The last country we “liberated” from an “evil” dictator is now openly trading slaves


The last country we “liberated” from an “evil” dictator is now openly trading slaves

 

 

By Carey Wedler

It is widely known that the U.S.-led NATO intervention to topple Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 resulted in a power vacuum that has allowed terror groups like ISIS to gain a foothold in the country.

Despite the destructive consequences of the 2011 invasion, the West is currently taking a similar trajectory with regard to Syria. Just as the Obama administration excoriated Gaddafi in 2011, highlighting his human rights abuses and insisting he must be removed from power to protect the Libyan people, the Trump administration is now pointing to the repressive policies of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and warning his regime will soon come to an end — all in the name of protecting Syrian civilians.

But as the U.S. and its allies fail to produce legal grounds for their recent air strike — let alone provide concrete evidence to back up their claims Assad was responsible for a deadly chemical attack last week — more hazards of invading foreign countries and removing their heads of state are emerging.

This week, new findings revealed another unintended consequence of “humanitarian intervention”: the growth of the human slave trade.

The Guardian reports that while “violence, extortion and slave labor” have been a reality for people trafficked through Libya in the past, the slave trade has recently expanded. Today, people are selling other human beings out in the open.

“The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, head of operation and emergencies for the International Office of Migration, an intergovernmental organization that promotes “humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all,” according to its website. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”

The North African country is commonly used as a point of exit for refugees fleeing other parts of the continent. But since Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, “the vast, sparsely populated country has slid into violent chaos and migrants with little cash and usually no papers are particularly vulnerable,” the Guardian explains.

One survivor from Senegal said he was passing through Libya from Niger with a group of other migrants attempting to flee their home countries. They had paid a smuggler to transport them via bus to the coast, where they would risk taking a boat to Europe. But rather than take them to the coast, the smuggler took them to a dusty lot in Sabha, Libya. According to Livia Manente, an IOM officer who interviews survivors, “their driver suddenly said middlemen had not passed on his fees and put his passengers up for sale.”

“Several other migrants confirmed his story, independently describing kinds of slave markets as well as kinds of private prisons all over in Libya,” she said, adding IOM Italy had confirmed similar stories from migrants landing in southern Italy.

The Senegalese survivor said he was taken to a makeshift prison, which the Guardian notes are common in Libya.

Those held inside are forced to work without pay, or on meager rations, and their captors regularly call family at home demanding a ransom. His captors asked for 300,000 west African francs (about £380), then sold him on to a larger jail where the demand doubled without explanation.

When migrants were held too long without having a ransom paid for them, they were taken away and killed. “Some wasted away on meager rations in unsanitary conditions, dying of hunger and disease, but overall numbers never fell,” the Guardian reported.

“If the number of migrants goes down, because of death or someone is ransomed, the kidnappers just go to the market and buy one,” Manente said.

Giuseppe Loprete, IOM Niger’s chief of mission, confirmed these disturbing reports. “It’s very clear they see themselves as being treated as slaves,” he said. He arranged for the repatriation of 1,500 migrants just in the first three months of this year and is concerned more stories and incidents will emerge as more migrants return from Libya.

“And conditions are worsening in Libya so I think we can also expect more in the coming months,” he added.

As the United States government continues to entertain regime change in Syria as a viable solution to the many crises in that country, it is becoming ever-more evident that ousting dictators — however detestable they may be — is not effective. Toppling Saddam Hussein led not only to the deaths of civilians and radicalization within the population, but also the rise of ISIS.

As Libya, once a beacon of stability in the region, continues to devolve in the fallout from the Western “humanitarian” intervention – and as human beings are dragged into emerging slave trades while rapes and kidnappings plague the population — it is increasingly obvious that further war will only create even further suffering in unforeseen ways.

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Britain’s Seven Covert Wars


Britain’s Seven Covert Wars

by Mark Curtis

Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars. To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.

Syria

Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mountinghit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.

British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.

Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.

Iraq

Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.

British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.

Libya

SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedly fighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata. <= ***which involves of AlQaeda, Isis and other Radical groups.

But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.

Yemen

The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.

Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.

The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.

A secretmemorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.

