Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category

News Roundup – Sun, Jul 2, 2017 – The Libya Observer

The Ministry of Education of the UN proposed government announced the formation of 2621 committees in an effort to monitor and supervise the exams of the secondary school certificate. The ministry added that they will adopt 132 centers to distribute the exam questionnaires, 164 supervisors and 48 observers. The ministry noted that they are keen to take all measures to ensure proper conditions for those sitting their exams that start today and continue until Thursday in all private and public schools and at the levels of the 48 educational zones within the country.

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The Libyan Association for Prisoners of Thought called on the Attorney-General in Tripoli to formally and judicially disclose the results investigations into the Abu Salim prison massacre and to expedite the trial in a manner that preserves the rights of the accused. This came during a protest held by the Assembly in Tripoli on Thursday. The Association added that the delay in the trial of the accused in the case harms the rights of the victims’ families and exposes the rights of the detainees.

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Brigadier Hassan AlMadani, a security official in the Gaddafi regime and resident of Sirte was released on Saturday morning from the city of Misrata. 46 other detainees from Tawergha, Zliten, Tripoli and Sirte have been released from Misrata Military Prison since 2011 after more than half of their sentence was carried out.

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The Fuel and Gas Crisis Committee which operates under the Brega Oil Marketing Company announced that the Central Security Forces seized more than 100 boxes of car oils destined to be smuggled to Tunisia via the Ras Ajdair border crossing. The Committee stated via their Facebook page that the forces stormed several sites belonging to smugglers in cooperation with the committee to combat the smuggling of goods outside Libya.

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The office of information of the General Electricity Company stated that an armed group attacked the team which is stationed at the Ka’am plant in Khoms. The statement added that the attack resulted in the injury of one of the workers who was taken to the hospital as a result of his injuries. The information office pointed out that repeated attacks on employees of the General Electricity Company is leading to the workers departing their sites for fear of their security and safety. It is noteworthy that Khoms area is one of the areas that refuse to enter the program designed to share electricity loads which was adopted by the Electricity Company to maintain a form of stability in the public electricity grid.

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A number of ministers of the UN proposed government held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the difficulties facing facilities and service sectors in the southern region of Libya. The visit of these ministers to the southern region as part of efforts to reopen Sebha International Airport and facilitate the provision of services to the southern regions affected from the various crises that is hitting the country. The weeklong visit of the ministers to the southern region is to visit a number of municipalities and cities in the region.

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Sources from the Accord Committee of the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) confirmed that they postponed todays meeting to next Sunday as a result of what they described as security threats. Media sources said the postponement came after statements by pro-Hefter media stating that “The constitution will only be revealed on a pool of blood”. The sources added that the Chairman of the committee has requested a postponement of the meeting until adequate protection is provided to its members, noting that the committee will have to relocate meetings to another city if the situation remains unsafe.

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The Algerian Football Federation has set August 12 to be the date for the match between Libya and Algeria in the African Nations Cup qualifier for local players which is due to be held in Kenya in 2018. According to sources, the match is scheduled to take place on the grounds of the Hamlawi stadium in the eastern Algerian city of Constantine.

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In a statement issued by the elders and rights groups of the Tebu and Kufra, they called out in protest against the discrimination at the University of Benghazi. The calls were so that students of different backgrounds would receive fair treatment as covered by the laws in force at colleagues regarding placements etc.

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News Roundup – Sun, Jul 2, 2017 – The Libya Observer

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July 2, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya’s Crude Output Hits a New High Just as Oil Prices Rebound – Bloomberg

Libyas oil production has climbed to more than 1 million barrels a day for the first time in four years just as oil prices capped the longest run of gains in six months after U.S. shale explorers paused a record drilling expansion.

Output is 1.005 million barrels a day, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because they arent authorized to speak to the media. That would be the highest since June 2013, whenLibya pumped 1.13 million barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oil futures advanced for a seventh consecutive day on Friday, as shale explorers broke the longest stretch of uninterrupted growth in three decades. Brent prices have still dropped 16 percent this year as rising supply from OPEC members Libya and Nigeria along with the U.S. is offsetting cuts from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners.

Libyaa oil output has rebounded from only 690,000 barrels a day at the start of the year, with Sharara, the countrys largest oil field, resuming production last month. State National Oil Corp. Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in April he wanted to boost national output to 1.1 million barrels a day by August.

Sharara closed on June 7 for two days due to a protest by workers over a colleagues death at the field, halting about 270,000 barrels a day, a person familiar with the matter said at the time. Libya, with Africas biggest crude reserves, was pumping about 1.6 million barrels a day before a political uprising in 2011.

Other fields have reopened, most recently the Abu Attifel deposit which resumed production last month and is now pumping about 81,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the person who gave the latest production figure. The Majid oil field restarted on July 1, with output at 4,500 barrels a day. Sharara has been also steady at 270,000 barrels a day, the person said.

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Libya’s Crude Output Hits a New High Just as Oil Prices Rebound – Bloomberg

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July 2, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Resolving the Gulf crisis through Libya – The Hill (blog)

The rift within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is one of the most significant foreign policy challenges facing the Trump administration.

The conflict between Qatar on the one side, against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, as well as Egypt, is based on divisions over key issues including political Islam and Irans quest for regional influence.

A clear example of how these tensions have played out on the global stage is the ongoing proxy wrangling over Libya.

Libya has been suffering from a civil war that began in 2014 when the country split between rival factions based in the east and west, respectively. The United States supported a U.N.-led negotiation effort that resulted in the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement in late 2015 and the establishment of an internationally recognized Presidential Council (PC). However, it has been unable to solidify its hold on the capital in Tripoli, let alone the rest of the country. It faces a major challenge from eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is aligned with the House of Representatives (HOR) in the east.

It is against this backdrop that the divisions in the Gulf have played out most clearly in a proxy conflict. As a result of personal relations between the Qatari elite, authoritative figures in the Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamist-leaning intellectuals and personalities, Doha in 2011 openly supported the Libyan revolution and worked to strengthen forces in the country close to its Islamist allies. While Qatar briefly suspended its support for proxies in Libya in 2015 due to U.S. and U.N. pressure, it resumed this support in 2016.

The UAE and Egypt, while ostensibly supportive of the PC in official rhetoric, have provided Haftar with military support in his campaign to free the country from all Islamists. These states support Haftars anti-Islamist rhetoric because they have sought to isolate and crack down on certain Islamist groups, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood. The HOR joined the Saudi-UAE bloc in cutting ties with Doha, and Haftars Libyan National Army (LNA) accused Qatar of deploying forces in Libya and financing radical groups.

The Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), which has been battling Haftars army and has fought alongside PC-backed forces, was one of the organizations on a terrorist sanctions list issued by the Saudi-UAE bloc accused of receiving financing from Qatar.

The proxy support provided by the Gulf to Libyas rival parties is no secret. In March 2013, the U.N. panel tasked with monitoring the arms embargo on Libya said that in 2011-2012, Qatar violated the embargo by providing military material to the revolutionary forces through the organization of a large number of flights and the deliveries of a range of arms and ammunition.

