Category: Rebellious Land of Libya


September 14, 2020

Angry demonstrations erupted on Saturday night in areas under the control of renegade General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya with protesters setting fire to government buildings in Benghazi.

The local Al-Ahrar TV said Haftar’s forces fired live bullets at locals who were protesting against poor living conditions in front of the Security Directorate in Al-Marj city to the east of Benghazi, injuring a demonstrator.

No comment was made by the Ministry of Health about the report.

Videos circulating online showed protesters in Benghazi attacking the government headquarters and that of the local municipality.

Security forces responded by raising the house of an activist who had been calling on people to fight corruption in the area. He has since been detained.

Eastern Libya has witnessed three days of protests as a result of poor living conditions and against corruption and poor services.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200914-angry-protesters-burn-government-property-in-eastern-libya/.

Tuesday, 8 September, 2020

Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said the military has not officially commented on the ongoing dialogue between delegations from the High Council of State and east-based parliament in Morocco.

“We always seek security and peace,” he stressed.

Implicitly criticizing the talks, he added: “We are now in a whirlwind. I have received dozens of calls from activists and clan elders who are inquiring about the nature of these talks.”

He said it was unfortunate that the parliament did not clarify its goal.

Mismari also criticized the failure to appoint a new head to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya to succeed Ghassan Salame, speaking of a diplomatic dispute over the post.

Talal al-Mayhoub, head of the parliamentary defense and national security committee, had on Sunday said that the Morocco talks would be a “waste of time” if they did not take a decisive position on demanding the withdrawal of Turkish forces and foreign mercenaries and militias from Libya.

Parliament spokesman Abdullah Bhelig, however, said the parliament’s delegation in Morocco has been tasked with reaching understandings over “sovereign” positions. The talks will then pave the way for UN-sponsored political dialogue.

Meanwhile, head of the High Council of State, Khalid al-Mishri said the talks in Morocco are “unofficial consultations aimed at reaching means to start dialogue. They are not exactly the beginning of dialogue.”

The delegations are searching for ways to return to the point where dialogue was stopped, he explained.

Source: Asharq al-Awsat.

Link: https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2494806/libyan-national-army-criticizes-morocco-talks.

Tuesday, 8 September, 2020

Bouznika (Morocco) – Hatem Betioui

The ongoing dialogue between Libya’s High Council of State and east-based parliament continued in Morocco on Monday with participants remaining tight-lipped over the proceedings.

Member of the High Council of State delegation, Abdulsalam al-Safrani said the discussions were being held in “positive” conditions.

Speaking from Bouznika south of Rabat where the dialogue is being held, he expressed his optimism that “understandings may be reached.”

The talks are focusing on the political and institutional division, he revealed.

The delegations addressed the issue of audit authorities “because they feel that this is a matter that concerns all Libyans. It is because of them that services deteriorated in Libya, leading to the spread of corruption,” he remarked.

The two parties had kicked off their talks on Sunday, met again on Monday and are due to meet again on Tuesday. They hailed Morocco’s “honest” intentions and keenness on providing the necessary fraternal conditions to hold their discussions in hopes of reaching a solution to the Libyan crisis.

In Egypt, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri telephoned his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita to tackle the latest developments on Libya as part of their efforts to reach a settlement in the country.

An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Shoukri underscored Cairo’s firm support to these efforts that are aimed at reaching a political solution that would preserve Libya’s sovereignty and unity, restore security and stability, safeguard its resources and confront terrorism, extremism and foreign meddling.

They agreed to continue their consultations and coordination and intensify their contacts with influential political forces in Libya and with international partners, including the United Nations mission in Libya, African Union and Arab League.

The Arab League, for its part, hailed the ongoing talks to push forward inter-Libyan dialogue. In a statement ahead of the Arab foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday, it said it was closely following the Bouznika talks, calling on all Libyan parties to show good intentions towards all efforts aimed at reaching a national and complete solution to their country’s conflict.

Source: Asharq al-Awsat.

Link: https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2494771/libyan-talks-hosted-morocco-kept-under-wraps.

Friday, 21 August, 2020

Libya’s warring rival governments announced in separate statements Friday that they would cease all hostilities and organize nationwide elections soon, an understanding swiftly welcomed by the United Nations and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The statements were signed by Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the Government of National Accord based in the capital Tripoli, and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based parliament.

Sarraj, who heads the Presidential Council, said parliamentary and presidential elections would be held in March.

