Multiple news sources are now reporting that the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya has been stormed, taken over and “secured” by Islamist rebels. Reportedly no American personnel have been harmed or taken hostage, since the embassy compound was evacuated a month ago as fighting among warring rebel factions reached Libya’s capital city.
From the International Business Times:
There are varying reports about which buildings had been seized by the rebels. Some activists on the ground report that the rebels have reached the main U.S. Embassy building, while others claim the rebels are occupying a smaller compound.
— boca gator (@largelatteplz) August 31, 2014
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The event comes just one week after the United Arab Emirates, in cooperation with Egypt, launched airstrikes in Tripoli to target Islamist militias, purportedly without the permission or notification of the U.S. Following the airstrikes, the UAE arrested 30 Libyan nationals, including an Al-Jazeera employee. So far, the UAE has yet to confirm the arrests or provide and explanation.
The website Discover Diplomacy offers an explanation of why an embassy on foreign soil is considered to be part of the nation whose interests it represents:
U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, as well as foreign embassies and consulates in the United States, have a special status. While diplomatic spaces remain the territory of the host state, an embassy or consulate represents a sovereign state. International rules do not allow representatives of the host country to enter an embassy –even to put out a fire — and designate an attack on an embassy as an attack on the country it represents.
Time will tell if this takeover of the U.S. embassy in the Libyan capital will light a new fire under the investigation of the fatal attack on the American compound in Benghazi.