Gaddafi’s son Saif Al Islam is released from prison in Libya

Image of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [File photo]

Image of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [File photo]

Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al Islam, has been released from prison by rebels in western Libya.

He was being held by an armed group controlling the town of Zintan since November 2011.

The Abu Bakr al-Sadiq Brigade said Saif Al Islam was released on Friday, “the 14th day of the month of Ramadan” under an amnesty agreed by the parliament based in the east.

According to reports from Libya, the son of the dead dictator is now with his relatives in the city of Al-Bayda, where he is expected to make a speech to the nation.

Saif, who studied at the London School of Economics, is the most high profile of Colonel Gaddafi’s eight children.

He was captured by rebels as he tried to flee to neighbouring Niger in November 2011 when Tripoli was taken by opposition fighters.

He was sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli two years ago and remains on the wanted list of the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Colonel Gaddafi was captured and killed in October 2011 after he was found hiding near the city of Sirte.

Since then, Libya has struggled to establish a national government, with armed groups in the east and west challenging the Tripoli authority’s government.

(Source / 11.06.2017)

Libya to be divided into 7 military zones

Smoke rises from clashes between the various militant factions fighting over control of Libya [file photo]

Smoke rises from clashes between the various militant factions fighting over control of Libya

The Presidency Council in Tripoli has announced plans for the formation of seven military zones across Libya. They will cover Tripoli, Benghazi, Tobruk, Sebha, Kufra and the Central and Western regions.

Each zone will be headed by a commander who will be appointed by and have to report to the head of the Libyan army, which will be under the council’s control. Financial backing will come from the ministry of defence, which will also help in the training of the troops involved.

It is unclear how these zones will be implemented given the council’s limited authority beyond Tripoli and the surrounding areas, particularly in regions controlled by General Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army. Nor has it been said how the Presidency Council will deal with the array of powerful militias nominally under its authority.

Read: Third Force denies truce in southern Libya

In its announcement, the council further explained that each military zone commander will work with a deputy who will be responsible for preparing and training his forces in both peacetime and war. Commanders will have to clear all plans with the council before initiating any action within their zones.

(Source / 02.06.2017)

Libya: Ghwell Militias Prep for New Battle in Tripoli


Khalifa Ghwell, a self-declared prime minister, gestures during an interview with Reuters, in Tripoli, Libya, February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017

Cairo – Former Prime Minister of the National Salvation Government Khalifa al-Ghwell stated that he tried to reach an agreement with Akilah Saleh, speaker of the parliament in Tobruk, and Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani to form a new government to substitute Sarraj government.

Ghwell denounced the meddling of Italy in the internal affair and seizing, supported by pro-Sarraj militias, his headquarters in Tripoli. He considered that the latest aggressive incidents that occurred in the past week were plotted by the Libyan Presidential Council.

A military officer in Ghwell government revealed that preparations are being made for a military operation to wrest control over some headquarters and target pro-Sarraj militias.

Tripoli falls under the control of various armed groups that have formed local power zones and are struggling for authority since the national revolution, backed by NATO, against late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Libyan Presidential Council neglected, for its part, that its headquarters in the navy base was raided by militias and denounced in return the threats of Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar to invade the capital in response to calls made by protestors who witnessed gunfire as they demanded liberating the city from militias.

In a related matter, spokesman for pro-Haftar forces Ahmed al-Mesmari declared that the last stronghold of al-Qaeda was liberated putting an end to a resistance that lasted for weeks by fighters who took shields in housing towers.

In a news conference, he added that the Libyan National Army (LNA) killed 42 terrorists in latest battles, west Benghazi, as he affirmed that Turkey is involved in providing logistic and materialistic support to extremists in the city.

The LNA is conducting, since three years, a campaign in the second biggest city in Libya and is still confronting resistance enclaves in two northern towns despite the enormous gains accomplished since the beginning of 2016.

Mid of 2014, Haftar launched the Dignity Operation saying that he wants to kick out extremists from the city following a series of explosions and murders.

(Source / 20.03.2017)

Libya’s Serraj Warns against Attempts on Reinstating a Military Junta


Libyan Prime Minister is greeted upon arrival in Tripoli, Libya March 30, 2016

Cairo – Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj leading the internationally-backed government of national accord in Tripoli warned on agendas desperately working to reestablish a military dictatorship in Libya.

