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REVEALED: Britain and Jordan’s secret war in Libya

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Middle East Eye confirms that British and Jordanian special forces are secretly battling Islamic State fighters in Libya

A picture released by Jordan’s Royal Palace on March 2, 2016 shows Jordan’s King Abdullah II

Britain has launched covert military operations in Libya against Islamic State (IS) militants with the support of Jordan, Middle East Eye can reveal.

Soldiers from the elite Special Air Services (SAS) regiment have been sent to tackle an emerging IS threat in Libya as part of a global war against the group, and Britain has recruited Jordanian special forces to provide local intelligence, according to Jordanian King Abdullah II Ibn Hussein.

It is the first official confirmation that British troops are operating inside Libya against IS.

MEE has obtained a detailed account of a meeting Abdullah held with US congressional leaders in January, when he revealed the previously unreported deployment of British and Jordanian special forces in Libya.

According to the account, sent on the condition of anonymity by a source close to the meeting, Abdullah said that he expected covert military operations in Libya to increase after the meeting, which was held in the week of 11 January. He told his American audience that Jordanian special forces would be embedded with their British counterparts.

“His Majesty [King Abdullah] said he expects a spike in a couple of weeks and Jordanians will be imbedded [sic] with British SAS, as Jordanian slang is similar to Libyan slang,” the account said.

He did not reveal the size or scope of the operations in Libya, where IS has seized control of territory amid a political vacuum that has emerged in the chaos since former leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and later killed in a NATO-backed 2011 uprising.

Abdullah met the congressional leaders during a visit to the United States in which he held a slew of high-level discussions with Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter, but not with President Barack Obama, who was forced to say he didn’t snub the king and hadn’t met him because of “scheduling conflicts”.

The king revealed the secret special forces operations in Libya when speaking to a large gathering of senior American politicians including John McCain and Bob Corker, who each attended with their respective armed services and foreign relations committees.

‘Third world war’

In the meeting, Abdullah, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and Royal Court political director Manar Dabbas spoke at length about how the fight against IS was the beginning of a “third world war” stretching from Indonesia to California.

“The problem is bigger than ISIL, this is a third world war, this is Christians, Jews working with Muslims against Khawarej, outlaws,” the king said, using an alternative acronym for IS, and referring to an early schismatic Islamic sect that was known for killing Muslims they declared not part of Islam.

Responding to Abdullah’s statement that his country was in a battle against the outlaws of Islam, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said “they don’t comprehend that view here in Washington”.

Abdullah urged the US and Russia to bury the hatchet and work together to beat IS, the document said.

“The problem is many countries are still living the cold war, but they have to get beyond that and focus on the third world war,” he said.

This prompted Senator John McCain to say American and Russian priorities were different – particularly on their approach to the Syrian civil war. He argued the Russians “don’t want to see a democratic Syria”.

None of the Congress members responded to requests for comment before publication.

Royal Court political director Dabbas referred MEE to the Jordanian Royal Court’s media adviser when asked for comment, adding: “The discussions we had in Washington were off the record.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah (L) speaks with US Senator John McCain

Abdullah lamented a lack of clear strategy from the Americans to tackle IS, saying their objectives were “not clear”. He called for Washington to give him a better understanding of their plans to take on the group in 2016.

The king said he had turned to the British for support due to the absence of a clear US plan, and added that the war against IS required “counter-insurgency warfare” and not “traditional open warfare”.

Abdullah said he thought it most efficient to connect civil servants from allied countries and get them to work together on global military operations, as politicians can be more cautious about the covert deployment of high-value specialised army battalions.

The king has rich military experience and close connections to the British armed forces.

He trained as a special forces officer at Britain’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1980, before briefly serving as a British army officer.

Since becoming king in 1999, Abdullah has sought to develop Jordan’s special forces as a respected elite force and he has positioned Amman as a key regional site for the defence industry through hosting an annual military exhibition called SOFEX, which allows arms companies to show off their latest high-tech equipment.

“If there is a special forces capital of the Middle East, it is Jordan,” said Sean Yom, an assistant professor of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia.

“It’s not quantity. It’s not strategic depth. It’s the quality of Jordanian training, the hardiness of the Jordanian soldier and their reliability for Jordanian policy.

