Category: Rebellious Land of Libya


October 11, 2017

Libya’s Mufti, Al-Sadiq Al-Gharyani, has said that Skhirat-signed Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) is not a luxurious privilege for Libyans.

“That agreement has not even brought stability or accord to Libya.” the Mufti remarked.

In an article posted on the Fatwa House website and titled “Does the UN really want stability in Libya?” the Mufti indicated Tuesday that Libya has gone through tough times after it gave up its own fate to the hands of the UN, adding that the experience was a lesson to all those who believe that the UN’s project was aimed to stabilize Libya.

“The UN’s project fueled conflicts in Libya and did not aim to bring about accord.” The Mufi adds.

Sheikh Al-Gharyani also referred to the fact that Derna has a population of over 120.000, yet it is still deprived of necessary living items while the international community and the UN are watching, according to his article.

“Being the first city to defeat terrorism on its own without support did not help Derna much, but rather it was awarded by a siege that led to the starvation of the civilians.” He indicated, pointing out that the same strategy had been adopted in Ganfouda, Benghazi, before Derna.

The Mufti also lashed out at the parties that selected the dialogue committees, asking himself and the Libyans if those parties still believe the lie of fighting terrorism, which he said had been scandalized in Sabratha and in Benghazi.

“The international community knows very clearly that Haftar had never fought terrorist before, yet no action.” The Mufti added.

Source: Libya Observer.

Link: https://www.libyaobserver.ly/news/libyas-mufti-libyan-political-agreement-lie-luxury-truth-misery.

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Monday 25 September 2017

European leaders are embracing a Libyan general who has ordered his soldiers to commit war crimes, according to new evidence that has been analysed by senior legal experts.

The allegation of human rights abuses by Gen Khalifa Haftar, a former CIA asset who controls nearly half of Libya from his base in the east, comes as the general is due to arrive in Rome on Tuesday, where he will be received by Italian officials. The visit is a radical departure for Italy, who had previously shunned Haftar and seen him as a major obstacle to stability in the region because of his refusal to recognize the UN-backed government in the west.

The two experts – a former top Pentagon attorney and a former official at the international criminal court – said that newly unearthed video evidence suggests that Haftar has been complicit in calling for extrajudicial killings and the unlawful siege of the eastern port city of Derna. In one case, he is believed to have called for the “choking” of Derna just a day after he met Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, in Benghazi.

The new assessment, published on the Just Security blog, follows the recent issuing of an arrest warrant by the ICC for Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli, a member of Haftar’s Libyan National Army. Werfalli stands accused of executing prisoners himself, as well as commanding others to carry out extrajudicial killings. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also condemned alleged war crimes by the LNA.

The legal questions, and longstanding doubts among officials in the west about Haftar’s trustworthiness, have not dissuaded European leaders from seeking to forge an alliance with him.

The analysis by Ryan Goodman, a former special counsel to the general counsel of the Pentagon, and Alex Whiting, a former international criminal prosecutor at the ICC, paints a troubling picture of Haftar’s record.

The two experts point to a video that was posted on YouTube on 10 October 2015, recording a speech that Haftar gave to his LNA fighters on 18 September. In the speech, Haftar calls on his men to take no prisoners, which in legal parlance is called a “denial of quarter” and is a violation of the rules of war. “Never mind consideration of bringing a prisoner here. There is no prison here. The field is the field, end of the story,” he said in the video.

In another video, a spokesman for Haftar, Beleed al-Sheikhy, is heard saying in connection to fighting in Ganfouda, a district of Benghazi, that “who is above 14 years of age will never get out alive”. The video is believed to have been recorded in August 2016.

Haftar is a dual Libyan-US citizen who was once loyal to Muammar Gaddafi but then rebelled against the dictator. He was provided protection by the CIA around 1990 and was granted US citizenship. He lived in Virginia for two decades, where he reportedly trained in anticipation of a coup against Gaddafi. He later returned to Libya, where he has an unbreakable hold on the eastern bloc of the country, including a string of towns known as the oil crescent.

Even as experts who closely study the region say that Haftar is considered an untrustworthy and unreliable partner in Libya, diplomats increasingly see him as part of the country’s future.

On a trip to Benghazi this summer, Johnson met the Libyan general and said Haftar had a “role to play in the political process”. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, who hosted Haftar and his rival, the UN-backed Libyan prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, also praised him, saying he and Sarraj had shown historic courage in agreeing to a ceasefire.