Serraj is scheduled to visit Russian capital, Moscow, later this week. The Libyan Prime Minister of the UN-backed government in Tripoli is scheduled to arrive in Moscow within days, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

The visit is seen as a step towards overcoming a deadlock in the country between the Tripoli government and Khalifa Haftar, a military commander who is supported by factions based in the east of the oil-rich country.

Serraj, speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said that it was critical to bolster efforts to stop armed groups and prevent human-trafficking gangs.

“This is a reason for grave concern” he said, “We have done our utmost to find a comprehensive political solution to end these violations. Serraj warned against the different efforts being spent on reinstating a dictatorship that reigns over Libya with gun power.

ISIS, the terror group which exercised heinous crimes against humanity, has been officially driven out of the city of Sirte, Serraj said. He added that displaced families have resumed returning to their homes.

Nonetheless, Serraj asked for greater funding from the “states able to provide assistance” to help his government carry out its policies.

More so, Serraj urged countries to provide assistance and information on assets accounted for in Libya so that they are tracked and recovered.

(Source / 28.02.2017)

How serious is Russia’s commitment to Libya settlement?

A member of east Libyan forces holds his weapon as he stands in front of a destroyed house in Benghazi, Libya, Jan. 28, 2017

A rare attempt to broker a deal last week in Cairo between the rival governments of Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Gen. Khalifa Hifter generated a lot of speculation, although the talks failed.

Delegations representing Sarraj’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and governing bodies supporting Hifter in Tobruk, arrived in Egypt for a number of meetings, including what had promised to be the first face-to-face encounter between the two leaders in their present capacities. The talks were organized and facilitated by the Egyptian government, and were set to be chaired by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi himself.

It is widely believed that bridging the gap between Sarraj and Hifter is the key to national reconciliation for Libya, which has been torn by civil war since Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011.

Hifter, emboldened by his expanding influence in Libya, reportedly rejected a power-sharing deal pitched by Sarraj. Under that proposal, the renegade general would become one of the official commanders of the Libyan military, although the role of commander in chief would be split among representatives of several political factions. To Hifter, Sarraj’s proposal does not match the realities on the ground, where Hifter’s Libyan National Army and loyal forces control between 50% and (according to Hifter’s estimate) 95% of the country.

Following the failed talks, the general told an Egyptian TV channel that his army comprises 60,000 skilled servicemen, including many trained in urban combat — a statement that was surely designed to up the ante for Sarraj.

Egypt and Moscow have been backing Hifter’s political ambitions in Libya and both did their share of lobbying to make the Cairo meeting happen. But, given how much leverage Russian diplomats have with the Tobruk government, the failed talks bring into question Moscow’s real commitment to a peaceful settlement of the Libyan crisis. It also remains unclear to what extent Russia’s and Hifter’s interests are aligned at the moment, if the Libyan leader disregards his ally’s recommendations.

The UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement is the crucial element of national reconciliation in Libya, but Hifter and Moscow also see it as the main obstacle. The agreement rejects Hifter’s ambition to be the sole commander of the Libyan National Army. Per the document, a nine-person Presidential Council should “assume the functions of the supreme commander of the Libyan army.”

That is not acceptable to Moscow, let alone Hifter. To Russia, sharing military responsibilities would open the door for potential infighting. Instead, Russia would prefer to have all defense activities centralized under the country’s leader — essentially another Gadhafi-type rule.

The amended agreement proposed by the Tripoli government (Sarraj) to the Tobruk (Hifter) delegation in Cairo stipulated that the functions of the commander in chief would be divided among the head of the House of Representatives, the head of the State Council (a quasi-Senate) and Sarraj himself — eliminating Hifter from the decision-making process. Given his increasing power in Libya and his strengthening profile internationally, Hifter is unlikely to accept what he sees as a blunt attempt to strip him of his main means of projecting power.