“Abdullah has said time and again that these three factors are what sets the Jordanian military establishment apart from every other Arab military which is why he can be the most reliable partner for the West.”

Demystifying Britain’s role in Libya

Abdullah’s revelation that British and Jordanian troops are covertly fighting IS in Libya is the first official confirmation that Britain is playing a direct combat role in the troubled North African country, and it comes after weeks of intensifying pressure on British Prime Minister David Cameron to clarify his country’s rumoured military role in Libya.

On 17 March, Britain’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee wrote to Cameron asking for a statement on reports that Britain was planning to send 1,000 troops to Libya as part of a 6,000-strong international force.

Cameron had earlier told the House of Commons that “we would of course come to this house and discuss” any planned deployment.

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, who chairs the foreign affairs panel, told MEE that he wasn’t surprised the SAS were operating in Libya.

“It was implied in Tobias Ellwood’s statement to us about RAF [Royal Air Force)] flights going there and not being prepared to say anything more about it,” he said via telephone, referring to Middle East minister Ellwood’s February statement that British jets were flying reconnaissance flights over Libya.

“Obviously there are reports of special forces activity and our enemies in the form of IS are operating in Libya. I think military action against Daesh [IS] is a good thing.”

A spokesperson for Britain’s Ministry of Defence would not clarify the special forces’ role in Libya and told Middle East Eye: “We do not comment on special forces operations.”

Blunt said that the separation between special forces and the rest of the army is “slightly artificial,” and he called for a more complete anti-IS strategy to be formulated with the consultation of MPs.

“I think a more coherent military strategy would be well-advised and that would require an engagement of parliament,” he said.

US and British soldiers chat at the Basmaya base, southeast of Baghdad, on 27 January, 2016

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a former top British military official told MEE that it was normal for special forces, which are not considered conventional forces, to be deployed without MPs being given the opportunity to debate the issue in parliament.

He said that he “assumed we [the British SAS] are there in a support and training role rather than a frontline role – but that’s been a bit muddy too,” adding that while special forces are a “very useful tool” they would not “make a material difference” in the fight against IS.

“Special forces will never substitute for a conventional force that occupies and holds ground,” he said.

“A properly orchestrated international force would start to have an effect in terms of building up the proxy [Libyan] force that you’re actually going to use.”

Australian counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen, who advised US general David Petraeus and helped design the 2007 surge in Iraq, told MEE that special forces can have two positive effects on wider military efforts.

“The first is if special forces are on the ground they can provide close targeting intelligence for air strikes,” he said. “The second is that they can provide a stiffening effect on the local forces they work with, by giving them intelligence and tactical advice.”

Kilcullen pointed to the US-led war in Afghanistan, when 100 CIA officers and 300 US special forces soldiers built up 50,000 Afghan fighters to seize control of the country from the Taliban.

However, he said having such highly trained men on the ground could also have present problems of escalation.

“It puts Westerners in harm’s way. And this makes it harder for their governments to walk away,” he said.

“If someone is kidnapped or killed, this can become a tripwire to a wider unplanned engagement – it leads to raids to rescue a kidnapped soldier with the possibility of further operations.”

Kilcullen said that if there are British special forces in Libya, it was highly likely there would also be a “quick reaction force with search and rescue troops – along with drones with full strike capacity – in the event of special forces being killed or kidnapped.

The former British army official said that special forces could be used to kill senior IS leaders in Libya as part of a plan to stop the group increasing its presence in a North African country that acts as a key route for refugees heading for Europe.

Who will benefit in Libya?

However, Mattia Toaldo, a senior policy fellow at the London-based European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) told MEE that such missions did not guarantee wider success.

“Even if you kill the IS leadership, it’s not clear who will control the ‘liberated’ territory afterwards,” he said.

“This is very likely to be the case in Sirte, with competing forces now claiming to have a plan to defeat IS there but no plan to govern it in a unitary way,” he added, referring to the main Libyan town under IS control.

Libya’s civil war is a complex web of militias and parliaments vying for control of a fractured country that possesses Africa’s largest oil reserves.

The House of Representatives (HoR) is based in the east of the country, and it is backed militarily by the Libyan National Army, which is lead by Khalifa Haftar, a former Gaddafi general who became a rebel leader in 2011.