In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.

Pakistan and Somalia

Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providinglocational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.

The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.

Drones

The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.

The Gulf

Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.

Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.

The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.

Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.

Kenya and Turkey

Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.

The web of deceit

When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.

Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.

There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.

British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.

Overthrowing Qadafi in Libya: Britain’s Islamist Boots on the Ground


Overthrowing Qadafi in Libya: Britain’s Islamist Boots on the Ground

by:MARK CURTIS

An extract from Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, by Mark Curtis

Britain’s willingness to work with Islamist forces has been evident in Libya, where it took a brutal civil war between armed opposition forces and remnants of the regime to overthrow Libyan ruler, Muammar Qadafi, who was killed in October 2011. Massive NATO air strikes, mainly by Britain and France, were conducted during March-October in support of the rebel forces and significantly contributed to the rebel victory. What concerns the story here is not a review of the whole intervention but the extent to which it involved an Islamist element being supported by Britain in furtherance of its objectives in the Middle East.

The Islamist forces were only part of the military opposition that overthrew Qadafi, but were an important element, especially in the east of the country which was where the uprising began and which provided the centre of opposition to Qadafi. The episode, to some extent, echoes past British interventions where Islamist actors have acted as among the foot-soldiers in British policy to secure energy interests. That the British military intervention to overthrow Qadafi was primarily motivated by such interests seems clear – in the absence of access to government files – to which we briefly turn later. Such oil and gas interests in Libya, however, has been downplayed by ministers and largely ignored by the media, in favour of notions of Britain being motivated by the need to support the human rights of the Libyan people and promote democracy: concerns completely absent when it came to defending the rights of other Middle Easterners being abused at precisely the same time, notably Bahrainis.

Britain provided a range of support to the rebel Libyan leadership, which was grouped in the National Transitional Council (NTC), an initially 33-member self-selected body of mainly former Qadafi ministers and other opposition forces, formed in Benghazi in February 2011 to provide an alternative government. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was passed on 17 March, imposing a no fly zone over Libya and authorizing ‘all necessary measures…to protect civilians’ under threat of attack. In an echo of Kosovo in 1999, it was certainly questionable whether civilians in Libya were under the extent of attack described by British ministers as justification for their military intervention, such as David Cameron’s claim that ‘we averted a massacre’.

Subsequently, British policy went well beyond the narrow strictures of the UN resolution, clearly seeking to target Qadafi personally and overthrow the regime. British air strikes and cruise missile attacks began on 19 March and within the first month of what became a seven-month bombing campaign NATO had flown 2,800 sorties, destroying a third of Qadafi’s military assets, according to NATO. The RAF eventually flew over 3,000 sorties over Libya, damaging or destroying 1,000 targets, while Britain also sent teams of regular army, SAS and MI6 officers to advise the NTC on ‘military organizational structures, communications and logistics’. Britain also assisted NATO airstrikes by deploying SAS troops to act as ground spotters and supplied military communications equipment and body armour. Whitehall also aided the NTC’s ‘media and broadcasting operations’ and invited the NTC to establish an office in London.

Military operations were coordinated with France while the US, which played no overt part in the military intervention, authorised $25 million in covert aid to the rebels in April. British ministers denied that they provided arms and military training to the NTC (given that an international arms embargo was applied to Libya) but media reports suggested that the US gave a green light for the new Egyptian regime to supply arms and also asked Saudi Arabia to covertly do so.

The NTC’s military forces were led by various former Libyan army officers, such as Colonel Khalifa Haftar who had set up the ‘Libyan National Army’ in 1988 with support from the CIA and Saudis and who had been living for the past 20 years near Langley, Virginia, home of the CIA, which also provided him with a training camp. But Islamist elements were also prominent. Two former mujahideen who had fought in Afghanistan led the military campaign against Qadafi’s forces in Darnah, to the east of Benghazi, for example. Abdel Hakim al-Hasady, an influential Islamic preacher who spent five years at a jihadist training camp in eastern Afghanistan, oversaw the recruitment, training and deployment in the conflict of around 300 rebel fighters from Darnah. Both al-Hasady and his field commander on the front lines, Salah al-Barrani, were former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), the Islamist force that had long targeted Qadafi, and which Britain covertly funded to kill Qadafi in 1996.

