Posts Tagged ‘Libye’
President of the National Salvation Government, Khalifa Ghwell
National Salvation government forces have seized at least three ministries in Libya’s capital, following the current UN-backed government’s year-long failure to bring stability and order back to the war-torn country.
The leader of the group, Khalifa Ghwell, confirmed that his forces seized control of the ministries of defence, labour and the “martyrs and the wounded” ministry, which looks after the families of the aforementioned. He also declared himself “Prime Minister of Libya”.
Ghwell’s group was formed by the outgoing parliament after a dispute in 2014 about the transfer of power which led to the establishment of rival governments.
The UN helped establish a third government in Tripoli last year under Fayez Al-Sarraj in the hopes he could unify Libya and lead the fight against “Islamist extremists”.
However, a spokesman for Al-Sarraj’s government, Ashraf Tulty, dismissed the takeover, stating that the group was just “trying to sow chaos [and] they have no means to control.”
Tulty further explained how the ministry buildings that Ghwell claims to have seized are either under maintenance, not controlled by Al-Sarraj’s government, or were seized only briefly before being let go.
“This is nothing more than a media hoax,” Tulty said. “They are trying to sabotage the only internationally recognised government in Libya.”
In a speech aired on television, Ghwell said that past arrangements brokered by the UN were “invalid” and described Al-Sarraj’s government as “expired”.
The self-declared prime minister referred to his forces as the “Presidential Guard”, stating that he ordered them to secure the capital and warned other militias to stand down. He also renewed calls for new talks to ensue among Libyan factions away from the presence of foreign mediators.
“We are the ones with legitimacy,” Ghwell explained. “We extend our hands to our Libyan rivals,” before adding “God’s law will rule among us.”
Ghwell’s earlier government has previously been linked with Islamist groups, including some hard-line factions.
Ghwell further stated how conditions in Libya have gone “from bad to worse” in the year since Al-Sarraj’s government was formed.
Referring to the cash crisis, Ghwell blamed Libya’s economic woes on disputes between Al-Sarraj and the head of the central bank who declined to release funds needed to run the UN-brokered government since March.
The central bank this month approved a $26 billion annual state budget.
“We gave him a year, and when he failed, we decided to return [to power],” Ghwell told AP before advising people to “wait, and you will see what happens in the coming days” when pressed on logistical questions.
(Source / 13.01.2017)
Image of Libyan security forces
Some 268 special forces affiliated with the Tobruk-based parliament in Eastern Libya were killed in 2016, according to a statement issued by the group.
The forces, which are loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, have been engaged in ongoing battles with the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, which had taken part in ousting Muammar Qaddafi in 2011; Ansar Al-Sharia and Daesh fighters.
Haftar’s special forces added that 500 of its fighters were injured in 2016.
These losses are among the special forces, other forces affiliated with the Tobruk-based government have not announced the size of their losses. Neither have the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, which are fighting against Tobruk.
In the statement, the Tobruk-affiliated special forces said that their losses have been incurred during battles in the Benghazi areas of Abu Itny, Al-Laithi, Al-Muhashhash, Al-Hawari, Si Faraj, Al-Qawarsha and Busnaib. Some of the battles are still ongoing.
On 16 May 2014, retired army General Haftar launched the Karama military operation against the revolutionary brigades and Ansar Al-Sharia, claiming that they were responsible for the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and a series of assassinations that were on the rise in the city at the time. His actions were in defiance of the government and army’s positions at the time.
Other government entities considered Haftar’s move to be an “illegitimate coup” that took place without state permission.
However, other government entities later acknowledged Haftar’s actions, especially after the July 2014 election of the Tobruk-based parliament which supported Haftar’s military operation and promoted him as the Libyan army’s top commander.
(Source / 02.01.2017)
One of the suspected hijackers is tackled while the other is pinned on the ground as the dramatic standoff comes to a close
Cairo- Libyans lived hours of fear before the hijacking of a Libyan plane ended peacefully. Two armed men had hijacked the airplane and obliged it to stand-off in Malta, 500 km north of the Libyan coast.
According to Libyan sources, the two hijackers are: Moussa Shaha and Ahmed Ali and they are not known for any political activity.
Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the weapons the hijackers were carrying appeared to be replicas, according to an initial forensic examination. He carried out a phone call with Prime Minister Faiz Al Siraj.
There were 111 passengers people, not to mention the crew members, on board — the hijacked Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 was on an internal flight from Sabha in south east Libya to the capital city of Tripoli.
The airplane was obliged to stand off in Malta while one of the hijackers claimed to be head of a party that backs Libya’s late leader Muammar Gaddafi. Libya’s Channel TV station said one hijacker, who gave his name as Moussa Shaha, said by phone he was the head of Al-Fateh Al-Jadid – this name was accorded by Gaddafi to September 1969 during the military coup.