They have been fighting for control of the country against the Misratan-led alliance of Libya Dawn – a hodgepodge of militias that control the capital Tripoli and protect the General National Congress (GNC), a parliament which the HoR officially replaced after elections in June 2014.

A Member of a brigade loyal to Libya Dawn takes part in a military parade following battles against the Islamic State group

IS has seized on this political vacuum to take over territory, including the central town of Sirte, where Gaddafi was born.

UN-brokered talks have attempted to form a unity government to end the fighting and strike a strong front to stop IS. In 2015, a new administration, the Government of National Accord, was agreed and has since been established but not endorsed officially by Libya’s internationally recognised parliament, the HoR.

Toaldo said the GNA’s rumoured plan to set up in Tripoli could mark the beginning of a new struggle.

“The GNA could try to install in Tripoli,” he said. “But that won’t mean a unity government but rather the beginning of a new phase in the competition between the existing four governments: Serraj [GNA]; Ghwell [GNC]; Thinni-Haftar [HoR]; and Daesh [IS].”

The fallout from NATO’s 2011 intervention

The former British military official told MEE that Libya’s troubles stretch back to Gaddafi’s overthrow, coupled with a lack of post-intervention planning.

“There was very little discussion what would happen next at that time,” he said, adding that the post-conflict plan which “was done on the back of a fag packet”.

“As [retired US general] Colin Powell said: ‘When you break a country you own that country until you put it together again.’

“We didn’t do that. There’s this great cry in the British military: ‘Clout, don’t dribble.’ And we’ve consistently dribbled and hoped to get away with it. And therefore the result is what we see in Libya today.”

In a recent interview with The Atlantic, US President Barack Obama appeared to criticise British Prime Minister Cameron and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy for losing interest in Libya after leading the bombing campaign that resulted in the fall of Gaddafi.

However, British and French interest has certainly increased in Libya in recent months, particularly as IS has risen and Europe’s refugee crisis has deepened, but Cameron has said that his focus is not on military action but instead on seeing the formation of an effective Libyan unity government.

The ECFR’s Toaldo said King Abdullah’s comments in Washington would raise questions over how sending SAS into Libya fits in with the British goal of a unified Libya.

“The surprise is not the Jordanian-British cooperation but the fact that there is now hard evidence of UK involvement on the ground in Libya. It is worth asking how the UK government thinks these operations interact with efforts to strike a unity deal.”

(Source / 26.03.2016)

Written by altahrir

March 26, 2016 at 9:59 pm

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Nobel winner: Peace in Libya will solve 80% of Tunisia’s problems

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Nobel Peace Prize laureates of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet (L to R): Tunisian Human Rights League President Abdessatar Ben Moussa, Tunisian employers union President Ouided Bouchamaoui, National Order of Tunisian Lawyers President Fadhel Mahfoudh and Tunisian General Labor Union Secretary-General Houcine Abbassi are honored on the stage during the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Telenor Arena outside Oslo, Dec, 11, 2015

The United States must ramp up its support for Tunisia and press for a political settlement in neighboring Libya if the fledgling democracy is to succeed, employers federation president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ouided Bouchamaoui told Al-Monitor.

Bouchamaoui has been sharing that message with US and international officials this week during a whirlwind visit to Washington at the invitation of the World Bank and the International Republican Institute. She said solving the crisis in Libya would solve 80% of Tunisia’s problems by improving security and allowing its economy to take off.

“It’s chaos in Libya. People are crossing borders without any control,” she said. “And Tunisia is suffering because of this.”

The recent terrorist attacks that have decimated the Tunisian tourism sector, she pointed out, have forced the country to further ramp up a defense and security budget that has been growing by leaps and bounds since the start of the Arab Spring. Those investments are crucial, she said, but come at the detriment of domestic social spending at a time when young Tunisians enthralled by the promise of democracy are clamoring for jobs and a shot at a better life.

“One of the main drivers of the [Jasmin] revolution was the imbalance in regional prosperity,” she said, in French. “So people are expecting more investment in the regions. That’s happening, of course, but a big chunk of it is being diverted to the protection of our borders — to deal with a situation we aren’t even responsible for.”

Bouchamaoui, the scion of a powerful family and a successful businesswoman in her own right, took over Tunisia’s Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts in 2011. Two years later the organization joined with labor unionists, human rights defenders and the lawyers guild to create the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for its efforts to pave the way for a democratic transition while the rest of the Arab Spring countries erupted in flames or reverted back to authoritarianism.