Despite unconfirmed reports that Moscow signed an arms-supply agreement with Hifter after his surprise January meeting with Russian military officials on board the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier — which would be the strongest show of support to date — Moscow is fully committed to restrictions imposed on Libya in 2011. Russia has so far been maneuvering within the UN-established framework and does not seem to feel any urgency to provide its ally with weapons just yet. As long as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are willing to prop up the Libyan National Army through cross-border deliveries of military hardware, Russia does not need to intervene. In fact, Moscow may feel relieved that the UN-imposed arms embargo is still in place, because otherwise it would need to consider Hifter’s numerous requests for military aid, potentially diverting to Libya some of the forces intended for Syria. It’s not clear whether the Kremlin is ready to support Hifter militarily, but that scenario would certainly be a test for the relationship.

While Moscow presently sticks to the rules of the game in Libya, it is profoundly skeptical about the Libyan Political Agreement and international efforts chiefly led by Martin Kobler, the UN envoy to Libya. In late December, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov delivered what appears to be Moscow’s harshest criticism of Kobler’s work so far. Gatilov said Kobler’s backing of the Tripoli government in its confrontation with Hifter stalls the reconciliation process. Gatilov described Kobler’s policies as “efforts to strike separate deals with part of the Libyan political establishment behind the back of other influential players.” Hifter follows the same line and simply does not recognize the envoy’s refusal to meet with him.

Antonio Guterres became UN secretary-general in January, and changes are expected on the Libyan front. Kobler’s contract runs out in the first half of 2017, and the UN will have to pick his replacement by then. Guterres wanted to replace Kobler with former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, but new US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley blocked the move. Russia, however, strongly backs Fayyad’s candidacy, since the Russian Foreign Ministry, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, knows him well from his days as the Palestinian prime minister. It remains to be seen whether Guterres will battle the UN bureaucracy to appoint Fayyad, but Russia is unlikely to push for any serious reconciliation until Kobler is replaced.

In a separate development, Russia’s oil giant Rosneft signed an investment and crude-purchasing agreement this month with Libya’s National Oil Corp. (NOC), indicating revived interest in doing business in the North African country despite the ongoing crisis. Hifter controls the bulk of Libya’s oil resources and after his gains in September, when his forces seized control of most of Libya’s oil crescent ports, oil can once again be shipped out of the largest terminal in Libya’s port of Sidra.

The NOC maintains a very careful balance between the two governments in Libya. The company’s head has defended NOC’s separation from politics, arguing that the company is a vital element of the Libyan economy, which is in ruins. As a result of the Libyan National Army’s gains, oil production surged in the country, from 300,000 barrels a day in September to more than 700,000 barrels in January. This dynamic is attractive enough for international business to take its first steps to return. Other Russian companies are equally eager to explore opportunities in Libya and recover some of the profits lost on deals signed with the Gadhafi government — which signals Russia is in fact invested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict; otherwise large business deals would be out of question for the time being.

(Source / 24.02.2017)

‘West must be held accountable for Libya, apologize & leave it alone’ – Gaddafi’s cousin (EXCLUSIVE)

The Libyan people are still suffering because Western powers continue to fuel the ongoing conflict there, the cousin of slain leader Muammar Gaddafi has said on the sixth anniversary of the Arab Spring, adding that the West should apologize and leave Libya alone.

It is clear to everyone what is now happening in Libya: total destruction, people fleeing their homes, mass hunger. Our country has descended into total darkness, and our people are enduring suffering,” Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, the cousin of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, told RT in an exclusive interview.

On this anniversary of the Arab Spring, we must demand an apology to all Libyans – those whose homes were destroyed, those who were humiliated. On their behalf, I demand that the UN Security Council and the leading world powers apologize for what happened in 2011.”

FILE PHOTO. Benghazi, Libya. © Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Friday marked six years since the start of the Arab Spring, a wave of violent and non-violent protests that engulfed the Middle East and North Africa.

The civil unrest that broke out in Libya on this revolutionary tide came after the US-backed bombing campaign of the country toppled its long-time leader Gaddafi.

The nation has since been torn apart by fighting between different armed gangs and factions seeking control, including terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), as well as two rival governments – the internationally-recognized government in Tobruk (GNA) and the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) formed by Islamists. The two bodies agreed to form a unity government under an agreement proposed by the UN in December 2015, yet there still are numerous stumbling blocks which the sides have so far failed to overcome.