The U.N.s most recent report in June found that the UAE violated the embargo from 2014 to 2017 by providing aircraft and other military assets to Haftar. UAE airpower was also likely decisive in helping Haftar retake key oil facilities from the BDB in March.

The conflict in Libya presents the United States with an opportunity to mediate between the conflicting parties in the GCC rift. The United States is the only country capable of leveraging enough authority to convince Doha and Abu Dhabi to cease support for their respective proxies on the ground in Libya and come to the table in earnest search of a credible solution to the crisis in the country.

Progress on this front would establish a level of positive cooperation between the Qatar and the Saudi-UAE bloc that could lead to a more productive, U.S.-led dialogue aimed at ending the Gulf crisis.

While the State Department has been correctly reluctant to throw its weight behind the Saudi-UAE bloc, the current policy of keeping at an arms length is ineffective. Days before the Saudi-UAE bloc released its demands to Qatar, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert noted that The more time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and whether they were about concerns of Qatari funding for terrorism or longstanding grievances.

This was a welcome shift from the immediate support expressed by President Trump for the Saudi-UAE bloc. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Riyadh to ensure that its demands to Doha were reasonable and actionable. However, Qatar is unlikely to bow to the heavy list of demands issued on June 23. Doha insists that it will not negotiate with the Saudi-UAE bloc while faced with punitive diplomatic and economic measures.

In this context, rather than pressure Qatar to submit to the demands or call out the Saudi-UAE bloc for what are unlikely the reasonable and actionable demands Tillerson envisioned, the United States should present Libya as an opportunity to address the competing interests of the Gulf states.

By bringing the Gulf rivals together around the negotiation table on Libya, the United States could foster common ground between the Saudi-UAE bloc and Qatar. An improvement in relations surrounding the Libya issue could help build trust and find solutions for other major disagreements. Indeed, recent progress in Libya could provide an opening, such as the decision by the BDB, condemned by Haftar and his Gulf supporters, to demobilize and agree to join a formal, legitimate national army.

One of the demands issued by Saudi-UAE bloc to Qatar is to cease interference in the affairs of sovereign countries. This is a standard that must be met by all regional actors engaged in Libya; the proxy war has exacerbated tensions within the country and made dim any prospect for a peaceful solution.

By recognizing the conflict in Libya as one manifestation of Gulf regional competition, the Trump administration, in coordination with the U.N., could exert U.S. leadership to obtain Gulf rapprochement through the resolution of divisions over Libya.

Karim Mezranis a resident senior fellow with the Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.Elissa Milleris an assistant director at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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Resolving the Gulf crisis through Libya – The Hill (blog)

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July 1, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

‘Whoever Controls Benghazi Controls Libya’ – The Atlantic

BENGHAZI, Libya We fight terrorism for the sake of the world, reads the billboard overlooking one of this strife-torn citys upscale streets. It also bears the visage of a mustachioed, uniformed manField Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Libyas most powerful and polarizing figure. Coming from him, the billboards message is a most striking assertion.

When I went to Libya just over three years ago, then-General Haftar gave me a variation of this same line. Libya will be the graveyard of international terrorism, he predicted. Those were the early days of Operation Dignity, Haftars military campaign to rid Benghazi of Islamist and jihadist militias, whod ensconced themselves in the city since the 2011 revolution. Hed promised the operation would be over in weeks. This May, the war in Benghazi passed its 36th monthlonger than the uprising that unseated dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The conflict has killed and displaced thousands, and caused devastation on a scale not seen in the country since the Second World War.

How Not to Plan for The Day After in Libya

Today, Haftar can claim some success. His forces have decimated the Islamists, pushing them back to just a few seaside blocks on Benghazis fringes. Life is returning to the city. But along the way, his operation has unleashed new, destabilizing forces, the greatest of which have been a resurgent authoritarianism and the political rise of Haftar himself, in defiance of the UN-backed government in Tripoli. It is an ascendancy abetted by support from an Emirati-Egyptian axis and, more recently, signaling from the Trump administration. And its aftershocks are rippling far across the country.

* * *

The roots of Operation Dignity lie in the aftermath of the 2012 jihadist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. In the months that followed, Benghazi fell into despair, all but forgotten by the world. Assassinations terrorized residents; drive-by shootings and car bombs felled judges, activists, security guards, and military officers. Nobody went out at night. The motives for the killings were murkya mix of Islamist violence, tribal feuds, and criminality. Whatever the case, residents longed for order, for someone to stop the chaos.

Enter Haftar. The septuagenarian officer had fought in Qaddafis war in Chad before defecting and fleeing, with CIA assistance, to Virginia, where he lived for nearly 20 years. Returning to Libya during the 2011 revolution against Qaddafi, he tried and failed to lead the rebels. He all but disappeared from view, traveling around Libya with his retinue, an itinerant claimant to a destiny that eluded him. In February 2014, he appeared on television and announced the dissolution of the elected parliament, meeting only ridicule. The coup that wasnt, people called it. Then, that summer, amid Benghazis intractable violence, he found his opening. With just a few hundred followers drawn from disaffected army units and eastern tribes, and some dilapidated aircraft, he launched Operation Dignity to take on the citys Islamist militias. Within a year, his forces controlled most of the east. The campaign was unsanctioned by the Tripoli government and would soon throw the country into civil war.

Operation Dignity, Haftar explained to me then, sought not only to drive out the Islamists, but to reclaim the honor of the uniformed officers whod been sidelined by militias. He complained that the officers of the ex-regime were paid far less than untrained Islamist militias with ties to jihadists, and blamed the situation on the corruption of the parliament and civilian leadership in Tripoli. Most importantly, though, Haftar wanted to remake Libyas politics by expunging political Islamists, especially from the Muslim Brotherhood, who he accused of complicity in the violence. This goal aligned neatly with the policies of Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, whose speeches Haftar copied and whose military and political support would prove vital.

Haftar predicted the fighting would be over in weeks. The weeks became months; the months turned into years. International aid poured in to support Haftars forces; foreigners, meanwhile, swelled the ranks of Haftars foes as well. The United Arab Emirates, with its own phobia of the Brotherhood, joined the Egyptians in sending armored vehicles, advisers, and attack aircraft. Russia lavished Haftar with attention: a theatrical visit to an aircraft carrier, medical assistance, and, reportedly, special forces. The French, the British, and the Americans sent special operators who provided varying levels of intelligence and front-line support.

But Haftar had erred. By attacking the Islamists, he had lumped moderates together with jihadists and, as time wore on, the balance of power shifted to the radicals, bolstered by an influx of Tunisians, Egyptians, and other foreigners. In early 2015, the Islamic State arrived and exploited the chaos. Islamists who mightve reconciled with the Libyan state were killed off or exiled, or they cast their fates with the so-called caliphate.

By late 2015, when I visited Benghazi, Operation Dignity was locked in a stalemate. I visited field hospitals where I saw Haftars men torn apart by mines and snipers. Vast swathes of the city were no-go zones.

* * *

When I returned this May, I found a battlefield completely changed. Haftars forces had all but declared victory.