“Recognition is nice,” she said. “But we need concrete support to make this transition a success.”

Bouchamaoui met with Al-Monitor over lunch at a Capitol Hill cafeteria after meeting with Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., who has introduced a resolution urging the Obama administration to start negotiations over a free trade agreement with Tunisia. Bouchamaoui said such an agreement would boost Tunisian exports and improve its global standing, without causing the kinds of impacts to the US economy that are complicating passage of far more ambitious trade deals with the European Union and Pacific nations.

“We want to be a true partner of the United States,” she said, “not a subcontractor.”

She was also scheduled to meet with World Bank and State Department officials, as well as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the US government’s development finance institution, and the US Institute of Peace.

The plain-spoken businesswoman likewise urged the United States to offer more, longer-term higher education scholarships for young Tunisians. She pressed for more US investment in her country. And she added her voice to those asking for President Barack Obama — a fellow Nobel Prize winner, she pointed out — to make history by becoming the first sitting US president to visit Tunisia since Dwight Eisenhower during his final year in office.

“We deserve a presidential visit, frankly,” she said. “We’ve gotten visits from heads of state from the world over since the revolution.”

(Source / 04.03.2016)

Written by altahrir

March 4, 2016 at 9:44 pm

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Will the international war on IS reach Libya?

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Libyan fighters look at Islamic State militant positions near Sirte, Libya, March 19, 2015

Threatening to use force has become a policy in Libya. What the fighting factions in Libya do not concede to through dialogue will most likely be imposed through the threat of military strikes. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said that the United States has developed a military plan to confront [the Islamic State] (IS) even though efforts are still focused on a political solution.

Such a statement implies that all options are possible and that opening a new battlefront against terrorism in Libya is just a matter of time — unless a political solution is reached before the warplanes and missiles have the last say.

When the Libyan parties realize that the decision is no longer internal, because the status quo in the country is harming foreign interests, be they regional or international, they might be able to overcome their individual interests to settle the crisis. Placing areas under the control of one faction or another is no longer a source of pressure or method of compromise in the field. This is because the interests of Libya and Western countries are being devoured by another party. Libyans must respond to the request to form a unity government, as this is their last transitional option.

Americans are having a hard time swallowing the bitterness of the assassination of the US ambassador to Libya [Christopher Stevens], although they had previously gloated over the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi. There are certainly members of the US Democratic Party who want to achieve military victory, which would increase their chances in the upcoming presidential elections. The focus on Libya might be an attempt to distract public opinion, given the increasing criticism of US foreign policy. This is due to the image engraved in Americans’ minds of Libya before and after the fall of Gadhafi.

Paradoxically, Libya and Iran had been the center of attention in regard to public opinion before the monstrous [IS] disturbed everyone’s sleep. A military airstrike has become possible as a form of military exercise that could equally have been called by Republican President Ronald Reagan as by Democratic President Barack Obama, because the shadow of terrorism has not disappeared. Most important, the focus is on preventing [IS] from controlling the oil fields in the country.

History is repeating itself. But the question remains: How will the United States and the world be safe from the evils of people and organizations at a time when striking Libya is a message aimed at reducing complications in the normalization of relations with the Iranian regime? The Libyan parties could benefit from this situation by isolating [IS] and stripping it of any protection if the executive authority manages to impose its influence on the military and political levels from the capital, Tripoli, rather than remaining a government-in-exile.

The United States no longer views what is happening in Libya as a conflict between the struggling factions, but based on the idea of rejecting control by radical Islamist currents. In this regard, what US Secretary of State John Kerry said — that the last thing you’d want to see is a false caliphate in Libya — falls in line with what Carter said about Islamist forces’ control over western Libya. This means that Washington is distancing itself from what is being circulated about turning a blind eye to the expansion of radical Islamist groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya. The thing that promotes this orientation is that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did not hide her desire to see the moderate Islamic experiments succeed in managing the peaceful transfer of power in North Africa and elsewhere.