It was also reported that Sufyan Ben Qumu, a Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden’s holding company in Sudan and later for an al-Qaida-linked charity in Afghanistan, ran the training of many of Darnah’s rebel recruits. Qumu spent six years at Guantanamo Bay before he was turned over to Libyan custody in 2007; he was released, along with al-Hasady, from a Libyan prison in 2008 as part of Libya’s reconciliation with the LIFG. Al-Hasady, who had fought against the US in Afghanistan in 2001, had been arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and turned over to the US, imprisoned probably at the US base at Bagram, Afghanistan, and then mysteriously released. The US Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg, told Congressmen he would speak of al-Hasady’s career only in a closed session.

In an interview with an Italian newspaper in late March 2011, al-Hasady said he had previously recruited ‘around 25’ men from the Darnah area to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, were ‘today are on the front lines in Adjabiya’, a coastal city in north-central Libya which saw some of the heaviest fighting against Qadafi’s forces. Wikileaks cables obtained by the British media revealed US files highlighting supporters of Islamist causes among the opposition to Qadafi’s regime, particularly in the towns of Benghazi and Darnah, and that the latter area was a breeding ground for fighters destined for Afghanistan and Iraq.

Captured al-Qaida documents that fell into American hands in 2007 showed that Libya provided more foreign fighters to Iraq in per capita terms than any other country and that most of the volunteers were from the country’s northeast, notably Benghazi and Darnah. Former CIA operations officer Brian Fairchild wrote that since ‘the epicentre of the revolt [in Libya] is rife with anti-American and pro-jihad sentiment, and with al-Qaida’s explicit support for the revolt, it is appropriate to ask our policy makers how American military intervention in support of this revolt in any way serves vital US strategic interests’.

Other commentators recognised the Islamist nature of some of the rebels. Noman Benotman, a former member of the LIFG who had fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, estimated that there were 1,000 jihadists fighting in Libya. Former Director of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove observed that the rebel stronghold of Benghazi was ‘rather fundamentalist in character’ and Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said that US intelligence had picked up ‘flickers’ of terrorist activity among the rebel groups; this was described by senior British government figures as ‘very alarming’.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said in parliament that since there was evidence of the presence of al-Qaida-linked forces among the rebels, Britain should ‘proceed with very real caution’ in arming them. In response, William Hague downplayed the concern, saying that ‘of course we want to know about any links with al-Qaida, as we do about links with any organisations anywhere in the world, but given what we have seen of the interim transitional national council in Libya, I think it would be right to put the emphasis on the positive side’. Following a Freedom of Information request by the author to the Ministry of Defence, asking for the latter’s assessment of the presence of al-Qaida forces or their sympathisers in the Libyan rebel forces, the MoD replied that it did not even want to disclose whether it held such information because this would be contrary to the ‘public interest’.

The extent to which these Islamist and al-Qaida-linked elements may have received weapons or military support from the British, French, Egyptians or Saudi Arabians is not yet known, but officials in Chad and Algeria repeatedly expressed concerns that the al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb organisation might have acquired heavy weapons, thanks to the arms supply. What is known is that the state of Qatar was a major financial backer of the Libyan rebels, providing them with a massive $400 million worth of support, much of which was provided to the Islamist radicals. Moreover, Qatar also sent hundreds of troops to fight on the frontline and to provide infantry training to Libyan fighters in the western Nafusa mountains and in eastern Libya. Much of Qatar’s support went to the so-called 17 February Martyrs Brigade, one of the most influential rebel formations led by Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, a leading member of the LIFG who became the rebel military commander in Tripoli.

