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Libya condemns Italy’s decision to increase troops in Misurata


Libya condemns Italy’s decision to increase troops in Misurata

TRIPOLI, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) — The National Defense and Security Committee of the Libyan eastern-based House of Representatives on Thursday condemned Italy’s decision to deploy more troops in the city of Misurata.

“The National Defense and Security Committee condemns the clear violation of Libya’s sovereignty by Italy through the Italian House of Representatives vote to approve the increase of its forces in Misurata,” the committee said in a statement.

“With this vote, Italy admits the presence of its forces, despite its previous denial of any troops on Libyan territory,” the statement added.

The committee warned Italy against “continued violation of Libya’s sovereignty,” and demanded explanation from Italy.

The Italian parliament on Wednesday approved the increase of Italian troops in Libya.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said earlier that Italy will transfer part of its military units from Iraq and Afghanistan to North Africa to combat illegal immigration and counter terrorism threats.

In September 2016, the Italian government sent a non-combat military mission, which includes about 100 special forces personnel, at the request of the Libyan UN-backed government to Misurata, some 200 km east of the capital Tripoli, to provide protection for the Italian field hospital inside Misurata air base.

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Libya: Before and After Gaddafi


Libya: Before and After Gaddafi

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011.

Many Western leaders have called him a dictator. But under his rule Libya was a prosperous country with people happily living there. Since 2011 Libya has been in a state of civil war. The UN-backed Government of National Accord, headquartered in Tripoli, operates in the western part of the country. The eastern part of the country is governed by its Parliament, with headquarters in the city of Tobruk, which is supported by the Libyan National Army. Thousands of people flee from Libya every year trying to escape war and poverty.

Saif Al-Islam accuses Abubakr Buera of defamation; case to be heard in Tobruk


Saif Al-Islam accuses Abubakr Buera of defamation; case to be heard in Tobruk

 

By Ajnadin Mustafa.

Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper has claimed that Saif Qaddafi will be tried in Libya next month, free from any ICC involvement.

Saif Al-Islam (file photo)

Cairo, 10 September 2017:

Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi has filed a lawsuit against prominent House of Representatives (HoR) member Abubakr Buera accusing him of defamation in relation to postgraduate degree from the London School of Economics. Tobruk district court has accepted the case put forward by Saif’s lawyer Khalid Al-Zaidi, and has set a date of 16 October for a hearing.

The claim that Buera defamed Saif was presented by Zaidi after the Benghazi HoR representative challenged the legitimacy of Saif’s PhD, which he in 2008.

Buera released a statement in March 2011 to the London newspaper The Independent accusing Saif of recruiting Libyan academics to write his dissertation. He reportedly alleged that Saif had gathered an assortment of PhD graduates from what was then Benghazi’s Garyounis University (now the University of Benghazi) to help him write his doctoral thesis. Buera was a professor at Garyounis at the time and specifically named an economics professor, Ahmed Menesi, as one of Saif’s collaborators. Menesi went on to become governor of the Central Bank of Libya then Libyan ambassador to Austria.

In the article Buera called on LSE to investigate Saif’s PhD. The LSE did so, but said there was no evidence to back up the allegation.

It is not thought that Saif will turn up for the case.  His current whereabouts remain something of a mystery. Since being released from house arrest and leaving Zintan, he was reported as having gone to the south of the country.

MEET THE KEY PLAYERS FIGHTING IN LIBYA


MEET THE KEY PLAYERS FIGHTING IN LIBYA

Since Qaddafi’s downfall, Libya has been overtaken by a chaotic mix of rival governments, armed groups and jihadi militants. ISIS has established bases in Libya, while an Al-Qaeda affiliated group is also active.

The Government of General National Congress (GNC)

Who?

On the 8th of August 2012 the NTC has officially handed over power to the General National Conference. In June 2014 the House of Representatives was democratically elected but the GNC did not accept this defeat. Thus they brought in the Misurata militias to burn the international airport of Tripoli and cause the biggest environmental disaster in Libya. All militias are financed by GNC and GNA otherwise they would have been overthrown.

 Where?

The GNC is based in Tripoli where they took power in August 2014, the GNC represents the Muslim Brotherhood and all other fanatic sects. Holds the capital of Tripoli under captivity till today together with the GNC.

Aligned with?

The GNC has a broad base of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, England, France and the USA support. All these countries support the Muslim-brotherhood as moderate muslims.

The Government of National Accord (GNA)

Who?

Established in early 2016 after a U.N.-backed negotiation process, the GNA represents the international community’s hope for a return to peace and stability in Libya. It is led by the Presidential Council, headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, a trained architect with little political experience prior to his appointment.

Where?

The GNA is based in Tripoli, the country’s capital located in western Libya. Which is under captivity of  the two governments  the GNC and the GNA..

Aligned with?

