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July 25, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya Herald – Official Site

Libya

By Sami Zaptia. Lugano, 11 July 2018: Libyas National Oil Corporation (NOC) has announced the lifting of force majeure in the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider,

Thursday, 12 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 9 July 2018: The Tripoli Central Bank of Libya said that despite the recent financial developments and circumstances that the country was going through,

Monday, 9 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 6 July 2018: Contracted electricity projects approved in December generating 2,000 megawatts of power are on hold due to the inability to organize funding,

Friday, 6 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 6 July 2018: Nearly a week after the unconfirmed report of an attack on the house of Presidency Council (PC) Deputy Fathi al-Majbari, PC

Friday, 6 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 6 July 2018: Faiez Serraj, head of Libyas Presidential Council, has warned of the negative repercussions of the oil export stoppage, his official personal

Friday, 6 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 6 July 2018: Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj announced at yesterdays Cabinet meeting that he was urgently allocating LD 30 million to the state-owned

Friday, 6 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 3 July 2018: Tunis Air is to resume its flights to Tripoli at the end of this month. The announcement was made by Tunisias

Tuesday, 3 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 3 July 2018: The United Nations Secretary-General Antnio Guterres announced yesterday the appointment of Stephanie T. Williams of the United States of America as

Tuesday, 3 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 2 July 2018: Libyas National Oil Corporation (NOC) has declared force majeure on crude oil loadings at Hariga and Zuetina oil terminals today. This

Monday, 2 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 2 July 2018: The House of Representatives (HoR) continued its official meeting at its headquarters in Tobruk last week, to complete the discussion of

Monday, 2 July, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 29 June 2018: The Khalifa Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA) has warned against the presence of any foreign forces in the south of Libya.

Friday, 29 June, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 29 June 2018: The international community declared their opposition to the move by Khalifa Hafter and his LNA forces to handover the control of

Friday, 29 June, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 29 June 2018: Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter, commander of the mainly eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), announced the liberation of the city of Derna

Friday, 29 June, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 27 June 2018: South Korea is to reopen its Tripoli embassy in Tripoli in the beginning of September and will allow its companies to

Wednesday, 27 June, 2018Read More

By Sami Zaptia. London, 27 June 2018: Italys Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, said that Italy and Libya have common interests, the most important of

Wednesday, 27 June, 2018Read More

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Libya Herald – Official Site

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GNC | Libya Analysis

GNA brokers local solution to east Tripoli tensions

On 6 January, a large military deployment by the Government of National Accord (GNA) GNA-affiliated Kani brigade (also known as the GNAs 7th Infantry Division) from Tarhouna took control of the Garabulli coastal checkpoint 40 km east of Tripoli. The kidnapping of two Kani members, and the killing of one, by a gunman from Garabulli is understood to have sparked the offensive. Tensions subsided after the Kani brigade pulled out later the same day. The Garabulli local mayor announced the handover of the checkpoint to local security, and said that it will be manned in conjunction with the GNAs Central Security forces.

The move raised high tensions in Tripoli, in expectation that the assault was a precursor to a larger anti-GNA move by ex-Government of National Congress (GNC) hardliners who were evicted from Tripoli in September 2017. Although the Kani brigade is now affiliated with the GNA, until fairly recently they were aligned with the hardliner GNC alliance led by Khalifa al-Ghwell, and the militia itself is notorious for its brutality and the hardline Islamist ideologies of some of its leadership. It seems the Kani brigade accommodated Serraj in order to retain their power, which they appear to have done successfully.

Both this deployment and that of Usama Juwaili into the Zuwara region were conducted with minimal casualties and both produced (for now) new security arrangements, with mixed local and national army jurisdictions, where the main military forces withdrew leaving in place collocated forces. This means the GNA, headed by Fayez al-Serraj, has further consolidated its military control of the western region, as well as beginning to institutionalize local cooperation with its army units. However, in the case of the Kani operation it does not seem that this was a carefully planned, strategic operation, but rather a response to local rivalries. Nevertheless, the fact that a local security arrangement was agreed shortly after the incident highlights an apparent trend of brokering local solutions to conflict. However, the resilience of such arrangements in the current political standstill plaguing the UN roadmap is to be tested.

Mary Fitzgerald and Mattia Toaldo have recently updated their guide to Libyas main players for the European Council on Foreign Relations. Outlining the key political groups, armed groups, and jihadists the guide also features detail maps of armed groups, centers of power and key infrastructure. In the guide the authors explore the state of some of the Zintani armed groups:

A number of Zintani forces have distanced themselves from Haftar particularly those close to former defence minister Osama Jweili while others remain supportive. As commander of the GNAs western region military zone, Jweili led an offensive in the Wershefana territory on Tripolis hinterland in November 2017 with a coalition that included forces from Zintan, Tripoli among them Haithem Tajouris TRB and Tarhouna. While ostensibly anti-crime, the operation also served to undermine LNA-affiliated groups in the area.

Click here to read the guide.

On 15 October, the UN Support Mission in Libyas (UNSMIL) new Joint Drafting Committee, composed of members of both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS), met for the second time in Tunis to continue negotiations on amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). As discussions continued the following day, and despite the UNSMIL indicating that both sides had developed a clearer understanding of the selection-mechanism for the Presidency Council, the HoR announced that they were suspending their participation in the dialogue. Detailing frustrations with the HCS for being unwilling to engage with contentious issues and unable to provide conclusive solutions to points of disagreement, the HoR stated that they would not pursue any further discussions until receiving in writing the HCSs position on crucial matters.

The key issues of contention are not detailed, however they are likely to be connected to how individuals are selected for key positions and to Article 8 of the LPA. Article 8 requires all military positions to be vacant upon the formation of the new Libyan government and would see Khalifar Haftar lose his position as commander of the armed forces. Sources say that the HoR wants the decisions of the Supreme Commander of Libyan Army, which under the current terms would be the PC, to be approved by the HoR, while the HCS rejects this.

The situation is likely to put the new UNSMIL road map into a prolonged state of limbo that may provide Haftar with an opportunity to justify and pursue his preference for a military solution to the crisis. Haftar has said the ongoing UN political process is not the only solution to Libyas political crisis, implying that a military solution approved by the people remains possible. During a speech in Benghazi on 14 October, Haftar claimed that the Libyan National Army (LNA) controls territory from Ras al-Jedir to west Zawiyya, and while Tripoli remains outside his grasp, he has on several occasions stated his willingness to take the city by force if necessary. If the LNAs military control and social support for Haftar increases in western Libya, Haftar may no longer see any value in paying lip service to the UN process and could attempt to achieve his aim of taking Tripoli through force or via a series of alliances on the ground.

On 25 September, presidential hopeful Basit Igtet landed in Metiga airport and led small crowds from Tajoura to Martyrs Square to demonstration against the Government of National Accord (GNA). However, the crowds remained relatively small, numbering around 2000 people, and their demands were unclear. Pro-GNA Tripoli militias were deployed in force in most of the main streets in the capital leading towards the square and continue to remain deployed in anticipation of any security instability in the capital. The Tripoli security directorate had previously announced that it was denying permission for the demonstration but they did not try to prevent it on the day.

According to the Libya Herald, the event was peaceful, in spite of the presence of a significant number of anti-Igtet protestors and despite some of the those on both sides said to have taken weapons just in case there was violence. The two sides were kept part by plain clothed security forces, said to belong to Ghneiwas central security authority. According to the Washington Post, hundreds of counter-demonstrators attended and shouted anti-Igtet slogans. Igtet himself was present at one point, but did not speak. As night fell, the two sides clashed with fistfights before security forces intervened and separated them with dozens of vehicles. Most headed home afterwards.

The deflation of expectations for a large, game-changing popular rally in support of Igtet, as well as against the GNA and Khalifa Haftar, is likely to pave the way for the new UN led roadmap to gain stronger momentum and traction in the coming days. While the UN led process is indeed expected to gain positive momentum, especially after the high level UN Summit lending support to the plan, possibilities for further fragmentation and conflict remain high. Military wise, the fomenting conflict in Sabratha may become a catalyst for a groundswell of military action in the coastal region west of Tripoli between pro and anti LNA rivals, and thus could trigger conflict in the capital as well.

Last week, the UN Security Council published its final report of the Panel of Experts on Libya, established pursuant to resolution 1973 (2011). The long, detailed report touches on a number of significant topics including human rights violations, violations of the arms embargo, and the role of foreign mercenaries in Libyas conflicts. The report states that the panel continues to receive frequent reports of serious human rights violations, including kidnappings, arbitrary detentions and summary executions. Cases investigated by the Panel include abuses against Libyan residents of Tripoli and Benghazi, prisoners of war and migrants.

The Panel documented several instances in which armed groups were involved in actual or potential violations of the arms embargo. Access to military equipment has facilitated the escalation of armed conflicts, notably through air strikes. The report states that the United Arab Emirates have been providing military equipment to the LNA, in violation of the arms embargo, significantly increasing the air support available to LNA. Likewise, the report indicates that armed groups in Misrata have received support from a network of foreign pilots, mercenaries, and arms dealers, including Ecuadorians, which has allowed them to increase their capacity to launch airstrikes.

The report also highlights the direct intervention of Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries in the Libyan conflict, particularly in the Oil Crescent, warning that their actions are a direct threat to the security and economic stability of Libya. The Panel also received reports that commanders of the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi were received in Marj in mid-October 2016. Chadian groups were also hosted in Misrata-controlled bases in Ahjar al-Sawda and in Sabha.

This report highlights the destabilizing impact that external support for rival factions, whether that support is direct or indirect, military or political, has on Libyas fragile dynamics. While such support continues, which it is likely to do particularly in the case of the UAE given the recent strengthening of the anti-Qatar Arab alliance, it will be difficult to de-escalate conflict and bring rival factions to the negotiating table on equal terms.

Click here to accessthe full report.

In a long form article for Norwegian NGO Hate Speech International, Jason Pack and Rhiannon Smith map out the history and context of Libyas myriad jihadist groups.

Six years after protests first erupted in February 2011 against the brutal and repressive rule of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi, Libya remains a country beset by deepening political fragmentation, bloody internecine conflict and accelerating economic decline. The Islamic State (ISIS) capitalised on this instability and in late 2014 established a satellite branch in Libya, successfully seizing territory around the central coastal city of Sirte and expanding its influence across the country. By December 2016, an anti-ISIS military campaign supported by US airstrikes and led by militias aligned with Libyas UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) Libyas internationally recognised government established under the December 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement had succeeded in driving ISIS out of Sirte. However, the group is far from defeated and ISIS fighters are regrouping in the vast deserts and remote communities of southern Libya.1

Yet, while ISIS undoubtedly continues to pose a threat to security and stability in Libya, the group is neither the strongest nor the most dangerous jihadist2 group in Libya currently. Since those uprisings that culminated in Qadhafis violent death in October 2011, after 42 years in control, jihadist groups have grown in power and influence, often with funding from wealthy international backers. Although they remain largely on the fringes of Libyan politics and society, jihadists of all colours and stripes can influence developments in Libya due to the transitory and almost fickle nature of the countrys political and military alliances, as well as and the increasing polarisation and instability of institutions at the level of central government.

These jihadist networks also pose a threat to security outside Libya, as demonstrated by the horrifying suicide bombing against a Manchester arena on 22 May that killed 22 people and injured many more. The attack was claimed by ISIS and conducted by Salman Abedi, a British Libyan whose parents fled to the UK in the 1990s due to their connections to theal-Qaeda linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).3 Abedi visited Tripoli shortly before he carried out the attack, and although at the time of writing it remains unclear whether Abedireceived direct training or supportfor his attack from ISIS cells in Libya, or from associates closer to home, his familial connections to Libyan jihadist networks are significant.4 It is therefore crucial to understand who these Libyan jihadists are, how they interact with other actors, and what influence they can exert.

Click here to read the full article.

Ali Shamekh, the CEO of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) as appointed by theHouse of Representatives and the eastern authorities in August 2016, toldReuters on the sidelines ofGlobal Sovereign Wealth Forum in London on 29 March that he was working to unite the fragmented LIA.TheGovernment of National Accord (GNA) also named a Steering Committee to manage the fund last summer, headed by Ali Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed. However,following a recent Tripoli court ruling freezing the decree that created the GNAs steering committee, AbdulMagid Breish, who was thechairman of the LIA before it split and claims he retains this position, has moved back into the LIAs head office in Tripoli.

Shamekh said the fall in production, lower oil prices and instability in Libya meant he was considering investing part of the funds capital inside the country. There are not enough resources or money coming into the country, he said. LIA can play a role in directing some of its funds into energy and power generation, both traditional and renewables, oil and gas, and infrastructure our ports and airports need rehabilitation.

He said he was considering starting an incubation and acceleration fund to back young entrepreneurs with seed capital, particularly in the IT and financial services sectors. The money for this inward investment could come from the $11 billion Libyan Local Investment and Development Fund, a subsidiary of LIA. Shamekh also wants to reopen a London office.

We are considering having a presence for LIA in London its under evaluation by the board of directors, he said. The United Kingdom and London in particular is a focal point of our future strategy overseas.

Click here to read the full article.

Rhiannon Smith spoke to Voice of Americas Mohamed Elshinnawi on 22 March about the dangers of the escalating situation in Libya and how a shift to greater militarisation of the conflict could result in an endless tug of war between competing factions, no one of whom are powerful enough to control the whole country themselves. She discussed the role the international community could play in reinvigorating the political process by de-incentivising military action.

Please click here and go to 17.33 to hear the full interview.

In an article for Foreign Policy, Karim Mezran and Mattia Toaldo argue that as fighting heats up between rival armed groups and Russia increases its involvement, a power vacuum threatens to tear Libyaapart and therefore the international community needs to be doing more to prevent this.

First, Libya needs a de-conflicting mechanism to avoid escalation. If the U.N. envoy cannot do it, someone else in the West should. What better opportunity for Britain to show its continued relevance after Brexit than this? Or why not the French foreign minister, who could beef up his legacy just weeks before leaving office? This should only be a temporary replacement for a fully functioning U.N. mission capable of working on reconciliation, local cease-fires, and monitoring human rights violations. Both a temporary negotiator and the U.N. could work on a number of confidence-building measures, such as establishing permanent channels of communication, liberating prisoners, reopening roads, and sharing humanitarian aid.

Second, the country needs what economist Hala Bugaighis calls a Libyan Economic Agreement on how to peacefully share its oil wealth. Negotiating a new social contract may take some time, but in the meantime, two measures would represent a good start: The government in Tripoli should strengthen financial support for all of Libyas municipalities, including areas controlled by Haftar, and oil installations should be placed under the control of the independent National Oil Corporation in Tripoli, with attempts to establish parallel economic institutions punished by international sanctions.

Finally, Tripoli must be the heart of international efforts. The most pressing need is a plan to free the city of all heavy weapons, pushing militias to stock them outside of civilian-populated areas. This is an important condition to allow the Libyan government to operate and to facilitate international assistance.

Click here to read the full article.

The Middle East Eye reported yesterday that on 21 March, the Misrata Military Council led by Ibrahim Bin Rajab claimed it had overthrown the Misrata Local Council, a locally elected body headed by mayor Mohammed Eshtaiwi. Tensions are escalating between more moderate Misratan factions, who largely support the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and more hardliner factions who areopponents of both the GNA and Haftar and largelysupport Khalifa al-Ghwells resurrected National Salvation government which was evicted from Tripoli last week.

In a statement from the Misrata Military Council (MMC) and its allied militias the Union of Revolutionary Fighters (URF) and the Misrata Security Department MMC chief Ibrahim Bin Rajab said the group had overthrown the municipal council after it refused to negotiate with protesters over its management of the city.

A committee was set up to mediate between the protesters and the municipal council, but the latter refused to meet with the committee without giving any justifications, the Libya Observer cited the statement as saying.

Click here to read the full article.

In an article for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Mattia Toaldo and Karim Mezran argue that at this point in the ongoing crises affecting Libyas governance, economy and security, none of the belligerent parties can militarily defeat the others, but each side thinks it can win and is unwilling to back down. They argue that:

First, the United States, Europe, and regional powers involved in Libya such as Egypt, the UAE, Algeria, Tunisia, and Qatar should put in place a de-conflicting mechanism, cooperating where possible with Russia. Major fighting between the east and the west of the country should be avoided by keeping channels of communication open. These countries should also push UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to overcome the impasse on his Special Representative for Libya created by the US rejection of Salam Fayyad so that the UN can play an active role in setting up a political process.

Second, as demonstrated by recent fighting, Libyas oil wealth and its distribution remain one of the core drivers of conflict. The US and Europeans should push Prime Minister Serraj to offer to Eastern Libya a Libyan Economic Agreement on how to share oil wealth and energy installations in a way that benefits the Libyan public and stabilizes the country.

Finally, the militia rule in the capital is incompatible with any stabilization effort and threatens any Libyan government while hampering any form of international assistance.

Click here to read the full article.

On 15 March, the Libya Herald reported that fighting between militias in western Tripoli had intensified and spread from Hay al-Andalus and Gurgi towards central Tripoli, with local pro-Government of National Accord (GNA) militias attacking and reportedly ousting Khalifa al-Ghwell and his National Salvation forces from the Rixos hotel compound. There are reports that Ghwell was injured in the fighting.

Haitham Tajouris Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade joined forces with Abdul Ghani Al-Kikli, also known as Ghneiwa, to retake control (of the Rixos), according to the Tripoli operations room. Ghneiwas Abu Sleem Central Security Force is now reported to be protecting the hotel, which was seized by Ghwell last October in an attempted coup rejecting the PC and the UNSMIL-brokered Libyan Political Agreement.

On the evening of 15 March, the Presidential Council (PC) managed to broker a ceasefire in the capital, calling forthe departure of armed factions beyond the law within the frameworkof the Libyan Political Agreement. However, it is unclear whether this ceasefire will be effective, and precisely which militias the PC and its allies want to depart the city.

Click here and here to read more from the Libya Herald.

Rhiannon Smith spoke to the Voice of Americas Africa Today radio show on 8 March about the significant impact that the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) advance against Haftars Libyan National Army (LNA) forces is likely to have on Libyan political alliances and the ongoing peace process, and how prolonged conflict in the oil crescent is even more likely now that the House of Representatives (HoR) has voted to withdraw from the Libya Political Dialogue. She highlighted how the BDBs handover of Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil ports to Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) forces aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA) may not signify the strength of the GNA but rather its weakness, as by tacitly extending its support to the BDB, the GNA is actually bowing to pressure from the loose Islamist alliance led by Khalifa al-Ghwell in Tripoli.

Click here to listen at 9 minutes into the clip.

The Associated Press has reported that a spokesperson for the House of Representatives (HoR) said yesterday that the body is suspending all peace talks with the UN-backed Presidential Council (PC) and Government of National Accord (GNA).

The Tobruk body called on all Libyan parties to condemn militias that occupied the two key terminals in what it described as terrorist attacks, saying it was suspending its participation in peace talks until they did so.

The GNA unity government is not legitimate any more, as well as its presidential council and anything to do with this entity, Ablaihig said, urging the international community to lift an embargo on weapons sales to the Libyan army under Hifter.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported thatIdris Bukhamada, recently named by theGNA as the head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, told Al-Nabaa TV thatWe have been tasked by the BDB to protect the oil ports, adding his oil guard belonged to the state and had no military mission.

Click here to read the AP article and here for Reuters.

On 9 February, Libyan National Army (LNA) forces launched airstrikes against an airbase in Jufra, around 300km south of Sirte, killing two and wounding 13 according to the LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari. He said that the attack was aimed at immobilizing the enemy before an expected attack on the ports. There had been reports in recent days of anti-LNA forces, including the Benghazi Defence Brigades and some Misratan elements, mobilizing in Jufra to launch another offensive to retake the oil crescent ports of Sidra and Ras Lanuf from the LNA. The Libya Herald reports that the LNA planes took off fromAl-Khadim airbase south-east of Marj allegedly usedin recent weeks byaircraft from the UAE.

On 8 February, a convoy of fighters from Misrata arrived in Tripoli. They are led byColonel Mahmoud al-Zaghel, a military commander allied to Khalifa al-Ghwell who has recently re-established the General National Congress (GNC) National Salvation government in Tripoli in an attempt to remove the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) from power.

Zagals force arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday from Misrata, Ghwells home city, in a convoy of several dozen vehicles, triggering heavy clashes with an armed group loyal to the GNA in the southern districts of Salaheddin and Abu Salim.Zagal announced on Thursday the formation of the National Guards, which he said would be used to secure state institutions and diplomatic missions.

Click here to read the Reuters article on this topic.

On 24 January, the Libya Political Dialogue group met in Tunisia and agreed in principle to a number of amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). However, no official decision has been made because there was no House of Representatives (HoR) delegation attending the discussions.