Gaddaf al-Dam stresses that the conflict was stirred up by the West, and that it should be held accountable.

The war, the destruction of Libya, all that, in their own words, was a mistake. [The West] recognized that they caused the overthrow of a revolutionary regime in Libya. All of them, first of all, should apologize and correct all that they’d done. But the suffering Libyan people, living in basements, forced to flee their homes, see nothing of the sort six years on. No one even talks about it today. What is happening in Libya is a crime from all points of view,” Gaddaf al-Dam said.

READ MORE: US misjudged appeal of Western democracy for Middle East during Arab Spring – CIA’s Brennan

He believes the international community was not only wrong to interfere in Libya in the first place, but must now stop its meddling to let Libya deal with the crisis itself.

Unfortunately, the international community is still trying to manage the conflict in Libya – and doesn’t want to step aside. We are caught in a swamp. Every day there are meetings, in Tunisia, in Geneva… How much more of this? We are not children,” he stated, noting that the conflict in his view can only be solved through negotiations between representatives of all rival factions in Libya – including those who are now in prison, like Gaddafi’s son and former prominent political figure Saif al-Islam – and without foreign intervention.

Despite his calls to the West to let Libya manage the conflict on its own, Gaddaf al-Dam says the international community does not really want the crisis to end, seeing the war in Libya as only a part of the West’s bigger plot to destabilize all the Muslim states of the Middle East and North Africa.

Ever since the 1980s Muammar Gaddafi warned of an existing conspiracy of Western countries against Libya. In fact, the plot was directed not only against Libya, but against all Muslim states. The implementation of this plan began with Afghanistan. Then came the destruction of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya […]

“This hell, which was organized by Western countries in the region, aims to split the countries, and it is not only about Libya. […] Gaddafi in this regard was not an astrologist – he had the information and facts on his desk. He knew the history and was a revolutionary figure who tried to carry the values and principles of the 1969 revolution through the years. The aim of the revolution was to unite the Muslim Ummah [religious community] and the entire African continent, but as Gaddafi knew about [the West’s] plot and fought with it, he was killed,” Gaddaf al-Dam said.

The Libyan revolution of 1969, known as the al-Fateh Revolution or the 1st September Revolution, was a military coup that led to the overthrow of King Idris. It was carried out by the Free Officers Movement, a group of rebel military officers led by Colonel Gaddafi.

(Source / 21.02.2017)

Libya rivals agree to hold 2018 presidential elections

Libya rivals agree to hold 2018 presidential elections

A meeting between Libya’s conflicting authorities showed signs of progress on Tuesday, after officials agreed to hold presidential elections in February 2018.

Libya’s conflicting factions agreed to hold presidential elections by February 2018, during a meeting which brought together the rival army chief and the head of the country’s unity government in Cairo on Tuesday.

The UN-backed Government of National Accord head Fayez al-Sarraj and Marshal Khalifa Haftar attended the meeting along with Egyptian officials, including Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the army Chief of Staff, Mahmoud Hejazi.

Among the set of outlines agreed upon by all those present was the preservation of Libya’s unity, the country’s sovereignty and plans to establish a stable structure, after years of conflict.

Attendees also reiterated their commitment to a modern civil state based on democracy, a peaceful transition of power and the fight against all forms of extremism and terrorism.

However, sources confirmed General Haftar refused to attend a press conference, suggesting it was not part of the agreed plan.

Earlier reports suggested Haftar had refused to meet Sarraj before receiving “guarantees that a possible agreement [would] not be rejected” by the powerful armed groups of Misrata in western Libya.

The GNA has struggled to assert its authority across the North African country since starting work in Tripoli nearly a year ago.

Haftar, whose forces control much of Libya’s east, is backed by a parliament based in the far east of the country that has refused to recognise the unity government, in part because of a dispute over his future role in Libya.

Sarraj met Haftar in January last year in the eastern city of al-Marj shortly after he was named GNA head.

The UN-brokered agreement that created the unity government did not give Haftar a role in the new administration, but the Egypt-backed strongman made clear he was a key player when he seized control of major oil terminals in the country’s east in September.

