not want political power. But I want the safety and security of my country and my people.”

Click above to watch Amanpour’s interview with General Haftar.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

West should have put boots on the ground in Libya, says former prime minister

March 25th, 2014
05:15 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Western countries exercised “bad judgement” in failing to put troops on the ground during the Libyan revolution, Former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Tuesday.

“There was bad judgement on [the] part of the West for not putting too many troops on the ground,” Zeidan said through an interpreter.

Amanpour clarified whether he believed that, in retrospect, he wished that the West had “put boots on the ground, forces to maintain security.”

“Any means to have security will be accepted in Libya,” he said. If Libya wants stability, “we should have forces that are part of the United Nations, regional or Middle Eastern troops, or countries that have relations or connections in Libya – and if this takes place under the international community, under the United Nations, it will be accepted.”

Three years after Moammar Gadhafi was forced from office and killed, control of Libya is largely in the grip of militias.

Zeidan himself was forced from office by a parliamentary vote earlier this month and fled the country.

He insists that he is still the prime minister.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

Gadhafi son improperly extradited to Libya, former lawyer says

March 6th, 2014
05:37 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The extradition of Saadi Gadhafi, son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, back to Libya from Niger may not have been proper, suggested a lawyer who has formerly represented him.

“I’m not even sure that he was extradited,” Nick Kaufman told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, from Jerusalem.

“Extradition suggests that this was a legal process where Saadi Gadhafi was accorded a lawyer, a court hearing, and…it’s not even clear to me that that even took place.”

Saadi Gadhafi fled Libya more than two years ago, after his father’s death in the uprising that ousted him from power.

He had been living in Niger ever since.

“I’m quite surprised at the authorities in Niger,” Kaufman said. “They know who I am. They know that I was formerly representing Saadi. They know how to contact me.”


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Libya
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