The Libya Herald reports that:

Under the new proposals, a new three-man Presidential Council (PC) with a head and two deputies, separate from the government, would replace the current unwieldy nine-man PC. A different prime minister would be appointed. Additionally, a new military council would be formed comprising the heads of the PC, HoR and the State Council, the Dialogue team said in a statement.

The State Council would also in future comprise all those elected to the former legislative authority, the General National Congress, in July 2012. Replacements would not be acceptable unless they replaced originally elected members who had died or resigned.

Click here to read the full article.

Rhiannon Smith speaks to the Voice of Americas Africa News Tonight show to discuss Khalifa al-Ghwells recent seizure of ministries in Tripoli and analyse his demands for a new political process in Libya to replace the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

Click here to hear the clip the Libya section starts at 12.26.

Continuing my focus on the need for US engagement in Libya at this critical time as Russia appears to be muscling in, Ive written an article for Al-Monitor which follows up on my recent Foreign Affairs piece. I am continuing to push for the Trump Administration to appoint a Special POTUS envoy because I see it as essential.

Russias increasing public support for Hifter and his anti-Islamist strongmancredentials may be the fuel for this particular fire. On Jan. 11, Hifter was flown aboard a Russian aircraft carrier that has recently anchored off Libyas eastern coast. He was given an official tour of the vessel before holding a videoconference with Russias Defense Minister SergeiShoygu and accepting a consignment of medical supplies. The movefollows Russias pledge earlier this month to lift theUN arms embargo to allow Hifter to access weapons as well asrecent visits by Hifter and his political allies to Moscow.No matter which party is victorious in southwest Libya, if Misrata and Hifter begin a full-scale battle for control, then there is little doubt that the whole southern region will be destabilized. There have been calls for calm from a variety of local and international actors, and there is some hope that the rapprochement efforts that have been going on in the background between rival factions may provide channels of communication to de-escalate the conflict. However, the terms of any new political bargain are likely to be far more favorable to Hifter and the eastern faction than those of the existing Libyan Political Agreement The GNAand its Presidential Councilare weak and becoming increasingly fragmented and irrelevant,as highlighted by the resignation of council member Musa al-Koni on Jan. 2. Egypt, Algeria and Russia have been hosting various meetings and negotiations between different Libyan parties to try to find a diplomatic solution to the political impasse that would include Hifter, with Egypt in particular pushing for the Libyan Political Agreementto be reworked to include Hifter as the head of the Libyan Armed Forces (a role the Presidential Council currently holds) and to reduce the size of the council. The United States has yet to respond and risks being outmaneuvered by rival powers. Now is the time for increased US engagement. The Donald Trump administration will come into office with a unique opportunity to mediate a genuine settlement. Its first step should be the appointment of a special presidential envoy tasked with mediating a resolution between Libyas main power blocs.To Read the Full Article Click here.

The Associated Press reports that forces loyal to Khalifa al-Ghwell, head of theself-declared Government of National Salvation, took control of the ministries of defense, labor and the martyrs and the wounded in Tripoli yesterday. Ghwell announced a coup in Tripoli in October, taking control ofthe old GNC building which had housed the High Council of State, but not seizing any political power. His main allies are Islamist militias, many of which are allied with the Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariyani.

A spokesman for Serrajs government dismissed the moves by Ghwells forces, saying they are trying to sow chaos but they have no means to control. He said the ministries Ghwell claimed to have seized are either under maintenance, not controlled by Serrajs government, or were seized briefly before being let go.

In a televised speech, Ghwell declared that all the past arrangements brokered by the U.N. are invalid, and described Serrajs government as expired. Referring to his forces as the Presidential Guard, he ordered them to secure the capital and warned other militias to stand down. He also called for new talks among Libyan factions without foreign mediators.

Click here to read the full article.

The European Council on Foreign Relations has published an excellent and highly informative paper written by Hayder al-Khoei,Ellie Geranmayeh & Mattia Toaldo looking atpost-Isis stabilisation efforts with a special focus on Iraq and Libya, with the aim of assessing where European states can play a more meaningful role in ensuring that the important military gains of recent months are not squandered once the anti-ISIS guns fall quiet. The authors believe this is a track of increased importance given that the incoming US administration is likely to invest less resources than ever in strengthening sustainable stability, and that the fall out of failure will directly impact European interests in terms of the threat of terrorism and challenge posed by ongoing migration.

The papers policy recommendations for Libya are:

Click here to read the full paper.

On 6 December, the UN Special Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler told the UN Security Council that Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) framework signed in Skhirat last yearhas stalled and that its articles are not set in stone. The Libyan Political Agreement even foresees a mechanism for change, should the political circumstances demand. This is significant particularly given that the agreement is due to expire on 17 December and given the current political shifts taking place in Libya following the Misratans declared victory against Islamic State in Sirte, the recent inter-militia clashes in Tripoli and the move by anti-Haftar forces against the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces in the oil crescent.

Click here to read the Libya Heralds report on this topic.

In an article for Religion and Geopolitics, Rhiannon Smith and Jason Pack discuss how recent developments in Libya are causing political alliances to shift and outlinehow these developments might impact the fight against ISIS in Sirte. They conclude that:

In the worst case scenario, Ghwells coup may unleash a new wave of conflict between pro and anti-unity government militias, driving the unity government into exile and possibly establishing a new de-facto government in Tripoli, presided over by Islamist hardliners loyal to Libyas supreme religious leader, the Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariyani. He would actively halt the fight against ISIS to bring all hardline Islamists into his fold. This would lead to the collapse of the UN process with nothing to replace it, short-circuiting attempts to defeat ISIS in Sirte, which would allow the group and other jihadis to extend influence. Conflict in the capital could also strengthen Haftars hand, pushing towards separatism, legitimising military rule and the use of force against Islamist militias, while emboldening those same Islamists to work with ISIS remnants against Haftar.

Time will tell on which of these trajectory Libyas ever-fluid and confusing political landscape is currently evolving, but the direction it takes will certainly influence how much or how little success Libyan forces will have in defeating ISIS.

Click here to view the full article.

Jason Pack appeared live on Al Jazeera English to discuss the significance of former GNC member Khalifa Ghwells coup attempt last week (despite it not being a coup in the sense that no tangible political power has been seized) and how this might affectthe Libyan political process going forward.

According to the AP,

The United States launched multiple airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Libya on Monday, opening a new, more persistent front against the group at the request of the United Nations-backed government, Libyan and U.S. officials said Serraj said his government is joining the coalition against IS, adding, This is the time for the international community to live up to its promises to the Libyan people.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said President Barack Obama authorized the strikes following a recommendation from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.Cook told reporters that U.S. Africa Command will coordinate any strikes with the Libyans and that the new air campaign will last as long as the Libyans request assistance to eliminate IS from Sirte. The U.S. is also providing airborne surveillance and intelligence.Mohammed al-Ghasri, the commander of a pro-government militia known as al-Bonyan al-Marsous, said his forces gave target coordinates of Islamic State positions to the U.S.You can read the whole article here.

According to Jason Pack, I think the short term impact is outrage on the libyan street that their government is in such open cahoots with the West. The medium term impact is that a sustained campaign could help BM breakthrough against ISIS in Sirte. But the long term impact is only negative because the US has agreed to help with airstrikes without a genuine anti-ISIS coalition being formed and without that it is irrelevant. Even if Sirte were to be liberated, ISIS will still persist in Libya and the political impasse will not be solved. What is needed is sustained political engagement, not just airstrikes.

Confusion over Saif, Muammar Gaddafis sons alleged-release from prison in Zintan last week, demonstrates that Libyas main players are no closer to putting aside grievances for the common good, say Jason Pack and Rhiannon Smith.

Being Western educated with a PhD from the London School of Economics and the spearhead of the movement liberalizing Libyas economy from 2003-2010, hewas thought by manyto be the wave of the future which would bring Libya into the worlds 21st century economy and society. But when the 2011 revolts broke out, he firmly allied with his father, Colonel Gaddafi,and referred to the rebels as rats who should be crushed.

In the aftermath of Gaddafis defeat and death, Saif was captured by Zintani militiamen and been held there ever since.

The Zintanis were always uneasy bedfellows with the Misratan, Islamist, Berber, and jihadi militias who they fought alongside to help overthrow Gaddafi. Zintan struggled to compete both strategically and financially with Misrata, Libyas third largest city and the countrys commercial maritime hub. However, Saif gave them crucial leverageleading the National Transitional Council (NTC) to offer thedefence minister portfolioin the first post-Gaddafi cabinet to Zintan. Since that point they have refused to turn Saif over to any of Libyas transitional governments.With the takeover of Tripoli by Misratan and Islamist militias supporting the Tripoli-based General National Council (GNC) in 2014, and the subsequent bifurcation of Libya into two governments, the Zintanis became the major force in western Libya to support the House of Representatives (HoR) and its eastern government based in Tubroq and Beida. This eastern government has key former Gaddafi officials in top positions most notably General Khalifa Haftar and this has been the main grievance against them from the Misratans and Islamists who suffered disproportionately under Gaddafis rule.

Saifs alleged-release

Since the Zintanis and Haftar have been tarred and feathered as Gaddafis troops, there has long been speculation that they might work with Saif and release him as a rallying cry for former Gaddafi elements to join them in the fight against the Misratans and whichever political body they are opposing, whether it be the GNC or the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). Therefore, last weeks sensational news of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafis release did not seem all that improbable. It seemed possible that the HoR and the Zintanis would want to send a message and create a new coalition.

Divergent reactions to Saifs release

The news of Saifs release caused a wave of panic mainly amongst hardline revolutionaries, Islamist groups and Government of National Accord (GNA) supporters, reinforcing their fears of a complete counter revolution by ex-regime forces facilitated by the HoR and the UN mediation process. The local council in Zintanissued a statement denying his release, but sourcesin the city say that the local council has no relevance to Saifs case or his whereabouts, and issued the statement only to take political heat off the city.

Saifs pseudo release demonstrates that the main players are no closer to putting aside their grievances for the common good than they were even before the GNA was formed. This, is the real tragedy revealed by this debacle. No one seems ready to put aside past grievances to work together for Libyas future.

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2012 Benghazi attack – Wikipedia

2012 Benghazi attackPart of the Inter-civil war violence in Libya

From top to bottom, and left to right: President, Vice President updated on situation night of September 11, 2012; President Obama, with Secretary Clinton, delivering statement in the Rose Garden, September 12, 2012; two photographs released through a FOIA request; Secretary Clinton testifying before the Senate Committee on January 23, 2013; portion of “wanted” poster seeking information on the attacks in Benghazi.

Attack type

Non-fatal injuries

Suspected perpetrators

The 2012 Benghazi attack refers to a coordinated attack against two United States government facilities in Benghazi, Libya by members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia.

At 9:40p.m., September 11, members of Ansar al-Sharia attacked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.[6][7] Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.[8]

At around 4:00a.m. on September 12, the group launched a mortar attack against a CIA annex approximately one-mile (1.6km) away, killing CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty[7][9][10] and wounding ten others. At the behest of the CIA, top U.S. officials initially described the attacks as the results of a spontaneous protest triggered by the recently released anti-Muslim video, Innocence of Muslims.[11] Subsequent investigations showed that the attack was premeditated although rioters and looters not originally part of the group may have joined in after the attacks began.[12][13][14]

The National Review later labeled the attack Battle of Benghazi,[15] a name that has since been used by several media outlets to refer to the attacks. There is no definitive evidence that al-Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization participated in the Benghazi attack.[16][17][18] The United States immediately increased security worldwide at diplomatic and military facilities and began investigating the Benghazi attack.[19][20] Many Libyans condemned the attacks. They staged public demonstrations condemning Ansar Al-Sharia, which had been formed during the 2011 Libyan civil war in opposition to leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.[21][22][23]

Despite persistent accusations against President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice, ten investigations six by Republican-controlled congressional committees did not find that they or any other high-ranking Obama administration officials had acted improperly. Four career State Department officials were criticized for denying requests for additional security at the facility prior to the attack. Eric J. Boswell, the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, resigned under pressure, while three others were suspended.[24] In her role as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton subsequently took responsibility for the security lapses.[25]

On August 6, 2013, it was reported that the U.S. had filed criminal charges against several individuals alleged to have been involved in the attacks, including militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala.[26] Khattala has been described by Libyan and U.S. officials as the Benghazi leader of Ansar al-Sharia. The U.S. Department of State designated Ansar al-Sharia as a terrorist organization in January 2014.[27][28][29]

Khattala was captured in Libya by U.S. Army Special Operations Forces, who were acting in coordination with the FBI, in June 2014.[30] Another suspect, Mustafa al-Imam, was captured in October 2017.[31]

Within months of the start of the Libyan revolution in February 2011, the CIA began building a covert presence in Benghazi.[32] During the war, elite counterterrorist operators from U.S. Delta Force were deployed to Libya as analysts, instructing the rebels on specifics about weapons and tactics.[33]:16 Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was named the first liaison with the Libyan opposition in March 2011.[34] After the end of the war, both the CIA and the U.S. State Department were tasked with continuing to identify and collect arms that had flooded the country during the war, particularly shoulder-fired missiles taken from the arsenal of the Gaddafi regime,[35][36] as well as securing Libyan chemical weapons stockpiles, and helping to train Libya’s new intelligence service.[32]

Eastern Libya and Benghazi were key intelligence-gathering hubs for intelligence operatives. Before the attack, the CIA was monitoring Ansar al-Sharia and suspected members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as attempting to define the leadership and loyalty of the various militias present and their interaction with the Salafi elements of Libyan society.[32] By the time of the attack, dozens of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi.[37] In addition, it has been reported that in the summer of 2012, American Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) missions had begun to target Libyan militias linked to the Al-Qaeda network of Yasin al-Suri.[33]:58 By the time of the attack, a composite U.S. Special Operations team with two JSOC members was already in Libya working on their mission profile independently of the CIA and State Department operations.[33]:58[38]

Multiple anonymous sources reported that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was used by the CIA as a cover to smuggle weapons from Libya to anti-Assad rebels in Syria.[33]:56[37][39][40][41] Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh cites an anonymous former senior Defense Department intelligence official, saying “The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms. It had no real political role.” The attack allegedly brought an end to the purported U.S. involvement, but did not stop the smuggling according to Hersh’s source.[42] In January 2014, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence cast doubt on this alleged U.S. involvement and reported that “All CIA activities in Benghazi were legal and authorized. On-the-record testimony establishes that the CIA was not sending weapons … from Libya to Syria, or facilitating other organizations or states that were transferring weapons from Libya to Syria.”[43]

During Congressional hearings, Ambassador Stevens’ top deputy in Libya, Gregory N. Hicks, testified that Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi in 2012 because “Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton wanted the post made permanent”, and it was understood that the secretary hoped to make an announcement to that effect during a visit to Tripoli later in the year.[44][45][46][47][48] He also stated that “Chris [Stevens] wanted to make a symbolic gesture to the people of Benghazi that the United States stood behind their dream of establishing a new democracy.”[49][50]

In April 2012, two former security guards for the consulate threw an IED over the consulate fence; the incident did not cause any casualties.[51] Just four days later, a similar bomb was thrown at a four-vehicle convoy carrying the United Nations Special Envoy to Libya, exploding twelve feet (3.7m) from the UN envoy’s vehicle without injuring anyone.[52]

In May 2012, an Al-Qaida affiliate calling itself the “Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman” claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross (ICRC) office in Benghazi. On August 6, the ICRC suspended operations in Benghazi. The head of the ICRC’s delegation in Libya said the aid group was “appalled” by the attack and “extremely concerned” about escalating violence in Libya.[53]

The Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman released a video of what it said was its detonation of an explosive device outside the gates of the U.S. consulate on June 6, which caused no casualties but blew a hole in the consulate’s perimeter wall,[54][55] described by one individual as “big enough for forty men to go through”.[56] The Brigades claimed that the attack was in response to the killing of Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan al-Qaeda leader who had just died in an American drone attack, and was also timed to coincide with the imminent arrival of a U.S. diplomat.[57][58] There were no injuries, but the group left behind leaflets promising more attacks against the U.S.[59]

British ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith survived an assassination attempt in Benghazi on June 10. Two British protection officers were injured in the attack when their convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade 300 yards (270m) from their consulate office.[60] The British Foreign Office withdrew all consular staff from Benghazi in late June.[61][62][63]

On June 18, 2012, the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi was attacked by individuals affiliated with Ansar al-Sharia, allegedly because of “attacks by Tunisian artists against Islam”.[33]:31

On the day of the attack, two consulate security guards spotted a man in a Libyan police uniform taking pictures of the consulate with his cell phone from a nearby building that was under construction. The security guards briefly detained the man before releasing him. He drove away in a police car and a complaint was made to the Libyan police station. Sean Smith noticed this surveillance, and messaged a friend online around noon, “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”[33]:34

According to a local security official, he and a battalion commander had met with U.S. diplomats three days before the attack and warned the Americans about deteriorating security in the area. The official told CNN that he advised the diplomats, “The situation is frightening; it scares us.”[64]

Ambassador Stevens’ diary, which was later found at the compound, recorded his concern about the growing al-Qaeda presence in the area and his worry about being on an al-Qaeda hit list.[65]

U.S. security officer Eric Nordstrom twice requested additional security for the mission in Benghazi from the State Department. His requests were denied and according to Nordstrom, State Department official Charlene Lamb wanted to keep the security presence in Benghazi “artificially low”.[66]

On December 30, 2012, the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released a report, “Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack at Benghazi”, wherein it was determined:

In the months [between February 2011 and September 11, 2012] leading up to the attack on the Temporary Mission Facility in Benghazi, there was a large amount of evidence gathered by the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and from open sources that Benghazi was increasingly dangerous and unstable, and that a significant attack against American personnel there was becoming much more likely. While this intelligence was effectively shared within the Intelligence Community (IC) and with key officials at the Department of State, it did not lead to a commensurate increase in security at Benghazi nor to a decision to close the American mission there, either of which would have been more than justified by the intelligence presented. … The RSO [Regional Security Officer] in Libya compiled a list of 234 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012, 50 of which took place in Benghazi.[67]

The desire of the State Department to maintain a low profile in Benghazi has been cited as the reason why the State Department circumvented their own Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards for diplomatic security.[68]:7475 In the aftermath, Clinton sought to take responsibility for the security lapses at Benghazi and expressed personal regret.[69] In her January 2013 testimony before Congress, Secretary Clinton claimed security decisions at the Benghazi compound had been made by others, stating, “The specific security requests pertaining to Benghazi … were handled by the security professionals in the [State] Department. I didn’t see those requests, I didn’t approve them, I didn’t deny them.”[70]

The Benghazi attack was conducted by separate military factions on two separate U.S. compounds.[71] The first assault occurred at the main diplomatic compound, approximately 300 yards (270m) long and 100 yards (91m) wide, at about 9:40p.m. local time (3:40p.m. Eastern Time). A mortar fire attack on a CIA annex 1.2 miles (1.9km) away (coordinates 320326N 200516E / 32.0572N 20.0877E / 32.0572; 20.0877 (CIA annex)) began at about 4:00a.m. the following morning[72] and lasted for 11 minutes.[73]

One Libyan guard who was wounded in the attack was quoted as saying “there wasn’t a single ant outside [before the attack].”[74] According to Media Matters For America, the attackers stated they were acting in response to Innocence of Muslims.[75] No more than seven Americans were in the compound, including Ambassador Stevens.