Taher Siala, the foreign minister of Libya’s Al-Wefaq government, also said that hijackers have said they want to set up a pro-Gaddafi political party. Images circulating on social media showed one of the hijackers waving the green flag of Gaddafi just outside the door of the plane.
The airplane landed on Friday and remained around one hour at the runway before the first group of women and children began to get out. After minutes dozens of passengers started to exit the airplane following negotiations which were held by head of Armed Forces of Malta.
(Source / 24.12.2016)
Libya’s General National Congress Deputy President Saleh al-Makhzoum (C-R), Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (C) and head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Mohammed Ali Shoeb (C-L) celebrate after signing a deal for a unity government, in Skhirat, Morocco, Dec. 17, 2015
The first anniversary of the Libyan Political Accord (LPA) fell on Dec. 17. The agreement was signed in Skhirat, Morocco, by the fighting Libyan political factions in front of a cheering crowd of diplomats and international dignitaries representing major world powers including the United States, European Union and dozens of regional countries. The LPA set up the Presidency Council headed by Fayez al-Sarraj as a first step toward a Government of National Accord (GNA) to be voted on by the Tobruk-based parliament.
The LPA — brokered by the United Nations after long and difficult negotiations between Libya’s two quarreling governments — might not be perfect, but it was the best possible way to address the country’s crisis, which has gone on for too long.
To assess what has been achieved so far, it may be best to start with the grim picture painted by the UN special envoy to Libya and the head of its mission in the country, Martin Kobler, before the UN Security Council meeting on Dec. 6. He hinted at the possibility of renegotiating the LPA, which he said is “not set in stone.” He went on to say that the accord “stands firm, but stuck,” reaffirming a wider belief that “it is the only workable framework” to salvage what is left of Libya.
However, since its establishment in Tripoli on March 30, the GNA’s biggest failure may be the lack of public support among the people it is supposed to serve, despite the wide international support. The UN and other major powers recognized the GNA as the only legitimate government in Libya and expected it to combat illegal migration from Libyan shores to Europe and fight the Islamic State (IS), which was already entrenched in Sirte on the Libyan coast. Eager to maintain such international support, the GNA found itself compelled to concentrate more on meeting those two expectations than on alleviating the difficulties Libyans face in their daily lives.
This failure to balance domestic and international expectations pushed the GNA to focus less on national reconciliation, unifying the country and improving the lives of its people as most urgent priorities. Indeed, forces claiming loyalty to the GNA claimed victory over IS when they ejected the terror group from Sirte on Dec. 6. But in reality, those who fought were not a disciplined, organized army commanded by the GNA, but rather a local Misratan militia over which the GNA has nominal control. On April 2, they declared their loyalty to the GNA in order to legitimize themselves as a regular military force fighting for the country’s internationally recognized government.
Economically, the GNA has failed even more miserably. The only recent economic achievement has been the liberation of the oil-exporting terminals in the middle of the country. But the terminals were liberated on Sept. 11 by the Libyan Armed Forces led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter and loyal to the Tobruk-based government. Hifter himself does not even recognize the GNA.
Consumer prices, measured by the exchange rate of the Libyan dinar against the dollar in the black market, has increased from 2.5 dinars to the dollar to about 6.5 in one year, pushing prices beyond reach of the average Libyan family. Furthermore, Libya’s banking system has been struggling with chronic lack of liquidity, making it very hard for people to access their savings in an economy where everything is paid for in cash.
On the security level, the GNA has failed to secure the capital, let alone the rest of the country. Security in Tripoli has deteriorated over the past year. The recent fighting in the capital on Dec. 2 — the fiercest since 2014, when a total war resulted in the mass displacement of families, destruction of the airport and burning of the city’s oil depots — only shows how local armed militias are free to do whatever they like with total impunity and before the GNA’s very eyes.
In Sabha, southern Libya, an incident involving a pet monkey triggered 10 days of intense fighting that killed and injured dozens of innocent people, causing huge damage to houses and schools. The military forces loyal to the GNA were powerless to end the bloodshed.
After a year of compounded failures, to question the LPA might not be the best policy, but renegotiating some of it could well be the only available option in the absence of any successful dialogue among Libyans. However, renegotiating the whole package would only open a Pandora’s box.
But parts of the LPA must be renegotiated without delay, particularly the setup of the GNA itself and the future role of the Libyan Armed Forces’ chief of staff, who has been the most serious hurdle. Hifter has been successful in combating terror in eastern Libya, liberated the oil terminals and handed them over to the National Oil Corporation, and brought relative security to Benghazi and beyond. Above all, he enjoys wide public support, particularly in eastern Libya. Dismissing him outright would not help bring peace to the country, and giving him a blank check could have long-term consequences. However, bringing him into the fold through a compromise with the Tobruk parliament that is backing him would certainly hasten the settlement of the chaos in the country.