To be sure, fighting still rages, and parts of the city lie in ruin, including the iconic old city and its courthouse, site of the first protests against Qaddafi in 2011. The expansive, recently liberated Fish Market district, where families once gathered on Ramadan nights, is now a shamble of concrete. Shelling has scarred the Italianate porticos of Tree Square, once beloved for its cedar, and destroyed the covered bazaar of Suq al-Jarid, once filled with tailors, jewelers, and leather-smiths. Soldiers still fall from sniper fire and, especially, booby-trapsdiabolical devices triggered by thin planks of wood covered with sand, trash, or grass. Civilians still perish from salvos of rockets or mortars, often at night. One morning I witnessed the aftermath of such an attack: a gaping crater, an incinerated car, and a young man grieving for his brother.

Yet in many parts of the city I felt the pulse of normalcy. In the old district of Birka, the green-checkered flags of the Nasr football club, a local favorite, crisscross the bustling streets. Traffic police who once cowered at home for fear of assassination are stationed once again at intersections, wearing their summer white uniforms. Factories and farms are creaking back to life, while younger entrepreneurs try their hands at tech start-ups, participating in competitions for innovative app designs. The university is reopening.

Leisure has returned as well. At the Luna Mall, children play on a toy train next to ice cream parlors, candy stores, and clothing outlets. There are musical clubs, theater troupes, art galleries, and rugby tournaments. Sitting on the lawn of a new hotel, newlyweds smoke apple-flavored tobacco while a projector plays Egyptian soap operas on a wall.

This is one face of Benghazithe one of progress and order. There is, of course, another side.

* * *

Benghazis war is not simply an army operation against terrorists, but a deeply intimate social conflict, between neighbors and cousins, overlaid with tribal- and class-based tensions, between eastern tribes and families from the west, among eastern tribes, and between urban elites and rural poor. Reports of torture, disappearances, and the destruction of property emerge with numbing frequency. So, too, has evidence of summary executions, on both sides.

Tribal and neighborhood militias armed by Haftar early in his campaign have carried out many of the abuses. These militias, known as support forces, at one point comprised as much as 60 to 80 percent of his men, and they retain power today, despite efforts to disband them. Many of them have attacked the families of suspected militants, demolishing their homes and businesses. A Dignity commander once justified this destruction in the interests of saving Benghazis social fabric. Of course, precisely the opposite occurred.

I found evidence of the desecration while driving through Benghazis Laythi neighborhood, a poor, densely packed quarter with a reputation for militancy and scrappiness. I passed the blackened ruins of burned-out houses and stores and the tawny skeletons of cars. Some of the pillaging seemed invested with class rivalry, an expression of resentment by poorer tribes against the wealthier Islamists. I met one leader of a pro-Haftar militia that attacked the home of an alleged jihadist financier who owned an aluminum workshop where hed once apprenticed.

Many of those fleeing the vigilante attacks in Laythi and other neighborhoods now form the social backbone of the militant opposition to Haftar. Thousands of families have been forced from Benghazi, many simply because their male relatives are fighting Haftar. Still other refugees claim to have been targeted by Haftars militias solely because of their distant family origins, especially those who hail from western towns like Misrata, a coastal powerhouse that has armed and funded the Islamists opposing Haftar.

In Misrata, I met several of the militiamen whove shipped weapons to the Islamists fighting Haftar. They complain that his war has stoked a new nativism among some of the eastern tribes allied with Dignity. Those whom these tribes deemed not native to Benghazi and the east they brand as ghuraba, or westerners. No matter that Misratan families had migrated to Benghazi centuries ago, settling in the citys downtown, where they thrived as traders and builders. Now, tribes who came to Benghazi in recent decades from its rural environs accused them of not belonging. Even worse, they labeled the Misratans Turks or Circassians, references to the Misratas historical links with the Ottoman Empire. This is a tribal racism, said one of them.

Like many narratives of victimization, this one includes some distortion. The ranks of those opposing Haftar include eastern tribes, just as Haftars supporters include people from Misrata and the west. This is what makes the conflict in Benghazi so confounding: It cuts across communal lines and divides families. What is clear, however, is that the spirit of militant revanchism animating the displaced and those fighting Haftar, is likely to endure. Whoever controls Benghazi controls Libya, one of them told me.

Another byproduct of Operation Dignity has been a surge in conservative Islam in Benghazi and across the east. Despite the common portrayal of Haftar as secular and anti-Islamist, he has co-opted and supported conservative, Saudi-inspired Salafists. These so-called quietist Salafists embrace a doctrine of loyalty to a sitting political ruler and hostility to more activist and jihadist forms of Islamism, like the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. Unsurprisingly, they joined Dignity from the beginning. They later sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia to secure a fatwa from their clerical mentor in Saudi Arabia authorizing support for Haftar.

In recent months, the pro-Haftar Salafists have attempted to consolidate their control of security affairs and social life in Benghazi and to the east. They field their own militia, and deploy it across the citys frontlines. They are also active in prisons; I met one of them who works on the theological rehabilitation of captured jihadists. The Salafists also function as a sort of morality police. They have confiscated and burned books deemed heretical and shut down an Earth Day celebration, branding it as un-Islamic. Their influence unnerves many of Haftars liberal supporters: They thought hed restore security and oust the Islamists, not unleash Islamists of his own.

Even more unsettling is Haftars militarization of governance. Across the east, he has replaced elected municipal leaders with uniformed military officers. The Qaddafi-era intelligence apparatus is back on the payroll. Critical voices have been silenced through expulsion, arrest, or even disappearancea return, many whisper, to the bad old days.

* * *

Haftar appears poised to move beyond Benghazi and take to the national stage. He has made no secret of his intention to move west to Tripoli to topple the Islamist militias holding sway in the capital. Hes already grabbed oil facilities in the central Sirte Basin and recently seized southern airfields from his opponents. Hes also sought international endorsement.

Last fall, Haftar sent envoys to Washington and pitched to the United States the idea of ruling Libya through a military council, only to be rebuffed. The redline for Washington, according to a senior U.S. official present at those meetings, was civilian control over the Libyan military. More recently, Haftar has shifted tack to accept a civilian position overseeing Libyas military in a three-person governing council, or to run as a candidate in Libyas presidential elections, currently scheduled for early 2018. His critics remain suspicious, seeing in this switch a back-door route to dictatorship.

I found signs of Haftars attempted rebranding in another, newly erected billboard. This one stands in Benghazis expansive Kish Square, a site of frequent demonstrations where at night young men drift in souped-up cars. Haftar appears on the sign wearing a grey suit and tie, flanked by adoring crowds. The Popular Authorization Movement for Saving the Country, the words beneath him read. At a nearby tent, one of the Movements organizers explained its goal: to obtain 400,000 notarized signatures authorizing Haftar to govern the country.

It has the trappings of a political campaign, one that has been hastened by recent Egyptian and Emirati military activity on Haftars behalf, and the misfortunes befalling Qatar, the patron of his Islamist opponents. Added to this are the encouraging signals from Trumps Middle Eastern forays. Whereas the Obama presidency kept the general at arms length, Trumps counter-terrorism focus, anti-Islamism, and embrace of Arab despots are a godsend for Haftar.

Back in Benghazi, a sense of buyers remorse seems to weigh on some of Haftars onetime supporters. For them, the saga of his comeback from the wilderness, his rescuing of a troubled city, and his rise to national dominance carries all the makings of a personality cult, one with echoes from the not-too-distant past.