UN envoy Martin Kobler last week said talks had made progress on “possible amendments” to the political agreement, and notably on Haftar’s future role.

(Source / 15.02.2017)

6 years after the Arab Spring: Where is Libya now?

Libyans hold a big flag of Libya during a demonstration held in the Martyrs' Square where thousands of people gathered to protest the House of Representatives founded in Tobruk, a city on Libya's eastern Mediterranean coast, in Tripoli, capital city of Libya, on September 19, 2014. [Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency]

Libyans hold a big flag of Libya during a demonstration held in the Martyrs’ Square where thousands of people gathered to protest the House of Representatives founded in Tobruk, a city on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast, in Tripoli, capital city of Libya, on September 19, 2014

Six years ago North Africa and the Middle East were engulfed by the fires of the Arab Spring in events that seemed unfathomable barely a year before. Fast forward six years and each country transitioning after the Arab Spring tells a very different and often tragic story.

Of all the countries that embraced the Jasmine Revolution, Libya’s transition was the most tumultuous and politically complex; by other definitions, nothing short of a failed state. Politically fragmented, a hotbed of extremism rippling throughout the region, a playing field for tribal alliances and the scene of much deprivation with an economy close to collapsing – Libya’s case is far from simple.

Libya and the Arab Spring

On 15 February 2011, demonstrations in the city of Benghazi took place against long-time leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi before quickly developing into an armed uprising.

On 12 March the Arab League called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to impose a “no-fly zone” over Libya. Various NATO member states and Gulf countries subsequently joined forces for a sustained military campaign against the Libyan government based on the pretext of protecting innocent civilians.

Western states, led by France, the US and the UK, began the bombardment of Libya on 19 March and by the end of August the military offensive led by NATO, the Arab League and Libyan militias secured control of Tripoli and other cities to the authority of the National Transitional Council.

Gaddafi was finally captured and killed in his home town of Sirte by armed opponents on 20 October 2011 and on 31 October NATO officially terminated its seven month “Operation Unified Protector”.

The operation appeared successful however subsequent investigations later found that there was inadequate intelligence on the extent to which extremist militants would be involved in the anti-Gaddafi armed movements. This was the beginning of Libya’s problems.

Libya was now on a course of divisive politics based on regional, tribal and political affiliations with the hopes of a people that drove the spirit of demonstrations in 2011 soon hijacked for individualistic goals.

Libya post-Gaddafi

Libya six years later is currently a patchwork of cities and regions controlled by armed militia groups, tribal rivalries, warlords and city councils. Crime is at an all-time high and the concept of law and order now seem utopian.

Over 5,000 people have been killed since 2011 in various clashes between militias and operations against Daesh. Nearly half a million have been forced to flee; one-third fled to Tunisia and around 435,000 have sought shelter in public buildings.

Libya’s economic status is dire with its oil exports having declined by nearly 90 per cent since 2011 and its GDP losses estimated at around $200 billion.

To top that, Libya is now partner to one of the worst migrant crises in history with thousands of migrants and refugees travelling from the North African country in boats in the hope of reaching Europe.

Most significant of all, Libya has failed to create a functioning political government which is able to rule the affairs of the nation. Due to the gaping power vacuum and its porous borders, several extremist groups, including Daesh and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, now operate in Libya.

Weapon trading is common and Libya is currently home to the world’s largest arms cache. Large quantities of Gaddafi’s arsenal have been sold to Mali, Nige, and the Central African Republic by profiteering groups.

Accompanying the caches are around 2,000 para-military and small fringe militia groups operating in Libya from all dominations. Previously united in ending Gaddafi’s four decade rule, they are now fighting for control of the oil-rich country by backing the two rival governments both with their own prime ministers, parliaments and armies split by east and west.

Libya’s neighbouring states have attempted to mediate settlements and broker agreements between the rival factions to move forward with its political transition. Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt have avoided instilling proxy networks in the country and have attempted to contain the violence in Libya from spilling over into their borders and creating repercussions in the region.