Qatar’s support for the Islamists in Libya was surely known to British ministers, as they consistently supported Qatar’s prominent role in the campaign against Qadafi, alongside deepening military and commercial cooperation, as we see in the next section. Indeed, Qatar’s chief-of-staff, Major-General Hamad bin Ali al-Atiya, later said: ‘We acted as the link between the rebels and Nato forces’. Qatar also played a key role alongside Britain in the ‘Libya contact group’ that coordinated policy against the Qadafi regime; the first meeting of the group, in April 2011, for example, was convened by Qatar and co-chaired by Britain in Doha. After Qadafi was overthrown, Libya’s new oil minister, Ali Tarhouni, issued a rebuke to Qatar saying that ‘anyone who wishes to come to our house should knock on the front door first’; this was described by the Economist as ‘a thinly-veiled warning to Qatar to stop favouring ambitious Islamists at the expense of the shaky central government’.

What is especially intriguing about this episode relates to the past British support for the LIFG to overthrow Qadafi and whether the British still saw LIFG fighters and other Libyan Islamists as, in effect, their boots on the ground, similar to the way the British saw the Kosovo Liberation Army, then working alongside al-Qaida, in the Kosovo war of 1999. This is surely likely but again the details are murky. Certainly, there were plenty of LIFG fighters available to challenge Qadafi both in Britain and Libya, helped by a reconciliation process between the regime and the LIFG begun in 2007 and presided over by Saif al-Islam al-Qadafi, the son of the ruler. This process resulted in 2009 in dozens of LIFG members being freed from jail in Libya in return for giving up their war against the regime. In July 2009, 30 LIFG members living in Britain, some of them senior figures in the group, signed on to the reconciliation process. British Home Office Control Orders imposed on them, having been regarded as posing a danger to UK national security, were, in some cases at least, dropped. Many of the released LIFG fighters are likely to have taken part in the uprising against Qadafi alongside those who had never been captured by the regime. A series of documentaries shown on the al-Jazeera news channel followed a group of Libyan exiles in London return to Libya to take part in the overthrow of Qadafi.

In mid-March 2011, when the Qadafi regime was still clinging to power in Tripoli, Libyan authorities paraded in front of the world’s media a British citizen captured in Libya and branded an Islamic terrorist. Salah Mohammed Ali Aboaoba said he was a member of the LIFG and had moved from Yemen to Britain in 2005, where he stayed until 2010, having been granted asylum, living with his family in Manchester and raising funds for the LIFG. There is no evidence that the British authorities facilitated the despatch of LIFG fighters from Britain to Libya, which may have been a re-run of the Kosovo conflict. Yet there is the suspicion that the Libyan reconciliation process could have enabled the British, and US, to maintain contacts with the LIFG and to regard them as potential future collaborators to remove Qadafi.

At the very least, Britain in 2011 once again found that its interests – mainly concerning oil – coincided with those of Islamist forces in Libya. By now, however, the British relationship with the LIFG was clearly quite complex. Blair’s government had been so keen to curry favour with Qadafi that in 2004 MI6 was involved in the seizure of LIFG leader Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and his deputy Sami al-Saadi. Belhaj was captured at Bangkok airport and claims he was handed over to the CIA, who he alleges tortured him and injected him with truth serum before flying him back to Tripoli for interrogation. Belhaj subsequently spent six years in solitary confinement at Tripoli’s notorious Abu Selim jail, and claims that he was questioned by three British agents, who ignored his complaints about mistreatment.

MI5 sent a delegation to Tripoli in 2005, apparently to cement relations with the Qadafi regime at a time when the British were concerned with the potential threat posed to British security by other dissident members of LIFG living in the UK, whom they believed were increasingly inspired by al-Qaida. MI5 also gave the Libyan regime the names, personal details and addresses of 50 LIFG members living in the UK. Once again, the episode highlights how expedient British policy towards the LIFG was – covertly supporting the organisation in the mid-1990s and acquiescing in its presence in London as a counter to the Libyan regime, then taking action against it at the behest of Qadafi, while later finding itself on the same side again and working alongside those, such as Qatar, providing significant military and financial support to it.

****Editors note: In other words England for over a century has been affiliating all kind of terrorists gave them asylum a British passport aka British citizens all terrorists were working with MI5/MI6 and black ops and when Britain would find a window to overthrow any sovereign government so that it could steal its resources they would use these terrorists. Britain has no intention to protect its own people so any terrorist act that is taken towards Britain the only one who is to blame is MI5/MI6 and the shadow government same goes to all other European countries who have been sleeping with the devil (Alqaeda, Isis, Nusra etc) using them for their own interests. Europe and USA have no interest in DEMOCRACY or saving civilians but how to steal resources and war my friends is a GOOD BUSINESS, as refugees is a GOOD BUSINESS, human trafficking is a GOOD BUSINESS, organ harvesting is a GOOD BUSINESS.