Weve come to regard him as a mini-god, a local activist confided, and thats dangerous. Thats what we did with Qaddafi.

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‘Whoever Controls Benghazi Controls Libya’ – The Atlantic

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July 1, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

New UN Libya envoy faces long road to peace – Al-Monitor

Author:Mustafa Fetouri Posted June 30, 2017

United Nations Secretary-GeneralAntonio Guterreshas appointedGhassan Salame as his new special envoy to Libya and as the head of the UN mission in the country known as the UNSupport Mission in Libya. His appointment came after months of searching for the right candidate.

In February, Guterres attempted to appoint Salam Fayyad, the former Palestinian prime minister. But the United States, a veto-holding UN Security Council member, objected to the appointment, accusing the internationalbody of being unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authorityto the detriment of our allies in Israel, as the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, saw the matter then.

Salames task is not easy, and four of his predecessors have so far failed to deliver peace and reconciliation to the war-ravaged country.

Right after his first meeting with a group of Libyan politicians,before his appointment, Salame tweeted May 19,Three days of meetings with Libyan leaders has been exhausting but I hope it will help the national reconciliation process indicating that he knows the difficulties facing him.

Salame is the second Lebanese to take the post after Tarek Mitri who tried his luck with the Libyansin 2012-14, before he was replaced byBernardino Leon.

Salames predecessor, Martin Kobler, had failed to make the warring Libyan factions accept the UN-brokered peace agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, in December 2015. It was during Leons tenure that the breakthrough took place and the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) was signed. That agreement gave birth to the Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj. Since then and despite the shuttle diplomacy, nothing has been achieved and much remains to be done.

Since the toppling of its longtime leader, Moammar Gadhafi, on Oct. 20, 2011, Libya has been divided between two quarreling governments and dominated by dozens of armed militias. The country has seen little progress in terms of peace, national reconciliationand economic stability.

What Salame brings to the post is probably his experience being a former Lebanese minister who knows how difficult it is to make quarreling factions agree in the absence of serious national dialogue. In addition, he is a well-known Arab intellectual, academicand author. Before the UN job, he was founding dean of the School of International Affairs, part of the French prestigious Sciences Po think tank and university in Paris.

As the new UN envoy, he should carefully review previous UN efforts in Libya and identify what mistakes were made in tackling the Libyan crisis to avoid repeating them. One major error made by all previous UN diplomats has been the marginalization of two important potential political players: the supporters of the former regime who are a sizeable number in the tribally divided country,and the tribal fabric of the Libyan society, which cant be sidelined for peace to have a chance.

Supporters of the former regime in exile are now organizing themselves to have Seif al-Islam, Gadhafis son, lead them as one group after the young Gadhafi was released from prisonJune 11. This brings a new dimension to the conflict, since it will be the first time a son of Gadhafi enters the political scene.

As for the tribal fabric of Libya, the majority of Libyan tribes are represented by a broad umbrella groupcalled The Supreme Council of Libyan Tribes and Cities thatoperatesfrom neighboring Egypt. In the past, tribes have been overlooked by all former UN envoys, a mistake Salame should not repeat.

Another major problem Salame must try to tackle is the outside interference in the Libyan affairs, particularly by regional countries. Such meddling in the internal affairs only contributed to heightened tensions, making the local smallsporadic wars more of a proxy war between the United Arab Emiratesand Egypt supporting the Tobruk-based governmentwhile Turkey, Sudan and Qatar support other factions in western Libya. With Qatar on retreat, the new envoy might have more room to maneuver.

Salame should not attempt to open up the LPA for renegotiations as many parties call for the UN deal to be rewritten. In fact, what could be renegotiated is only a couple of articles related to the role of the military and downsizing the number of the Presidential Council from its current nine members to maybe three representing each of the countrys three regions:Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the eastand Fezzan in the south.

Salame has good ties with France, which played a leading military role in bringing down Gadhafis regime in 2011 and has ever since been puzzled by the complicated mess Libya is in.He is well-known to French politicians and well-connected to decision-makers, which will help him align whatever plans he has hatched to the larger European Union ideas when it comes to tackling the Libya crisis.

He must make good use of the French veto power in the UN Security Council by making sure that those who disrupt the political process can and will be held accountable before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. A kind of carrot-and-stick tactic will certainly deter many negative moves.

UN Resolution 1973 of March 2011 still applies to Libya calling for the ICC to investigate suspected human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity. However, since 2011, no one has been investigated despite all the small wars and violence Libya has been through.

No UN envoy or mediator has any magic solution and Salame can only do so much. In the end, it is the quarreling Libyan factions that must chose peace if they care about their country and its people as much as they care about their own political interests.

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New UN Libya envoy faces long road to peace – Al-Monitor

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June 30, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Total blackout hits western region of Libya – The Libya Observer


The Libya Observer
Total blackout hits western region of Libya
The Libya Observer
The western region plunged into total blackout on Friday, the General Electricity Company (GECOL) reported, adding that work is underway to restore the electric grid. GECOL sources said the blackout affected the region from Sirte in central Libya to

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June 30, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

OPEC oil output jumps to 2017 high as Nigeria, Libya pump more – Reuters

LONDON OPEC oil output has risen in June by 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a 2017 high, a Reuters survey found, as a further recovery in supply from the two member countries exempt from a production-cutting deal offset strong compliance by their peers.

High compliance by Gulf producers Saudi Arabia and Kuwait helped keep OPEC’s adherence with its supply curbs at a historically high 92 percent in June, compared with 95 percent in May, the survey found.

But extra oil from Nigeria and Libya, exempted from the cut because conflict curbed their output, means supply by the 13 OPEC members originally part of the deal has risen far above their implied production target.

The recovery adds to the challenge the OPEC-led effort to support the market is facing from a persistent inventory glut. If the recovery lasts, calls could grow within OPEC for the exempt countries to be brought into the production deal.

“The rise in OPEC production will further delay the point at which balance is restored on the oil market,” said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

As part of a deal with Russia and other non-members, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries originally pledged to reduce output by about 1.2 million bpd for six months from Jan. 1.

Oil prices have gained some ground but high stocks and rising U.S. output kept them in check. To provide additional support for prices, the producers decided in May to prolong the deal until March 2018.

June’s biggest rise came from Nigeria, where output extended a recovery after being curtailed by militant attacks on oil installations. The second-biggest was from Libya.

Nigerian output is expected to rise further in coming weeks. Planned exports in August are scheduled to reach at least 2 million bpd, a 17-month high.

In Libya, output was on average higher despite fluctuation and has now exceeded 1 million bpd, a four-year high. Production remains some way short of the 1.6 million bpd Libya pumped before the 2011 civil war.

Saudi Arabia pumped 40,000 bpd more, the survey found, although its compliance remained above 100 percent. Even with June’s increase, the curb achieved by OPEC’s top producer is 564,000 bpd, well above the target cut of 486,000 bpd.

Aside from a rise in Angolan exports, no other significant change in output occurred elsewhere in OPEC.

OPEC announced a production target of 32.5 million bpd last year, which was based on low figures for Libya and Nigeria. The target includes Indonesia, which has since left, and does not include Equatorial Guinea, the latest country to join OPEC.