Stevens was visiting Benghazi at the time to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital.[76] The ambassador also “needed to [prepare a] report … on the physical and the political and security environment in Benghazi to support an action memo to convert Benghazi from a temporary facility to a permanent facility”.[44][45][46][47][48] Surplus funds originally dedicated for use in Iran for fiscal year 2012 were to be redirected and obligated for use in Benghazi: an action that had to be completed before the end of the fiscal yearSeptember 30, 2012.[44][45][47][48]

Stevens had his last meeting of the day with a Turkish diplomat, and escorted the Turkish diplomat to the main gate at about 8:30p.m. local time. The street outside the compound was calm, and the State Department reported no unusual activity during the day outside.[77] Stevens retired to his room at about 9:00p.m.[78]

About 9:40p.m. local time, large numbers of armed men shouting “Allhu Akbar” (God is great) approached the compound from multiple directions.[74][79] They then threw grenades over the wall and entered the compound with automatic weapons fire, RPGs, and heavier weapons.[80][78] A Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent viewed on the consulate’s security cameras “a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound”.[77] He hit the alarm and started shouting, “Attack! Attack!” over the loudspeaker.[81] Phone calls were made to the embassy in Tripoli, the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade and a U.S. quick reaction force located at the annex compound a little more than a mile (1.6km) away.[82][83] Ambassador Stevens telephoned Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks in Tripoli to tell him the consulate was under attack. Hicks did not recognize the phone number so he did not answer it, twice. On the third call Hicks answered the call.[84]

Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Scott Strickland secured Stevens and Sean Smith, an information management officer, in the main building’s safe haven.[83][85] The rest of the agents left to retrieve their weapons and tried to return to the main building.[83] The attackers entered the main building and attempted to enter the safe haven.[81] They then spread diesel fuel in the room and set fires.[81][83] Stevens, Smith, and Strickland moved to the nearby bathroom, but then decided to leave the safe haven after being overcome by smoke.[85] Strickland exited through the window, but Stevens and Smith did not follow him. Strickland returned several times but could not find them in the smoke; he went up to the roof and radioed other agents.[85] Three agents returned to the main building in an armored vehicle, searched the building and found Smith’s body, but not Stevens.[85]

According to the Annex Security Team, they had become aware of the consulate attack after 9:30p.m. local time, and were ready to respond; however, they were delayed by “the top CIA officer in Benghazi”.[86] The Regional Security Office sounded the alarm and called to the Benghazi CIA annex and the embassy in Tripoli. After some discussion, the CIA’s Global Response Staff (GRS) at the CIA annex, which included Tyrone S. Woods, decided to attempt a rescue. By 10:05p.m., the team was briefed and loaded into their armored Toyota Land Cruisers. By this time, communicators at the CIA annex were notifying the chain of command about current developments, and a small CIA and JSOC element in Tripoli that included Glen Doherty was attempting to find a way to Benghazi.[33]:3943

The GRS team from the CIA annex arrived at the consulate and attempted to secure the perimeter and locate the ambassador and Sean Smith. Diplomatic security agent David Ubben located Smith,[87] who was unconscious and later declared dead, but the team was unable to find Stevens in the smoke-filled building. The team then decided to return to the annex with the survivors and Smith’s body. While en route back to the annex, the group’s armored vehicle was hit by AK-47 rifle fire and hand grenades. The vehicle was able to make it to its destination with two flat tires, and the gates to the annex were closed behind them at 11:50p.m.[33]:4345[72]

A U.S. Army commando unit was sent to Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy the night of the attack but did not deploy to Benghazi. U.S. officials say the team did not arrive at Sigonella until after the attack was over.[88]

Diplomatic Security Service agents/Regional Security Officers informed their headquarters in Washington about the attack just as it was beginning at about 9:40p.m. local time (3:40p.m. Eastern Time (ET)). At the time, they were informed that the attack was a “terrorist attack”.[89] However, through September 14, CIA analysts made a contradictory assessment, stating “We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan society. That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”[90] By 4:30p.m. ET, Pentagon officials had informed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the attack. The Pentagon ordered an unmanned aerial vehicle that was in the air conducting surveillance on militant camps to fly over Benghazi. The drone arrived at 11:10p.m. local time (5:10p.m. ET) and began providing a video feed to Washington. At 5:41p.m. ET, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned CIA Director David Petraeus to coordinate. The CIA, which made up most of the U.S. government’s presence in Benghazi, had a ten-member security team at its annex and the State Department believed that this team would assist the consulate in the event of an attack.[91]

Just after midnight, the CIA annex came under machine gun, rocket and mortar fire. The CIA defenders held off the attack until the morning.[33]:4546 That same morning, Libyan government forces met up with a group of Americans, reinforcements from Tripoli including Glen Doherty,[92][93] that had arrived at the Benghazi airport. The team, which included two active-duty JSOC operators and five CIA personnel, had commandeered a small jet in Tripoli by paying the pilots $30,000 and forcing them to fly to Benghazi.[33]:43 After being held up at the airport for a few hours, the Libyan forces and newly arrived Americans went to the CIA annex at about 5:00a.m. to assist in transporting approximately 32 Americans at the annex back to the airport for evacuation. Minutes after they drove through the gates, the annex came under heavy fire. With a lull in the fighting, Doherty began searching for his friend, Tyrone S. Woods, and he was told he was on the roof. He found Woods on the roof with two other agents. A mortar round then hit Woods’ position, fatally wounding him. As Doherty attempted to reposition and take cover, a second round fell on him, killing him.[33]:4647[94] 31-year-old Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent David Ubben suffered shrapnel injuries and several broken bones in the mortar attacks.[95]

Immediately, several agents ran onto the roof to assess damage and help the wounded. At the same time, a JSOC operator was using a hand-held device displaying images from a Predator drone above, which had been sent by the DOD’s US Africa Command after request. The defenders agreed to evacuate to the airport and were attacked with small arms fire along the route.[33]:4748 The evacuation of about 30 Americans included six State Department personnel and Smith’s bodythey were unable to locate Ambassador Stevens at the time.

Ambassador Stevens’ body was found by a group of Libyans who had accessed the room through a window.[96] They were unaware of his identity, and Abdel-Qader Fadl, a freelance photographer who was with them, told the Associated Press that Stevens was unconscious and “maybe moved his head, but only once”. Ahmed Shams, a 22-year-old arts student, told the Associated Press that they were happy when they found Stevens alive and tried to rescue him. A freelance videographer, Fahd al-Bakoush, later published a video[97][98] showing Libyans trying to extract the ambassador from a smoke-filled room,[99][100] where he was found unconscious. According to al-Bakoush, the Libyans saw he was alive and breathing, his eyelids flickering. Though they took him to be a foreigner, no one recognized him as Stevens.[96][97]

At around 1:00a.m., Stevens was taken to the Benghazi Medical Center, a hospital controlled by the Ansar Al-Sharia militia,[101] in a private car as there was no ambulance to carry him.[102] There he was administered CPR for 90 minutes by Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid.[103] According to Dr. Zeid, Stevens died from asphyxiation caused by smoke inhalation, and had no other apparent injuries.[104] The doctor said he believed that officers from the Libyan Interior Ministry transported the body to the airport. State Department officials said they do not know who took Stevens to the hospital or transported the body to the airport and into U.S. custody.[104]

The bodies were taken to Benina International Airport and flown to the capital, Tripoli, and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany aboard a C-17 military transport aircraft.[105] From Germany, the four bodies arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet held a ceremony in honor of those killed.

After the attack, all diplomatic staff were moved to the capital, Tripoli, with nonessential personnel to be flown out of Libya. Sensitive documents remained missing, including documents listing the names of Libyans working with the Americans, and documents relating to oil contracts.[106]

Four Americans died in the attack: Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith,[107] and two CIA operatives,[108] Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods,[109] both former Navy SEALs.[110][111] Stevens was the first United States ambassador killed in an attack since Adolph Dubs was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1979.[112]

On September 10, 2012, at least 18 hours before the attack in Benghazi, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, which called for attacks on Americans in Libya in order to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi in a drone strike in Pakistan in June 2012.[5] It is uncertain how much prior knowledge of the attack al-Zawahiri had, though he praised the attackers on October 12, 2012 in another video.[113] On September 14, 2012, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a statement arguing the attack was revenge for the death of al-Libi, though they did not claim official responsibility for the Benghazi attack.[5] It was later reported that 3 operatives from the group did take part in the attack.[5] Further, an intercepted phone call from the Benghazi area immediately after the attack reportedly linked senior Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar to the attack.[114]

David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times reported that 20-year-old neighbor Mohamed Bishari witnessed the attack. According to Bishari, it was launched without warning or protest and was led by the Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia (different from the group called Ansar al-Sharia based in Yemen designated by the U.N. and the U.S. Department of State as a terrorist organization[115]). Kirkpatrick reported that Ansar al-Sharia said they were launching the assault in retaliation for the release of the anti-Islamic video, Innocence of Muslims.[116][117] It was further reported that Ahmed Abu Khattala was called a ringleader of the attack by both witnesses and authorities, though he insisted he did not play a part in the aggression at the American compound. Witnesses, Benghazi residents, and Western news reports have described him as a leader of Ansar al-Sharia, though he stated he was close to the group but not an official part of it. He further stated he was the commander of an Islamist brigade, Abu Obaida ibn al-Jarrah, some of whose members had joined Ansar al-Sharia.[118]

The Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, a pro-al-Qaeda militia calling for the release of The Blind Sheik, was implicated in the attack by Noman Benotman of the Quilliam Foundation.[1][119] CNN,[1] the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,[121] Commentary Magazine and The Daily Telegraph[119] have listed this group as a chief suspect. USA Today reported that protests in Cairo that preceded the attack on Benghazi were intended to protest the imprisonment of Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman and announced as early as August 30.[122][123] Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi had called for release of the Blind Sheikh in his inaugural address.[123]

In the days and weeks following the attack, President Obama and other administration officials correctly noted that the video had sparked violent incidents at a number of U.S. diplomatic facilities, and Susan Rice stated based on a flawed CIA assessment the video was also a prime catalyst for the Benghazi attack. In a phone call with the Egyptian prime minister Kandil the day after the attack, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “we know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”[124] This assessment reflected information in an email sent by the State Department Operations Center to the White House, Pentagon, intelligence community and FBI at 6:07pm Eastern time the night of the attack, the subject line of which read, “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”[125] However, this assessment contradicted the assessment of CIA analysts, which through September 16 maintained that “the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo,” at which violent protesters had scaled the embassy walls.[126] And the day after the attack, Ansar al-Sharia appeared to confirm both assessments when it issued a statement saying The [Ansar al-Shariah] Brigade didn’t participate as a sole entity; rather, it was a spontaneous popular uprising in response to what happened by the West,” which was an apparent reference to the Innocence of Muslims video.[127] A later report from an independent review board concluded “there was no protest prior to the attacks.”[128]

In a September 18 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, President Obama said, “extremists and terrorists used (the anti-Muslim YouTube video) as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies.”[129] Obama spoke accurately, because five American embassies were the sites of violent protests due to the video, but Benghazi was not an embassy, it was a “diplomatic post.” In his Univision Town Hall appearance on September 20, President Obama said that the “natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”[130] The Innocence of Muslims video triggered dozens of protests from northwest Africa to southeast Asia, including violent protests at American embassies in Tunis, Khartoum, Cairo, Sana and Jakarta.[131]

In October 2012, a Tunisian, Ali Harzi, who a U.S. intelligence official stated had links to Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, was arrested in Turkey and repatriated to Tunisia on terrorism charges and possible links to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.[132] Ali Harzi was released by Tunisian authorities on January 8, 2013 because of a lack of evidence.[133]

Also in October, a Libyan suspect, Karim el-Azizi, who had recently returned to Egypt from Libya and was storing weapons in his hideout, detonated a bomb and was found dead in his apartment after clashes with security forces.[134] He has been linked to an Egyptian terrorist group led by Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, who is suspected of training some of the terrorists responsible for the Benghazi attack in camps in the Libyan desert.[135] Jamal Abu Ahmad, a former member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, was released from Egyptian prison after the fall of the Mubarak regime, after which he began assembling a terrorist network.[136] He received financing from the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, petitioned Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to establish a new Al-Qaeda affiliate he called al-Qaeda in Egypt,[135][136] and was subsequently detained by Egyptian authorities in December 2012.[136] On October 7, 2013, the Muhammad Jamal network (MJN) and Muhammad Jamal were designated as “global terrorists” by the U.S. Department of State.[137] The U.S. State Department noted in its designation that Jamal “has developed connections with al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AQ senior leadership, and al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leadership including Nasir ‘Abd-al-Karim ‘Abdullah al-Wahishi and Qasim Yahya Mahdi al-Rimi”. A few days later, on October 21, 2013, the United Nations Security Council designated the MJN “as being associated with Al-Qaida”.[138] The United Nations Security Council also noted, “Some of the attackers of the U.S. Mission in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, have been identified as associates of Muhammad Jamal, and some of the Benghazi attackers reportedly trained at MJN camps in Libya.”

In March 2013, Faraj al-Shibli was detained by Libyan authorities and questioned by the FBI because of his suspected involvement in the Benghazi attack.[139] Al-Shibli was detained after he returned from a trip to Pakistan, though his exact role in the attack is unclear. He was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which tried to overthrow the Gadhafi regime in the mid-1990s. Investigators have learned he has had contact with both the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Qaeda members in Pakistan. He was released by Libyan authorities on June 12, 2013, based on claims there was a lack of evidence to hold him in custody.[140] In July 2014 he was found dead in Libya.[141]

Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur’s office condemned the attack and extended condolences, saying: “While strongly condemning any attempt to abuse the person of Muhammad, or an insult to our holy places and prejudice against the faith, we reject and strongly condemn the use of force to terrorize innocent people and the killing of innocent people.” It also reaffirmed “the depth of relationship between the peoples of Libya and the U.S., which grew closer with the positions taken by the U.S. government in support of the revolution of February 17”.[142] Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, the President of the General National Congress of Libya, said: “We apologise to the United States, the people and to the whole world for what happened. We confirm that no-one will escape from punishment and questioning.”[143]

There were demonstrations in Benghazi[144] and Tripoli[145] on September 12, condemning the violence and holding signs such as “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans”, “Benghazi is against terrorism”, and other signs apologizing to Americans for the actions in their name and in the name of Muslims. On the same day, Libya’s Deputy Ambassador to London Ahmad Jibril told the BBC that Ansar Al-Sharia was behind the attack.[146][147] On September 13, at a U.S. State Department reception in Washington D.C., the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. Ali Aujali apologized to Secretary of State Clinton for “this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya”.[147][148] The ambassador further praised Stevens as a “dear friend” and a “real hero”. He also urged the United States to continue supporting Libya as it went “through a very difficult time” and that the young Libyan government needed help so that it could “maintain… security and stability in our country”.

In the days after the attack, The New York Times stated that young Libyans had flooded Twitter with pro-American messages after the attacks.[145] Think Progress stated that Libyans are typically more positively inclined towards the United States than their neighbors.[149] A 2012 Gallup poll noted that “A majority of Libyans (54%) surveyed in March and April 2012 approve of the leadership of the U.S.among the highest approval Gallup has ever recorded in the… region, outside of Israel.”[150] Another poll in Eastern Libya, taken in 2011, reported that the population was at the same time both deeply religious conservative Muslims and very pro-American, with 90% of respondents reporting favorable views of the United States.[151][152]

The Libyan response to the crisis was praised and appreciated in the United States, and President Obama emphasized how the Libyans “helped our diplomats to safety” to an American audience the following day,[21] while a New York Times editorial criticized Egypt’s government for not doing “what Libyan leaders did”.[153]

On September 16, Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf said that the attack on the United States consulate was planned months in advance,[154] and further stated that “[t]he idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. consulate.”[155]

On September 21, about 30,000 Libyans marched through Benghazi calling for support of the rule of law and for an end to the armed militias that had formed during the Libyan Civil War to oppose Colonel Gaddafi.[22][23] After that war, the militias failed to disband, and continually menaced the Libyan government and populace.[23] Carrying signs with slogans such as “We Want Justice For Chris” and “Libya Lost a Friend”, the protestors stormed several militia headquarters, including that of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia who some allege played a role in the attack on U.S. diplomatic personnel on September 11.[156][157] At least 10 people were killed and dozens more wounded as militiamen fired on demonstrators at the headquarters of Sahaty Brigade, a pro-government militia “operating under the authority of the ministry of defence”.[22][157][158]

By early next morning, the protestors had forced militia members to flee and seized control of a number of compounds, releasing four prisoners found inside.[156][157] Protesters burnt a car and a building of at least one facility, and looted weapons.[22][23][157] The militia compounds and many weapons were handed over to Libya’s national army[23] in what “appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia bases by police, government troops and activists” following the earlier demonstrations.[156][157] Some militia members accused the protestors of being Gaddafi loyalists, looking to disarm the militias in the wake of the revolution.[23]

On September 23, taking advantage of the growing momentum and rising anger against the militias evinced in the earlier anti-militia demonstrations,[159] the Libyan president declared that all unauthorized militias had 48 hours to either disband or come under government control.[160][161] The government also mandated that bearing arms in public was now illegal, as were armed checkpoints.[161]

It has been noted that previously, handling the militias had been difficult as the government had been forced to rely on some of them for protection and security.[159][160] According to a Libyan interviewed in Tripoli, the government gained the ability to push back against the militias because of a “mandate of the people”.[160]

On the 24th, the government commenced with a raid on a former military base held by a rogue infantry militia.[162]

Across the country, militias began surrendering to the government. The government formed a “National Mobile Force” for the purpose of evicting illegal militias.[163] On the same day as the declaration, various militias in Misrata held meetings, ultimately deciding to submit to the government’s authority, and handed over various public facilities they had been holding, including the city’s three main jails, which were handed over to the authority of the Ministry of Justice.[160] Hours before the announcement, in Derna, the two main militias (one of them Ansar al-Sharia) active in the city both withdrew, leaving both their five military bases behind.[159][160][163]

Hundreds of Libyans, mainly former rebel fighters, gathered in the city centers of Tripoli and Benghazi to hand over their weapons to the government on September 29.[164]

The campaign has been less successful in other areas, such as the remote Nafusa Mountains, inhabited by the Nafusi-speaking Berber minority, where the Emirati news agency The National reported on September 23 that arms were being hoarded. The National also reported arms being hoarded in Misrata, despite simultaneous reporting by other outlets that militias were surrendering in Misrata.[165]

On September 12, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned “this outrageous attack” on U.S. diplomatic facilities[167] and stated that “since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”[167] After referring to “the 9/11 attacks”, “troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan”, and “then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi”[167] the President urged, “As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.”[167] He then went on to say,

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.[167]

After the attack, Obama ordered that security be increased at all such facilities worldwide.[19] A 50-member Marine FAST team was sent to Libya to “bolster security”.[168][169] It was announced that the FBI would investigate the possibility of the attack being planned.[170] U.S. officials said surveillance over Libya would increase, including the use of unmanned drones, to “hunt for the attackers”.[170]

Secretary of State Clinton also made a statement on September 12, describing the perpetrators as “heavily armed militants” and “a small and savage groupnot the people or government of Libya”.[171] She also reaffirmed “America’s commitment to religious tolerance” and said “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” but whether true or not, that was not a justification for violence.[172] The State Department had previously identified embassy and personnel security as a major challenge in its budget and priorities report.[173]

On September 12, it was reported that the United States Navy dispatched two Arleigh Burke class destroyers, the USS McFaul and the USS Laboon, to the Libyan coast.[174] The destroyers are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. American UAVs were also sent to fly over Libya to search for the perpetrators of the attack.[175]

In a speech on September 13, in Golden, Colorado, President Obama paid tribute to the four Americans “killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya”, stating,

We enjoy our security and our liberty because of the sacrifices they make… I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world.[176]

In his press briefing on September 14, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that “we don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this [the Benghazi attack] was not in reaction to the film.”[177] He went on to say:

There was no intelligence that in any way could have been acted on to prevent these attacks. It isI mean, I think the DNI spokesman was very declarative about this that the report is false. The report suggested that there was intelligence that was available prior to this that led us to believe that this facility would be attacked, and that is false… We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack. The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive. And while the violence is reprehensible and unjustified, it is not a reaction to the 9/11 anniversary that we know of, or to U.S. policy.

On September 14, the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the U.S.; President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the ceremony. In her remarks Clinton said, “One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said ‘Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.’ The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploringand I quote’an act of ugly terror.'”[178] She went on to say: “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men.”

On September 16, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on five major interview shows to discuss the attacks. Prior to her appearance, Rice was provided with “talking points” from a CIA memo,[179] which stated:

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.

This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated.

