LAA Statement on Recent LNA Threats to Civil Aviation Over Tripoli

January 23, 2020

Washington, DC

The Libyan American Alliance (LAA) would like to express our gravest concern about the recent threats against civil aviation in Tripoli by self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed Al-Mesmari.

On January 22, 2020, during a live press conference on national television, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari announced that the LNA would be enforcing a no-fly zone over Tripoli city and Mitiga airport, without any authority to do so. He stated, “As of this hour, any civilian or military aircraft, regardless of its affiliation, flying over the capital will be directly targeted and immediately destroyed.” This is a direct declaration of intent to commit war crimes.

Khalifa Haftar’s forces have already targeted civilian aviation infrastructure multiple times, according to the UN Secretary General’s report to the Security Council released on January 15th. Therefore, this threat to illegitimately enforce a no-fly zone in the coming days must be taken seriously and treated as intent to commit a war crime according to the Geneva Convention and under United States law.

As Libyan Americans, we call on the National Security Council, the US Department of State, the US Department of Defense, and the US Department of Transportation to address these dangerous threats to civilian aviation and remind US citizen Khalifa Haftar that, in accordance with both international and US law, threats against civilian aviation are considered acts of terrorism which the US cannot tolerate.

Once again, we reiterate our belief that a strong US role in Libya is essential in order to address these reckless threats, protect US interests, and bring stability to the region.