The GNA has a broad base of international support. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Peter Bodde, visited Serraj in Tripoli on Tuesday—the first visit by an U.S. ambassador since 2014, where Safira Deborah run out off  Tripoli even-though she praised the Islamists and  five years after Islamist militants killed four U.S. officials, including the then-ambassador Christopher Stevens—where he pledged support the NTC, promising to assist with expanding its “counter-terrorism capacity” and train Libya’s armed forces. Various militias who are financed are also supportive of the 2 governments in Tripoli.

Fayez al-Serraj

Prime Minister of Libya’s Government of UN backed Gov, Fayez al-Serraj, attends a news conference with the U.S. ambassador to Libya Peter Bodde and Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the top U.S. military commander overseeing troops in Africa, in Tripoli, Libya. Serraj represents the international community’s hope for restoring stability to Libya. HANI AMARA/REUTERS

The Libyan National Army

Who?

The Libyan National Army (LNA) constitutes the remnants of the country’s military, defeated under Qaddafi in the 2011 revolution and disbanded. It is led by Khalifa Haftar, who has pledged to fight terrorism in Libya but has rejected the authority of the GNA and the GNC. Haftar served alongside Qaddafi in the Libyan military, but later plotted to overthrow Qaddafi and fled Libya to the United States in the mid 1980s. He thought he had a senior role in forces that overthrew Qaddafi in 2011 till he had General Abdel Fatah Younes assassinated .

Where?

Haftar and his forces are based in the eastern city of Tobruk and control much of eastern Libya, including valuable oil fields and pipelines. The LNA has also been battling for control of Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, since 2014 against the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), a group of Islamist militias and jihadi groups including Ansar al-Sharia, the main militant group in the country.

Aligned with?

While Haftar has refused to endorse theGNC and GNA, he met with Serraj recently in the United Arab Emirates for talks; Haftar released a statement calling for changes to the U.N.-backed deal that formed the GNA. Haftar has also courted international support from Russia.

Khalifa Haftar

General Khalifa Haftar during a press conference in Amman, Jordan, August 24, 2015. Haftar commands armed forces in the east of the country and has so far refused to recognize the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli. KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Self-proclaimed Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Libya

Who?

Since late 2014, ISIS has gradually built up its fighters and presence in Libya. Some former pro-Qaddafi strongholds turned to the jihadi group after their leader’s downfall, while the group has also been boosted by a flow of foreign fighters, many from other Arab states. The group’s leader, Iraqi national Abu Nabil, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in late 2015; it is unclear whether a new leader has been appointed, although an ISIS publication carried an interview with Abdul Qadr al-Najdi in March 2016, identifying him as the “emir tasked with administering the Libyan provinces.”

Where?

From 2012 till 2015 the jihadi group main base was Derna on the East side of Libya till it was destroyed what was left moved their base to Sirte until late 2016, a coastal city in central Libya that was Qaddafi’s hometown and was captured by ISIS in June 2015. But after six months of fighting, pro-government forces liberated the city from the militants in December 2016. ISIS has carried out attacks in all Libya’s major cities, including Tripoli, and previously controlled the cities of Sabratha in the west but has since lost control of all three.

Aligned with?

The group is aligned with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the purported caliph of ISIS who is thought to be based between Iraq and Syria. ISIS in Libya has on occasion cooperated with Ansar al-Sharia, but the latter group has not given its allegiance to Baghdadi and has suffered defections to the former.

Misrata Libya ISIS

Libyan security forces and citizens inspect the damage after a car bomb attack on a security post in the Saddada area near the eastern Libyan city of Misrata, on April 13, 2016. The city was retaken from ISIS in December 2016 by pro-government militias. STRINGER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Ansar al-Sharia

Who?

Formed in 2012 after a merger of several Islamist militias, Ansar al-Sharia (ASL)—whose name means “Partisans of Islamic Law”—are an extremists militant group calling for the imposition of Islamic law across Libya. The group was headed up by Mohammad al-Zahawi, a Libyan imprisoned under Qaddafi; but the group said in January 2015 that Zahawi had been killed, and it is unclear whether a replacement has been appointed. U.S. officials also blamed ASL for the Benghazi consulate attack, although the group denied responsibility.

Where?

ASL is based in Benghazi, where it has been fighting against General Haftar’s forces for several years as part of the Shura Council.

Aligned with?

In 2014, the U.N. added Ansar al-Sharia’s brigades in Benghazi and Derna to its sanctions list of groups and individuals associated with Al-Qaeda, the global jihadi franchise. The U.N. said that ASL ran training camps for fighters traveling to Syria, Iraq and Mali. The group itself has denied links to Al-Qaeda and has in recent years focused its energies on charitable and da’wah—spreading the faith of Islam—in a bid to shake off its image as a militant group.

Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC)

An umbrella group of Islamist militias and jihadis, including ASL, the BRSC is based in Benghazi and battling against Haftar’s forces for control of the city. In this respect, it is fighting alongside ISIS, and the group has experienced tensions because of the association with the militant group, according to the European Council on Foreign Affairs.