Voices in Western countries, Europe and the United States are growing louder in regard to what is happening in Libya. At every milestone, voices calling for military intervention are raised. Sometimes they are raised on humanitarian grounds to limit illegal immigration and tragedies involving refugees and displaced people, particularly in the Mediterranean basin. This is while at other times they are raised under the slogan of eliminating terrorism and extremist organizations’ sources of funding and limiting the travel of volunteers and potential fighters. Yet the loudest and most convincing voices are those calling for the protection of oil wells and stripping [IS] of the source of funding that has helped the group attract fighters.

The race between a political solution and military strikes remains heated. Yet some strikes just need to be approved, and this does not necessarily have to be within the competences of the UN Security Council.

(Source / 17.02.2016)

Written by altahrir

February 17, 2016 at 9:16 pm

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Ayesha to her people: I will avenge my father, brothers, a husband and Libya!


She is back! The daughter of Muammar Gaddafi will lead the resistance against NATO and the other Libyan terrorists. Ayesha stated that she is now the leader of the resistance and she is about to create a new secret government.

Ayesha Gaddafi become the new leader of the resistance at a crucial moment for the country – on the eve of the new NATO intervention. As a Lieutenant General of the Libyan army she swore loyalty to order her legendary father and urged Libyans to wake up in order to win, to be successful and to “return the Jamahiriya government”.

Ayesha Gaddafi guarantees that in the next few months she will form a “secret government” of “famous Libyans,” who are loyal to Gaddafi and that will act as a mediator in Libya and abroad. Analyzing the current situation she criticized the former army because of “a crazy mix of anarchists” who decided to wage war on a principle “I fight for whoever pays me more.”

Gaddafi´s daughter accused them of using a green flag of Jamahiriya and recruiting their supporters, as well as strengthening tribal governments, under whose shadow they joined the alliance with the Tuareg and Toubou Islamists. She accused the Tuareg and Toubou tribes of separatism and conspiracy with the government in Tobruk.

Ayesha Gaddafi called on the soldiers of the Libyan armed forces to give her the oath as a Supreme Commander, in order to restore the state.

“My name gives me a duty and a right to be at the forefront of this battle.”, said a brave woman who during the war lost her husband and two children. Today she is ready to become a “symbol of the nation” and alongside a portrait of Gaddafi to become a “symbol of the mission to restore national unity.” Speaking of the Libyans as for her children, she compared herself to a mother who will fight for their children.

She also talked about about al-Qaeda terrorists, who overthrew her father Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Ayesha Gaddafi prophetically said that their destruction and death have a breath of madness and that it will fall apart and disappear. She wrote that “We are ready for a deadly battle” in which the terrorists will face one nation. In conclusion, she promised to sign s new agreement.

According to rumors, the printed version of this call is secretly being distributed and shared in the main cities of Libya – Tripoli and Tobruk. And according to given information we can also expect her speech on local television soon.

(Source / 03.02.2016)

Written by altahrir

February 3, 2016 at 10:46 pm

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Security Council urges Libyan parties to come together under new political deal to combat terrorists

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Wide view of the Security Council

8 January 2016 – Strongly condemning yesterday’s terrorist attack on a security training centre in Zliten, Libya, and in the wake of that deadly incident and the recent attacks on the country’s oil infrastructure, the United Nations Security Council has urged all Libyan parties to joint together to combat terrorist threats by implementing the recent agreement on a unity government.

In a press statement, the Council expressed its deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and wished a swift recovery to those injured in the incident, which, according to media reports, left nearly 50 people dead and wounded many others yesterday morning when police recruits gathered at the training centre in Zliten, a coastal town between Tripoli and the port of Misrata.

Also condemning the recent attacks on Libya’s oil infrastructure by a group that has claimed allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (or ISIL, also known as Da’esh), the Council urged all parties in Libya to join efforts to combat the threat posed by transnational terrorist groups exploiting Libya for their own agenda, by urgently implementing the Libyan Political Agreement.

The Council also urged Libyan parties to work swiftly towards the formation of the Government of National Accord “that will work for the benefit of all Libyans and the finalisation of interim security arrangements necessary for stabilizing Libya.”

Underlining the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice, the Council stressed that those responsible for these killings should be held accountable, and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions to cooperate actively with all relevant authorities in this regard.

Council members in their statement went on to reaffirm “grave concern” about ISIL, groups that have pledged allegiance to ISIL – which includes foreign terrorist fighters who are in Libya, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with ISIL and Al-Qaida operating in Libya – and the negative impact of their presence, violent extremist ideology and actions on the country’s stability, as well as neighbouring countries and the region, including the devastating humanitarian impact on the civilian populations.