The UN envoy to Libya last week set out a new a plan under which Libya could hold elections within a year, and Haftar is widely seen as a candidate who would stand for president.

A former US official said it was believed that Haftar’s true goal was to run the country under a military dictatorship. The ex-official said European attempts to bring Haftar “into the tent” were understandable and pragmatic, because the creation of a stable government would not now be possible without his support.

Haftar has expanded his foothold militarily in part due to the support of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, the former official added. He also has contacts within the Kremlin, and visited Russia for the third time in August this year.

The ICC issued its warrant for Werfalli, a member of the al-Saiqa brigade of the LNA, based on the “reasonable belief” that he had ordered the execution of 33 detainees in seven incidents from June 2016 to July 2017.

The Just Security article also pointed to a speech that Haftar gave in August 2017, a day after his meeting with Johnson, in which he appeared to be discussing the need to tighten the siege of Derna. Haftar said that ordering a blockade was tantamount to choking, and ought to involve a block on medicine, medical care, petrol and cooking oil.

Brig Gen Ahmad Mismari, a spokesman for the LNA, said he could not comment on the ICC warrant because the matter was under investigation. He also declined to comment on the allegations raised in the Just Security blog.

In an interview with the Guardian, Goodman said Haftar’s status as a US citizen made him subject to federal laws that criminalised violations of laws of war and risked criminal liability for any “aiders and abetters” who supported him in the US. Given his status, any decision to provide financial or other support to Haftar – including intelligence – by the US would first have to be cleared by a justice department office to ensure it was legal under US laws.

Mattia Toaldo, a Libya expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said that the more Haftar was legitimised, the less likely it was that he would ever be prosecuted. “It is up to the Europeans and the Americans to decide whether such a regime is stable, because what we have seen with the Arab spring is that repressive regimes are unstable,” he said.

“He cannot be trusted, much like most Libyan warlords, on the fight against terror, on migration, and I think also his military capacity is not as big as some people think,” he added.

Source: The Guardian.

Link: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/25/khalifa-haftar-libyan-general-accused-of-human-rights-abuses.

September 14, 2017

Local media sources have confirmed that the city of Derna is enduring the closure of most bakeries in the city after the complete depletion of flour stocks.

The same sources indicated that 85 bakeries closed out of a total of 91 as a result of the siege by Dignity Operation forces, which bans any shipment of flour allocated to the city from entering.

Source: The Libya Observer.

Link: https://www.libyaobserver.ly/inbrief/derna-bakeries-close-down-due-dignity-operation-siege.

September 10, 2017

Local and charitable institutions in the city of Derna organized a balloon festival in the city where parents and children participated in releasing dozens of balloons into the city sky from different places.

Each group of balloons carried several messages calling for peace. Balloons were released from the roofs of houses and the local children’s park and the Emilia tourist resort.

The aim of this demonstration as a civil initiative is to remove the minds of people from the difficult atmosphere they are experiencing in the city because of the siege imposed by the Dignity Operation forces.

Source: The Libya Observer.

Link: https://www.libyaobserver.ly/inbrief/balloons-peace-released-over-city-derna.

2017-08-24

BENGHAZI – Two months after the dominant military force in eastern Libya declared victory in a campaign to retake Benghazi, Hassan al-Zawy is living rough in his home in the district that witnessed the city’s last major battle.

Like many other residents, he ventured back as Khalifa Haftar Libyan National Army gradually wrested back control from Islamist militants and other rebel groups.

Parts of Libya’s second city were reduced to rubble during more than three years of fighting and, with economic crisis and political turmoil gripping the country, rebuilding is a daunting challenge.

“There are flies, mosquitoes and garbage. At night, we have absolutely nothing,” Zawy said in mid-August in the seafront neighborhood of Sabri.

“We’ve been here for one month and 10 days and all we want from the state is (this): electricity and water, and for people to return to their homes, and stay there.” A conflict that developed after strongman Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in an uprising six years ago has yet to be resolved. Benghazi, where the 2011 revolution started, has seen some of the worst violence. Tens of thousands of residents, many opposed to Haftar, were displaced to other Libyan cities.

Sabri is where Haftar’s rivals had their final strongholds, and was bombarded by LNA heavy artillery and air strikes up until a few weeks ago. Sporadic fighting continued after Haftar announced victory on July 5..

People recover what they can from the rubble of ruined buildings. Children help with the cleanup.

