UK — and US — pulling some staff from Tripoli as security deteriorates
posted at 10:41 am on May 10, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
How well has that Western intervention worked out in Libya? Starting well over a year ago, Western nations all pulled out of Benghazi — the city the intervention was supposed to protect — after it became clear to all but the US that radical Islamist “militias” had seized control of the city and region. The US pulled out of Benghazi only after a terrorist attack by Ansar al-Sharia somehow caught the State Department and White House by surprise … on the anniversary of 9/11. Afterward, the nations that staged the military decapitation of Moammar Qaddafi all fell back to Tripoli, where security could be better maintained.
At least until now. The UK announced that it would withdraw some of its embassy staff from Tripoli as the same “militias” besiege government buildings and demand concessions:
The UK has withdrawn some embassy staff in Libya in response to “ongoing political uncertainty”, the Foreign Office says.
It said it was temporarily withdrawing a “small number” who work with Libyan ministries.
Armed militias have recently been blocking access to ministry buildings to push their political demands.
However, the UK embassy remains “open as usual”, including for consular and visa services.
For now, anyway. The same lack of central government control in Benghazi has now manifested itself in the capital, which forces one to conclude that the central government isn’t really capable of governance at all. The “militias” have blockaded official government ministries for more than two weeks now (with a brief one-day respite), including the defense ministry that apparently can’t even defend its own headquarters any longer. Under those conditions, foreign embassies — especially those opposed to the “militias” and their radical Islamist agendas — are ripe targets for any kind of attack.
The US State Department appears to agree. They published a travel warning to all of Libya yesterday that includes Tripoli, advising nothing but “essential” travel to the capital and no travel at all outside of it for American citizens It also announces, albeit rather quietly, that the US is also pulling staff out of the capital that our military helped to liberate, emphasis mine:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Libya and strongly advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and all travel to Benghazi, Bani Walid, and southern Libya, including border areas and the regions of Sabha and Kufra. Because of ongoing instability and violence, the Department’s ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in these regions of Libya is extremely limited. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated March 11, 2013.
In early May, the security situation in Tripoli deteriorated when armed groups seized Libyan government buildings in a dispute over a law regarding officials of the former regime. In response, on May 8, the Department of State ordered the departure of a number of U.S. government personnel in Tripoli.
The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable. Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country. U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens traveling to, or remaining in, Libya should use caution and limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, and maintain security awareness at all times.
The warning includes this ironic advice:
For information on “What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis,” please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Emergencies and Crisis link.
State published this the day after the wrenching testimony of three State Department whistleblowers about what the State Department couldn’t do in Benghazi, which was respond to a terrorist attack that should have been easily predicted. How long will it be before the West gets chased entirely out of Tripoli, too, and the entirety of Libya becomes a launching pad for “militias” in North Africa?
And remind us again, please, how another 30,000-foot intervention in Syria will produce another stable and secure Mediterranean representative democracy.