The investigation is ongoing, and the U.S. government is working with Libyan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens.[180]

Using these talking points as a guide, Rice stated:

Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassysparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent. We do notwe do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned. I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.[181][182][183][184][185]

Since Rice’s five television appearances, there have been persistent accusations that she had intentionally and repeatedly lied. However, none of the ten Benghazi investigations determined she had. For example, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee “did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people,” according to the Associated Press.[186]

In a White House press briefing on September 18, press secretary Jay Carney explained the attack to reporters: “I’m saying that based on information that weour initial information, and that includes all informationwe saw no evidence to back up claims by others that this was a preplanned or premeditated attack; that we saw evidence that it was sparked by the reaction to this video. And that is what we know thus far based on the evidence, concrete evidence.”[187]

On September 20, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answered a question about an open hearing with the National Counterterrorism Center Director, Matthew G. Olsen, which referenced which extremist groups might have been involved. Carney said, “It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident.”[188] On the same day, during an appearance on Univision, a Spanish-language television network in the United States, President Obama stated, “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”[189][190][191][192][193]

Also on September 20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a classified briefing to U.S. Senators,[194] which several Republican attendees criticized.[195] According to the article, senators were angered at the Obama administration’s rebuff of their attempts to learn details of the Benghazi attack, only to see that information published the next day in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

On September 24, advertisements condemning an anti-Islam video appeared on Pakistani television. The television ads in Pakistan (marked with the U.S. Embassy seal) feature clips of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton during press appearances in Washington in which they condemned the video. Their words were subtitled in Urdu.[196]

On September 25, in an address before the United Nations General Assembly President Obama stated, “The attacks on our civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America… And there should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.”[76][197] He referred to Innocence of Muslims as “a crude and disgusting video [that] sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world”. He said, “I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.”[198] He further stated, “There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy.”[199]

On September 26, Clinton acknowledged a possible link between Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Benghazi attack.[3]

On September 28, a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence stated,

In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress… As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.[200]

Also on September 28, it was reported that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer of the Innocence of Muslims video, had been arrested in California and was being held without bail for alleged probation violations stemming from a 2010 bank fraud conviction.[201]

On CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley on September 30, Crowley observed that “Friday we got the administration’s sort of definitive statement that this now looks as though it was a pre-planned attack by a terrorist group, some of whom were at least sympathetic to al Qaeda,” and asked the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, “why do you think and are you bothered that it has taken them this long from September 11th to now to get to this conclusion?” to which McCain replied that “it interferes with the depiction that the administration is trying to convey that al Qaeda is on the wane… how else could you trot out our U.N. ambassador to say this was a spontaneous demonstration?… It was either willful ignorance or abysmal intelligence to think that people come to spontaneous demonstrations with heavy weapons, mortars, and the attack goes on for hours.”[202]

On October 4, 22 days after the attack, FBI investigators were finally allowed access to the scene of the attack.[203] The crime scene was not secured during that time; neither American nor Libyan investigators were able to secure the scene. The hearing testimony revealed that “Hicks argued that Rice’s comments so insulted the Libyan presidentsince they contradicted his Sept. 16 claims that the attack was premeditatedthat it slowed the FBI’s investigation. ‘President Magariaf was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His credibility was reduced,’ Hicks said, adding that the president was apparently ‘still steamed’ two weeks later.”[204]

To assist the Libyan government in disbanding extremist groups, the Obama administration allocated $8 million to begin building an elite Libyan commando force over the next year.[205]

In the Presidential debate of October 16, 2012, between President Obama and Mitt Romney, Romney claimed that “it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.” President Obama responded, “The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened,” Obama said. “That this was an act of terror, and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.”[206] When Romney challenged Obama, asking “You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?” the President responded, “Please proceed, governor” and “Get the transcript.” The moderator of the debate, Candy Crowley, agreed, stating “Hehe did call it an act of terror.” A CNN analysis stated that Obama had indeed referred to the incident as a “terrorist attack”, but that Romney was correct in noting that the administration delayed in conclusively stating that the attack was not a spontaneous protest related to the video.[207] A 14 May 2013 Fact Checker by Glenn Kesler said that Obama repeatedly used the phrase “act of terror” when talking about the attack, but he did not directly state that the attack was an act of terror.[208]

On October 19, 2012, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) came under fire from intelligence officials in the Obama administration when he posted, on a public website, 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications related to Libya. According to officials, the release of the unredacted documents compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government and placed their lives in danger.[209]

On CBS’s Face the Nation on October 28, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) stated that “this is either a massive cover-up or incompetence” and suggested that it was a scandal worse than Watergate. McCain stated, “we know that there were tapes, recordings inside the consulate during this fight… So the president went on various shows, despite what he said in the Rose Garden, about terrorist acts, he went on several programs, including The View, including Letterman, including before the UN where he continued to refer, days later, many days later, to this as a spontaneous demonstration because of a hateful video. We know that is patently false. What did the president know? When did he know it? And what did he do about it?”[210] CBS News reported earlier on October 24 that the video of the assault was recovered 20 days after the attack, from the more than 10 security cameras at the compound.[211] In a radio interview October 29, 2012, Senator John McCain said that the surveillance tapes had been classified top secret.[212]

Secretary Clinton was scheduled to testify before Congress on December 20 about the attack. On December 15, it was reported that she had become dehydrated from the flu, fainted, and sustained a concussion. Consequently, her testimony was postponed.[213] The incident prompted Republican Rep. Allen West to claim that the illness was a ruse intended to avoid testifying. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton called the concussion a “diplomatic illness”.[214]

On January 23, 2013, during testimony at a Senate hearing on Benghazi, Clinton engaged in a heated exchange with Senator Ron Johnson. When Johnson pressed her to explain why, in the immediate aftermath, no one from the State Department had asked American evacuees if there had been a protest before the attack, Clinton replied:

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Operation Odyssey Dawn – Wikipedia

Operation Odyssey Dawn was the U.S. code name[Note 1] for the American role in the international military operation in Libya to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973[11][12][13][14][15] during the initial period of 1931 March 2011, which continued afterwards under NATO command as Operation Unified Protector. The initial operation implemented a no-fly zone that was proposed during the Libyan Civil War to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on anti-Gaddafi forces. On 19 March 2011, several countries prepared to take immediate military action at a summit in Paris.[16] Operations commenced on the same day with a strike by French fighter jets, then US and UK forces conducting strikes from ships and submarines via 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles and air assets bombing Gaddafi forces near Benghazi.[17] The goal of coalition forces was to impose a no-fly zone for Libyan government forces.

The U.S. initially had strategic command of the military intervention, coordinated missions between coalition members and set up Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn on USSMount Whitney for the tactical command and control in the area of operations.[12][13] but passed complete military command of the operation to NATO and took up a support role on 31 March 2011.[18] Prior to that, an agreement to pass command of the arms embargo to NATO was reached on 23 March,[19] and a handover of enforcement of the no-fly zone to NATO was agreed to on 24 March and became effective the following day.[20] With the handover of coalition command to NATO, Operation Odyssey Dawn remained the name for the activities of U.S. forces,[21] and the coalition’s objectives continued to be carried out under Operation Unified Protector. However, NATO’s objectives did not include aiding the rebel forces’ efforts to take control of territory held by the government.[22]

The British name for its military support of Resolution 1973 is Operation Ellamy,[23] the Canadian participation is Operation Mobile,[24] and the French participation is Opration Harmattan.[25][20]

The strategic command of Operation Odyssey Dawn was under the authority of General Carter Ham, the Combatant Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), a Unified Combatant Command of the Department of Defense. Tactical command in the theater of operations was under command of Admiral Sam Locklear, the Commander of United States Naval Forces Africa on board the command ship USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean Sea.[14][26] Vice Admiral Harry B. Harris, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, assumed responsibilities as the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander, also stationed aboard USS Mount Whitney.[27] Major General Margaret H. Woodward was commander of US Air Force aircraft involved in the operation.[28] On 21 March 2011, President Obama stated the U.S. military action would be scaled back soon[29] and was considering handing over command of the operation to either France, the UK or NATO. On 24 March 2011, NATO took command of enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya and was considering taking control of the rest of the mission.[30] On 24 March 2011, the coalition agreed to have NATO command the no-fly zone,[31] and the U.S. Department of Defense stated that the U.S. would relinquish command of Operation Odyssey Dawn as early as 28 March.[32]

21h: The first main strike involved the launch of 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. and UK ships against shoreline air defenses of the Gaddafi regime.[14][65][66][67] The U.S. Department of Defense reports that the dismantling of Libya’s ability to hinder the enforcement of the UN no-fly zone was only the first of multiple stages in the operation.[68] USMC Harriers participated in an air strike against a large military convoy outside Benghazi.[56]

Sustained anti-aircraft fire erupted in Tripoli at around 02:33 EET.[69] Three B-2 Spirit bombers targeted 45 hardened aircraft shelters at a Libyan airfield near Sirte.[56] At the same time, U.S. Air Force fighter jets conducted missions searching for Libyan ground forces to attack. U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers jammed Libyan radar and communications.[70][71] No U.S. aircraft were lost during the missions.[72] The warplanes included Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier IIs (attacking pro-Gaddafi’s ground forces),[73] Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, and F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter jets.[74] Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, states that there would be continuous allied air cover over Benghazi, and that the no-fly zone “is effectively in place”.[75] An EC-130J was recorded warning Libyan shipping “If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately” in Arabic, French and English.[76] Four Royal Danish Air Force F-16 flew their first mission over Libya[77][78]

All fixed SA-2 Guideline, SA-3 Goa and SA-5 Gammon sites were taken out. Only SA-6 Gainful, hand held SA-7 Grail and SA-8 Gecko mobile SAMs are still a possible threat to aircraft.[79] In the early hours of the day a building from Moammar Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli was completely destroyed by a cruise missile.[80] Twelve more cruise missiles were fired at command and air defense sites.[81]

At approximately 22:30 CET (evening of 21 March), a USAFE F-15E 91-0304 operating out of Aviano Air Base crashed about 25 miles (40km) southwest of Benghazi. Both crew members ejected at high altitude and were subsequently separated. A MV-22 Osprey, supported by two AV-8Bs, two CH-53E Super Stallions, and a KC-130J Hercules from the 26th MEU initially recovered the pilot,[4] while the weapons officer was recovered later after being rescued by rebel forces in the area.[4] Two Marine Harriers accompanying the rescue force dropped two 500lb bombs at the request of the ejected pilot, prior to the MV-22 landing in an attempt to deter an unidentified group of people heading towards the area.[4][82] The UK had a “peripheral involvement” in the rescue of the U.S. pilots.[83][83][84][85][86][87]

Six local villagers, including a young boy, were reported to have been injured by gunfire from the rescuing U.S. forces,[88][89] Although a Marine spokesperson aboard USS Kearsarge denied that shots were fired: “The Osprey is not armed, and the Marines barely got off the aircraft. I was in the landing center the whole time, where we were monitoring what was going on, and firing was never reported”,[82] Pentagon sources were later reported to have confirmed that shots were fired.[4][90]

The source of the civilian casualties is still being investigated.[82] Overnight, the U.S. bombed the wreckage of the downed F-15E “to prevent materials from getting into the wrong hands.”[91]

In a 24-hours period; 175 air sorties were conducted (113 US, 62 coalition).[92] Around this time, the U.S. changed its target priorities from air defenses to Libyan ground forces.[93]

Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s were assigned to the U.S. African Command and Operation Odyssey Dawn. A number of Norwegian F-16s took off from the Souda Bay Air Base on the island of Crete, Greece for their first mission over Libya.[94][95]

Three laser-guided bombs were launched from 2 F-16s of the Royal Norwegian Airforce against Libyan tanks.[96] F-16s from the Royal Norwegian Airforce bombed an airfield in Libya during the night.[97] Coalition planes flew 164 sorties and coalition leaders reported damage to Gadhafi’s ground forces.[98]

Lockheed AC-130 gunships and Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft began operations, attacking ground forces.[99] These were the first aircraft used against troops; previous strikes had targeted command and anti-aircraft infrastructure.[99] Two B-1 bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base attacked undisclosed targets in Libya.[100]

Attack submarine USSProvidence completed all assigned strike missions and has left the area for previous duties. The U.S. is responsible for 80% of air refueling, 75% of aerial surveillance hours and 100% of electronic warfare missions.[101]

On 28 March, a USAF A-10 and a USN P-3 attack one Libyan Coast Guard vessel and two smaller craft. The P-3 fired AGM-65F Maverick missiles at a Vittoria-class[clarification needed] patrol boat, forcing the crew to beach her. The A-10 strafed the other two smaller boats with its 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon rounds, sinking one and forcing the crew to abandon the other. The Libyan vessels were attacked after U.S. forces observed them firing into Misurata and at merchant vessels. The USSBarry provided situational awareness for the aircraft by managing the airspace and maintaining the maritime picture.[102]

From 08:00 EET, NATO took sole command of air operations over Libya under Operation Unified Protector, taking over from U.S. Africa Command.[103][104][105] The four Danish F-16 fighters flew a total of 43 missions and dropped 107 precision munitions in operation Odyssey Dawn before transiting to NATO command.[106]

There has been criticism over the handling of the operation and the belief that the Obama administration failed to adequately consult the U.S. Congress. The Obama administration defended its handling of the Libyan crisis, drawing a clear line between military and political objectives. On 24 March White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters “We are not engaged in militarily-driven regime change.” Instead, the administration is engaged in “time-limited, scope-limited” action with other countries to protect civilians from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.[107] However, this conflicts with multiple statements seeming to imply regime change as at least one objective of the Operation, including a report made to Congress as required by House Resolution 292:

“Establishing these conditions would pave the way for a genuine political transition of which Qadhafi’s departure is a critical component. To bring about this objective, along with the international community, the United States responded to this crisis by developing, implementing, and monitoring sanctions and freezing billions in Government of Libya assets, building a broad international coalition focused on escalating diplomatic pressure on Qadhafi and increasing his isolation, and initiating and sustaining political support for military operations. … Politically, U.S. leadership continues to play an important role in maintaining and expanding this international consensus that Qadhafi must step down, sending an unambiguous message to the regime. We continue working with the international community to enhance the capabilities of the Libyan opposition and increase the ability to achieve political transition. After many meetings with senior opposition members in Washington and abroad, combined with daily interactions with the U.S. mission in Benghazi, we have stated that the TNC has demonstrated itself to be the legitimate interlocutor of the Libyan people, in contrast to the Qadhafi regime that has lost all legitimacy to rule.”[108]

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Operation Odyssey Dawn – Wikipedia

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April 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

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April 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

U.S. Strikes Qaeda Target in Southern Libya, Expanding …

In a statement, the militarys Africa Command said the strike had targeted militants with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate also known as AQIM, and had been carried out in coordination with the United Nations-backed unity government in Tripoli. At this time, we assess no civilians were killed in this strike, the statement said.

The strike came as the Trump administration has been reassessing the American military commitment in North and West Africa after the ambush in Niger last fall that killed four American soldiers. The Pentagon has been preparing to fly armed drone missions from Nigers capital, Niamey, a step that diplomats and analysts say could further widen the Pentagons shadow war in this part of the continent.

In a sign of how the Pentagon has sought to obscure its operations in Libya and other parts of northwestern Africa, the Africa Command did not announce the strike on Saturday.

It responded to questions from The New York Times late Saturday with a terse statement after media reports about the strike circulated in Libya. The statement did not identify where the drone had originated.

Earlier this month, in response to a Times query, the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that Green Berets working with government forces in Niger had killed 11 Islamic State fighters in a firefight in December. No Americans were hurt in that fight, the Pentagon said.

Ubari is at the intersection of the powerful criminal and jihadist currents that have washed across Libya in recent years. Roughly equidistant from Libyas borders with Niger, Chad and Algeria, the areas seminomadic tribesmen are heavily involved in the smuggling of weapons, drugs and illegal migrants through the lawless deserts of southern Libya.

Some have allied with Islamist militias, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates across Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya.

The area erupted into conflict in 2014 when a century-old peace treaty between the Tuareg and Tebu ethnic groups collapsed over a dispute about control of the fuel smuggling trade. The fighting, which occurred independently of the broader struggle for control of Libya after the 2011 overthrow of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, raged for a year, killing hundreds and leaving many families displaced.

The Tebu and Tuareg eventually struck a peace agreement, and a neutral militia currently keeps the peace in Ubari, but tensions remain. In November, Turkish engineers working at the city power station were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen, as was a Pakistani engineer at the station who went missing this month, according to local news media reports.

While some Tebu groups have allied with the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, Tuareg factions have allied with Qaeda, which is also believed to have profited from the trade in smuggled fuel.

In the statement on Saturday, Robyn M. Mack, a spokeswoman for the United States Africa Command, said that it was still assessing the results of the strike and that the purpose had been to deny terrorists freedom of action and degrade their ability to reconsolidate.

But the command did not answer several other questions: Who were the two dead militants, and why were they important enough to kill with an airstrike? What role, if any, did France play in a region of Libya in which it has also conducted counterterrorism operations? And, most significantly, to what extent is the attack the start of an escalating campaign against a broad spectrum of extremists in northwestern Africa, or a one-off strike against high-profile Qaeda operatives?

Beginning a concerted strike campaign against AQIM or other AQ elements in the Sahel, akin to what we are doing in Yemen and Somalia, would mark a significant expansion of our counterterrorism efforts, said Luke Hartig, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

If this is going to be the start of a broader campaign, it would be helpful to hear more from the administration about the threat posed by AQIM and why it merits putting our people in harms way and conducting strikes, Mr. Hartig said.

A senior French security official said France had played no role in the strike, but added that Paris was very happy of this continued commitment of the U.S. to counterterrorism in Libya.

Questions about whether the American military, under the Trump administration, is seeking to blur the expanding scope of operations in Africa were raised this month when it was revealed that the United States had carried out four airstrikes in Libya between September and January that Africa Command did not disclose at the time. The military has said it will acknowledge such missions if asked about them, even if it does not affirmatively disclose them in a news release.

Ms. Mack said that Saturdays attack was the first airstrike the United States had conducted against Al Qaeda in Libya. In fact, the United States conducted an airstrike in eastern Libya in June 2015 against Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the mastermind of the 2013 terrorist seizure of an Algerian gas plant that left 38 foreign hostages dead. Mr. Belmokhtar was a longtime Qaeda operative with ties to senior Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Western intelligence officials today remain divided over whether he is dead.

American efforts to hunt down Islamists in Libyas vast deserts rely heavily on surveillance and airpower but also on alliances with the armed groups vying for control of Libya. Mohamed El Sallak, a spokesman for the United Nations-backed unity government, said on Twitter that the attack in Ubari on Saturday was part of the strategic cooperation between Libya and the United States in the fight against terrorism.

But in Ubari, armed Tebu and Tuareg groups have sided with different sides in Libyas chaotic struggle, and the unity government is by no means the dominant player.

Some control a stretch of southern border, while others have allied with militias from the coastal cities of Misurata and Benghazi. The rising force now in the south is Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, the commander of the Libyan National Army based in Benghazi.

Since his forces ousted the last Islamist militias from Benghazi in December, Mr. Hifter has focused on the south, where he exerts influence through his fleet of aging warplanes and alliances with local armed groups.

In Sebha, the largest southern city, Mr. Hifter and the rival United Nations-backed government are vying for control through local proxies. In Ubari, 110 miles to the west, Mr. Hifter has allied with an ethnically mixed militia that is composed of former Qaddafi loyalists and more recent recruits.

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U.S. Strikes Qaeda Target in Southern Libya, Expanding …

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March 26, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Contact Embassy of Libya

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Libyan Embassy| Washington, DC.1460 Dahlia Street NWWashington, DC 20012

Please call us on the following numbers if you have any questions:(202) 606-3667(202) 644-2727For all consular inquires pleas email us on:Consular.sec@embassyoflibyadc.orgFor students affairs please call:202-790- 3819For student’s affairs inquires please email us on:Stamps@Ica-edu.usFor all other inquires please email us on:Info@embassyoflibyadc.com

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Libya Economy: Population, GDP, Inflation, Business, Trade …

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Libya could not be ranked in the 2018 Index because of the lack of reliable comparable data on all facets of the economy. Official government compilations of economic data are inadequate, and data reported by many of the international sources upon which Index grading relies remain incomplete.

Political instability, factional clashes, and security threats from domestic and foreign followers of the Islamic State have made economic recovery and development in Libya fragile and uneven. The government faces the daunting challenges of disarming and demobilizing militias, enforcing the rule of law, and reforming the state-dominated economy. Power outages are widespread. Living conditions, including access to clean drinking water, medical services, and safe housing, have declined as more people have been internally displaced by the civil war. These problems are likely to persist until a permanent government is in place.

Muammar Qadhafi seized power in 1969 and ruled as a dictator until he was overthrown in 2011. Since then, the country has been in political upheaval. In June 2014, Libya held its second parliamentary election since Qadhafis overthrow; in November, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the elected parliament was constitutionally illegitimate. Pro-Islamist militias allied with the Muslim Brotherhood have established parallel institutions. In 2016, the U.N. brokered the establishment of a national unity government to replace the two rival administrations. Oil and natural gas provide about 80 percent of GDP, 95 percent of export revenues, and nearly all government revenues. Extremists have attacked oilfields and seized oil infrastructure, threatening government control of oil and gas revenues.

Arbitrary seizure of property is common in a climate of general instability. While Libyans have the right to own property and can start businesses, regulations and protections are not upheld in practice. Businesses and homes have been confiscated by militants, particularly in Libyas eastern regions and in Benghazi. In the absence of a permanent constitution, the role of the judiciary remains unclear. Corruption is pervasive.

The top income tax rate is 10 percent, but other taxes make the top rate much higher in practice. The overall tax burden equals 21.3 percent of total domestic income. Over the past three years, government spending has amounted to 92.9 percent of total output (GDP), and budget deficits have averaged 60.7 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 7.4 percent of GDP.

The existing regulatory framework continues to be severely undermined by ongoing political instability and turmoil. The labor market remains destabilized, and the large informal sector is an important source of employment. Libya has an extensive system of subsidies, with food and energy subsidies alone consuming about 16 percent of the budget.

Nontariff barriers significantly impede trade for Libya. Ongoing conflict is a deterrent to trade and investment flows. The financial system is hampered by unstable political and economic conditions, and limited access to financing severely impedes any meaningful development of private business.