Practically speaking, the GNA does not have any serious disagreements with Hifter, but the GNA-supporting militias hate the man, primarily because a unified strong Libyan army will mean their days are numbered. The supply of arms to different militias in Libya by regional countries like Qatar, Turkey and Sudan is another major issue. Those countries should be forced to stop interfering in Libya’s domestic affairs and stop supplying arms to the warring sides in the country. Kobler said, “Weapons do not fall from the sky. They come by land or sea,” calling on the world community to respect the arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011.
(Source / 21.21.2016)
Haftar supporter holds his picture in Benghazi
Tripoli- No one can know whether the ongoing major military operations in Libya aim at eradicating hundreds of heavily-armed militias according to a proactive plan or whether the developments and repercussions of clashes have just changed the locations of these militias.
These questions arose while the Presidential Congress led by the internationally-supported Fayez el-Sarraj has been seeking to impose power to control the country and the capital drowned in chaos. Amid weak agreement opportunities between Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar, military commander of Libya’s eastern government, there are attempts to form a semi-national force to replace militias, which moved to Tripoli after the defeats they faced in the eastern and southern region against Haftar forces.
The two-government fact in the country foreshadows more clashes among militias, which prepares to fight each other after they allied in the past to fight Haftar.
Three major militias currently control the Libyan scene, with each of them having its own small intelligence body, prison, prisoners and commit horrible crimes. Acts of torture were also reported as part of the competition held to control the capital.
It is worth noting that the majority of Libyan cities have kept military councils, which were formed during the revolution against Muammar Gaddafi. Each one of these councils, mainly in the capital and its surrounding cities, makes all efforts to attract militias and strengthen its forces. The militia member’s salary starts with USD300 and may double if he is an excellent sniper. The biggest share of financial allocations are funded from the state’s treasury.
The second type of militias are sectarian groups which have their private allegations on applying the Islamic Shariaa and the establishment of a religious state, with some of them cooperating with ISIS like Al-Farouq Faction in Misrata. This type of militias receives funds from mysterious external sources.
The third type is known as mercenaries led by human and arms traffickers who bring militants and weapons from Asian and African countries to sell them as commodities for other militias that pay huge sums.
Since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, the NATO-backed rebellions and militants inherited the camps and arms of the Libyan army. But, major figures like dissidents from the army, police, and intelligence were playing major roles in the cities’ military councils.
A report shows that the Libyans’ reluctance to join armed militias or participate in their wars led to the expansion of militant’s export from neighboring countries over the two past years to join all the militias existing in the Libyan scene, even those backed by ISIS.
According to Libyan Parliament Member Ismail al-Ghoul al-Sharif said that the Jafra region comprised the biggest weapon stores during Gaddafi’s rule. However, all these stores were completely evacuated after they were full of tanks, armors, missiles, and ammunitions. This armory was captured by the militias and thieves sold huge quantities of them to neighboring countries asking for arms mainly in Africa.
After controlling the state’s institutions, leaders of extremist militias imported thousands of tons of developed arms and spying systems; figures show that militias possess around 20 million pieces of arms.
Militias were also empowered by capturing the security and intelligence archive in Tripoli, sharing control on ports, airports, and army training camps, which expanded illegal migration activities, acts of killing, steeling, and kidnapping.
Analyst Rajab bin Ghazzi said that amid these circumstances, people have suffered from lack of services; however, following the withdrawal of the majority of these militias, the future of Tripoli became ambiguous and more complicated.
*Dispute on the reconstruction of the Tripoli International Airport
One of the major militia leaders has been putting pressures on the Presidential Congress to agree on a transaction he wants to make for one of his Turkish friends to reconstruct the airport.
On Saturday, another competing militia prevented investors from entering the airport, while another one attacked the central bank to prevent it from allocating the needed funds for the reconstruction.
*Cooperation, fighting, then re-cooperation
It is hard to maintain a stable status of cooperation or fighting among militias. Generally, during the wars launched against ISIS, some militia members refused to follow commands, which caused the death of many young men. Militias were suddenly withdrawing leaving their alliances without any support.
*Militias to steel oil
In November, one militia stole around five million liters of oil from the refinery located in a city near Tripoli. In another accident, militias used heavy arms to oblige around 100 truck loading around 50,000 of oil to direct toward the marine port where they completed a transaction with two oil merchants. Yet, security authorities intend to open an investigation in oil steeling accidents in the country.
