Without help, Libya could become next Syria, foreign minister says

Black smoke billows in the sky above areas where clashes are taking place between pro-government forces, who are backed by the locals, and the Shura Council of Libyan Revolutionaries, an alliance of former anti-Gaddafi rebels, who have joined forces with the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, in Benghazi December 23, 2014. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

(Reuters) – Libya, torn by a growing political divide that threatens to engulf its oilfields, could become the next Syria if it does not patch its divided government and get help battling Islamic militants, the country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“If we don’t do the right thing now, in two years’ time we could have – hopefully not – a repeat of what happened in Syria in 2014 because the international community didn’t react adequately,” Foreign Minister Mohamed Dayri told Reuters in an interview.

Dayri represents the internationally recognized government in eastern Libya, which is locked in an increasingly violent struggle for power with a rival faction, known as Libya Dawn, that seized control in the capital of Tripoli in August.

In an ominous turn of events, a force allied to the self-declared Tripoli government earlier this month moved to seize Libya’s two biggest oil export ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. Fighting has since spread to a third oil port.

Dayri repeated his government’s charge that forces attacking the oil facilities included elements of Ansar al-Sharia. The United States has designated Ansar al-Sharia as a terrorist group and accuses it of involvement in the deadly September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya…

Libya Dawn are roughly equivalent to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Ansar al-Sharia is much worse, of course and Islamic State also has a presence in the city of Derna.

Reports from the last few days:

Dec 23: Hundreds of civilians killed in Libya fighting as crisis deepens: U.N.

Dec 22: Libya fighting spreads to third oil port, 11 killed in Benghazi

Dec 20: Libya’s official government aims to set up new payment system for oil buyers