Libya’s internationally recognized government–desperately trying to hold the shattered nation together against warlords, terrorist gangs, and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS)–has banned visas for visitors from a number of Middle Eastern and African nations, including Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, and Bangladesh.
This official Libyan government is not running Tripoli at the moment; the capital city is under the control of a rival faction with its own Parliament and administration, while much of the country is under the sway of feuding militias and the Islamic State. The efficacy of the visa ban remains to be seen, since the nominal government has little power over much of Libya’s border. In fact, as France24 News points out, the government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni only controls two major airports and the Egyptian border.
“Top army commander Khalifa Haftar, allied to Thinni, signed the latest ban, which cited the overall security situation and a need to preserve ‘the nation’s security and stability,'” France24 reports.
The report goes on to say that Haftar has “repeatedly accused Sudanese, Palestinians and Syrians of having joined Ansar al-Sharia and other Islamist groups,” while Prime Minister Thinni has accused Sudan of trying to ship weapons and ammo to the faction in control of Tripoli.
Reuters notes that Libyans, in turn, are having a hard time gaining entry to other countries, as few foreign embassies are still functioning. Turkey, which Libyans could formerly visit without a visa, will begin requiring such documents from Libyan visitors at the end of September.
No official explanation for the policy change was given, although Reuters observes that Libya’s recognized government has also accused the Turks of supplying arms to the Tripoli faction, and has threatened to cut off the copious amount of business Turkish companies conduct in Libya, although so far, that threat has not been realized.