Afterwards, men sit outside drinking tea or coffee and guarding their streets. One says he will stay in his home even if he has to hang towels over the doors and windows.

Another Sabri resident, Farag Mahmoud, said some people were so keen to get back to their homes that they were ignoring the risk from land mines still planted in parts of the district.

“We found our homes had been flooded from broken pipes in the plumbing systems, and were submerged in water around 70 to 80 centimeters deep,” he said.

Some returning residents have formed citizens’ committees to lobby the municipal authorities on water, electricity and hygiene, said Milad Fadlallah, a local engineer.

Most residents in the less severely damaged eastern part of Sabri would be able to spend the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which starts on Sept. 1, back in their neighborhood, Fadlallah said.

But a lack of funds and political leadership in a country still divided between two rival governments will hinder reconstruction, said Osama al-Kaza, director of projects at Benghazi’s municipality.

In Benghazi, the conflict has also had left deep physical and psychological scars.

“Achieving an outstanding and modern image for the city will have to be done in stages, will take years and cost billions,” he said.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=84530.

August 22, 2017

An unofficial armed group is stopping boats used by people smugglers from setting off from Libya to cross the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in a fall in the number of migrants making the perilous journey.

There has been a noted decline in migrants arriving in Italy from Libya this year. Libya is the main route for migration to Europe but there was a fall of more than 50 per cent in July compared with 2016. Even fewer have made the journey this month, despite this time of year being a peak period due to more favorable weather and sea conditions.

The EU’s Frontex border control agency said last week that “clashes in Sabratha” contributed to July’s migrant decline. The agency also cited changeable weather and an increased Libyan coastguard presence.

According to sources in Sabratha, the sudden drop has been due to a new group operating in the city which is preventing migrants from leaving and in some cases locking them up in detention centers instead, reports Lebanon’s Daily Star. The group is made up of several hundred “civilians, policemen and army figures” who conduct a “very strong campaign” that was launched by a “former mafia boss,” local sources told Associated Press.

Italy has been trying to bolster the ability of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) to stop people smuggling by giving cash incentives, training the coastguard and sending a ship to help repair coastguard and naval vessels.

Over 600,000 migrants have reached Italy by sea from North Africa since 2014; more than 12,000 having died trying to make the journey. Italy will be looking to replicate a deal with Libya like the one struck by the EU with Turkey last year to shut down migrant routes through Greece and the Balkan states.

The UN-backed GNA has little control over armed groups in western Libya, including the capital, and none at all over militant factions which control the east of the country under the leadership of the Libyan National Army’s Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar. Smuggling networks are likely to keep on operating as along as the country suffers from a lack of a strong central authority, the absence of which has worsened Libya’s security situation.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170822-unofficial-armed-group-stops-migrants-from-leaving-libya-for-europe/.

August 22, 2017

Derna Local Council and civil society institutions have reiterated their call to state officials and all local and international human rights organizations to intervene and save their besieged city.

The council said in a statement that the siege of the city imposed by Dignity Operation militants is still in force despite their announcement of partial lifting of the blockade.

“Dignity Operation forces are still banning access of food, fuel and medical supplies to the city”, read the statement.

Source: Libya Observer.

Link: https://www.libyaobserver.ly/inbrief/new-distress-call-save-besieged-city-derna.

August 17, 2017

Clashes erupted Wednesday among groups of gunmen of Omar Al-Mukhtar operations room near Martuba checkpoint in east Derna.

According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen used light weapons to resolve the dispute over who should be controlling the checkpoint that separate Derna from the areas eastward.

“The gunmen, after internal clashes, opened fire on Derna locals who were gathering there since early morning to enter Martuba to buy basic needs after all of the city’s entrances and exits have been closed for two weeks.” Eyewitnesses added.

According to sources, the reason behind the clashes was that some of the gunmen wanted to open the road for Derna residents to enter Martuba, while others disagreed.

Tens of Derna locals gather every day in front of Martuba road’s checkpoint hoping to get a pass to go and buy whatever they could find of the needed basic needs like foods, medicines and fuel after the siege of Haftar-led forces had left the city on the verge of a humanitarian disaster.

Meanwhile, the head of the Derna local council, Awad Al-Aweij, said in presser in Tripoli that the city has become a disaster, calling on the residents to break the siege.

He also urged local and international organizations and officials to lift the siege on Derna and allow the basic needs and services to enter the city urgently via humanitarian corridors.

Source: Libya Observer.