They reaffirmed the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the UN Charter, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.

The members of the Security Council stressed the need to take measures to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, terrorist organisations, and individual terrorists in accordance with resolutions 2199 (2015) and 2253 (2015).

(Source / 09.01.2016)

Written by altahrir

January 9, 2016 at 6:08 pm

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The West wants unity in Libya so it can bomb it

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Herein lies the answer to the rush to create a national unity government: The rubber-stamping of a new foreign intervention targeting IS

It is now nearly five years since the revolution broke out in Libya and four since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled. Military intervention had unintended consequences. It produced another insurgency in Mali by ousting the Tuareg. It poured arms into the country and left a patchwork of city states which has shattered any sense of national unity. Every regional power has since been vying for control.

Libya has become a stage for proxy conflicts in which the needs and interests of Libyans are secondary to the great colonial games being played by rival Gulf states. Anywhere between one and two million Libyans have fled out of a population of six million.

Along the way, the credibility of the international community as an honest broker has been shredded. The €61bn Marshall Fund promised at the G8 meeting in 2011 never materialised. Early elections failed to produce a government of national unity and no, Westminster could not be parachuted in to Tripoli.

The international community played politics. It cherry picked its partners and its causes. It ignored a Supreme Court ruling that the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk was unconstitutional, but listened to it when the same court ruled that Ahmed Maitiq could not be prime minister.

There has been complete silence – no reaction at all, let alone an official investigation – to leaked emails showing that Bernardino Leon was secretly advancing the interests of his future employers the UAE while working as UN special envoy. A letter of complaint from one of the parliaments, the General National Congress, was ignored. The news was buried on the day of the Paris attacks.

A rival peace initiative in Tunis was also ignored. But “Leongate” did not stop the plan the former envoy was working on. It was pushed ahead regardless. On Sunday in Rome representatives of 17 countries, including Egypt, Germany, Russia, Turkey and China signed a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire and promising to cut off contacts with factions that do not sign the deal.

After only three days the UN plans for a signing ceremony in Skirhat, Morocco, on Wednesday seem in turmoil. Based on the signatures of individual members of the two rival parliaments in Tobruk and Tripoli, the UN appears to have gone over the heads of both bodies.

The anger was such that it forced the rival leaders of the two institutions, the Western-backed HOR in Tobruk and the Tripoli-based GNC to meet each other for the first time in Malta. They jointly rejected the UN push to sign the deal.

“We came here to announce to the world that we are able to solve our problems ourselves with the help of the international community, but we will not accept foreign intervention against the will of the Libyan people,” said GNC President Nouri Abusahmain.

These are not the only concerns with the UN plan. Instead of creating one parliament out of two, it could, according to analysts like Mattia Toaldo, fellow of European Council on Foreign Relations, create three parliaments out of two. No thought had been given to the security guarantees needed from all militias before a government of national unity can sit and meet in Tripoli.

The suspicion is that announcing a deal has become more important than delivering one. Why and why now?

Leon was quite specific in his email to the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed about his strategy. Leon said the primary object of his plan was to “break a very dangerous alliance between radical Islamists/MB (Muslim Brotherhood) and Misratans”. However you style them, this is one party of the conflict located in Tripoli. NATO was happy to fight alongside these militias when they were ousting Gaddafi.

Leon did not want an agreement that gave all sides of the conflict an equal stake in the political future of the conflict. About this too, he was brutally clear: “I have an strategy, which I am pretty sure should work, to completely delegitimise GNC (General National Congress),” Leon wrote.

The former Spanish diplomat was concerned at the prospect of the EU and the US seeking a comprehensive settlement: “Some international actors (mainly US and EU) have been asking in the last days to go to the ‘Plan B’ i.e. a classical peace conference with the fighting actors, against the backdrop of a UN multinational force. This is, in my opinion, a worse option than a political dialogue: first of all, as you have very rightly pointed out, because it will treat both sides as equal actors and will bypass legitimate institutions. Also, because it will sit around the table, to discuss an overall solution that will include political elements, the militias, and this might include some radical ones or their allies.“

Treating both sides as equal actors? Heaven forbid: “The country we mentioned in our last conversation [the United Arab Emirates] won’t be willing to support such a possibility,” Leon wrote. That is what matters in his eyes, not the US or the EU, or indeed the UN. And there lies the problem. Not that the UN itself has been without its problems. Another leaked email, a UAE diplomat at the UN was concerned about how to provide cover for the fact that his government was shipping weapons to Libya in violation of the UN arms embargo.