(Source / 15.12.2016)
Hundreds of loyalist troops and unknown number of ISIL fighters killed as pro-government forces seize coastal city.
The victory in Sirte follows a bitter seven-month campaign against ISIL in the area
Forces aligned to Libya’s UN-backed national unity government have gained full control of Sirte after months of fighting, in a major blow to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in the country.
“Our forces have total control of Sirte,” Reda Issa, a spokesman for pro-government forces, told AFP news agency on Monday. “Our forces saw Daesh totally collapse,” he said referring to the Arabic name of ISIL.
The battle for the coastal city, which was the last significant territory held by ISIL, also known as ISIS, in Libya, cost the lives of hundreds of loyalist troops as well as an unknown number of ISIL fighters, Issa said.
The government forces seized the coastal city’s Jiza al-Bahrieh district, the last area where the armed group has been holding out, and were in the process of securing it, Issa said in a separate interview with DPA news agency.
“Daesh has totally collapsed and dozens of them have given themselves up to our forces,” said a statement on the loyalist forces’ official Facebook page.
ISIL fighters are still thought to be present in several parts of southern and eastern Libya but no longer control any towns.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Sirte, said that there are still a few ISIL fighters holding out.
“The fighting has been going on all day,” he said, adding that at least 30 ISIL fighters have surrendered to the pro-government forces.
The question now is, how many of the fighters have fled to other parts of Libya, Anas El Gomati, director of the Tripoli-based Sadeq Institute, said in an interview with Al Jazeera from Dakar, Senegal.
“The fear now is that if ISIS moves into other parts of Libya, does it induce more and more conflict?” he said.
|Children being treated for their injuries at a hospital in Misrata north of Sirte|
The developments follow a bitter seven-month campaign against ISIL, which took advantage of Libya’s split between rival governments in the east and west of the country to build up its largest territory outside of its heartland in Syria and Iraq.
Akram Glawan, Misrata Hospital spokesman, told AP news agency that 711 Libyan fighters have been killed battling ISIL during the seven-month operation in Sirte and that another 3,200 have been wounded.
Despite the apparent victory in Sirte, Libya remains deeply divided, with the national unity government based in the capital Tripoli unable to gain recognition from the elected parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk.
Forces loyal to Tobruk military strongman General Khalifa Haftar have made major advances in recent months, seizing the country’s critical oil ports from forces aligned to the unity government.
Analysts argue that Haftar’s growing strength means that the UN-backed deal setting up the national unity government is increasingly out of step with the balance of power on the ground and should be revisited.
Even in Tripoli the unity government’s rule is far from secure, with a third rival administration backed by hardline armed groups recently attempting a comeback.
Clashes between rival militias claimed at least four lives in the city on Friday, according to the al-Wasat news site.
(Source / 06.12.2016)
Marshal Khalifa Haftar speaks during a news conference at a sports club in Abyar, east of Benghazi May 21, 2014
Cairo- Armed forces led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar announced a “great victory” against extremist fighters in Libya’s Benghazi earlier on Thursday, which indefinitely entailed adjustments to political stances of diplomats who had long considered Haftar short to a hostile threat.
More so, the same diplomats turning the tables today had once vigorously fought against the Marshal keeping his military post as the general commander of the national army. In 2015, Haftar was appointed commander of the armed forces loyal to the elected, internationally backed government, the Council of Deputies.
Haftar held a senior position in the forces which overthrew despot Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 Libyan Civil War. In 2014 he was commander of the Libyan Army when the General National Congress (GNC) allegedly refused to give up power in accordance with its term of office.
U.N. envoy to Libya Martin Kobler had adopted a novel rhetoric, shining with a sympathetic and a cooperative note—he tweeted earlier that the Libyan National Army, led by Haftar, is sacrificing greatly in its counterterrorism efforts and recorded advances.
Kobler added that fighting off terror is to everyone’s best interest.
The U.S. envoy to Libya, Jonathan Winer, also publicized a rare show of support for the forces of Haftar.
“Tough sacrifices by #Libya National Army soldiers this week reported – 20 killed & 40 injured in counter terror fighting in Benghazi,” he wrote on Twitter.
UK diplomat Peter Millett noted that the army had liberated Gwarsha from terror’s hold, adding: “Condolences to the families of LNA martyrs”.
This is the first time all three diplomats refer to the Haftar-led forces as Libya’s national army– which opposing to previous remarks, gives the LNA legitimacy under Haftar’s commandership.
Benghazi, birthplace of the 2011 revolution which toppled Libya’s longtime tyrant Gaddafi, has been the scene of daily clashes for the past two years between Haftar’s forces and armed hardliners holding onto strategic city pockets.
(Source / 19.11.2016)