The Libyan and Nigerian increases mean OPEC output in June averaged 32.57 million bpd, about 820,000 bpd above its supply target, adjusted to remove Indonesia and not including Equatorial Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea, which became an OPEC member in late May, has now been added to the Reuters survey. The country’s crude production is estimated at 150,000 bpd, which brings total OPEC production in June to 32.72 million bpd.

The Reuters survey is based on shipping data provided by external sources, Thomson Reuters flows data, and information provided by sources at oil companies, OPEC and consulting firms.

(With additional reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Dale Hudson)

MOSCOW Russia’s Rosneft, the world’s top listed oil producer, wants to supply gas in parts of Europe where Gazprom is not present to avoid the risk of losing those markets to U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG), a Rosneft executive said.

LONDON Not very long ago, a 17 percent oil price fall would have sent emerging market stocks into a tailspin. But this year they are set for their best first half since 2014.

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OPEC oil output jumps to 2017 high as Nigeria, Libya pump more – Reuters

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June 30, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Summer double standards: Some Libyan cities in utter darkness, others enjoying electric power 24/7 – The Libya Observer

The General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL) pronounced Thursday that it is going through critical situations currently with the ever-rising temperatures in the country.

GECOL said on Facebook that despite all efforts to keep the general power network balanced, the swat-urging heat waves and soaring degrees of humidity got the upper hand.

“We have registered overloads due to increased use of electric power across Libya. We ask all Libyans to cooperate with GECOL staffers and maintain logical use of power these days.” GECOL’s Facebook post reads.

It also condemned the assault on two control centers in Al-Ruwais and Shakshook by gunmen from western mountain cities, which are refusing to be included in the GECOL’s load shedding hours that aim to drop the overload burden on the general network.

“We call on relevant authorities to intervene in the issue and oblige the districts and cities, which are rejecting the load shedding policy, to be part of GECOL’s program to help achieve justice across Libya as regards the outage of power.

“Al-Khums, Al-Zawiya, and some western mountain districts are rejecting the idea of load shedding.” GECOL said on Facebook on Wednesday.

GECOL’s Chief, Abdelmajid Hamza, also held an emergency meeting at the GECOL’s headquarters in Tripoli to discuss the load shedding policy due to the high temperatures in Libya, discussing as well a formation of a committee that will help solve the issue of the rejectors.

Libya is undergoing a heat wave with temperatures exceeding 40 C in most cities leading to more demand and use of electric power, thus obliging the GECOL to resort to load shedding hours reaching over 8 hours a day in some cities.

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Summer double standards: Some Libyan cities in utter darkness, others enjoying electric power 24/7 – The Libya Observer

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June 29, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Cardiff man appeals for help after cousin is kidnapped in Libya – WalesOnline

A Cardiff man has spoken of his torment after his cousin was kidnapped in Libya by a gang demanding a 10,000 ransom.

Abdi Egal, 52, who moved to the Welsh capital in 1974 from Somaliland, was contacted by his cousin from the country of his birth to tell him her 19-year-old son had been abducted.

It is believed that Abdis cousin Hakim Adan was targeted in Libya because he was a vulnerable refugee who visited the country in an attempt to make his way to Europe.

Abdi, who lives in Canton , said: There are a lot of African Muslims who are trying to get into Europe and my cousin walked from Somaliland to Libya.

A couple of days ago, some people phoned his mother saying they wanted 10,000 to set him free.

She said they wanted 10,000 and she has managed to raise 5,000 so far so shes trying to do all she can. I only work part time and I dont have any money so we are in desperation.

I was crying myself when she told me, I feel helpless because I cant do anything. Were very concerned in the family.

Abdi said his family have nowhere to turn as the UK Government cannot get involved because his cousin is not a British national.

He added it was unlikely the government in Somaliland would be able to help.

He said: Apparently in Libya this happens regularly and theres no government in place to do anything about it.

It was all in the mistaken belief he could get into Europe, a lot of people think they can get into Europe but there is no way in.

I have got an idea why he wanted to come to Europe because there is nothing in Somaliland but his mother wants him back and safe absolutely.

The Foreign Office has advised against all travel to Libya and for British nationals still living in Libya to leave immediately.

A spokesperson said: Although the Government of National Accord (GNA) is working to restore stability and security to Libya, intense fighting continues in a number of areas and local security situations can quickly deteriorate.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Libya. There remains a high threat throughout the country of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners, including from Daesh-affiliated extremists and al-Qaeda, as well as armed militias.

Since 2015, Daesh [also known as Islamic State] have attacks a number of oil and gas installations and killed or kidnapped workers, including foreign nationals.

The British Embassy in Tripoli remains temporarily closed, and is unable to provide consular assistance.

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Cardiff man appeals for help after cousin is kidnapped in Libya – WalesOnline

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News Roundup – Sun, Jul 2, 2017 – The Libya Observer

The Ministry of Education of the UN proposed government announced the formation of 2621 committees in an effort to monitor and supervise the exams of the secondary school certificate. The ministry added that they will adopt 132 centers to distribute the exam questionnaires, 164 supervisors and 48 observers. The ministry noted that they are keen to take all measures to ensure proper conditions for those sitting their exams that start today and continue until Thursday in all private and public schools and at the levels of the 48 educational zones within the country. ———————————————– The Libyan Association for Prisoners of Thought called on the Attorney-General in Tripoli to formally and judicially disclose the results investigations into the Abu Salim prison massacre and to expedite the trial in a manner that preserves the rights of the accused. This came during a protest held by the Assembly in Tripoli on Thursday. The Association added that the delay in the trial of the accused in the case harms the rights of the victims’ families and exposes the rights of the detainees. ———————————————– Brigadier Hassan AlMadani, a security official in the Gaddafi regime and resident of Sirte was released on Saturday morning from the city of Misrata. 46 other detainees from Tawergha, Zliten, Tripoli and Sirte have been released from Misrata Military Prison since 2011 after more than half of their sentence was carried out. ———————————————– The Fuel and Gas Crisis Committee which operates under the Brega Oil Marketing Company announced that the Central Security Forces seized more than 100 boxes of car oils destined to be smuggled to Tunisia via the Ras Ajdair border crossing. The Committee stated via their Facebook page that the forces stormed several sites belonging to smugglers in cooperation with the committee to combat the smuggling of goods outside Libya. ———————————————– The office of information of the General Electricity Company stated that an armed group attacked the team which is stationed at the Ka’am plant in Khoms. The statement added that the attack resulted in the injury of one of the workers who was taken to the hospital as a result of his injuries. The information office pointed out that repeated attacks on employees of the General Electricity Company is leading to the workers departing their sites for fear of their security and safety. It is noteworthy that Khoms area is one of the areas that refuse to enter the program designed to share electricity loads which was adopted by the Electricity Company to maintain a form of stability in the public electricity grid. ———————————————– A number of ministers of the UN proposed government held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the difficulties facing facilities and service sectors in the southern region of Libya. The visit of these ministers to the southern region as part of efforts to reopen Sebha International Airport and facilitate the provision of services to the southern regions affected from the various crises that is hitting the country. The weeklong visit of the ministers to the southern region is to visit a number of municipalities and cities in the region. ———————————————– Sources from the Accord Committee of the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) confirmed that they postponed todays meeting to next Sunday as a result of what they described as security threats. Media sources said the postponement came after statements by pro-Hefter media stating that “The constitution will only be revealed on a pool of blood”. The sources added that the Chairman of the committee has requested a postponement of the meeting until adequate protection is provided to its members, noting that the committee will have to relocate meetings to another city if the situation remains unsafe. ———————————————– The Algerian Football Federation has set August 12 to be the date for the match between Libya and Algeria in the African Nations Cup qualifier for local players which is due to be held in Kenya in 2018. According to sources, the match is scheduled to take place on the grounds of the Hamlawi stadium in the eastern Algerian city of Constantine. ———————————————– In a statement issued by the elders and rights groups of the Tebu and Kufra, they called out in protest against the discrimination at the University of Benghazi. The calls were so that students of different backgrounds would receive fair treatment as covered by the laws in force at colleagues regarding placements etc.