“The fact of the matter is that the UAE violated the UN Security Council Resolution on Libya and continues to do so,” Ahmed al-Qasimi, a senior Emirati diplomat, wrote in a 4 August email to Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s ambassador to the UN.

If the diplomats had complied with the procedures outlined by the UN resolution, Qasimi wrote, it would “expose how deeply we are involved in Libya … We should try to provide a cover to lessen the damage.”

Leon himself said a year ago in his email that the presence of Islamic State or al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Libya was a secondary consideration to the need to break the alliance of Islamist factions with the city state of Misrata.

Had IS grown so powerful in a year in Libya that it has overturned all calculations? Apparently not. Libya experts lined up at the Mediterranean Dialogues conference in Rome, organised by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, to urge caution.

Alison Pargeter, North Africa analyst, and senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute was one of them. She told the conference: “All the talk of Libya being a fall-back position for IS and streams of Iraqis and Syrians flowing into Libya is at this point overstated. ISIS is present but its only really strong in certain areas, like Sirte and its surroundings.” Three factors, according to Pargeter, circumscribe their expansion: the role of the tribes, the presence of other armed groups and the inherent Libyan suspicion of outsiders.

She warned the international community about conflating IS with rival jihadi Libyan groups who did at one point fight them: the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council, the Derna Mujaheddin Shura Council, the Ajdabiya Revolutionary Shura Council have all issued statements distancing themselves from ISIS.

She said: “We really can’t dismiss all these jihadists and lump them together as Isis, as a problem that can simply be eliminated. Perhaps we have to accept that some of these elements cannot be beaten militarily and like it or not, they are going to have to be part of the solution for Libya, and they are an uncomfortable part of the jigsaw puzzle that needs to be dealt with if Libya is ever to achieve peace.”

But this is not what Britain and France are saying. A British government source told The Telegraph that ministers were “moving in the direction” of a plan to send military support alongside European allies to defeat IS in Libya. France, which sent reconnaissance flights over Libya, is pushing too for another Western bombing mission. French premier Manuel Valls on Friday called for international efforts to crush the Islamic State jihadists to extend to the north African country. “We are at war, we have an enemy, that we must fight and crush in Syria, in Iraq and soon in Libya too,” he said.

Such an outcome is what Egypt and the UAE have been pushing for ever since the military coup in Cairo two years ago. Almost the first act of the new regime in Egypt in 2013 was to warn that a foreign intervention in the east of Libya was needed. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s annointed general for the job is the renegade ex-CIA Libya general Khalifa Haftar – a figure so divisive he has even managed to split the parliament in Tobruk.

Before bombing can start, Britain and France need to be invited to intervene by Libya itself. That cannot happen unless there is a nominal government of national unity. It does not have to meet. It simply has to exist as a virtual entity. Here then lies the answer to the rush to create a national unity government. Its first act would not be to start a process of national reconciliation. Nor indeed embark on the quest for national security. It would be to rubber stamp another foreign intervention.

Interventions form a perfect circle – from Libya to Mali to Iraq, to Syria and now back to Libya. Each intervention provides the pretext for another. And none of them end. France launched its military intervention in Mali in January 2013 to stop an uprising of different militant groups in the north. The mission was to free the north from jihadist occupation and restore Malian sovereignty on the whole territory. Little of the sort has happened. Operation Serval has finished and Operation Barkhane has continued. The French are still there, as are the jihadists.

Bombing IS in Sirte would almost certainly mean bombing other jihadist groups in the east of the country, who until today have largely acted as a brake on IS’s expansion. After nearly five years, Libyans should wake up to the fact that neither the UN nor the international community can bring the conflict in Libya to an end. Experience has shown that international mediation can be corrupted. It can therefore deepen and prolong the conflict.