IF YOU THINK THAT YOUR COUNTRY WORRIES ABOUT YOU.  YOU ARE SADLY MISTAKEN AND UNLESS YOU WAKE UP AND GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE AND START FIGHTING AGAINST THE ESTABLISHMENT THAT IS EARNING IN THE TRILLIONS WHILE YOU GET CHUM-CHANGE AND SUFFER AUSTERITY. WAKE UP

 

Mafia, Guns And Clans: The Big Libyan Oil Heist


Mafia, Guns And Clans: The Big Libyan Oil Heist

By DamirKaletovic

Libya’s oil production problems extend far beyond whether the forces of Tripoli or Benghazi secure ultimate control over the country: Clan-based militias are running their own smuggling operations, and their mafia reach is said to extend as far as the Coast Guard—and even into Europe.

This smuggled oil is making its way into Europe, and Libya authorities say it has cost the state US$360 million so far, at a time when the country is producing only 715,000 barrels per day, down from its Ghaddafi heydays of 1.6 million bpd.

The post-Ghaddafi chaos has created some great business opportunities in both human trafficking and oil smuggling.

According to a stellar and rare (these days) piece of investigative reporting by Italian journalist Frecesca Mannocchi, the western coastal strip of Libya running from Zawya to Sabratha is a smuggler’s paradise, with the local police and coast guard complicit in lucrative oil smuggling activities.

Police told Mannocchi that oil is smuggled by ship from Sabratha to Malta and Sicily, en route to the Italian mainland.

The clans and their militias that control this strip of smuggling are said by locals to be the Hneesh and Dabbashi, who are allies when business is good, but can quickly become enemies in armed conflict.

Where these clans and their smuggling enter the bigger political chaos of Libya is through the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), which was—as its name might suggest—established to protect oil facilities.

Where its gets even bigger is that these clans, locals claim, are working under agreements with the Sicilian Mafia.

In early January, the PFG withdrew from the western Zawiya refinery after the Chairman of Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC), Mustafa Sanalla, accused the group Nasr brigade of using the refinery to run smuggling operations.

That the PFG removed itself from this part of the equation demonstrates the power that General Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA) are gaining rather quickly. Controlling Libya means controlling its oil wealth—and controlling its oil wealth means controlling the clan-style mafia from which the PFG is deriving part of its power.

It’s easier said than done—and there are fears that General Haftar, as he reins in the chaos, could turn into another Ghaddafi. There will be a price to pay for ‘stability’.

But we’re not there yet—and we won’t be until Libya can return to its pre-conflict production, which it cannot do until the same people who control the oilfields control the oil revenues.

This is where it gets tricky. While the LNA is in control of the oilfields right now and has wrested the ports that were being hijacked by the PFG, the oil money goes to the Central Bank of Libya, which is not on the same ‘side’ as the LNA.

Instead, the Central Bank is supported by the failed—or failing—Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which has been backed by the UN. As the PFG is a rival to the LNA, so too could be a new group that the GNA is toying with in the form of a Presidential Guard.

The oil won’t flow if the LNA thinks the money is being used to prop up an armed group that will fight against it.

But this situation is extremely dynamic, and this past week alone has seen some major developments. Tripoli is as intense as it gets right now, and the game is to see who can create the most fearful “guards” corps to ostensibly ‘protect’ the country’s assets from corruption.

On Thursday, forces aligned with Khalifa Gwell announced the creation of yet another guard—the Libyan National Guard (LNG), to “protect” institutions. Though they say they are not aligned with any tribe or political party, these are militia from Misrata, and they are already engaging in armed clashes with militias that support the GNA. In effect, they are trying to build a new army. This, in turn, seems to be pushing the GNA towards its rival, General Haftar.