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Libya’s Crude Output Hits a New High Just as Oil Prices Rebound – Bloomberg

Libyas oil production has climbed to more than 1 million barrels a day for the first time in four years just as oil prices capped the longest run of gains in six months after U.S. shale explorers paused a record drilling expansion. Output is 1.005 million barrels a day, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be identified because they arent authorized to speak to the media. That would be the highest since June 2013, whenLibya pumped 1.13 million barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Oil futures advanced for a seventh consecutive day on Friday, as shale explorers broke the longest stretch of uninterrupted growth in three decades. Brent prices have still dropped 16 percent this year as rising supply from OPEC members Libya and Nigeria along with the U.S. is offsetting cuts from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners. Libyaa oil output has rebounded from only 690,000 barrels a day at the start of the year, with Sharara, the countrys largest oil field, resuming production last month. State National Oil Corp. Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in April he wanted to boost national output to 1.1 million barrels a day by August. Sharara closed on June 7 for two days due to a protest by workers over a colleagues death at the field, halting about 270,000 barrels a day, a person familiar with the matter said at the time. Libya, with Africas biggest crude reserves, was pumping about 1.6 million barrels a day before a political uprising in 2011. Other fields have reopened, most recently the Abu Attifel deposit which resumed production last month and is now pumping about 81,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the person who gave the latest production figure. The Majid oil field restarted on July 1, with output at 4,500 barrels a day. Sharara has been also steady at 270,000 barrels a day, the person said.

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Resolving the Gulf crisis through Libya – The Hill (blog)

The rift within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is one of the most significant foreign policy challenges facing the Trump administration. The conflict between Qatar on the one side, against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, as well as Egypt, is based on divisions over key issues including political Islam and Irans quest for regional influence. A clear example of how these tensions have played out on the global stage is the ongoing proxy wrangling over Libya. Libya has been suffering from a civil war that began in 2014 when the country split between rival factions based in the east and west, respectively. The United States supported a U.N.-led negotiation effort that resulted in the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement in late 2015 and the establishment of an internationally recognized Presidential Council (PC). However, it has been unable to solidify its hold on the capital in Tripoli, let alone the rest of the country. It faces a major challenge from eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is aligned with the House of Representatives (HOR) in the east. It is against this backdrop that the divisions in the Gulf have played out most clearly in a proxy conflict. As a result of personal relations between the Qatari elite, authoritative figures in the Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamist-leaning intellectuals and personalities, Doha in 2011 openly supported the Libyan revolution and worked to strengthen forces in the country close to its Islamist allies. While Qatar briefly suspended its support for proxies in Libya in 2015 due to U.S. and U.N. pressure, it resumed this support in 2016. The UAE and Egypt, while ostensibly supportive of the PC in official rhetoric, have provided Haftar with military support in his campaign to free the country from all Islamists. These states support Haftars anti-Islamist rhetoric because they have sought to isolate and crack down on certain Islamist groups, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood. The HOR joined the Saudi-UAE bloc in cutting ties with Doha, and Haftars Libyan National Army (LNA) accused Qatar of deploying forces in Libya and financing radical groups. The Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), which has been battling Haftars army and has fought alongside PC-backed forces, was one of the organizations on a terrorist sanctions list issued by the Saudi-UAE bloc accused of receiving financing from Qatar. The proxy support provided by the Gulf to Libyas rival parties is no secret. In March 2013, the U.N. panel tasked with monitoring the arms embargo on Libya said that in 2011-2012, Qatar violated the embargo by providing military material to the revolutionary forces through the organization of a large number of flights and the deliveries of a range of arms and ammunition. The U.N.s most recent report in June found that the UAE violated the embargo from 2014 to 2017 by providing aircraft and other military assets to Haftar. UAE airpower was also likely decisive in helping Haftar retake key oil facilities from the BDB in March. The conflict in Libya presents the United States with an opportunity to mediate between the conflicting parties in the GCC rift. The United States is the only country capable of leveraging enough authority to convince Doha and Abu Dhabi to cease support for their respective proxies on the ground in Libya and come to the table in earnest search of a credible solution to the crisis in the country. Progress on this front would establish a level of positive cooperation between the Qatar and the Saudi-UAE bloc that could lead to a more productive, U.S.-led dialogue aimed at ending the Gulf crisis. While the State Department has been correctly reluctant to throw its weight behind the Saudi-UAE bloc, the current policy of keeping at an arms length is ineffective. Days before the Saudi-UAE bloc released its demands to Qatar, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert noted that The more time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and whether they were about concerns of Qatari funding for terrorism or longstanding grievances. This was a welcome shift from the immediate support expressed by President Trump for the Saudi-UAE bloc. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Riyadh to ensure that its demands to Doha were reasonable and actionable. However, Qatar is unlikely to bow to the heavy list of demands issued on June 23. Doha insists that it will not negotiate with the Saudi-UAE bloc while faced with punitive diplomatic and economic measures. In this context, rather than pressure Qatar to submit to the demands or call out the Saudi-UAE bloc for what are unlikely the reasonable and actionable demands Tillerson envisioned, the United States should present Libya as an opportunity to address the competing interests of the Gulf states. By bringing the Gulf rivals together around the negotiation table on Libya, the United States could foster common ground between the Saudi-UAE bloc and Qatar. An improvement in relations surrounding the Libya issue could help build trust and find solutions for other major disagreements. Indeed, recent progress in Libya could provide an opening, such as the decision by the BDB, condemned by Haftar and his Gulf supporters, to demobilize and agree to join a formal, legitimate national army. One of the demands issued by Saudi-UAE bloc to Qatar is to cease interference in the affairs of sovereign countries. This is a standard that must be met by all regional actors engaged in Libya; the proxy war has exacerbated tensions within the country and made dim any prospect for a peaceful solution. By recognizing the conflict in Libya as one manifestation of Gulf regional competition, the Trump administration, in coordination with the U.N., could exert U.S. leadership to obtain Gulf rapprochement through the resolution of divisions over Libya. Karim Mezranis a resident senior fellow with the Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.Elissa Milleris an assistant director at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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July 1, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