Libya’s factious politics

Since 2012, Libya has attempted to elect a unified governing body with little success largely due to the friction between Islamist and nationalist entities and Gaddafi’s 42-year legacy leaving behind dysfunctional state institutions undermined by decades of authoritarian rule.

Libya’s current political makeup is linked mainly to formations in 2014. When the internationally recognised elected government failed to unify the political factions it was usurped by a coalition of armed groups named “Libya Dawn” who had rejected the election’s results and seized control of the capital.

The Tripoli government was then forced to relocate to Tobruk in eastern Libya near the Egyptian border while Libya Dawn backed the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

As forces began aligning with the Tobruk government against the GNC, the conflict became internationalised: Western states and Arab states including Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia sided against the GNC, while Turkey, Qatar and Sudan, amongst others, supported the Islamist-dominated coalition.

In December 2015, a broad range of representatives met in Morocco to sign an UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) on forming a national unity government.

As a result of the agreement, the UN-backed “Government of National Accord” (GNA) was born as well as the Presidential Council (PC); a body that would act as head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces.

According to the LPA, the PC, currently headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, formerly part of the Tobruk Parliament, should preside over the GNA. However since the Tobruk and Tripoli governments, as well as the House of Representatives (HoR), which has replaced the GNC lead by Chairman Aguila Saleh Issa, have rejected or failed to endorse the GNA, the LPA has not been implemented.

The HoR should be the legitimate legislative authority under the LPA in theory but has been unable to pass a valid constitutional amendment that enshrines itself as an authoritative body. Instead of following the LPA, the HoR constantly rejects proposals by the Presidential Council and instead has endorsed rival governments.

The GNC has been largely resurrected by the National Salvation Government lead by Prime Minister Khalifa Ghwell who is hostile to the Presidential Council and who has tried to reassert himself unsuccessfully. The majority of the members of the GNC have instead moved across to the State Council, a consultative body formed under the Libyan Political Agreement.

One figure which either government has to recognise is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar. A previous ally of Gaddafi, Haftar lived in exile in the United States for nearly two decades after orchestrating a coup attempt against the former leader in the 1980s.

Both the Tobruk and Al-Bayda authorities are currently under the control of Haftar who is the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) since his appointment in 2015 as commander of the armed forces loyal to the Tobruk government.

Esteem of Haftar’s credibility has grown alongside his vitriol for Islamists with his “Operation Dignity” campaign to “eliminate extremist terrorist groups” first launched in May 2014. A number of cities which were previously Daesh strongholds since 2014 were all secured late last year as a result of Haftar’s operations with US forces.

Haftar’s self-styled LNA is currently a mixture of military units and tribal and regional-based armed groups. However it has yet to gain the recognition as a legitimate army by any military personnel across Libya which may be irrelevant as Haftar’s popularity in eastern Libya increases. His growing proximity to Egypt and Russia means Libya’s top post is likely to be the next target for the military strongman.

Today, armed groups in Tripoli are largely categorised by whether or not they support the unity government led by Fayez Al-Sarraj. Most are either staunch supporters of the government or reject the government’s aims due to the belief that their interests will be ignored under new dispensations. Under this predicament, Libya is unlikely to progress and its situation will only further regress.

Failed state

With the absence of any political resolution to its war, Libya’s failed state status, coupled with its oil reserves will continue to cement its vulnerability to extremist forces with their objectives of power.

With Russia’s growing interests in supporting Haftar projected by its own ambitions in the region, it is likely western states will contest this growing relationship by seeking to stamp their own relevance in Libya.

Libya’s heightened standing in the international realm is likely to anger neighbouring states like Algeria whose staunch anti-interventionist stance has confined Libya’s peace reconciliation to mediatory methods with various degrees of success. Any intervention as an alternative solution would have severe repercussions in the region leading to further catastrophe for Libya.

Those who have undoubtedly been rendered irrelevant to the national discourse are the Libyan civilian population whose needs are seldom heard over the glaring failures of rival politics. The future looks bleak for Libya; though Libya’s bloodshed has not been as genocidal as that of Syria, Libya’s political stagnation has been significantly damaging for the country’s recovery. Libyan’s aspirations in 2011 have been reduced to mere dreams in the face of the country’s ongoing crises and, six years later, they are the true victims of Libya’s failures.