Both statements called for demilitarizing the city of Sirte and the Jufra area in central Libya, and a joint police force to be responsible for security there.

Both administrations also called for oil revenues to flow into the bank account of the National Oil Corporation outside Libya.

The announcements came amid fears of an escalation in the more than 9-year-old conflict.

The UN Support Mission in Libya welcomed both statements, and called for the expulsion of all foreign forces and mercenaries in Libya.

Among the first to react to Friday’s announcement was al-Sisi, who welcomed the ceasefire declarations.

“I welcome statements by Libya’s Presidential Council and the House of Representatives calling for a ceasefire and halting military operations in all Libyan territory,” Sisi said in a tweet.

Source: Asharq al-Awsat.

Link: https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2461251/rival-libya-govts-announce-ceasefire-elections.

July 05, 2020

BRUSSELS (AP) — The festering dispute between France and Turkey over a naval standoff in the Mediterranean Sea has shone a glaring searchlight on NATO’s struggle to keep order among its ranks and exposed weaknesses in a military alliance that can only take action by consensus.

The dispute has also revealed NATO’s limits when its allies are or are perceived to be on different sides of a conflict — in this case in Libya — especially when a major nuclear ally like France has lamented the “brain death” at the world’s biggest security organization due to a lack of American leadership.

According to French accounts of the June 10 incident in the Mediterranean, the French frigate Courbet was illuminated by the targeting radar of a Turkish warship that was escorting a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship when the French vessel approached.

France said it was acting on intelligence from NATO that the civilian ship could be involved in trafficking arms to Libya. The Courbet was part of the alliance’s operation Sea Guardian, which helps provide maritime security in the Mediterranean.

In a power-point presentation to French senators on Wednesday, which angered the French officials, Turkey’s ambassador to Paris, Ismail Hakki Musa, denied that the Courbet had been “lit up” by targeting radar and accused the French navy of harassing the Turkish convoy.

He also suggested that a NATO probe into the incident was “inconclusive” and that France had pulled out of Sea Guardian. The French defense ministry rushed to release its version of events and underline that it would not take part in the operation until the allies had recommitted to the arms embargo on Libya, among other demands.

NATO headquarters refused to provide details saying the report is “classified,” and it’s unlikely that its findings will be made public. A French diplomat said the investigators probably did the best they could, given that they were provided with two very different versions of what happened.

On Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused France of lying. “We have proven this with reports and documents and gave them to NATO. NATO saw the truth,” Cavusoglu said. “Our expectation from France at the moment is for it to apologize in a clear fashion, without ifs or buts, for not providing the correct information.”

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron had accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by ramping up its military presence in Libya and bringing in jihadi fighters from Syria. “I think that it’s a historic and criminal responsibility for a country that claims to be a member of NATO,” Macron said. “We have the right to expect more from Turkey than from Russia, given that it is a member of NATO.”

It’s not the first time Turkey has been at the center of controversy at NATO. Ankara’s invasion of northern Syria last year angered its allies, while its purchase of Russian-made missiles, which NATO says would compromise allied defense systems, got Turkey kicked out of the F-35 stealth fighter program.

Despite concerns about its direction and close ties with Russia — NATO’s historic rival — Turkey can’t be ejected from the military organization. Legally, there is no mechanism, and decisions require the unanimous agreement of all 30 member nations. In any case, NATO insists that Turkey is too strategically important to lose.

In normal times, the United States — by far the most powerful and influential of the allies — could be expected to bring its partners into line. But the last four years, with President Donald Trump at the helm in the U.S. have been extraordinary times for NATO.

Trump has publicly berated European allies and Canada for not spending enough on defense budgets. He has pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies aerial surveillance pact, which the Europeans regard as important to their security.

Just after Turkey invaded Syria, Trump announced that he was pulling U.S. troops out, surprising and angering his allies. In recent weeks, he’s threatened to take American troops out of Germany, again without consultation.

At the heart of the France-Turkey quarrel is the question of whether NATO allies should respect the U.N. arms embargo for Libya. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last month that the alliance “of course supports the implementation of U.N. decisions, including U.N. arms embargoes.”

But in a interview on Tuesday, former U.N. Libya envoy Ghassan Salame said just after a Berlin conference in January where countries again backed the Libyan arms embargo, he saw pictures of weapons shipments showing that even Security Council members were sending “ships, planes and mercenaries” there.