‘Whoever Controls Benghazi Controls Libya’ – The Atlantic

BENGHAZI, Libya We fight terrorism for the sake of the world, reads the billboard overlooking one of this strife-torn citys upscale streets. It also bears the visage of a mustachioed, uniformed manField Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Libyas most powerful and polarizing figure. Coming from him, the billboards message is a most striking assertion. When I went to Libya just over three years ago, then-General Haftar gave me a variation of this same line. Libya will be the graveyard of international terrorism, he predicted. Those were the early days of Operation Dignity, Haftars military campaign to rid Benghazi of Islamist and jihadist militias, whod ensconced themselves in the city since the 2011 revolution. Hed promised the operation would be over in weeks. This May, the war in Benghazi passed its 36th monthlonger than the uprising that unseated dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The conflict has killed and displaced thousands, and caused devastation on a scale not seen in the country since the Second World War. How Not to Plan for The Day After in Libya Today, Haftar can claim some success. His forces have decimated the Islamists, pushing them back to just a few seaside blocks on Benghazis fringes. Life is returning to the city. But along the way, his operation has unleashed new, destabilizing forces, the greatest of which have been a resurgent authoritarianism and the political rise of Haftar himself, in defiance of the UN-backed government in Tripoli. It is an ascendancy abetted by support from an Emirati-Egyptian axis and, more recently, signaling from the Trump administration. And its aftershocks are rippling far across the country. * * * The roots of Operation Dignity lie in the aftermath of the 2012 jihadist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. In the months that followed, Benghazi fell into despair, all but forgotten by the world. Assassinations terrorized residents; drive-by shootings and car bombs felled judges, activists, security guards, and military officers. Nobody went out at night. The motives for the killings were murkya mix of Islamist violence, tribal feuds, and criminality. Whatever the case, residents longed for order, for someone to stop the chaos. Enter Haftar. The septuagenarian officer had fought in Qaddafis war in Chad before defecting and fleeing, with CIA assistance, to Virginia, where he lived for nearly 20 years. Returning to Libya during the 2011 revolution against Qaddafi, he tried and failed to lead the rebels. He all but disappeared from view, traveling around Libya with his retinue, an itinerant claimant to a destiny that eluded him. In February 2014, he appeared on television and announced the dissolution of the elected parliament, meeting only ridicule. The coup that wasnt, people called it. Then, that summer, amid Benghazis intractable violence, he found his opening. With just a few hundred followers drawn from disaffected army units and eastern tribes, and some dilapidated aircraft, he launched Operation Dignity to take on the citys Islamist militias. Within a year, his forces controlled most of the east. The campaign was unsanctioned by the Tripoli government and would soon throw the country into civil war. Operation Dignity, Haftar explained to me then, sought not only to drive out the Islamists, but to reclaim the honor of the uniformed officers whod been sidelined by militias. He complained that the officers of the ex-regime were paid far less than untrained Islamist militias with ties to jihadists, and blamed the situation on the corruption of the parliament and civilian leadership in Tripoli. Most importantly, though, Haftar wanted to remake Libyas politics by expunging political Islamists, especially from the Muslim Brotherhood, who he accused of complicity in the violence. This goal aligned neatly with the policies of Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, whose speeches Haftar copied and whose military and political support would prove vital. Haftar predicted the fighting would be over in weeks. The weeks became months; the months turned into years. International aid poured in to support Haftars forces; foreigners, meanwhile, swelled the ranks of Haftars foes as well. The United Arab Emirates, with its own phobia of the Brotherhood, joined the Egyptians in sending armored vehicles, advisers, and attack aircraft. Russia lavished Haftar with attention: a theatrical visit to an aircraft carrier, medical assistance, and, reportedly, special forces. The French, the British, and the Americans sent special operators who provided varying levels of intelligence and front-line support. But Haftar had erred. By attacking the Islamists, he had lumped moderates together with jihadists and, as time wore on, the balance of power shifted to the radicals, bolstered by an influx of Tunisians, Egyptians, and other foreigners. In early 2015, the Islamic State arrived and exploited the chaos. Islamists who mightve reconciled with the Libyan state were killed off or exiled, or they cast their fates with the so-called caliphate. By late 2015, when I visited Benghazi, Operation Dignity was locked in a stalemate. I visited field hospitals where I saw Haftars men torn apart by mines and snipers. Vast swathes of the city were no-go zones. * * * When I returned this May, I found a battlefield completely changed. Haftars forces had all but declared victory. To be sure, fighting still rages, and parts of the city lie in ruin, including the iconic old city and its courthouse, site of the first protests against Qaddafi in 2011. The expansive, recently liberated Fish Market district, where families once gathered on Ramadan nights, is now a shamble of concrete. Shelling has scarred the Italianate porticos of Tree Square, once beloved for its cedar, and destroyed the covered bazaar of Suq al-Jarid, once filled with tailors, jewelers, and leather-smiths. Soldiers still fall from sniper fire and, especially, booby-trapsdiabolical devices triggered by thin planks of wood covered with sand, trash, or grass. Civilians still perish from salvos of rockets or mortars, often at night. One morning I witnessed the aftermath of such an attack: a gaping crater, an incinerated car, and a young man grieving for his brother. Yet in many parts of the city I felt the pulse of normalcy. In the old district of Birka, the green-checkered flags of the Nasr football club, a local favorite, crisscross the bustling streets. Traffic police who once cowered at home for fear of assassination are stationed once again at intersections, wearing their summer white uniforms. Factories and farms are creaking back to life, while younger entrepreneurs try their hands at tech start-ups, participating in competitions for innovative app designs. The university is reopening. Leisure has returned as well. At the Luna Mall, children play on a toy train next to ice cream parlors, candy stores, and clothing outlets. There are musical clubs, theater troupes, art galleries, and rugby tournaments. Sitting on the lawn of a new hotel, newlyweds smoke apple-flavored tobacco while a projector plays Egyptian soap operas on a wall. This is one face of Benghazithe one of progress and order. There is, of course, another side. * * * Benghazis war is not simply an army operation against terrorists, but a deeply intimate social conflict, between neighbors and cousins, overlaid with tribal- and class-based tensions, between eastern tribes and families from the west, among eastern tribes, and between urban elites and rural poor. Reports of torture, disappearances, and the destruction of property emerge with numbing frequency. So, too, has evidence of summary executions, on both sides. Tribal and neighborhood militias armed by Haftar early in his campaign have carried out many of the abuses. These militias, known as support forces, at one point comprised as much as 60 to 80 percent of his men, and they retain power today, despite efforts to disband them. Many of them have attacked the families of suspected militants, demolishing their homes and businesses. A Dignity commander once justified this destruction in the interests of saving Benghazis social fabric. Of course, precisely the opposite occurred. I found evidence of the desecration while driving through Benghazis Laythi neighborhood, a poor, densely packed quarter with a reputation for militancy and scrappiness. I passed the blackened ruins of burned-out houses and stores and the tawny skeletons of cars. Some of the pillaging seemed invested with class rivalry, an expression of resentment by poorer tribes against the wealthier Islamists. I met one leader of a pro-Haftar militia that attacked the home of an alleged jihadist financier who owned an aluminum workshop where hed once apprenticed. Many of those fleeing the vigilante attacks in Laythi and other neighborhoods now form the social backbone of the militant opposition to Haftar. Thousands of families have been forced from Benghazi, many simply because their male relatives are fighting Haftar. Still other refugees claim to have been targeted by Haftars militias solely because of their distant family origins, especially those who hail from western towns like Misrata, a coastal powerhouse that has armed and funded the Islamists opposing Haftar. In Misrata, I met several of the militiamen whove shipped weapons to the Islamists fighting Haftar. They complain that his war has stoked a new nativism among some of the eastern tribes allied with Dignity. Those whom these tribes deemed not native to Benghazi and the east they brand as ghuraba, or westerners. No matter that Misratan families had migrated to Benghazi centuries ago, settling in the citys downtown, where they thrived as traders and builders. Now, tribes who came to Benghazi in recent decades from its rural environs accused them of not belonging. Even worse, they labeled the Misratans Turks or Circassians, references to the Misratas historical links with the Ottoman Empire. This is a tribal racism, said one of them. Like many narratives of victimization, this one includes some distortion. The ranks of those opposing Haftar include eastern tribes, just as Haftars supporters include people from Misrata and the west. This is what makes the conflict in Benghazi so confounding: It cuts across communal lines and divides families. What is clear, however, is that the spirit of militant revanchism animating the displaced and those fighting Haftar, is likely to endure. Whoever controls Benghazi controls Libya, one of them told me. Another byproduct of Operation Dignity has been a surge in conservative Islam in Benghazi and across the east. Despite the common portrayal of Haftar as secular and anti-Islamist, he has co-opted and supported conservative, Saudi-inspired Salafists. These so-called quietist Salafists embrace a doctrine of loyalty to a sitting political ruler and hostility to more activist and jihadist forms of Islamism, like the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. Unsurprisingly, they joined Dignity from the beginning. They later sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia to secure a fatwa from their clerical mentor in Saudi Arabia authorizing support for Haftar. In recent months, the pro-Haftar Salafists have attempted to consolidate their control of security affairs and social life in Benghazi and to the east. They field their own militia, and deploy it across the citys frontlines. They are also active in prisons; I met one of them who works on the theological rehabilitation of captured jihadists. The Salafists also function as a sort of morality police. They have confiscated and burned books deemed heretical and shut down an Earth Day celebration, branding it as un-Islamic. Their influence unnerves many of Haftars liberal supporters: They thought hed restore security and oust the Islamists, not unleash Islamists of his own. Even more unsettling is Haftars militarization of governance. Across the east, he has replaced elected municipal leaders with uniformed military officers. The Qaddafi-era intelligence apparatus is back on the payroll. Critical voices have been silenced through expulsion, arrest, or even disappearancea return, many whisper, to the bad old days. * * * Haftar appears poised to move beyond Benghazi and take to the national stage. He has made no secret of his intention to move west to Tripoli to topple the Islamist militias holding sway in the capital. Hes already grabbed oil facilities in the central Sirte Basin and recently seized southern airfields from his opponents. Hes also sought international endorsement. Last fall, Haftar sent envoys to Washington and pitched to the United States the idea of ruling Libya through a military council, only to be rebuffed. The redline for Washington, according to a senior U.S. official present at those meetings, was civilian control over the Libyan military. More recently, Haftar has shifted tack to accept a civilian position overseeing Libyas military in a three-person governing council, or to run as a candidate in Libyas presidential elections, currently scheduled for early 2018. His critics remain suspicious, seeing in this switch a back-door route to dictatorship. I found signs of Haftars attempted rebranding in another, newly erected billboard. This one stands in Benghazis expansive Kish Square, a site of frequent demonstrations where at night young men drift in souped-up cars. Haftar appears on the sign wearing a grey suit and tie, flanked by adoring crowds. The Popular Authorization Movement for Saving the Country, the words beneath him read. At a nearby tent, one of the Movements organizers explained its goal: to obtain 400,000 notarized signatures authorizing Haftar to govern the country. It has the trappings of a political campaign, one that has been hastened by recent Egyptian and Emirati military activity on Haftars behalf, and the misfortunes befalling Qatar, the patron of his Islamist opponents. Added to this are the encouraging signals from Trumps Middle Eastern forays. Whereas the Obama presidency kept the general at arms length, Trumps counter-terrorism focus, anti-Islamism, and embrace of Arab despots are a godsend for Haftar. Back in Benghazi, a sense of buyers remorse seems to weigh on some of Haftars onetime supporters. For them, the saga of his comeback from the wilderness, his rescuing of a troubled city, and his rise to national dominance carries all the makings of a personality cult, one with echoes from the not-too-distant past. Weve come to regard him as a mini-god, a local activist confided, and thats dangerous. Thats what we did with Qaddafi.