(Source / 18.12.2015)

Written by altahrir

December 18, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,

Libyan Saga: UAE and Qatar Fighting for Gaddafi’s Legacy

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One of the members of the military protecting a demonstration against candidates for a national unity government proposed by U.N. envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon, is pictured in Benghazi, Libya October 23, 2015.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar have a unique opportunity to re-shape the future of post-Gaddafi Libya, but instead they are fuelling an insurgency in the North African region, US experts Giorgio Cafiero and Daniel Wagner note.

Since toppling of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi the UAE and Qatar have been struggling for power in Libya; according to US experts Giorgio Cafiero and Daniel Wagner the countries should shift their focus from “military issues to the diplomatic arena” in order to halt the ongoing strife in the region.

“Two Gulf Arab states, the UAE and Qatar, which both played pivotal roles in the Libyan uprising as sponsors of anti-Qaddafi rebels, have emerged as rivals in this grander geopolitical struggle,” Giorgio Cafiero, the Co-Founder of Gulf State Analytics, and Daniel Wagner, the CEO of Country Risk Solutions, narrate in their article for The National Interest.

Interestingly enough, the UAE, along with Egypt, backs the Tobruk-based government, while Qatar, together with Turkey and Sudan, takes the side of the Islamist-led government in Tripoli.”Abu Dhabi and Doha’s proxy war in Libya is illustrative of a division within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is proving highly influential in shaping Libya’s post-Qaddafi political order,” the US experts emphasize.

Incredible as it may seem the apple of discord is the Muslim Brotherhood and its “democracy promotion” in the region. According to the US experts, the Gulf royalties are at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood, since it “promote[s] democratic institutions and espouse[s] social justice concerns across the region.”

Cafiero and Wagner call attention to the fact that the Brotherhood gained power in many countries through Arab Spring elections, prompting deep concerns among Gulf monarchs.

However, the US experts do not specify whether the Arab royals were concerned over the potential prospects of regime change in their realms or the Muslim Brotherhood’s radical Islamist agenda.While Qatar has sponsored the Brotherhood’s branches across the Arab world in order to spread Doha’s influence, the UAE and Egypt have cracked down on the Islamists.

As for Saudi Arabia, it “sits somewhere in the middle.” Still, in Syria, Saudi Arabia sided with Qatar backing Sunni Islamist rebels, including the Muslim Brotherhood, seeking to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, the US experts elaborate.

Cafiero and Wagner note that Qatar has had an active foreign policy agenda since 1995, when Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani toppled his father in a palace coup.

According to the experts, one of Qatar’s political instruments is the pan-Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera.

“Al-Jazeera’s coverage of other Arab nations’ affairs prompted several Arab regimes to criticize the network as early as 2002,” they point out.

Quoting WikiLeaks, the experts note that in 2009 the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed called Qatar a “part of the Muslim Brotherhood” during a meeting with US officials.

As the Brotherhood has gained ground both in Libya and Syria, the UAE has decided to launch an air strike campaign against the Islamist group in Libya.

“The extent to which the UAE has committed itself to countering Islamist groups in Libya was underscored in August 2014, when Emirati pilots flying out of bases in Egypt carried out strikes against Islamist militants seeking control of Tripoli.”

Cafiero and Wagner emphasize that the UAE’s strikes targeting the Muslim Brotherhood’s Libya Dawn contradicted international law. The UAE is also funding anti-Brotherhood Libyan militias.Needless to say, Qatar is doing just the same, sponsoring and sending weapons to Libya Dawn Islamists.

The US experts argue that the Gulf countries should reach a mutually beneficial compromise and halt their proxy war in Libya. They insist that the UAE and Qatar have a unique chance to re-shape the future of post-Gaddafi Libya.

But what about the Muslim Brotherhood and its radical Islamist agenda? On the one hand, some US neoconservative decision-makers are inclined to regard the Brotherhood as the West’s “ally” in the MENA region.

For instance, the Brookings Institution reported in August 2015 that “the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has become an important component of the western-backed Syrian opposition” (“Project on US Relations with the Islamic World”).

Back in 2007, the influential Council on Foreign Relations’ mouthpiece even went so far as to claim the Brotherhood had eventually embraced elections and other “democratic features” and given up their jihadi fight.

At the same, a number of US Senators including Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz introduced a bill in November 2015 seeking to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization.”

The question remains open whether the legislation will be adopted.

(Source / 12.12.2015)



Written by altahrir

December 12, 2015 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,


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