With no firm U.S. guiding hand, divisions among the allies over how Libya should be handled, and a decision-making process that requires everyone to agree — even on what they should talk about — it’s difficult to see when NATO might debate the embargo question in earnest.

September 17, 2018

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Monday during a one-day visit to the country to discuss migration and the situation in neighboring Libya.

Algeria’s official APS news agency reported the meeting happened in the presence Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and other government members. The discussions take on particular significance before April’s presidential election in Algeria. No candidate has yet emerged because everyone is waiting to learn whether Bouteflika, 81, partially paralyzed from a stroke and rarely seen in public, will seek a fifth term.

Bouteflika travelled to Switzerland earlier this month for medical check-ups. Algerian television channels showed images of Merkel and Bouteflika talking together. In a joint news conference, Merkel and Ouyahia said they agreed on a process to send about 700 Algerian migrants identified as illegally staying in Germany back to their country.

Ouyahia suggested that German airline Lufthansa should help with their transfer in addition to Air Algeria. Algerian authorities requested that no special flight is chartered, he said. “Algeria will take back its children staying irregularly in Germany,” he said.

Merkel said they also discussed the situation in neighboring Mali and Libya, without providing details. Before the talks, Merkel visited the hilltop memorial to “martyrs” who died in Algeria’s war of independence with France that ended in 1962.

Germany was Algeria’s fourth-largest commercial partner in 2017, with 200 German companies working in various sectors in the North African country. This was Merkel’s first visit to Algeria in a decade. Initially set for February 2017, it was postponed because Bouteflika was stricken with the flu.

Both countries also sought to deepen their economic cooperation. Mohamed Saidj, professor of political science in Algiers, told The Associated Press that Merkel’s meeting with Bouteflika provided the Algerian president an occasion to “show his adversaries that he keeps assuming normally the prerogatives of his office.”

Saidj stressed that Algeria has strong economic links with Germany especially in mechanical engineering, the auto industry, renewable energy, the chemical sector and pharmaceuticals.

June 17, 2018

The Municipality of Sirte has called all the displaced people of the city in Libya and abroad to return to their city and open a new page.

On its Facebook page on Friday, the municipality said that it will coordinate with the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Displacement and Displaced People’s Affairs, and the Ministry of Interior to facilitate the return of the displaced people of the city.

The municipality hinted in its statement to the possibility of providing passports to the citizens of Sirte displaced abroad who do not have one, calling on them to take this opportunity in the Eid to come to terms and move forward.

Source: The Libya Observer.

Link: https://www.libyaobserver.ly/inbrief/sirte-urges-its-idps-return-home.

June 17, 2018

Militants from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) headed by Minni Minnawi are fighting alongside Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the Libyan city of Derna, Sudanese news website Bajnews reported Saturday, confirming that a number of them were killed.

The news website quoted a cousin for one of the militants as saying that his relative was killed with other Sudanese rebels while fighting under Minnawi armed group to support Haftar’s forces in Derna.

The website added that the family of the killed militant is currently receiving condolences on his death in Darfur.

The Sudanese Government has accused the armed rebel movements of fighting in Libya in exchange for military equipment and money; however, the SLM movement denied these allegations and confirmed their presence on Sudanese territory.

Source: The Libya Observer.

Link: https://www.libyaobserver.ly/inbrief/sudanese-rebels-are-fighting-alongside-dignity-operation-libya%E2%80%99s-derna.

JUNE 14, 2018

BENGHAZI, Libya/LONDON (Reuters) – The major Libyan oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were closed and evacuated on Thursday after armed brigades opposed to the powerful eastern commander Khalifa Haftar stormed them, causing a production loss of 240,000 barrels per day (bpd).

At least one storage tank at Ras Lanuf terminal was set alight following the early morning attack, an engineer told Reuters. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared force majeure on loadings from both terminals.

The clashes between forces loyal to Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and rival armed groups continued throughout the day south of Ras Lanuf, where the LNA was targeting its opponents with air strikes, local sources said.

Military sources said the LNA had withdrawn from both ports.

The LNA took control of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf along with other oil ports in Libya’s oil crescent in 2016, allowing them to reopen after a long blockade and significantly lifting Libya’s oil production.

More than half the storage tanks at both terminals were badly damaged in previous fighting and have yet to be repaired, though there have been regular loadings from Es Sider.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said it had evacuated all staff from the two terminals “as a precautionary measure.” The immediate production loss was around 240,000 bpd and the entry of a tanker due at Es Sider on Thursday was postponed, it said.

NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said the output loss was expected to rise to 400,000 bpd if the shutdown continued, calling it a “national disaster” for oil-dependent Libya.

A military source said the three-pronged attack was launched by the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), a group that has previously tried to take the oil crescent and advance on Benghazi, which has been fully controlled by Haftar since late last year.

The NOC blamed Ibrahim Jathran, who headed an armed group that blockaded oil crescent terminals for three years before being forced out by the LNA, and who appeared in a video posted on social media on Thursday announcing the start of a campaign.

“We announce the preparation of our ground forces and supporting forces in the oil region, and our objective is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years,” he said, standing in a camouflage jacket in an unidentified desert area.

“The past two years have been catastrophic for people in the oil crescent because of the presence of the system of injustice which is the other face of terrorism and extremism.”

BILLIONS LOST

The NOC says Jathran’s previous blockades cost Libya tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue. He is sought by judicial authorities in Tripoli for the blockades and attempts to export oil independently.

Repeated previous attempts by the LNA’s opponents to retake the oil crescent have failed, and it is unclear how much military and local, tribal support Jathran or BDB forces currently have.

However, the LNA, which is the dominant force in eastern Libya and rejects an internationally recognized government in the capital, Tripoli, stirred some resentment with arrests when it moved into the oil crescent in 2016, and has recently been stretched thin.

Since last month it has been waging a campaign to take control of Derna, the last city in the east to elude its control.

France, which hosted an international summit last month to set a roadmap for elections in Libya, said it “condemned with the utmost firmness the offensive conducted today by extremist elements in the oil crescent”.

Thursday’s clashes were not affecting any oilfields, the military source said. The LNA had at least five men killed and around six wounded, he said.

A local resident said he had heard the sound of heavy clashes and air strikes at dawn and had seen a large fire at the Ras Lanuf tank farm.

Crude exports from Ras Lanuf stood at 110,000 bpd in May, while exports from Es Sider were around 300,000 bpd, according to oil analytics company Vortexa.

The Minerva Lisa oil tanker, which was due to arrive at Es Sider to load a crude cargo on Thursday, was advised to stay outside the port, a source familiar with the matter said.

The tanker, chartered by trader Petraco, was seen turning away from the port on Thursday morning without loading, according to Reuters ship tracking.

A second tanker, the Seascout, is expected to arrive at the port on June 18.

Libya’s oil production recovered last year to just over 1 million bpd and has been mostly stable, though it remains vulnerable to shutdowns and blockades at oil facilities.

National output is still well under the more than 1.6 million bpd Libya was producing before a 2011 uprising led to political fragmentation and armed conflict.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli, Ahmad Ghaddar, Aidan Lewis and John Irish; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Mark Potter, David Evans and Diane Craft

Source: Reuters.

Link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-oil/attack-shuts-major-libyan-oil-ports-slashing-production-idUSKBN1JA23I.

February 12, 2018

The Commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, has been on a visit to Egypt over the last couple of days as part of as what has been referred to as “joint coordination between Egypt and the army leadership in the fight against terrorism”.

According to an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Haftar arrived in Cairo late on Wednesday and held a series of meetings with senior Egyptian officials to discuss the political and military developments in Libya, pointing out that the talks touched on the issue of coordination in the fight against terrorist groups.

“There is coordination at the highest level between the Libyan National Army and the Egyptian authorities in this regard,” he said.

In the meantime, an official source said that “the National Army is in the process of large-scale military operation in the next few days to begin the liberation of the city of Derna,” which is the main stronghold of terrorist groups in eastern Libya, and added that “preparations [for the operation] are nearing completion”.

Haftar’s eastern-based LNA, one of a number of factions that have vied for power in Libya since a 2011 uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule, is waging a military campaign against a coalition of militants and ex-rebels known as the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC) that controls Derna.

Attention has shifted to the coastal city after Haftar announced victory in a three-year military campaign against a similar coalition in Benghazi, 350 kilometers to the west, in July last year.

In May, the city was also a target of Egyptian air strikes. Egypt said it was responding to an attack against Coptic Christians on its territory, though that attack was claimed by Daesh.

Haftar, a figure many believe is seeking national power in Libya, has enjoyed strong backing from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, as well as the United Arab Emirates.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180212-libyas-haftar-visits-egypt-ahead-of-planned-attack-on-derna/.