Various militias and brigades

Libya is home to a vast collection of local and tribal militias, some of which support the U.N.-backed government, others which are concerned with local interests. Prominent among these are the Misrata brigades, which played a key role in liberating Sirte from ISIS; the Zintan brigades, who  captured Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam in 2011; and the Third Force, a GNA-backed militia accused of perpetrating an attack on an airbase in southern Libya earlier in May that killed 141 people, mostly soldiers loyal to Haftar.

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QATAR’S SUPPORT OF THE WORST OF THE WORST IN LIBYA MUST END


QATAR’S SUPPORT OF THE WORST OF THE WORST IN LIBYA MUST END

By

Libyans wave their new national flag (L) and Qatar’s flag during a ceremony announcing the liberation for the country in the eastern city of Benghazi on October 23, 2011 three days after ousted despot Moamer Kadhafi was captured and killed. Photo: Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty

 

Libya’s eastern-based government joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in cutting ties with Qatar in June, with Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Deri asserting that Doha was “harboring terrorism.” The move reflected longstanding grievances expressed by Libya’s non-Islamist forces about Qatar’s sponsorship of extremists in the war-torn country. And while the meddling in Libya doesn’t get a lot of coverage, it remains one of the key grievances of Qatar’s foes in the current diplomatic crisis.

Since the 2011 revolution, Libya has been the site of a rather nasty proxy war. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other traditional Gulf states have backed the eastern-based government and Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). Seeking a more Islamist order in Libya, Qatar and Turkey backed the Muslim Brotherhood, and more recently, the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC).

According to press reports, Qatar has been sending massive amounts of weapons and cash to Islamist militants battling the Western-backed government in Libya. A March 2013 U.N. report noted that in 2011 and 2012, Qatar violated the U.N. arms embargo by “providing military material to the revolutionary forces through the organization of a large number of flights and the deliveries of a range of arms and ammunition.”

And according to another report in the Egyptian al-Masry al-Youm, Doha has provided more than 750 million euros ($890 million) to extremist groups in Libya since 2011. Arab officials believe that this assistance arrives in Western Libya by way of a commercial airline that is bankrolled by Qatar.

But the Arab states are not simply bothered by Qatar’s support for garden variety Islamists. They allege that Qatar is directly backing the worst of the worst. And they appear to be correct.

According to Kristian Coates Ulrichsen of the Baker Institute for Public Policy, “Qatar developed close links with key Islamist militia commanders [in Libya] such as Abdelhakim Belhadj, once the head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and, in 2011, the commander of the Tripoli Brigade.” The LIFG is an al-Qaeda affiliate group that was sanctioned by both the United States and the United Nations.

Belhadj twice met with Osama bin Laden, and he was detained by the CIA in 2004. He launched Hizb al-Watan in 2012, which Arab officials say has maintained close ties to LIFG and received continued support from Qatar.

Ulrichsen also notes the connection between Qatar and “Ismael al-Salabi, the leader of one of the best-supplied rebel militias, the Rafallah al-Sahati Companies. Qatar was widely suspected of arming and funding al-Salabi’s group, whose sudden munificence of resources in 2011 earned it the nickname of the ‘Ferrari 17 Brigade.’”

Ismael al-Salabi’s brother, Ali al-Salabi, is a prominent Libyan cleric close to the emir of Qatar. One Egyptian source claims that he maintains close ties to the LIFG. This is a claim echoed by Arab officials familiar with the situation in Libya.

On June 8, the LNA held a press conference alleging proof of Qatar’s malign role in Libya. The LNA charged that Qatari intelligence General Salim Ali al-Jarboui supported al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Muslim Brotherhood by transferring $8 billion from the Qatari Tunisian National Bank to the Housing Bank of Tataouine Governorate in southern Tunisia.

According to the LNA, Qatar supported the assassination of senior officials, facilitated training of Islamist extremists by Hamas, and helped transport Libyan Islamists to Syria. The LNA also presented a letter purportedly penned by Mohammed Hamad Al Hajri, acting charge d’affaires at the Qatar Embassy in Libya, alleging that Qatar had deployed military units to the country.

In June, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt first issued theirterrorist list” of 59 individuals and 12 entities linked to Qatar, it included one entity (the Benghazi Defense Brigades) and five individuals from Libya. The LNA then released a second list of 75 Libyan individuals and nine organizations tied to Qatar. A third list, issued by the Arab states in late July, include two individuals and six organizations reportedly based in Libya. One highlight of the first list includes Al-Sadiq Abd al-Rahman Ali al-Ghiryani, who previously served the Grand Mufti of Libya, who has called for the destruction of the eastern government.

The allegations of Qatari malign behavior in Libya continue. The Libyan army spokesman just last week described Qatar, Sudan, and Turkey as “the triad of terrorism” in Libya. He also stated that, “a number of Qatari aircraft are regularly landing in Libya in 2017 to support terrorist groups.”

The Libyan war is not likely to be solved anytime soon. Nor is the Gulf crisis with Qatar, for that matter. But putting a stop to Qatar’s meddling in Libya might make it easier to solve both.

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