Timeline of events:

  • 15 February 2011 – Protests erupt in Benghazi after the arrest of Fathi Terbil, a prominent government critic and lawyer. Around 2,000 people take part in overnight protest. Security forces responded with lethal levels of violence.
  • 17 February 2011 – Libya’s “Day of Rage” brings thousands of people into the streets to protest against Gaddafi’s rule. Gaddafi forces respond by firing live ammunition at the crowds, allegedly killing more than a dozen demonstrators.
  • 20 February 2011 – After several days of fighting, anti-Gaddafi rebels seize control of Libya’s second city. Cities further east, including Baida and Tobruk, are already under opposition control at this point.
  • 26 February 2011– The United Nations Security Council passes an initial resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and his inner circle, placing travel restrictions on them and referring the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation.
  • 5 March 2011 – A group of rebel leaders calling itself the National Transitional Council issues a statement declaring itself the sole representative of Libya.
  • 19 March 2011 – After a debate, the UNSC votes to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. French jets begin bombing the country hours after the resolution is passed.
  • 15 April 2011 – Gaddafi forces withdraw from Misrata.
  • 21 August 2011 – Opposition fighters enter Tripoli.
  • 16 September 2011 – National Transitional Council (NTC) is recognised by the UN as the legal representative of Libya, replacing the Gaddafi government.
  • 20 October 2011 – Gaddafi is captured and killed attempting to escape from Sirte.
  • 23 October 2011 – The NTC declares the liberation of Libya and the war is considered officially over.

Types of weapons/tools of oppression used during protests

When protests broke out in Libya, the government’s security forces responded by opening fire on the protesters. As the protests grew, Gaddafi pledged to chase down the “cockroaches” and “rats” who had taken up arms against him. A brutal conflict began, during which, according to Human Rights Watch, pro-Gaddafi forces indiscriminately shelled civilian areas, arrested thousands of protesters and others suspected of supporting the opposition, holding many in secret detention, and carrying out summary executions. He reportedly hired mercenaries from other African countries to brutally control the population.

People arrested or killed

Over 12,000 civilians were brought before military tribunals between 25 January 2011 and 30 June 2012. During the 18 day uprising, more than 846 people were killed.

Profile: Muammar Gaddafi

Muammar Gaddafi seized control of the Libyan government in 1969 in a bloodless military coup. He ruled as an authoritarian dictator for more than 40 years before he was overthrown in 2011. In his early days of rule, his views were largely influenced by pan-Arabism. Opposed to US interests, Gaddafi won little support from Washington and the West. This only got worse after the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. A series of US sanctions were imposed on Libya after Gaddafi’s initial refusal to hand over two Libyan suspects. Libya eventually acknowledged responsibility, agreeing to compensate the relatives of the victims, helping Gaddafi ease back into the international community.

(Source / 15.02.2017)

Libyan FM: We are Optimistic about Haftar Meeting with Sarraj

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala  - Reuters

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala

Cairo – Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala considers the upcoming meeting between Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar and Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj a positive action following the political block. He called upon all parties to make concessions for the nation’s greater good.

During an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Siala said that the crucial point is that military leadership remains under the political leadership.

Siala believes that the U.N. Envoy Martin Kobler is being pessimistic. He stressed that the presidential guard is not a substitute for the army.

When asked about the visit of Khalifa Haftar to Cairo, the FM said it is an important visit and Haftar is part of the solution and not the problem. He added that Haftar was appointed by the parliament, but has to agree to work under political leadership.

Haftar’s agreement to meet with PM Sarraj is a good sign, according to the FM. Yet, he believes that it is important for the meeting to be held without discretion and wishes the parties would be ready to move into a better phase that serves the Libyan people and maintain its unity and stability.

When asked about Haftar’s solution to name a Defense Minister whose job is to build the army and reinstate security and combat terrorism, Siala said that this is one of the proposed solutions.

According to the FM, the most important thing is that military leadership operates under the political leadership.

He added that he is not speaking of individuals but rather the military institution itself, which should be a patriotic organization that runs according to the political vision.