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Libya Economy: Population, GDP, Inflation, Business, Trade …

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February 4, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

15 Best Things to Do in Libya – 2018 (with Photos) – TripAdvisor

2018 TripAdvisor LLC All rights reserved. * TripAdvisor LLC is not a booking agent and does not charge any service fees to users of our site… (more) TripAdvisor LLC is not responsible for content on external web sites. Taxes, fees not included for deals content.

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July 25, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya Herald – Official Site

Libya By Sami Zaptia. Lugano, 11 July 2018: Libyas National Oil Corporation (NOC) has announced the lifting of force majeure in the ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, Thursday, 12 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 9 July 2018: The Tripoli Central Bank of Libya said that despite the recent financial developments and circumstances that the country was going through, Monday, 9 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 6 July 2018: Contracted electricity projects approved in December generating 2,000 megawatts of power are on hold due to the inability to organize funding, Friday, 6 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 6 July 2018: Nearly a week after the unconfirmed report of an attack on the house of Presidency Council (PC) Deputy Fathi al-Majbari, PC Friday, 6 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 6 July 2018: Faiez Serraj, head of Libyas Presidential Council, has warned of the negative repercussions of the oil export stoppage, his official personal Friday, 6 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 6 July 2018: Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj announced at yesterdays Cabinet meeting that he was urgently allocating LD 30 million to the state-owned Friday, 6 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 3 July 2018: Tunis Air is to resume its flights to Tripoli at the end of this month. The announcement was made by Tunisias Tuesday, 3 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 3 July 2018: The United Nations Secretary-General Antnio Guterres announced yesterday the appointment of Stephanie T. Williams of the United States of America as Tuesday, 3 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 2 July 2018: Libyas National Oil Corporation (NOC) has declared force majeure on crude oil loadings at Hariga and Zuetina oil terminals today. This Monday, 2 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 2 July 2018: The House of Representatives (HoR) continued its official meeting at its headquarters in Tobruk last week, to complete the discussion of Monday, 2 July, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 29 June 2018: The Khalifa Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA) has warned against the presence of any foreign forces in the south of Libya. Friday, 29 June, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 29 June 2018: The international community declared their opposition to the move by Khalifa Hafter and his LNA forces to handover the control of Friday, 29 June, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 29 June 2018: Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter, commander of the mainly eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), announced the liberation of the city of Derna Friday, 29 June, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 27 June 2018: South Korea is to reopen its Tripoli embassy in Tripoli in the beginning of September and will allow its companies to Wednesday, 27 June, 2018Read More By Sami Zaptia. London, 27 June 2018: Italys Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, said that Italy and Libya have common interests, the most important of Wednesday, 27 June, 2018Read More

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July 8, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

GNC | Libya Analysis

GNA brokers local solution to east Tripoli tensions On 6 January, a large military deployment by the Government of National Accord (GNA) GNA-affiliated Kani brigade (also known as the GNAs 7th Infantry Division) from Tarhouna took control of the Garabulli coastal checkpoint 40 km east of Tripoli. The kidnapping of two Kani members, and the killing of one, by a gunman from Garabulli is understood to have sparked the offensive. Tensions subsided after the Kani brigade pulled out later the same day. The Garabulli local mayor announced the handover of the checkpoint to local security, and said that it will be manned in conjunction with the GNAs Central Security forces. The move raised high tensions in Tripoli, in expectation that the assault was a precursor to a larger anti-GNA move by ex-Government of National Congress (GNC) hardliners who were evicted from Tripoli in September 2017. Although the Kani brigade is now affiliated with the GNA, until fairly recently they were aligned with the hardliner GNC alliance led by Khalifa al-Ghwell, and the militia itself is notorious for its brutality and the hardline Islamist ideologies of some of its leadership. It seems the Kani brigade accommodated Serraj in order to retain their power, which they appear to have done successfully. Both this deployment and that of Usama Juwaili into the Zuwara region were conducted with minimal casualties and both produced (for now) new security arrangements, with mixed local and national army jurisdictions, where the main military forces withdrew leaving in place collocated forces. This means the GNA, headed by Fayez al-Serraj, has further consolidated its military control of the western region, as well as beginning to institutionalize local cooperation with its army units. However, in the case of the Kani operation it does not seem that this was a carefully planned, strategic operation, but rather a response to local rivalries. Nevertheless, the fact that a local security arrangement was agreed shortly after the incident highlights an apparent trend of brokering local solutions to conflict. However, the resilience of such arrangements in the current political standstill plaguing the UN roadmap is to be tested. Mary Fitzgerald and Mattia Toaldo have recently updated their guide to Libyas main players for the European Council on Foreign Relations. Outlining the key political groups, armed groups, and jihadists the guide also features detail maps of armed groups, centers of power and key infrastructure. In the guide the authors explore the state of some of the Zintani armed groups: A number of Zintani forces have distanced themselves from Haftar particularly those close to former defence minister Osama Jweili while others remain supportive. As commander of the GNAs western region military zone, Jweili led an offensive in the Wershefana territory on Tripolis hinterland in November 2017 with a coalition that included forces from Zintan, Tripoli among them Haithem Tajouris TRB and Tarhouna. While ostensibly anti-crime, the operation also served to undermine LNA-affiliated groups in the area. Click here to read the guide. On 15 October, the UN Support Mission in Libyas (UNSMIL) new Joint Drafting Committee, composed of members of both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS), met for the second time in Tunis to continue negotiations on amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). As discussions continued the following day, and despite the UNSMIL indicating that both sides had developed a clearer understanding of the selection-mechanism for the Presidency Council, the HoR announced that they were suspending their participation in the dialogue. Detailing frustrations with the HCS for being unwilling to engage with contentious issues and unable to provide conclusive solutions to points of disagreement, the HoR stated that they would not pursue any further discussions until receiving in writing the HCSs position on crucial matters. The key issues of contention are not detailed, however they are likely to be connected to how individuals are selected for key positions and to Article 8 of the LPA. Article 8 requires all military positions to be vacant upon the formation of the new Libyan government and would see Khalifar Haftar lose his position as commander of the armed forces. Sources say that the HoR wants the decisions of the Supreme Commander of Libyan Army, which under the current terms would be the PC, to be approved by the HoR, while the HCS rejects this. The situation is likely to put the new UNSMIL road map into a prolonged state of limbo that may provide Haftar with an opportunity to justify and pursue his preference for a military solution to the crisis. Haftar has said the ongoing UN political process is not the only solution to Libyas political crisis, implying that a military solution approved by the people remains possible. During a speech in Benghazi on 14 October, Haftar claimed that the Libyan National Army (LNA) controls territory from Ras al-Jedir to west Zawiyya, and while Tripoli remains outside his grasp, he has on several occasions stated his willingness to take the city by force if necessary. If the LNAs military control and social support for Haftar increases in western Libya, Haftar may no longer see any value in paying lip service to the UN process and could attempt to achieve his aim of taking Tripoli through force or via a series of alliances on the ground. On 25 September, presidential hopeful Basit Igtet landed in Metiga airport and led small crowds from Tajoura to Martyrs Square to demonstration against the Government of National Accord (GNA). However, the crowds remained relatively small, numbering around 2000 people, and their demands were unclear. Pro-GNA Tripoli militias were deployed in force in most of the main streets in the capital leading towards the square and continue to remain deployed in anticipation of any security instability in the capital. The Tripoli security directorate had previously announced that it was denying permission for the demonstration but they did not try to prevent it on the day. According to the Libya Herald, the event was peaceful, in spite of the presence of a significant number of anti-Igtet protestors and despite some of the those on both sides said to have taken weapons just in case there was violence. The two sides were kept part by plain clothed security forces, said to belong to Ghneiwas central security authority. According to the Washington Post, hundreds of counter-demonstrators attended and shouted anti-Igtet slogans. Igtet himself was present at one point, but did not speak. As night fell, the two sides clashed with fistfights before security forces intervened and separated them with dozens of vehicles. Most headed home afterwards. The deflation of expectations for a large, game-changing popular rally in support of Igtet, as well as against the GNA and Khalifa Haftar, is likely to pave the way for the new UN led roadmap to gain stronger momentum and traction in the coming days. While the UN led process is indeed expected to gain positive momentum, especially after the high level UN Summit lending support to the plan, possibilities for further fragmentation and conflict remain high. Military wise, the fomenting conflict in Sabratha may become a catalyst for a groundswell of military action in the coastal region west of Tripoli between pro and anti LNA rivals, and thus could trigger conflict in the capital as well. Last week, the UN Security Council published its final report of the Panel of Experts on Libya, established pursuant to resolution 1973 (2011). The long, detailed report touches on a number of significant topics including human rights violations, violations of the arms embargo, and the role of foreign mercenaries in Libyas conflicts. The report states that the panel continues to receive frequent reports of serious human rights violations, including kidnappings, arbitrary detentions and summary executions. Cases investigated by the Panel include abuses against Libyan residents of Tripoli and Benghazi, prisoners of war and migrants. The Panel documented several instances in which armed groups were involved in actual or potential violations of the arms embargo. Access to military equipment has facilitated the escalation of armed conflicts, notably through air strikes. The report states that the United Arab Emirates have been providing military equipment to the LNA, in violation of the arms embargo, significantly increasing the air support available to LNA. Likewise, the report indicates that armed groups in Misrata have received support from a network of foreign pilots, mercenaries, and arms dealers, including Ecuadorians, which has allowed them to increase their capacity to launch airstrikes. The report also highlights the direct intervention of Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries in the Libyan conflict, particularly in the Oil Crescent, warning that their actions are a direct threat to the security and economic stability of Libya. The Panel also received reports that commanders of the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi were received in Marj in mid-October 2016. Chadian groups were also hosted in Misrata-controlled bases in Ahjar al-Sawda and in Sabha. This report highlights the destabilizing impact that external support for rival factions, whether that support is direct or indirect, military or political, has on Libyas fragile dynamics. While such support continues, which it is likely to do particularly in the case of the UAE given the recent strengthening of the anti-Qatar Arab alliance, it will be difficult to de-escalate conflict and bring rival factions to the negotiating table on equal terms. Click here to accessthe full report. In a long form article for Norwegian NGO Hate Speech International, Jason Pack and Rhiannon Smith map out the history and context of Libyas myriad jihadist groups. Six years after protests first erupted in February 2011 against the brutal and repressive rule of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi, Libya remains a country beset by deepening political fragmentation, bloody internecine conflict and accelerating economic decline. The Islamic State (ISIS) capitalised on this instability and in late 2014 established a satellite branch in Libya, successfully seizing territory around the central coastal city of Sirte and expanding its influence across the country. By December 2016, an anti-ISIS military campaign supported by US airstrikes and led by militias aligned with Libyas UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) Libyas internationally recognised government established under the December 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement had succeeded in driving ISIS out of Sirte. However, the group is far from defeated and ISIS fighters are regrouping in the vast deserts and remote communities of southern Libya.1 Yet, while ISIS undoubtedly continues to pose a threat to security and stability in Libya, the group is neither the strongest nor the most dangerous jihadist2 group in Libya currently. Since those uprisings that culminated in Qadhafis violent death in October 2011, after 42 years in control, jihadist groups have grown in power and influence, often with funding from wealthy international backers. Although they remain largely on the fringes of Libyan politics and society, jihadists of all colours and stripes can influence developments in Libya due to the transitory and almost fickle nature of the countrys political and military alliances, as well as and the increasing polarisation and instability of institutions at the level of central government. These jihadist networks also pose a threat to security outside Libya, as demonstrated by the horrifying suicide bombing against a Manchester arena on 22 May that killed 22 people and injured many more. The attack was claimed by ISIS and conducted by Salman Abedi, a British Libyan whose parents fled to the UK in the 1990s due to their connections to theal-Qaeda linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).3 Abedi visited Tripoli shortly before he carried out the attack, and although at the time of writing it remains unclear whether Abedireceived direct training or supportfor his attack from ISIS cells in Libya, or from associates closer to home, his familial connections to Libyan jihadist networks are significant.4 It is therefore crucial to understand who these Libyan jihadists are, how they interact with other actors, and what influence they can exert. Click here to read the full article. Ali Shamekh, the CEO of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) as appointed by theHouse of Representatives and the eastern authorities in August 2016, toldReuters on the sidelines ofGlobal Sovereign Wealth Forum in London on 29 March that he was working to unite the fragmented LIA.TheGovernment of National Accord (GNA) also named a Steering Committee to manage the fund last summer, headed by Ali Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed. However,following a recent Tripoli court ruling freezing the decree that created the GNAs steering committee, AbdulMagid Breish, who was thechairman of the LIA before it split and claims he retains this position, has moved back into the LIAs head office in Tripoli. Shamekh said the fall in production, lower oil prices and instability in Libya meant he was considering investing part of the funds capital inside the country. There are not enough resources or money coming into the country, he said. LIA can play a role in directing some of its funds into energy and power generation, both traditional and renewables, oil and gas, and infrastructure our ports and airports need rehabilitation. He said he was considering starting an incubation and acceleration fund to back young entrepreneurs with seed capital, particularly in the IT and financial services sectors. The money for this inward investment could come from the $11 billion Libyan Local Investment and Development Fund, a subsidiary of LIA. Shamekh also wants to reopen a London office. We are considering having a presence for LIA in London its under evaluation by the board of directors, he said. The United Kingdom and London in particular is a focal point of our future strategy overseas. Click here to read the full article. Rhiannon Smith spoke to Voice of Americas Mohamed Elshinnawi on 22 March about the dangers of the escalating situation in Libya and how a shift to greater militarisation of the conflict could result in an endless tug of war between competing factions, no one of whom are powerful enough to control the whole country themselves. She discussed the role the international community could play in reinvigorating the political process by de-incentivising military action. Please click here and go to 17.33 to hear the full interview. In an article for Foreign Policy, Karim Mezran and Mattia Toaldo argue that as fighting heats up between rival armed groups and Russia increases its involvement, a power vacuum threatens to tear Libyaapart and therefore the international community needs to be doing more to prevent this. First, Libya needs a de-conflicting mechanism to avoid escalation. If the U.N. envoy cannot do it, someone else in the West should. What better opportunity for Britain to show its continued relevance after Brexit than this? Or why not the French foreign minister, who could beef up his legacy just weeks before leaving office? This should only be a temporary replacement for a fully functioning U.N. mission capable of working on reconciliation, local cease-fires, and monitoring human rights violations. Both a temporary negotiator and the U.N. could work on a number of confidence-building measures, such as establishing permanent channels of communication, liberating prisoners, reopening roads, and sharing humanitarian aid. Second, the country needs what economist Hala Bugaighis calls a Libyan Economic Agreement on how to peacefully share its oil wealth. Negotiating a new social contract may take some time, but in the meantime, two measures would represent a good start: The government in Tripoli should strengthen financial support for all of Libyas municipalities, including areas controlled by Haftar, and oil installations should be placed under the control of the independent National Oil Corporation in Tripoli, with attempts to establish parallel economic institutions punished by international sanctions. Finally, Tripoli must be the heart of international efforts. The most pressing need is a plan to free the city of all heavy weapons, pushing militias to stock them outside of civilian-populated areas. This is an important condition to allow the Libyan government to operate and to facilitate international assistance. Click here to read the full article. The Middle East Eye reported yesterday that on 21 March, the Misrata Military Council led by Ibrahim Bin Rajab claimed it had overthrown the Misrata Local Council, a locally elected body headed by mayor Mohammed Eshtaiwi. Tensions are escalating between more moderate Misratan factions, who largely support the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and more hardliner factions who areopponents of both the GNA and Haftar and largelysupport Khalifa al-Ghwells resurrected National Salvation government which was evicted from Tripoli last week. In a statement from the Misrata Military Council (MMC) and its allied militias the Union of Revolutionary Fighters (URF) and the Misrata Security Department MMC chief Ibrahim Bin Rajab said the group had overthrown the municipal council after it refused to negotiate with protesters over its management of the city. A committee was set up to mediate between the protesters and the municipal council, but the latter refused to meet with the committee without giving any justifications, the Libya Observer cited the statement as saying. Click here to read the full article. In an article for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Mattia Toaldo and Karim Mezran argue that at this point in the ongoing crises affecting Libyas governance, economy and security, none of the belligerent parties can militarily defeat the others, but each side thinks it can win and is unwilling to back down. They argue that: First, the United States, Europe, and regional powers involved in Libya such as Egypt, the UAE, Algeria, Tunisia, and Qatar should put in place a de-conflicting mechanism, cooperating where possible with Russia. Major fighting between the east and the west of the country should be avoided by keeping channels of communication open. These countries should also push UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to overcome the impasse on his Special Representative for Libya created by the US rejection of Salam Fayyad so that the UN can play an active role in setting up a political process. Second, as demonstrated by recent fighting, Libyas oil wealth and its distribution remain one of the core drivers of conflict. The US and Europeans should push Prime Minister Serraj to offer to Eastern Libya a Libyan Economic Agreement on how to share oil wealth and energy installations in a way that benefits the Libyan public and stabilizes the country. Finally, the militia rule in the capital is incompatible with any stabilization effort and threatens any Libyan government while hampering any form of international assistance. Click here to read the full article. On 15 March, the Libya Herald reported that fighting between militias in western Tripoli had intensified and spread from Hay al-Andalus and Gurgi towards central Tripoli, with local pro-Government of National Accord (GNA) militias attacking and reportedly ousting Khalifa al-Ghwell and his National Salvation forces from the Rixos hotel compound. There are reports that Ghwell was injured in the fighting. Haitham Tajouris Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade joined forces with Abdul Ghani Al-Kikli, also known as Ghneiwa, to retake control (of the Rixos), according to the Tripoli operations room. Ghneiwas Abu Sleem Central Security Force is now reported to be protecting the hotel, which was seized by Ghwell last October in an attempted coup rejecting the PC and the UNSMIL-brokered Libyan Political Agreement. On the evening of 15 March, the Presidential Council (PC) managed to broker a ceasefire in the capital, calling forthe departure of armed factions beyond the law within the frameworkof the Libyan Political Agreement. However, it is unclear whether this ceasefire will be effective, and precisely which militias the PC and its allies want to depart the city. Click here and here to read more from the Libya Herald. Rhiannon Smith spoke to the Voice of Americas Africa Today radio show on 8 March about the significant impact that the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) advance against Haftars Libyan National Army (LNA) forces is likely to have on Libyan political alliances and the ongoing peace process, and how prolonged conflict in the oil crescent is even more likely now that the House of Representatives (HoR) has voted to withdraw from the Libya Political Dialogue. She highlighted how the BDBs handover of Sidra and Ras Lanuf oil ports to Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) forces aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA) may not signify the strength of the GNA but rather its weakness, as by tacitly extending its support to the BDB, the GNA is actually bowing to pressure from the loose Islamist alliance led by Khalifa al-Ghwell in Tripoli. Click here to listen at 9 minutes into the clip. The Associated Press has reported that a spokesperson for the House of Representatives (HoR) said yesterday that the body is suspending all peace talks with the UN-backed Presidential Council (PC) and Government of National Accord (GNA). The Tobruk body called on all Libyan parties to condemn militias that occupied the two key terminals in what it described as terrorist attacks, saying it was suspending its participation in peace talks until they did so. The GNA unity government is not legitimate any more, as well as its presidential council and anything to do with this entity, Ablaihig said, urging the international community to lift an embargo on weapons sales to the Libyan army under Hifter. Meanwhile, Reuters reported thatIdris Bukhamada, recently named by theGNA as the head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, told Al-Nabaa TV thatWe have been tasked by the BDB to protect the oil ports, adding his oil guard belonged to the state and had no military mission. Click here to read the AP article and here for Reuters. On 9 February, Libyan National Army (LNA) forces launched airstrikes against an airbase in Jufra, around 300km south of Sirte, killing two and wounding 13 according to the LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari. He said that the attack was aimed at immobilizing the enemy before an expected attack on the ports. There had been reports in recent days of anti-LNA forces, including the Benghazi Defence Brigades and some Misratan elements, mobilizing in Jufra to launch another offensive to retake the oil crescent ports of Sidra and Ras Lanuf from the LNA. The Libya Herald reports that the LNA planes took off fromAl-Khadim airbase south-east of Marj allegedly usedin recent weeks byaircraft from the UAE. On 8 February, a convoy of fighters from Misrata arrived in Tripoli. They are led byColonel Mahmoud al-Zaghel, a military commander allied to Khalifa al-Ghwell who has recently re-established the General National Congress (GNC) National Salvation government in Tripoli in an attempt to remove the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) from power. Zagals force arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday from Misrata, Ghwells home city, in a convoy of several dozen vehicles, triggering heavy clashes with an armed group loyal to the GNA in the southern districts of Salaheddin and Abu Salim.Zagal announced on Thursday the formation of the National Guards, which he said would be used to secure state institutions and diplomatic missions. Click here to read the Reuters article on this topic. On 24 January, the Libya Political Dialogue group met in Tunisia and agreed in principle to a number of amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). However, no official decision has been made because there was no House of Representatives (HoR) delegation attending the discussions. The Libya Herald reports that: Under the new proposals, a new three-man Presidential Council (PC) with a head and two deputies, separate from the government, would replace the current unwieldy nine-man PC. A different prime minister would be appointed. Additionally, a new military council would be formed comprising the heads of the PC, HoR and the State Council, the Dialogue team said in a statement. The State Council would also in future comprise all those elected to the former legislative authority, the General National Congress, in July 2012. Replacements would not be acceptable unless they replaced originally elected members who had died or resigned. Click here to read the full article. Rhiannon Smith speaks to the Voice of Americas Africa News Tonight show to discuss Khalifa al-Ghwells recent seizure of ministries in Tripoli and analyse his demands for a new political process in Libya to replace the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). Click here to hear the clip the Libya section starts at 12.26. Continuing my focus on the need for US engagement in Libya at this critical time as Russia appears to be muscling in, Ive written an article for Al-Monitor which follows up on my recent Foreign Affairs piece. I am continuing to push for the Trump Administration to appoint a Special POTUS envoy because I see it as essential. Russias increasing public support for Hifter and his anti-Islamist strongmancredentials may be the fuel for this particular fire. On Jan. 11, Hifter was flown aboard a Russian aircraft carrier that has recently anchored off Libyas eastern coast. He was given an official tour of the vessel before holding a videoconference with Russias Defense Minister SergeiShoygu and accepting a consignment of medical supplies. The movefollows Russias pledge earlier this month to lift theUN arms embargo to allow Hifter to access weapons as well asrecent visits by Hifter and his political allies to Moscow.No matter which party is victorious in southwest Libya, if Misrata and Hifter begin a full-scale battle for control, then there is little doubt that the whole southern region will be destabilized. There have been calls for calm from a variety of local and international actors, and there is some hope that the rapprochement efforts that have been going on in the background between rival factions may provide channels of communication to de-escalate the conflict. However, the terms of any new political bargain are likely to be far more favorable to Hifter and the eastern faction than those of the existing Libyan Political Agreement The GNAand its Presidential Councilare weak and becoming increasingly fragmented and irrelevant,as highlighted by the resignation of council member Musa al-Koni on Jan. 2. Egypt, Algeria and Russia have been hosting various meetings and negotiations between different Libyan parties to try to find a diplomatic solution to the political impasse that would include Hifter, with Egypt in particular pushing for the Libyan Political Agreementto be reworked to include Hifter as the head of the Libyan Armed Forces (a role the Presidential Council currently holds) and to reduce the size of the council. The United States has yet to respond and risks being outmaneuvered by rival powers. Now is the time for increased US engagement. The Donald Trump administration will come into office with a unique opportunity to mediate a genuine settlement. Its first step should be the appointment of a special presidential envoy tasked with mediating a resolution between Libyas main power blocs.To Read the Full Article Click here. The Associated Press reports that forces loyal to Khalifa al-Ghwell, head of theself-declared Government of National Salvation, took control of the ministries of defense, labor and the martyrs and the wounded in Tripoli yesterday. Ghwell announced a coup in Tripoli in October, taking control ofthe old GNC building which had housed the High Council of State, but not seizing any political power. His main allies are Islamist militias, many of which are allied with the Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariyani. A spokesman for Serrajs government dismissed the moves by Ghwells forces, saying they are trying to sow chaos but they have no means to control. He said the ministries Ghwell claimed to have seized are either under maintenance, not controlled by Serrajs government, or were seized briefly before being let go. In a televised speech, Ghwell declared that all the past arrangements brokered by the U.N. are invalid, and described Serrajs government as expired. Referring to his forces as the Presidential Guard, he ordered them to secure the capital and warned other militias to stand down. He also called for new talks among Libyan factions without foreign mediators. Click here to read the full article. The European Council on Foreign Relations has published an excellent and highly informative paper written by Hayder al-Khoei,Ellie Geranmayeh & Mattia Toaldo looking atpost-Isis stabilisation efforts with a special focus on Iraq and Libya, with the aim of assessing where European states can play a more meaningful role in ensuring that the important military gains of recent months are not squandered once the anti-ISIS guns fall quiet. The authors believe this is a track of increased importance given that the incoming US administration is likely to invest less resources than ever in strengthening sustainable stability, and that the fall out of failure will directly impact European interests in terms of the threat of terrorism and challenge posed by ongoing migration. The papers policy recommendations for Libya are: Click here to read the full paper. On 6 December, the UN Special Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler told the UN Security Council that Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) framework signed in Skhirat last yearhas stalled and that its articles are not set in stone. The Libyan Political Agreement even foresees a mechanism for change, should the political circumstances demand. This is significant particularly given that the agreement is due to expire on 17 December and given the current political shifts taking place in Libya following the Misratans declared victory against Islamic State in Sirte, the recent inter-militia clashes in Tripoli and the move by anti-Haftar forces against the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces in the oil crescent. Click here to read the Libya Heralds report on this topic. In an article for Religion and Geopolitics, Rhiannon Smith and Jason Pack discuss how recent developments in Libya are causing political alliances to shift and outlinehow these developments might impact the fight against ISIS in Sirte. They conclude that: In the worst case scenario, Ghwells coup may unleash a new wave of conflict between pro and anti-unity government militias, driving the unity government into exile and possibly establishing a new de-facto government in Tripoli, presided over by Islamist hardliners loyal to Libyas supreme religious leader, the Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariyani. He would actively halt the fight against ISIS to bring all hardline Islamists into his fold. This would lead to the collapse of the UN process with nothing to replace it, short-circuiting attempts to defeat ISIS in Sirte, which would allow the group and other jihadis to extend influence. Conflict in the capital could also strengthen Haftars hand, pushing towards separatism, legitimising military rule and the use of force against Islamist militias, while emboldening those same Islamists to work with ISIS remnants against Haftar. Time will tell on which of these trajectory Libyas ever-fluid and confusing political landscape is currently evolving, but the direction it takes will certainly influence how much or how little success Libyan forces will have in defeating ISIS. Click here to view the full article. Jason Pack appeared live on Al Jazeera English to discuss the significance of former GNC member Khalifa Ghwells coup attempt last week (despite it not being a coup in the sense that no tangible political power has been seized) and how this might affectthe Libyan political process going forward. According to the AP, The United States launched multiple airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Libya on Monday, opening a new, more persistent front against the group at the request of the United Nations-backed government, Libyan and U.S. officials said Serraj said his government is joining the coalition against IS, adding, This is the time for the international community to live up to its promises to the Libyan people. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said President Barack Obama authorized the strikes following a recommendation from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.Cook told reporters that U.S. Africa Command will coordinate any strikes with the Libyans and that the new air campaign will last as long as the Libyans request assistance to eliminate IS from Sirte. The U.S. is also providing airborne surveillance and intelligence.Mohammed al-Ghasri, the commander of a pro-government militia known as al-Bonyan al-Marsous, said his forces gave target coordinates of Islamic State positions to the U.S.You can read the whole article here. According to Jason Pack, I think the short term impact is outrage on the libyan street that their government is in such open cahoots with the West. The medium term impact is that a sustained campaign could help BM breakthrough against ISIS in Sirte. But the long term impact is only negative because the US has agreed to help with airstrikes without a genuine anti-ISIS coalition being formed and without that it is irrelevant. Even if Sirte were to be liberated, ISIS will still persist in Libya and the political impasse will not be solved. What is needed is sustained political engagement, not just airstrikes. Confusion over Saif, Muammar Gaddafis sons alleged-release from prison in Zintan last week, demonstrates that Libyas main players are no closer to putting aside grievances for the common good, say Jason Pack and Rhiannon Smith. Being Western educated with a PhD from the London School of Economics and the spearhead of the movement liberalizing Libyas economy from 2003-2010, hewas thought by manyto be the wave of the future which would bring Libya into the worlds 21st century economy and society. But when the 2011 revolts broke out, he firmly allied with his father, Colonel Gaddafi,and referred to the rebels as rats who should be crushed. In the aftermath of Gaddafis defeat and death, Saif was captured by Zintani militiamen and been held there ever since. The Zintanis were always uneasy bedfellows with the Misratan, Islamist, Berber, and jihadi militias who they fought alongside to help overthrow Gaddafi. Zintan struggled to compete both strategically and financially with Misrata, Libyas third largest city and the countrys commercial maritime hub. However, Saif gave them crucial leverageleading the National Transitional Council (NTC) to offer thedefence minister portfolioin the first post-Gaddafi cabinet to Zintan. Since that point they have refused to turn Saif over to any of Libyas transitional governments.With the takeover of Tripoli by Misratan and Islamist militias supporting the Tripoli-based General National Council (GNC) in 2014, and the subsequent bifurcation of Libya into two governments, the Zintanis became the major force in western Libya to support the House of Representatives (HoR) and its eastern government based in Tubroq and Beida. This eastern government has key former Gaddafi officials in top positions most notably General Khalifa Haftar and this has been the main grievance against them from the Misratans and Islamists who suffered disproportionately under Gaddafis rule. Saifs alleged-release Since the Zintanis and Haftar have been tarred and feathered as Gaddafis troops, there has long been speculation that they might work with Saif and release him as a rallying cry for former Gaddafi elements to join them in the fight against the Misratans and whichever political body they are opposing, whether it be the GNC or the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). Therefore, last weeks sensational news of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafis release did not seem all that improbable. It seemed possible that the HoR and the Zintanis would want to send a message and create a new coalition. Divergent reactions to Saifs release The news of Saifs release caused a wave of panic mainly amongst hardline revolutionaries, Islamist groups and Government of National Accord (GNA) supporters, reinforcing their fears of a complete counter revolution by ex-regime forces facilitated by the HoR and the UN mediation process. The local council in Zintanissued a statement denying his release, but sourcesin the city say that the local council has no relevance to Saifs case or his whereabouts, and issued the statement only to take political heat off the city. Saifs pseudo release demonstrates that the main players are no closer to putting aside their grievances for the common good than they were even before the GNA was formed. This, is the real tragedy revealed by this debacle. No one seems ready to put aside past grievances to work together for Libyas future.