Link: http://www.libyaobserver.ly/news/armed-clashes-among-pro-haftar-gunmen-erupted-east-derna.

August 14, 2017

Pro-Haftar Omar Al-Mukhtar Operations Room is preparing for carrying out a land attack on Derna city in the coming days after the crippling siege that has been laid by Haftar’s forces on the city depriving them of basic humanitarian needs.

The spokesman of the Dignity Operation forces, Ahmed Al-Mismari, revealed a plan for the attack on Derna by controlling strategic spots in the city including Wadi Al-Naqa area and western entrance of the city, which was used by Derna Shura Council fighters in several attacks against Haftar’s forces.

“A new joint operations room was formed in Ean Mara area.” Al-Mismari added.

In that area, there is a force called “Awliya Al-Dam” (blood Owners) a group of civilians related to the victims of Al-Qubba explosion two years ago, when over 50 people got killed from Ean Mara area.

The residents of Ean Mara still hold Derna Shura Council accountable for the explosion despite the fact that IS militants – who were fought out of Derna by the council fighters – claimed responsibility for it.

“Other fight axes will be protecting the advance of the frontline forces.” Al-Mismari added, naming Martuba in east Darn and Al-Fatayeh as well.

He also indicated that a new fighting axis will see warplanes taking part in the operation, without saying which warplanes – Haftar’s ones or those from other countries like Egypt, which had already air-attacked Derna several times.

Al-Mismari explained that, on Sunday, ground troops advanced toward Derna from five fighting axes under an aircraft cover, adding that their fighter jets had targeted houses in Daher Al-Hamar area on the outskirt of the city and destroyed two vehicles for Derna Shura Council.

Dignity Operation toughened the grip on Derna city after the downing of pro-Haftar aircraft on August 02, disallowing the residents from going out or in leading to worsened living conditions amid shortages of food, fuel and medicines.

Source: Libya Observer.

Link: http://www.libyaobserver.ly/news/libyan-eastern-forces-prepare-land-attack-derna.

August 13, 2017

ROME (AP) — A second humanitarian group in two days has reluctantly decided to suspend migrant rescues in the Mediterranean Sea due to Libyan threats, and other charities with rescue ships on Sunday were considering doing the same.

Germany-based Sea-Eye said it made the decision to halt its water rescues “with a heavy heart,” but for the sake of its crew’s safety. Sea-Eye cited the “changed security situation in the Western Mediterranean” following the Tripoli-based government’s announcement it was extending its territorial waters.

Save the Children said its rescue ship was staying in Malta after Libya declared that its search-and-rescue area now will extend far beyond the 12 nautical miles Italy and other countries consider the limit of its territorial waters.

Libya also proclaimed its intention to “extend its control and prohibition of NGO ships in international waters,” according to Save the Children, which is evaluating whether to stop its ship’s patrols.

On Saturday, Doctors Without Borders also cited Libyan threats in suspending its sea rescue activities. A Spanish aid group’s rescue ship reported that the Libyan coast guard last week fired warning shots at them while the vessel was in international waters.

Humanitarian groups worry that if migrants are blocked at sea after setting out from Libyan shores in smugglers’ unseaworthy boats, they risk drowning without rescue ships nearby. They also fear that migrants will be mistreated in Libyan detention centers if they are thwarted from leaving the North African country.

The Italian Parliament recently approved the center-left government’s request to send a naval mission to Libya to help the Libyan coast guard patrol its coast for migrant smugglers. In an interview published Sunday in La Stampa daily newspaper, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano was quoted as saying, “We must avoid deaths at sea by reducing the departures” from Libya.

“We made two choices: that of taking away criminal earnings from traffickers — because fewer persons departing mean the traffickers earn less — and that of financing the U.N. agencies” working with refugees and migrants to “assure respect for human rights in the Libyan camps.”

Some rescued migrants have told Italian judicial authorities that while waiting months for a chance to get on the smugglers’ boats, they suffered from scarce rations, forced labor, rape, beating and torture.

Save the Children said it was seeking guarantees it could safely carry out effective rescue operations, and expressed worry for “the possibility that migrants are brought back to Libya, that’s not considered a safe place where fundamental human rights are respected.”

After hundreds of thousands of migrants rescued from foundering boats were brought to Italian ports in the last few years, Italians have become worried about the costs of caring for asylum-seekers in a country where unemployment is high and the economy is flat.

With elections due next year, Italian politicians of most stripes are advocating strategies to choke off the flow of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.