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Davutoğlu: Turkey may evacuate embassy in Libya amid fighting

By Tajuddin
In DIPLOMAT MEMO
Jul 25th, 2014
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TWITTER

heavy fighting in Tripoli

Tripoli( DIPLOMAT) – Turkey may evacuate its embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Thursday, a day after his ministry advised all Turkish citizens to leave the North African country due to the worsening security situation.

More than 50 people have died so far in fighting that started 10 days ago and which has deepened fears that post-war Libya is slipping further into lawlessness, with its government unable to control heavily armed brigades of former rebel fighters battling for power.

“There has been serious conflict in Libya for the recent months. … We have taken measures for the evacuation of a few hundred Turks in Libya,” Davutoğlu said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster AHaber.

“The measure of evacuating the embassy may be considered,” he said, warning that deteriorating conditions in Libya risked creating a “domino effect” of instability in the region.

Turkey is still trying to secure the release of 49 hostages seized last month from its diplomatic mission in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul by fighters loyal to the Islamic State militant group.

The government was widely criticized for not evacuating its Mosul consulate earlier, and the hostage crisis comes at an awkward time politically for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is hoping to be elected president in polls due next month.

Turkey reiterates travel warning for Libya

Turkey has also reiterated its travel warning for Libya as fighting intensifies and instability deepens in the North African country.

A statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Ankara strongly recommends that citizens immediately leave the country and avoid non-essential travel. The ministry said, because airports have been shelled and are currently closed, citizens should use a land route to neighboring Tunisia and take a flight back to Turkey, offering consular and logistics help for citizens.

Libya is witnessing one of its worst episodes of violence since the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Last week Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz warned the Security Council that “negative elements” are seriously threatening the country’s democratic transformation “and indeed seem to be heading towards becoming a failed state with far-reaching consequences.”

He pointed to a deteriorating economic situation, mainly due to the decrease in Libya’s oil production and exports, political conflicts, the failure to build a national army or police force, conflicts among armed groups which may lead to civil war and a deteriorating security situation due to the existence of “millions of heavy and small arms” and a growing number of radical individuals and groups.

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