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May 15, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

2012 Benghazi attack – Wikipedia

2012 Benghazi attackPart of the Inter-civil war violence in Libya From top to bottom, and left to right: President, Vice President updated on situation night of September 11, 2012; President Obama, with Secretary Clinton, delivering statement in the Rose Garden, September 12, 2012; two photographs released through a FOIA request; Secretary Clinton testifying before the Senate Committee on January 23, 2013; portion of “wanted” poster seeking information on the attacks in Benghazi. Attack type Non-fatal injuries Suspected perpetrators The 2012 Benghazi attack refers to a coordinated attack against two United States government facilities in Benghazi, Libya by members of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia. At 9:40p.m., September 11, members of Ansar al-Sharia attacked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.[6][7] Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.[8] At around 4:00a.m. on September 12, the group launched a mortar attack against a CIA annex approximately one-mile (1.6km) away, killing CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty[7][9][10] and wounding ten others. At the behest of the CIA, top U.S. officials initially described the attacks as the results of a spontaneous protest triggered by the recently released anti-Muslim video, Innocence of Muslims.[11] Subsequent investigations showed that the attack was premeditated although rioters and looters not originally part of the group may have joined in after the attacks began.[12][13][14] The National Review later labeled the attack Battle of Benghazi,[15] a name that has since been used by several media outlets to refer to the attacks. There is no definitive evidence that al-Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization participated in the Benghazi attack.[16][17][18] The United States immediately increased security worldwide at diplomatic and military facilities and began investigating the Benghazi attack.[19][20] Many Libyans condemned the attacks. They staged public demonstrations condemning Ansar Al-Sharia, which had been formed during the 2011 Libyan civil war in opposition to leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.[21][22][23] Despite persistent accusations against President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice, ten investigations six by Republican-controlled congressional committees did not find that they or any other high-ranking Obama administration officials had acted improperly. Four career State Department officials were criticized for denying requests for additional security at the facility prior to the attack. Eric J. Boswell, the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, resigned under pressure, while three others were suspended.[24] In her role as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton subsequently took responsibility for the security lapses.[25] On August 6, 2013, it was reported that the U.S. had filed criminal charges against several individuals alleged to have been involved in the attacks, including militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala.[26] Khattala has been described by Libyan and U.S. officials as the Benghazi leader of Ansar al-Sharia. The U.S. Department of State designated Ansar al-Sharia as a terrorist organization in January 2014.[27][28][29] Khattala was captured in Libya by U.S. Army Special Operations Forces, who were acting in coordination with the FBI, in June 2014.[30] Another suspect, Mustafa al-Imam, was captured in October 2017.[31] Within months of the start of the Libyan revolution in February 2011, the CIA began building a covert presence in Benghazi.[32] During the war, elite counterterrorist operators from U.S. Delta Force were deployed to Libya as analysts, instructing the rebels on specifics about weapons and tactics.[33]:16 Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was named the first liaison with the Libyan opposition in March 2011.[34] After the end of the war, both the CIA and the U.S. State Department were tasked with continuing to identify and collect arms that had flooded the country during the war, particularly shoulder-fired missiles taken from the arsenal of the Gaddafi regime,[35][36] as well as securing Libyan chemical weapons stockpiles, and helping to train Libya’s new intelligence service.[32] Eastern Libya and Benghazi were key intelligence-gathering hubs for intelligence operatives. Before the attack, the CIA was monitoring Ansar al-Sharia and suspected members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as attempting to define the leadership and loyalty of the various militias present and their interaction with the Salafi elements of Libyan society.[32] By the time of the attack, dozens of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi.[37] In addition, it has been reported that in the summer of 2012, American Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) missions had begun to target Libyan militias linked to the Al-Qaeda network of Yasin al-Suri.[33]:58 By the time of the attack, a composite U.S. Special Operations team with two JSOC members was already in Libya working on their mission profile independently of the CIA and State Department operations.[33]:58[38] Multiple anonymous sources reported that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was used by the CIA as a cover to smuggle weapons from Libya to anti-Assad rebels in Syria.[33]:56[37][39][40][41] Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh cites an anonymous former senior Defense Department intelligence official, saying “The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms. It had no real political role.” The attack allegedly brought an end to the purported U.S. involvement, but did not stop the smuggling according to Hersh’s source.[42] In January 2014, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence cast doubt on this alleged U.S. involvement and reported that “All CIA activities in Benghazi were legal and authorized. On-the-record testimony establishes that the CIA was not sending weapons … from Libya to Syria, or facilitating other organizations or states that were transferring weapons from Libya to Syria.”[43] During Congressional hearings, Ambassador Stevens’ top deputy in Libya, Gregory N. Hicks, testified that Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi in 2012 because “Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton wanted the post made permanent”, and it was understood that the secretary hoped to make an announcement to that effect during a visit to Tripoli later in the year.[44][45][46][47][48] He also stated that “Chris [Stevens] wanted to make a symbolic gesture to the people of Benghazi that the United States stood behind their dream of establishing a new democracy.”[49][50] In April 2012, two former security guards for the consulate threw an IED over the consulate fence; the incident did not cause any casualties.[51] Just four days later, a similar bomb was thrown at a four-vehicle convoy carrying the United Nations Special Envoy to Libya, exploding twelve feet (3.7m) from the UN envoy’s vehicle without injuring anyone.[52] In May 2012, an Al-Qaida affiliate calling itself the “Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman” claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross (ICRC) office in Benghazi. On August 6, the ICRC suspended operations in Benghazi. The head of the ICRC’s delegation in Libya said the aid group was “appalled” by the attack and “extremely concerned” about escalating violence in Libya.[53] The Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman released a video of what it said was its detonation of an explosive device outside the gates of the U.S. consulate on June 6, which caused no casualties but blew a hole in the consulate’s perimeter wall,[54][55] described by one individual as “big enough for forty men to go through”.[56] The Brigades claimed that the attack was in response to the killing of Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan al-Qaeda leader who had just died in an American drone attack, and was also timed to coincide with the imminent arrival of a U.S. diplomat.[57][58] There were no injuries, but the group left behind leaflets promising more attacks against the U.S.[59] British ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith survived an assassination attempt in Benghazi on June 10. Two British protection officers were injured in the attack when their convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade 300 yards (270m) from their consulate office.[60] The British Foreign Office withdrew all consular staff from Benghazi in late June.[61][62][63] On June 18, 2012, the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi was attacked by individuals affiliated with Ansar al-Sharia, allegedly because of “attacks by Tunisian artists against Islam”.[33]:31 On the day of the attack, two consulate security guards spotted a man in a Libyan police uniform taking pictures of the consulate with his cell phone from a nearby building that was under construction. The security guards briefly detained the man before releasing him. He drove away in a police car and a complaint was made to the Libyan police station. Sean Smith noticed this surveillance, and messaged a friend online around noon, “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”[33]:34 According to a local security official, he and a battalion commander had met with U.S. diplomats three days before the attack and warned the Americans about deteriorating security in the area. The official told CNN that he advised the diplomats, “The situation is frightening; it scares us.”[64] Ambassador Stevens’ diary, which was later found at the compound, recorded his concern about the growing al-Qaeda presence in the area and his worry about being on an al-Qaeda hit list.[65] U.S. security officer Eric Nordstrom twice requested additional security for the mission in Benghazi from the State Department. His requests were denied and according to Nordstrom, State Department official Charlene Lamb wanted to keep the security presence in Benghazi “artificially low”.[66] On December 30, 2012, the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released a report, “Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack at Benghazi”, wherein it was determined: In the months [between February 2011 and September 11, 2012] leading up to the attack on the Temporary Mission Facility in Benghazi, there was a large amount of evidence gathered by the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and from open sources that Benghazi was increasingly dangerous and unstable, and that a significant attack against American personnel there was becoming much more likely. While this intelligence was effectively shared within the Intelligence Community (IC) and with key officials at the Department of State, it did not lead to a commensurate increase in security at Benghazi nor to a decision to close the American mission there, either of which would have been more than justified by the intelligence presented. … The RSO [Regional Security Officer] in Libya compiled a list of 234 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012, 50 of which took place in Benghazi.[67] The desire of the State Department to maintain a low profile in Benghazi has been cited as the reason why the State Department circumvented their own Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards for diplomatic security.[68]:7475 In the aftermath, Clinton sought to take responsibility for the security lapses at Benghazi and expressed personal regret.[69] In her January 2013 testimony before Congress, Secretary Clinton claimed security decisions at the Benghazi compound had been made by others, stating, “The specific security requests pertaining to Benghazi … were handled by the security professionals in the [State] Department. I didn’t see those requests, I didn’t approve them, I didn’t deny them.”[70] The Benghazi attack was conducted by separate military factions on two separate U.S. compounds.[71] The first assault occurred at the main diplomatic compound, approximately 300 yards (270m) long and 100 yards (91m) wide, at about 9:40p.m. local time (3:40p.m. Eastern Time). A mortar fire attack on a CIA annex 1.2 miles (1.9km) away (coordinates 320326N 200516E / 32.0572N 20.0877E / 32.0572; 20.0877 (CIA annex)) began at about 4:00a.m. the following morning[72] and lasted for 11 minutes.[73] One Libyan guard who was wounded in the attack was quoted as saying “there wasn’t a single ant outside [before the attack].”[74] According to Media Matters For America, the attackers stated they were acting in response to Innocence of Muslims.[75] No more than seven Americans were in the compound, including Ambassador Stevens. Stevens was visiting Benghazi at the time to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital.[76] The ambassador also “needed to [prepare a] report … on the physical and the political and security environment in Benghazi to support an action memo to convert Benghazi from a temporary facility to a permanent facility”.[44][45][46][47][48] Surplus funds originally dedicated for use in Iran for fiscal year 2012 were to be redirected and obligated for use in Benghazi: an action that had to be completed before the end of the fiscal yearSeptember 30, 2012.[44][45][47][48] Stevens had his last meeting of the day with a Turkish diplomat, and escorted the Turkish diplomat to the main gate at about 8:30p.m. local time. The street outside the compound was calm, and the State Department reported no unusual activity during the day outside.[77] Stevens retired to his room at about 9:00p.m.[78] About 9:40p.m. local time, large numbers of armed men shouting “Allhu Akbar” (God is great) approached the compound from multiple directions.[74][79] They then threw grenades over the wall and entered the compound with automatic weapons fire, RPGs, and heavier weapons.[80][78] A Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent viewed on the consulate’s security cameras “a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound”.[77] He hit the alarm and started shouting, “Attack! Attack!” over the loudspeaker.[81] Phone calls were made to the embassy in Tripoli, the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade and a U.S. quick reaction force located at the annex compound a little more than a mile (1.6km) away.[82][83] Ambassador Stevens telephoned Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks in Tripoli to tell him the consulate was under attack. Hicks did not recognize the phone number so he did not answer it, twice. On the third call Hicks answered the call.[84] Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Scott Strickland secured Stevens and Sean Smith, an information management officer, in the main building’s safe haven.[83][85] The rest of the agents left to retrieve their weapons and tried to return to the main building.[83] The attackers entered the main building and attempted to enter the safe haven.[81] They then spread diesel fuel in the room and set fires.[81][83] Stevens, Smith, and Strickland moved to the nearby bathroom, but then decided to leave the safe haven after being overcome by smoke.[85] Strickland exited through the window, but Stevens and Smith did not follow him. Strickland returned several times but could not find them in the smoke; he went up to the roof and radioed other agents.[85] Three agents returned to the main building in an armored vehicle, searched the building and found Smith’s body, but not Stevens.[85] According to the Annex Security Team, they had become aware of the consulate attack after 9:30p.m. local time, and were ready to respond; however, they were delayed by “the top CIA officer in Benghazi”.[86] The Regional Security Office sounded the alarm and called to the Benghazi CIA annex and the embassy in Tripoli. After some discussion, the CIA’s Global Response Staff (GRS) at the CIA annex, which included Tyrone S. Woods, decided to attempt a rescue. By 10:05p.m., the team was briefed and loaded into their armored Toyota Land Cruisers. By this time, communicators at the CIA annex were notifying the chain of command about current developments, and a small CIA and JSOC element in Tripoli that included Glen Doherty was attempting to find a way to Benghazi.[33]:3943 The GRS team from the CIA annex arrived at the consulate and attempted to secure the perimeter and locate the ambassador and Sean Smith. Diplomatic security agent David Ubben located Smith,[87] who was unconscious and later declared dead, but the team was unable to find Stevens in the smoke-filled building. The team then decided to return to the annex with the survivors and Smith’s body. While en route back to the annex, the group’s armored vehicle was hit by AK-47 rifle fire and hand grenades. The vehicle was able to make it to its destination with two flat tires, and the gates to the annex were closed behind them at 11:50p.m.[33]:4345[72] A U.S. Army commando unit was sent to Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy the night of the attack but did not deploy to Benghazi. U.S. officials say the team did not arrive at Sigonella until after the attack was over.[88] Diplomatic Security Service agents/Regional Security Officers informed their headquarters in Washington about the attack just as it was beginning at about 9:40p.m. local time (3:40p.m. Eastern Time (ET)). At the time, they were informed that the attack was a “terrorist attack”.[89] However, through September 14, CIA analysts made a contradictory assessment, stating “We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan society. That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”[90] By 4:30p.m. ET, Pentagon officials had informed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the attack. The Pentagon ordered an unmanned aerial vehicle that was in the air conducting surveillance on militant camps to fly over Benghazi. The drone arrived at 11:10p.m. local time (5:10p.m. ET) and began providing a video feed to Washington. At 5:41p.m. ET, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned CIA Director David Petraeus to coordinate. The CIA, which made up most of the U.S. government’s presence in Benghazi, had a ten-member security team at its annex and the State Department believed that this team would assist the consulate in the event of an attack.[91] Just after midnight, the CIA annex came under machine gun, rocket and mortar fire. The CIA defenders held off the attack until the morning.[33]:4546 That same morning, Libyan government forces met up with a group of Americans, reinforcements from Tripoli including Glen Doherty,[92][93] that had arrived at the Benghazi airport. The team, which included two active-duty JSOC operators and five CIA personnel, had commandeered a small jet in Tripoli by paying the pilots $30,000 and forcing them to fly to Benghazi.[33]:43 After being held up at the airport for a few hours, the Libyan forces and newly arrived Americans went to the CIA annex at about 5:00a.m. to assist in transporting approximately 32 Americans at the annex back to the airport for evacuation. Minutes after they drove through the gates, the annex came under heavy fire. With a lull in the fighting, Doherty began searching for his friend, Tyrone S. Woods, and he was told he was on the roof. He found Woods on the roof with two other agents. A mortar round then hit Woods’ position, fatally wounding him. As Doherty attempted to reposition and take cover, a second round fell on him, killing him.[33]:4647[94] 31-year-old Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent David Ubben suffered shrapnel injuries and several broken bones in the mortar attacks.[95] Immediately, several agents ran onto the roof to assess damage and help the wounded. At the same time, a JSOC operator was using a hand-held device displaying images from a Predator drone above, which had been sent by the DOD’s US Africa Command after request. The defenders agreed to evacuate to the airport and were attacked with small arms fire along the route.[33]:4748 The evacuation of about 30 Americans included six State Department personnel and Smith’s bodythey were unable to locate Ambassador Stevens at the time. Ambassador Stevens’ body was found by a group of Libyans who had accessed the room through a window.[96] They were unaware of his identity, and Abdel-Qader Fadl, a freelance photographer who was with them, told the Associated Press that Stevens was unconscious and “maybe moved his head, but only once”. Ahmed Shams, a 22-year-old arts student, told the Associated Press that they were happy when they found Stevens alive and tried to rescue him. A freelance videographer, Fahd al-Bakoush, later published a video[97][98] showing Libyans trying to extract the ambassador from a smoke-filled room,[99][100] where he was found unconscious. According to al-Bakoush, the Libyans saw he was alive and breathing, his eyelids flickering. Though they took him to be a foreigner, no one recognized him as Stevens.[96][97] At around 1:00a.m., Stevens was taken to the Benghazi Medical Center, a hospital controlled by the Ansar Al-Sharia militia,[101] in a private car as there was no ambulance to carry him.[102] There he was administered CPR for 90 minutes by Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid.[103] According to Dr. Zeid, Stevens died from asphyxiation caused by smoke inhalation, and had no other apparent injuries.[104] The doctor said he believed that officers from the Libyan Interior Ministry transported the body to the airport. State Department officials said they do not know who took Stevens to the hospital or transported the body to the airport and into U.S. custody.[104] The bodies were taken to Benina International Airport and flown to the capital, Tripoli, and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany aboard a C-17 military transport aircraft.[105] From Germany, the four bodies arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet held a ceremony in honor of those killed. After the attack, all diplomatic staff were moved to the capital, Tripoli, with nonessential personnel to be flown out of Libya. Sensitive documents remained missing, including documents listing the names of Libyans working with the Americans, and documents relating to oil contracts.[106] Four Americans died in the attack: Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith,[107] and two CIA operatives,[108] Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods,[109] both former Navy SEALs.[110][111] Stevens was the first United States ambassador killed in an attack since Adolph Dubs was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1979.[112] On September 10, 2012, at least 18 hours before the attack in Benghazi, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, which called for attacks on Americans in Libya in order to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi in a drone strike in Pakistan in June 2012.[5] It is uncertain how much prior knowledge of the attack al-Zawahiri had, though he praised the attackers on October 12, 2012 in another video.[113] On September 14, 2012, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a statement arguing the attack was revenge for the death of al-Libi, though they did not claim official responsibility for the Benghazi attack.[5] It was later reported that 3 operatives from the group did take part in the attack.[5] Further, an intercepted phone call from the Benghazi area immediately after the attack reportedly linked senior Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar to the attack.[114] David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times reported that 20-year-old neighbor Mohamed Bishari witnessed the attack. According to Bishari, it was launched without warning or protest and was led by the Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia (different from the group called Ansar al-Sharia based in Yemen designated by the U.N. and the U.S. Department of State as a terrorist organization[115]). Kirkpatrick reported that Ansar al-Sharia said they were launching the assault in retaliation for the release of the anti-Islamic video, Innocence of Muslims.[116][117] It was further reported that Ahmed Abu Khattala was called a ringleader of the attack by both witnesses and authorities, though he insisted he did not play a part in the aggression at the American compound. Witnesses, Benghazi residents, and Western news reports have described him as a leader of Ansar al-Sharia, though he stated he was close to the group but not an official part of it. He further stated he was the commander of an Islamist brigade, Abu Obaida ibn al-Jarrah, some of whose members had joined Ansar al-Sharia.[118] The Brigades of the Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, a pro-al-Qaeda militia calling for the release of The Blind Sheik, was implicated in the attack by Noman Benotman of the Quilliam Foundation.