Indeed, the GNA just announced that it and the Presidential Council—unable to assert control—would make some key changes to include Haftar among their ranks.

This is a game of alliances that shift faster than the news can keep up. As soon as one alliance is solidified, another militia ‘guard’ pops up to force a change. It’s definitely not the right time to try to get into Libyan oil. Nor is there any chance that Libyan oil is going to upset the global balance of supply and demand and scupper the OPEC/non-OPEC deal on production cuts.

It is against this backdrop that oil smuggling thrives, and will continue to thrive, and supermajor oil companies will have no choice but to pull up stakes or play the game, which means indirectly enabling smuggling activities. In these areas, it’s either ‘hire’ the clans for ‘protection’, or suffer the consequences, including kidnapping workers.

By Damir Kaletovic for Oilprice.com

Winter in Tripoli with power cuts


Winter in Tripoli with power cuts

The cold season is here, and with the cold season comes some unpleasant things.
Flu seems to be taking the population by storm, everybody is forced to get it at least once *sniff, and I’m no exception.

Electricity, again!
Another sad phenomenon that comes with winter is long power cuts, it’s funny that an oil producing country isn’t able to provide electricity to power up the capital, but that’s how it is.
Notice how I said the capital and not the country, other cities don’t have this issue, it’s just Tripoli.

Which is very stupid – if I’m allowed to rant here- because Tripoli has all the services: Banks, ministries, and communication companies, which means that when you cut the power off of Tripoli, you are shooting yourself in the foot, basically.

It gets colder every year!
This winter is very cold, I know that every winter seems to be the coldest ever, but this one is really cold!
And the lack of electricity means the lack of heating and hot water! Actually water in general, because the pumps that are used to lift the water are electric.

“Alternative” ways to keep warm
I pity those who were forced to leave their homes in this cold due to the on going conflict in Libya, it’s a terrible time to be outside, and I can’t imagine how does it feel not to have a place to go to, a harsh reminder to always be grateful of what you have, amen!

With the lack of electricity we had to improvise, we pulled an old grill and turned it into a makeshift fireplace, or what we call in Libya a “Kannon”, it uses coal for warming up the place.

A makeshift fireplace, Kanoon.

Maybe thats the only good thing about the power cuts, having the families get together around the fire, the wind howling outside, telling old tales and sharing a good laugh as the fire clacks and hisses.

A fair warning tho, keeping the “Kannon” in a closed room may cause suffocation, and many people over the years died of carbon monoxide suffocation, how many died this year because of the cold and suffocation? Who knows? I know who to blame tho! #GECOL.

Sadly after writing this bit I learned that 7 people in the mountain city of Ghryan has been admitted to the hospital due to suffocation, and over 200 people with Pneumonia, seven of them who are seriously ill.
Lack of house insulation
Another thing I have in mind is house insulation, we don’t have that, at all! Our houses are just blocks of cement that is extremely hot in the summer (we had the temperature go up to 50 degrees last summer) and really cold in the winter; the exact opposite of insulation!
Which means that we need to use electric heaters to keep the house warm, and those things consume electricity like hell!

A popular beverage makes a heroic comeback!
On a lighter subject, a popular winter drink has found it’s way into our kitchen, powdered millet, known in Libya and many Arab countries as “Sahleb.

A glass of millet.

It’s a coffee like beverage made from: powdered millet, sugar, water and milk; served warm and it tastes very nice! It’s a good way to fight the cold.

Major hit to productivity
I am struggling to get things done, I’m yet to adapt to this lack of electricity arrangement, and trying to sync my sleep cycle with it failed badly!
So much for productivity, I feel like I went back to the 19 century (and watching Sherlock wherever we had power made this idea more plausible).
How am I supposed to get anything done on 7 hours of electricity a day, if these seven hours are the same hours I’m asleep at?
Final words
Here we are in Libya, surviving barely, struggling to make a living when everything seems to be standing against us, with no money or electricity; I am not sure how long this struggle is supposed to last, I’m positive that it won’t last very long (as if we can survive like this for much longer).

 

 

https://muaadelsharif.blogspot.gr/2017/01/winter-in-tripoli-with-power-cuts.html