Regarding the Government of National Accord (GNA), Siala said that the parliament didn’t grant its confidence vote and asked for another government that represents all Libyan areas.

FM Siala believes that U.N. Special Envoy Martin Kobler is pessimistic, adding that moving forward should be a priority to build the government’s institution during the first quarter of 2017.

In his response to the criticism that the presidential council didn’t achieve anything yet, Siala said he understands people’s disapproval, but added that the council doesn’t have any funds to spend on any services for the Libyan people.

The FM also denied allegations that the presidential council spends from the revenues of the oil. He explained that they are set as part of the reserves.

When asked about the security measures, the FM said that the presidential guard has been formed, which is not a substitute for the army. He added that the guard can help the police when needed.

Siala agreed with the closing statement of the neighbors conference that agreed on political solution for Libya and rejected any foreign intervention, which will end when Libyan institutions are installed and disagreements are solved.

Speaking of foreign intervention, the FM considers the U.S. and Italian operations in Libya as part of counter-terrorism. He said that terrorism has inflicted the whole world and not just Libya, adding that Washington intervened in Sirte under the request of the presidential council. He explained that it is limited to logistic and reconnaissance cooperation and executing military strikes when needed and in specific areas only.

Concerning the rumors of a U.S.-Russian deal to end the struggle in Libya, the FM said that those are predictions and nothing can be said for sure.

“We will see how the new political leadership in U.S. will act,” he added.

The FM said that there are several attempts to help Libyans reach an agreement. He welcomed all efforts and suggestions to form committees or councils.

According to FM Siala, Arab League Special Envoy to Libya Salaheddine Jamali, as well as other parties, will visit Libya soon. He added on January 27, the African quintet meeting will be held in Brazzaville, Congo.

(Source / 23.01.2017)

Rival Libya government seizes ministries in Tripoli

President of the National Salvation Government, Khalifa Ghwell [Libyan.Press/Facebook]

President of the National Salvation Government, Khalifa Ghwell

National Salvation government forces have seized at least three ministries in Libya’s capital, following the current UN-backed government’s year-long failure to bring stability and order back to the war-torn country.

The leader of the group, Khalifa Ghwell, confirmed that his forces seized control of the ministries of defence, labour and the “martyrs and the wounded” ministry, which looks after the families of the aforementioned. He also declared himself “Prime Minister of Libya”.

Ghwell’s group was formed by the outgoing parliament after a dispute in 2014 about the transfer of power which led to the establishment of rival governments.

The UN helped establish a third government in Tripoli last year under Fayez Al-Sarraj in the hopes he could unify Libya and lead the fight against “Islamist extremists”.

However, a spokesman for Al-Sarraj’s government, Ashraf Tulty, dismissed the takeover, stating that the group was just “trying to sow chaos [and] they have no means to control.”

Tulty further explained how the ministry buildings that Ghwell claims to have seized are either under maintenance, not controlled by Al-Sarraj’s government, or were seized only briefly before being let go.

“This is nothing more than a media hoax,” Tulty said. “They are trying to sabotage the only internationally recognised government in Libya.”

In a speech aired on television, Ghwell said that past arrangements brokered by the UN were “invalid” and described Al-Sarraj’s government as “expired”.

The self-declared prime minister referred to his forces as the “Presidential Guard”, stating that he ordered them to secure the capital and warned other militias to stand down. He also renewed calls for new talks to ensue among Libyan factions away from the presence of foreign mediators.

“We are the ones with legitimacy,” Ghwell explained. “We extend our hands to our Libyan rivals,” before adding “God’s law will rule among us.”

Ghwell’s earlier government has previously been linked with Islamist groups, including some hard-line factions.

Ghwell further stated how conditions in Libya have gone “from bad to worse” in the year since Al-Sarraj’s government was formed.

Referring to the cash crisis, Ghwell blamed Libya’s economic woes on disputes between Al-Sarraj and the head of the central bank who declined to release funds needed to run the UN-brokered government since March.

The central bank this month approved a $26 billion annual state budget.

“We gave him a year, and when he failed, we decided to return [to power],” Ghwell told AP before advising people to “wait, and you will see what happens in the coming days” when pressed on logistical questions.

(Source / 13.01.2017)