[1][119] CNN,[1] the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,[121] Commentary Magazine and The Daily Telegraph[119] have listed this group as a chief suspect. USA Today reported that protests in Cairo that preceded the attack on Benghazi were intended to protest the imprisonment of Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman and announced as early as August 30.[122][123] Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi had called for release of the Blind Sheikh in his inaugural address.[123] In the days and weeks following the attack, President Obama and other administration officials correctly noted that the video had sparked violent incidents at a number of U.S. diplomatic facilities, and Susan Rice stated based on a flawed CIA assessment the video was also a prime catalyst for the Benghazi attack. In a phone call with the Egyptian prime minister Kandil the day after the attack, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “we know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”[124] This assessment reflected information in an email sent by the State Department Operations Center to the White House, Pentagon, intelligence community and FBI at 6:07pm Eastern time the night of the attack, the subject line of which read, “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”[125] However, this assessment contradicted the assessment of CIA analysts, which through September 16 maintained that “the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo,” at which violent protesters had scaled the embassy walls.[126] And the day after the attack, Ansar al-Sharia appeared to confirm both assessments when it issued a statement saying The [Ansar al-Shariah] Brigade didn’t participate as a sole entity; rather, it was a spontaneous popular uprising in response to what happened by the West,” which was an apparent reference to the Innocence of Muslims video.[127] A later report from an independent review board concluded “there was no protest prior to the attacks.”[128] In a September 18 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, President Obama said, “extremists and terrorists used (the anti-Muslim YouTube video) as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies.”[129] Obama spoke accurately, because five American embassies were the sites of violent protests due to the video, but Benghazi was not an embassy, it was a “diplomatic post.” In his Univision Town Hall appearance on September 20, President Obama said that the “natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”[130] The Innocence of Muslims video triggered dozens of protests from northwest Africa to southeast Asia, including violent protests at American embassies in Tunis, Khartoum, Cairo, Sana and Jakarta.[131] In October 2012, a Tunisian, Ali Harzi, who a U.S. intelligence official stated had links to Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, was arrested in Turkey and repatriated to Tunisia on terrorism charges and possible links to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.[132] Ali Harzi was released by Tunisian authorities on January 8, 2013 because of a lack of evidence.[133] Also in October, a Libyan suspect, Karim el-Azizi, who had recently returned to Egypt from Libya and was storing weapons in his hideout, detonated a bomb and was found dead in his apartment after clashes with security forces.[134] He has been linked to an Egyptian terrorist group led by Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, who is suspected of training some of the terrorists responsible for the Benghazi attack in camps in the Libyan desert.[135] Jamal Abu Ahmad, a former member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, was released from Egyptian prison after the fall of the Mubarak regime, after which he began assembling a terrorist network.[136] He received financing from the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, petitioned Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to establish a new Al-Qaeda affiliate he called al-Qaeda in Egypt,[135][136] and was subsequently detained by Egyptian authorities in December 2012.[136] On October 7, 2013, the Muhammad Jamal network (MJN) and Muhammad Jamal were designated as “global terrorists” by the U.S. Department of State.[137] The U.S. State Department noted in its designation that Jamal “has developed connections with al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AQ senior leadership, and al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leadership including Nasir ‘Abd-al-Karim ‘Abdullah al-Wahishi and Qasim Yahya Mahdi al-Rimi”. A few days later, on October 21, 2013, the United Nations Security Council designated the MJN “as being associated with Al-Qaida”.[138] The United Nations Security Council also noted, “Some of the attackers of the U.S. Mission in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, have been identified as associates of Muhammad Jamal, and some of the Benghazi attackers reportedly trained at MJN camps in Libya.” In March 2013, Faraj al-Shibli was detained by Libyan authorities and questioned by the FBI because of his suspected involvement in the Benghazi attack.[139] Al-Shibli was detained after he returned from a trip to Pakistan, though his exact role in the attack is unclear. He was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which tried to overthrow the Gadhafi regime in the mid-1990s. Investigators have learned he has had contact with both the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Qaeda members in Pakistan. He was released by Libyan authorities on June 12, 2013, based on claims there was a lack of evidence to hold him in custody.[140] In July 2014 he was found dead in Libya.[141] Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur’s office condemned the attack and extended condolences, saying: “While strongly condemning any attempt to abuse the person of Muhammad, or an insult to our holy places and prejudice against the faith, we reject and strongly condemn the use of force to terrorize innocent people and the killing of innocent people.” It also reaffirmed “the depth of relationship between the peoples of Libya and the U.S., which grew closer with the positions taken by the U.S. government in support of the revolution of February 17”.[142] Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, the President of the General National Congress of Libya, said: “We apologise to the United States, the people and to the whole world for what happened. We confirm that no-one will escape from punishment and questioning.”[143] There were demonstrations in Benghazi[144] and Tripoli[145] on September 12, condemning the violence and holding signs such as “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans”, “Benghazi is against terrorism”, and other signs apologizing to Americans for the actions in their name and in the name of Muslims. On the same day, Libya’s Deputy Ambassador to London Ahmad Jibril told the BBC that Ansar Al-Sharia was behind the attack.[146][147] On September 13, at a U.S. State Department reception in Washington D.C., the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. Ali Aujali apologized to Secretary of State Clinton for “this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya”.[147][148] The ambassador further praised Stevens as a “dear friend” and a “real hero”. He also urged the United States to continue supporting Libya as it went “through a very difficult time” and that the young Libyan government needed help so that it could “maintain… security and stability in our country”. In the days after the attack, The New York Times stated that young Libyans had flooded Twitter with pro-American messages after the attacks.[145] Think Progress stated that Libyans are typically more positively inclined towards the United States than their neighbors.[149] A 2012 Gallup poll noted that “A majority of Libyans (54%) surveyed in March and April 2012 approve of the leadership of the U.S.among the highest approval Gallup has ever recorded in the… region, outside of Israel.”[150] Another poll in Eastern Libya, taken in 2011, reported that the population was at the same time both deeply religious conservative Muslims and very pro-American, with 90% of respondents reporting favorable views of the United States.[151][152] The Libyan response to the crisis was praised and appreciated in the United States, and President Obama emphasized how the Libyans “helped our diplomats to safety” to an American audience the following day,[21] while a New York Times editorial criticized Egypt’s government for not doing “what Libyan leaders did”.[153] On September 16, Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf said that the attack on the United States consulate was planned months in advance,[154] and further stated that “[t]he idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. consulate.”[155] On September 21, about 30,000 Libyans marched through Benghazi calling for support of the rule of law and for an end to the armed militias that had formed during the Libyan Civil War to oppose Colonel Gaddafi.[22][23] After that war, the militias failed to disband, and continually menaced the Libyan government and populace.[23] Carrying signs with slogans such as “We Want Justice For Chris” and “Libya Lost a Friend”, the protestors stormed several militia headquarters, including that of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia who some allege played a role in the attack on U.S. diplomatic personnel on September 11.[156][157] At least 10 people were killed and dozens more wounded as militiamen fired on demonstrators at the headquarters of Sahaty Brigade, a pro-government militia “operating under the authority of the ministry of defence”.[22][157][158] By early next morning, the protestors had forced militia members to flee and seized control of a number of compounds, releasing four prisoners found inside.[156][157] Protesters burnt a car and a building of at least one facility, and looted weapons.[22][23][157] The militia compounds and many weapons were handed over to Libya’s national army[23] in what “appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia bases by police, government troops and activists” following the earlier demonstrations.[156][157] Some militia members accused the protestors of being Gaddafi loyalists, looking to disarm the militias in the wake of the revolution.[23] On September 23, taking advantage of the growing momentum and rising anger against the militias evinced in the earlier anti-militia demonstrations,[159] the Libyan president declared that all unauthorized militias had 48 hours to either disband or come under government control.[160][161] The government also mandated that bearing arms in public was now illegal, as were armed checkpoints.[161] It has been noted that previously, handling the militias had been difficult as the government had been forced to rely on some of them for protection and security.[159][160] According to a Libyan interviewed in Tripoli, the government gained the ability to push back against the militias because of a “mandate of the people”.[160] On the 24th, the government commenced with a raid on a former military base held by a rogue infantry militia.[162] Across the country, militias began surrendering to the government. The government formed a “National Mobile Force” for the purpose of evicting illegal militias.[163] On the same day as the declaration, various militias in Misrata held meetings, ultimately deciding to submit to the government’s authority, and handed over various public facilities they had been holding, including the city’s three main jails, which were handed over to the authority of the Ministry of Justice.[160] Hours before the announcement, in Derna, the two main militias (one of them Ansar al-Sharia) active in the city both withdrew, leaving both their five military bases behind.[159][160][163] Hundreds of Libyans, mainly former rebel fighters, gathered in the city centers of Tripoli and Benghazi to hand over their weapons to the government on September 29.[164] The campaign has been less successful in other areas, such as the remote Nafusa Mountains, inhabited by the Nafusi-speaking Berber minority, where the Emirati news agency The National reported on September 23 that arms were being hoarded. The National also reported arms being hoarded in Misrata, despite simultaneous reporting by other outlets that militias were surrendering in Misrata.[165] On September 12, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned “this outrageous attack” on U.S. diplomatic facilities[167] and stated that “since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”[167] After referring to “the 9/11 attacks”, “troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan”, and “then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi”[167] the President urged, “As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.”[167] He then went on to say, No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.[167] After the attack, Obama ordered that security be increased at all such facilities worldwide.[19] A 50-member Marine FAST team was sent to Libya to “bolster security”.[168][169] It was announced that the FBI would investigate the possibility of the attack being planned.[170] U.S. officials said surveillance over Libya would increase, including the use of unmanned drones, to “hunt for the attackers”.[170] Secretary of State Clinton also made a statement on September 12, describing the perpetrators as “heavily armed militants” and “a small and savage groupnot the people or government of Libya”.[171] She also reaffirmed “America’s commitment to religious tolerance” and said “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” but whether true or not, that was not a justification for violence.[172] The State Department had previously identified embassy and personnel security as a major challenge in its budget and priorities report.[173] On September 12, it was reported that the United States Navy dispatched two Arleigh Burke class destroyers, the USS McFaul and the USS Laboon, to the Libyan coast.[174] The destroyers are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. American UAVs were also sent to fly over Libya to search for the perpetrators of the attack.[175] In a speech on September 13, in Golden, Colorado, President Obama paid tribute to the four Americans “killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya”, stating, We enjoy our security and our liberty because of the sacrifices they make… I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world.[176] In his press briefing on September 14, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that “we don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this [the Benghazi attack] was not in reaction to the film.”[177] He went on to say: There was no intelligence that in any way could have been acted on to prevent these attacks. It isI mean, I think the DNI spokesman was very declarative about this that the report is false. The report suggested that there was intelligence that was available prior to this that led us to believe that this facility would be attacked, and that is false… We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack. The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive. And while the violence is reprehensible and unjustified, it is not a reaction to the 9/11 anniversary that we know of, or to U.S. policy. On September 14, the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the U.S.; President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the ceremony. In her remarks Clinton said, “One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said ‘Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.’ The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploringand I quote’an act of ugly terror.'”[178] She went on to say: “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men.” On September 16, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on five major interview shows to discuss the attacks. Prior to her appearance, Rice was provided with “talking points” from a CIA memo,[179] which stated: The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations. This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated. The investigation is ongoing, and the U.S. government is working with Libyan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens.[180] Using these talking points as a guide, Rice stated: Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassysparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent. We do notwe do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned. I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.[181][182][183][184][185] Since Rice’s five television appearances, there have been persistent accusations that she had intentionally and repeatedly lied. However, none of the ten Benghazi investigations determined she had. For example, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee “did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people,” according to the Associated Press.[186] In a White House press briefing on September 18, press secretary Jay Carney explained the attack to reporters: “I’m saying that based on information that weour initial information, and that includes all informationwe saw no evidence to back up claims by others that this was a preplanned or premeditated attack; that we saw evidence that it was sparked by the reaction to this video. And that is what we know thus far based on the evidence, concrete evidence.”[187] On September 20, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answered a question about an open hearing with the National Counterterrorism Center Director, Matthew G. Olsen, which referenced which extremist groups might have been involved. Carney said, “It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident.”[188] On the same day, during an appearance on Univision, a Spanish-language television network in the United States, President Obama stated, “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”[189][190][191][192][193] Also on September 20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a classified briefing to U.S. Senators,[194] which several Republican attendees criticized.[195] According to the article, senators were angered at the Obama administration’s rebuff of their attempts to learn details of the Benghazi attack, only to see that information published the next day in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. On September 24, advertisements condemning an anti-Islam video appeared on Pakistani television. The television ads in Pakistan (marked with the U.S. Embassy seal) feature clips of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton during press appearances in Washington in which they condemned the video. Their words were subtitled in Urdu.[196] On September 25, in an address before the United Nations General Assembly President Obama stated, “The attacks on our civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America… And there should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.”[76][197] He referred to Innocence of Muslims as “a crude and disgusting video [that] sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world”. He said, “I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.”[198] He further stated, “There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy.”[199] On September 26, Clinton acknowledged a possible link between Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Benghazi attack.[3] On September 28, a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence stated, In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress… As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.[200] Also on September 28, it was reported that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer of the Innocence of Muslims video, had been arrested in California and was being held without bail for alleged probation violations stemming from a 2010 bank fraud conviction.[201] On CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley on September 30, Crowley observed that “Friday we got the administration’s sort of definitive statement that this now looks as though it was a pre-planned attack by a terrorist group, some of whom were at least sympathetic to al Qaeda,” and asked the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, “why do you think and are you bothered that it has taken them this long from September 11th to now to get to this conclusion?” to which McCain replied that “it interferes with the depiction that the administration is trying to convey that al Qaeda is on the wane… how else could you trot out our U.N. ambassador to say this was a spontaneous demonstration?… It was either willful ignorance or abysmal intelligence to think that people come to spontaneous demonstrations with heavy weapons, mortars, and the attack goes on for hours.”[202] On October 4, 22 days after the attack, FBI investigators were finally allowed access to the scene of the attack.[203] The crime scene was not secured during that time; neither American nor Libyan investigators were able to secure the scene. The hearing testimony revealed that “Hicks argued that Rice’s comments so insulted the Libyan presidentsince they contradicted his Sept. 16 claims that the attack was premeditatedthat it slowed the FBI’s investigation. ‘President Magariaf was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His credibility was reduced,’ Hicks said, adding that the president was apparently ‘still steamed’ two weeks later.”[204] To assist the Libyan government in disbanding extremist groups, the Obama administration allocated $8 million to begin building an elite Libyan commando force over the next year.[205] In the Presidential debate of October 16, 2012, between President Obama and Mitt Romney, Romney claimed that “it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.” President Obama responded, “The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened,” Obama said. “That this was an act of terror, and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.”[206] When Romney challenged Obama, asking “You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?” the President responded, “Please proceed, governor” and “Get the transcript.” The moderator of the debate, Candy Crowley, agreed, stating “Hehe did call it an act of terror.” A CNN analysis stated that Obama had indeed referred to the incident as a “terrorist attack”, but that Romney was correct in noting that the administration delayed in conclusively stating that the attack was not a spontaneous protest related to the video.[207] A 14 May 2013 Fact Checker by Glenn Kesler said that Obama repeatedly used the phrase “act of terror” when talking about the attack, but he did not directly state that the attack was an act of terror.[208] On October 19, 2012, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) came under fire from intelligence officials in the Obama administration when he posted, on a public website, 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications related to Libya. According to officials, the release of the unredacted documents compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government and placed their lives in danger.[209] On CBS’s Face the Nation on October 28, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) stated that “this is either a massive cover-up or incompetence” and suggested that it was a scandal worse than Watergate. McCain stated, “we know that there were tapes, recordings inside the consulate during this fight… So the president went on various shows, despite what he said in the Rose Garden, about terrorist acts, he went on several programs, including The View, including Letterman, including before the UN where he continued to refer, days later, many days later, to this as a spontaneous demonstration because of a hateful video. We know that is patently false. What did the president know? When did he know it? And what did he do about it?”[210] CBS News reported earlier on October 24 that the video of the assault was recovered 20 days after the attack, from the more than 10 security cameras at the compound.[211] In a radio interview October 29, 2012, Senator John McCain said that the surveillance tapes had been classified top secret.[212] Secretary Clinton was scheduled to testify before Congress on December 20 about the attack. On December 15, it was reported that she had become dehydrated from the flu, fainted, and sustained a concussion. Consequently, her testimony was postponed.[213] The incident prompted Republican Rep. Allen West to claim that the illness was a ruse intended to avoid testifying. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton called the concussion a “diplomatic illness”.[214] On January 23, 2013, during testimony at a Senate hearing on Benghazi, Clinton engaged in a heated exchange with Senator Ron Johnson. When Johnson pressed her to explain why, in the immediate aftermath, no one from the State Department had asked American evacuees if there had been a protest before the attack, Clinton replied:

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May 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Operation Odyssey Dawn – Wikipedia

Operation Odyssey Dawn was the U.S. code name[Note 1] for the American role in the international military operation in Libya to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973[11][12][13][14][15] during the initial period of 1931 March 2011, which continued afterwards under NATO command as Operation Unified Protector. The initial operation implemented a no-fly zone that was proposed during the Libyan Civil War to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on anti-Gaddafi forces. On 19 March 2011, several countries prepared to take immediate military action at a summit in Paris.[16] Operations commenced on the same day with a strike by French fighter jets, then US and UK forces conducting strikes from ships and submarines via 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles and air assets bombing Gaddafi forces near Benghazi.[17] The goal of coalition forces was to impose a no-fly zone for Libyan government forces. The U.S. initially had strategic command of the military intervention, coordinated missions between coalition members and set up Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn on USSMount Whitney for the tactical command and control in the area of operations.[12][13] but passed complete military command of the operation to NATO and took up a support role on 31 March 2011.[18] Prior to that, an agreement to pass command of the arms embargo to NATO was reached on 23 March,[19] and a handover of enforcement of the no-fly zone to NATO was agreed to on 24 March and became effective the following day.[20] With the handover of coalition command to NATO, Operation Odyssey Dawn remained the name for the activities of U.S. forces,[21] and the coalition’s objectives continued to be carried out under Operation Unified Protector. However, NATO’s objectives did not include aiding the rebel forces’ efforts to take control of territory held by the government.[22] The British name for its military support of Resolution 1973 is Operation Ellamy,[23] the Canadian participation is Operation Mobile,[24] and the French participation is Opration Harmattan.[25][20] The strategic command of Operation Odyssey Dawn was under the authority of General Carter Ham, the Combatant Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), a Unified Combatant Command of the Department of Defense. Tactical command in the theater of operations was under command of Admiral Sam Locklear, the Commander of United States Naval Forces Africa on board the command ship USS Mount Whitney in the Mediterranean Sea.[14][26] Vice Admiral Harry B. Harris, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, assumed responsibilities as the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander, also stationed aboard USS Mount Whitney.[27] Major General Margaret H. Woodward was commander of US Air Force aircraft involved in the operation.[28] On 21 March 2011, President Obama stated the U.S. military action would be scaled back soon[29] and was considering handing over command of the operation to either France, the UK or NATO. On 24 March 2011, NATO took command of enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya and was considering taking control of the rest of the mission.[30] On 24 March 2011, the coalition agreed to have NATO command the no-fly zone,[31] and the U.S. Department of Defense stated that the U.S. would relinquish command of Operation Odyssey Dawn as early as 28 March.[32] 21h: The first main strike involved the launch of 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. and UK ships against shoreline air defenses of the Gaddafi regime.[14][65][66][67] The U.S. Department of Defense reports that the dismantling of Libya’s ability to hinder the enforcement of the UN no-fly zone was only the first of multiple stages in the operation.[68] USMC Harriers participated in an air strike against a large military convoy outside Benghazi.[56] Sustained anti-aircraft fire erupted in Tripoli at around 02:33 EET.[69] Three B-2 Spirit bombers targeted 45 hardened aircraft shelters at a Libyan airfield near Sirte.[56] At the same time, U.S. Air Force fighter jets conducted missions searching for Libyan ground forces to attack. U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers jammed Libyan radar and communications.[70][71] No U.S. aircraft were lost during the missions.[72] The warplanes included Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier IIs (attacking pro-Gaddafi’s ground forces),[73] Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, and F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter jets.[74] Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, states that there would be continuous allied air cover over Benghazi, and that the no-fly zone “is effectively in place”.[75] An EC-130J was recorded warning Libyan shipping “If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately” in Arabic, French and English.[76] Four Royal Danish Air Force F-16 flew their first mission over Libya[77][78] All fixed SA-2 Guideline, SA-3 Goa and SA-5 Gammon sites were taken out. Only SA-6 Gainful, hand held SA-7 Grail and SA-8 Gecko mobile SAMs are still a possible threat to aircraft.[79] In the early hours of the day a building from Moammar Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli was completely destroyed by a cruise missile.[80] Twelve more cruise missiles were fired at command and air defense sites.[81] At approximately 22:30 CET (evening of 21 March), a USAFE F-15E 91-0304 operating out of Aviano Air Base crashed about 25 miles (40km) southwest of Benghazi. Both crew members ejected at high altitude and were subsequently separated. A MV-22 Osprey, supported by two AV-8Bs, two CH-53E Super Stallions, and a KC-130J Hercules from the 26th MEU initially recovered the pilot,[4] while the weapons officer was recovered later after being rescued by rebel forces in the area.[4] Two Marine Harriers accompanying the rescue force dropped two 500lb bombs at the request of the ejected pilot, prior to the MV-22 landing in an attempt to deter an unidentified group of people heading towards the area.[4][82] The UK had a “peripheral involvement” in the rescue of the U.S. pilots.[83][83][84][85][86][87] Six local villagers, including a young boy, were reported to have been injured by gunfire from the rescuing U.S. forces,[88][89] Although a Marine spokesperson aboard USS Kearsarge denied that shots were fired: “The Osprey is not armed, and the Marines barely got off the aircraft. I was in the landing center the whole time, where we were monitoring what was going on, and firing was never reported”,[82] Pentagon sources were later reported to have confirmed that shots were fired.[4][90] The source of the civilian casualties is still being investigated.[82] Overnight, the U.S. bombed the wreckage of the downed F-15E “to prevent materials from getting into the wrong hands.”[91] In a 24-hours period; 175 air sorties were conducted (113 US, 62 coalition).[92] Around this time, the U.S. changed its target priorities from air defenses to Libyan ground forces.[93] Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s were assigned to the U.S. African Command and Operation Odyssey Dawn. A number of Norwegian F-16s took off from the Souda Bay Air Base on the island of Crete, Greece for their first mission over Libya.[94][95] Three laser-guided bombs were launched from 2 F-16s of the Royal Norwegian Airforce against Libyan tanks.[96] F-16s from the Royal Norwegian Airforce bombed an airfield in Libya during the night.[97] Coalition planes flew 164 sorties and coalition leaders reported damage to Gadhafi’s ground forces.[98] Lockheed AC-130 gunships and Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft began operations, attacking ground forces.[99] These were the first aircraft used against troops; previous strikes had targeted command and anti-aircraft infrastructure.[99] Two B-1 bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base attacked undisclosed targets in Libya.[100] Attack submarine USSProvidence completed all assigned strike missions and has left the area for previous duties. The U.S. is responsible for 80% of air refueling, 75% of aerial surveillance hours and 100% of electronic warfare missions.[101] On 28 March, a USAF A-10 and a USN P-3 attack one Libyan Coast Guard vessel and two smaller craft. The P-3 fired AGM-65F Maverick missiles at a Vittoria-class[clarification needed] patrol boat, forcing the crew to beach her. The A-10 strafed the other two smaller boats with its 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon rounds, sinking one and forcing the crew to abandon the other. The Libyan vessels were attacked after U.S. forces observed them firing into Misurata and at merchant vessels. The USSBarry provided situational awareness for the aircraft by managing the airspace and maintaining the maritime picture.[102] From 08:00 EET, NATO took sole command of air operations over Libya under Operation Unified Protector, taking over from U.S. Africa Command.[103][104][105] The four Danish F-16 fighters flew a total of 43 missions and dropped 107 precision munitions in operation Odyssey Dawn before transiting to NATO command.[106] There has been criticism over the handling of the operation and the belief that the Obama administration failed to adequately consult the U.S. Congress. The Obama administration defended its handling of the Libyan crisis, drawing a clear line between military and political objectives. On 24 March White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters “We are not engaged in militarily-driven regime change.” Instead, the administration is engaged in “time-limited, scope-limited” action with other countries to protect civilians from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.[107] However, this conflicts with multiple statements seeming to imply regime change as at least one objective of the Operation, including a report made to Congress as required by House Resolution 292: “Establishing these conditions would pave the way for a genuine political transition of which Qadhafi’s departure is a critical component. To bring about this objective, along with the international community, the United States responded to this crisis by developing, implementing, and monitoring sanctions and freezing billions in Government of Libya assets, building a broad international coalition focused on escalating diplomatic pressure on Qadhafi and increasing his isolation, and initiating and sustaining political support for military operations. … Politically, U.S. leadership continues to play an important role in maintaining and expanding this international consensus that Qadhafi must step down, sending an unambiguous message to the regime. We continue working with the international community to enhance the capabilities of the Libyan opposition and increase the ability to achieve political transition. After many meetings with senior opposition members in Washington and abroad, combined with daily interactions with the U.S. mission in Benghazi, we have stated that the TNC has demonstrated itself to be the legitimate interlocutor of the Libyan people, in contrast to the Qadhafi regime that has lost all legitimacy to rule.”[108]

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April 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Carrier

Built on Willis Carriers invention of modern air conditioning in 1902, Carrier is the world leader in heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions. We constantly build upon our history of proven innovation with new products and services that improve global comfort and efficiency. In 1902, Willis Carrier solved one of mankinds most elusive challenges by controlling the indoor environment through modern air conditioning. His invention enabled countless industries, promoting global productivity, health and personal comfort. Learn more …

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April 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

U.S. Strikes Qaeda Target in Southern Libya, Expanding …

In a statement, the militarys Africa Command said the strike had targeted militants with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an affiliate also known as AQIM, and had been carried out in coordination with the United Nations-backed unity government in Tripoli. At this time, we assess no civilians were killed in this strike, the statement said. The strike came as the Trump administration has been reassessing the American military commitment in North and West Africa after the ambush in Niger last fall that killed four American soldiers. The Pentagon has been preparing to fly armed drone missions from Nigers capital, Niamey, a step that diplomats and analysts say could further widen the Pentagons shadow war in this part of the continent. In a sign of how the Pentagon has sought to obscure its operations in Libya and other parts of northwestern Africa, the Africa Command did not announce the strike on Saturday. It responded to questions from The New York Times late Saturday with a terse statement after media reports about the strike circulated in Libya. The statement did not identify where the drone had originated. Earlier this month, in response to a Times query, the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that Green Berets working with government forces in Niger had killed 11 Islamic State fighters in a firefight in December. No Americans were hurt in that fight, the Pentagon said. Ubari is at the intersection of the powerful criminal and jihadist currents that have washed across Libya in recent years. Roughly equidistant from Libyas borders with Niger, Chad and Algeria, the areas seminomadic tribesmen are heavily involved in the smuggling of weapons, drugs and illegal migrants through the lawless deserts of southern Libya. Some have allied with Islamist militias, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates across Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya. The area erupted into conflict in 2014 when a century-old peace treaty between the Tuareg and Tebu ethnic groups collapsed over a dispute about control of the fuel smuggling trade. The fighting, which occurred independently of the broader struggle for control of Libya after the 2011 overthrow of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, raged for a year, killing hundreds and leaving many families displaced. The Tebu and Tuareg eventually struck a peace agreement, and a neutral militia currently keeps the peace in Ubari, but tensions remain. In November, Turkish engineers working at the city power station were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen, as was a Pakistani engineer at the station who went missing this month, according to local news media reports. While some Tebu groups have allied with the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, Tuareg factions have allied with Qaeda, which is also believed to have profited from the trade in smuggled fuel. In the statement on Saturday, Robyn M. Mack, a spokeswoman for the United States Africa Command, said that it was still assessing the results of the strike and that the purpose had been to deny terrorists freedom of action and degrade their ability to reconsolidate. But the command did not answer several other questions: Who were the two dead militants, and why were they important enough to kill with an airstrike? What role, if any, did France play in a region of Libya in which it has also conducted counterterrorism operations? And, most significantly, to what extent is the attack the start of an escalating campaign against a broad spectrum of extremists in northwestern Africa, or a one-off strike against high-profile Qaeda operatives? Beginning a concerted strike campaign against AQIM or other AQ elements in the Sahel, akin to what we are doing in Yemen and Somalia, would mark a significant expansion of our counterterrorism efforts, said Luke Hartig, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council during the Obama administration. If this is going to be the start of a broader campaign, it would be helpful to hear more from the administration about the threat posed by AQIM and why it merits putting our people in harms way and conducting strikes, Mr. Hartig said. A senior French security official said France had played no role in the strike, but added that Paris was very happy of this continued commitment of the U.S. to counterterrorism in Libya. Questions about whether the American military, under the Trump administration, is seeking to blur the expanding scope of operations in Africa were raised this month when it was revealed that the United States had carried out four airstrikes in Libya between September and January that Africa Command did not disclose at the time. The military has said it will acknowledge such missions if asked about them, even if it does not affirmatively disclose them in a news release. Ms. Mack said that Saturdays attack was the first airstrike the United States had conducted against Al Qaeda in Libya. In fact, the United States conducted an airstrike in eastern Libya in June 2015 against Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the mastermind of the 2013 terrorist seizure of an Algerian gas plant that left 38 foreign hostages dead. Mr. Belmokhtar was a longtime Qaeda operative with ties to senior Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Western intelligence officials today remain divided over whether he is dead. American efforts to hunt down Islamists in Libyas vast deserts rely heavily on surveillance and airpower but also on alliances with the armed groups vying for control of Libya. Mohamed El Sallak, a spokesman for the United Nations-backed unity government, said on Twitter that the attack in Ubari on Saturday was part of the strategic cooperation between Libya and the United States in the fight against terrorism. But in Ubari, armed Tebu and Tuareg groups have sided with different sides in Libyas chaotic struggle, and the unity government is by no means the dominant player. Some control a stretch of southern border, while others have allied with militias from the coastal cities of Misurata and Benghazi. The rising force now in the south is Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, the commander of the Libyan National Army based in Benghazi. Since his forces ousted the last Islamist militias from Benghazi in December, Mr. Hifter has focused on the south, where he exerts influence through his fleet of aging warplanes and alliances with local armed groups. In Sebha, the largest southern city, Mr. Hifter and the rival United Nations-backed government are vying for control through local proxies. In Ubari, 110 miles to the west, Mr. Hifter has allied with an ethnically mixed militia that is composed of former Qaddafi loyalists and more recent recruits.

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March 26, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Contact Embassy of Libya

Contact Us Libyan Embassy| Washington, DC.1460 Dahlia Street NWWashington, DC 20012 Please call us on the following numbers if you have any questions:(202) 606-3667(202) 644-2727For all consular inquires pleas email us on:Consular.sec@embassyoflibyadc.orgFor students affairs please call:202-790- 3819For student’s affairs inquires please email us on:Stamps@Ica-edu.usFor all other inquires please email us on:Info@embassyoflibyadc.com

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March 10, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya Economy: Population, GDP, Inflation, Business, Trade …

Download PDF Quick Facts Libya could not be ranked in the 2018 Index because of the lack of reliable comparable data on all facets of the economy. Official government compilations of economic data are inadequate, and data reported by many of the international sources upon which Index grading relies remain incomplete. Political instability, factional clashes, and security threats from domestic and foreign followers of the Islamic State have made economic recovery and development in Libya fragile and uneven. The government faces the daunting challenges of disarming and demobilizing militias, enforcing the rule of law, and reforming the state-dominated economy. Power outages are widespread. Living conditions, including access to clean drinking water, medical services, and safe housing, have declined as more people have been internally displaced by the civil war. These problems are likely to persist until a permanent government is in place. Muammar Qadhafi seized power in 1969 and ruled as a dictator until he was overthrown in 2011. Since then, the country has been in political upheaval. In June 2014, Libya held its second parliamentary election since Qadhafis overthrow; in November, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the elected parliament was constitutionally illegitimate. Pro-Islamist militias allied with the Muslim Brotherhood have established parallel institutions. In 2016, the U.N. brokered the establishment of a national unity government to replace the two rival administrations. Oil and natural gas provide about 80 percent of GDP, 95 percent of export revenues, and nearly all government revenues. Extremists have attacked oilfields and seized oil infrastructure, threatening government control of oil and gas revenues. Arbitrary seizure of property is common in a climate of general instability. While Libyans have the right to own property and can start businesses, regulations and protections are not upheld in practice. Businesses and homes have been confiscated by militants, particularly in Libyas eastern regions and in Benghazi. In the absence of a permanent constitution, the role of the judiciary remains unclear. Corruption is pervasive. The top income tax rate is 10 percent, but other taxes make the top rate much higher in practice. The overall tax burden equals 21.3 percent of total domestic income. Over the past three years, government spending has amounted to 92.9 percent of total output (GDP), and budget deficits have averaged 60.7 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 7.4 percent of GDP. The existing regulatory framework continues to be severely undermined by ongoing political instability and turmoil. The labor market remains destabilized, and the large informal sector is an important source of employment. Libya has an extensive system of subsidies, with food and energy subsidies alone consuming about 16 percent of the budget. Nontariff barriers significantly impede trade for Libya. Ongoing conflict is a deterrent to trade and investment flows. The financial system is hampered by unstable political and economic conditions, and limited access to financing severely impedes any meaningful development of private business.

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February 4, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed


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