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New UN Libya envoy faces long road to peace – Al-Monitor

Author:Mustafa Fetouri Posted June 30, 2017 United Nations Secretary-GeneralAntonio Guterreshas appointedGhassan Salame as his new special envoy to Libya and as the head of the UN mission in the country known as the UNSupport Mission in Libya. His appointment came after months of searching for the right candidate. In February, Guterres attempted to appoint Salam Fayyad, the former Palestinian prime minister. But the United States, a veto-holding UN Security Council member, objected to the appointment, accusing the internationalbody of being unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authorityto the detriment of our allies in Israel, as the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, saw the matter then. Salames task is not easy, and four of his predecessors have so far failed to deliver peace and reconciliation to the war-ravaged country. Right after his first meeting with a group of Libyan politicians,before his appointment, Salame tweeted May 19,Three days of meetings with Libyan leaders has been exhausting but I hope it will help the national reconciliation process indicating that he knows the difficulties facing him. Salame is the second Lebanese to take the post after Tarek Mitri who tried his luck with the Libyansin 2012-14, before he was replaced byBernardino Leon. Salames predecessor, Martin Kobler, had failed to make the warring Libyan factions accept the UN-brokered peace agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, in December 2015. It was during Leons tenure that the breakthrough took place and the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) was signed. That agreement gave birth to the Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj. Since then and despite the shuttle diplomacy, nothing has been achieved and much remains to be done. Since the toppling of its longtime leader, Moammar Gadhafi, on Oct. 20, 2011, Libya has been divided between two quarreling governments and dominated by dozens of armed militias. The country has seen little progress in terms of peace, national reconciliationand economic stability. What Salame brings to the post is probably his experience being a former Lebanese minister who knows how difficult it is to make quarreling factions agree in the absence of serious national dialogue. In addition, he is a well-known Arab intellectual, academicand author. Before the UN job, he was founding dean of the School of International Affairs, part of the French prestigious Sciences Po think tank and university in Paris. As the new UN envoy, he should carefully review previous UN efforts in Libya and identify what mistakes were made in tackling the Libyan crisis to avoid repeating them. One major error made by all previous UN diplomats has been the marginalization of two important potential political players: the supporters of the former regime who are a sizeable number in the tribally divided country,and the tribal fabric of the Libyan society, which cant be sidelined for peace to have a chance. Supporters of the former regime in exile are now organizing themselves to have Seif al-Islam, Gadhafis son, lead them as one group after the young Gadhafi was released from prisonJune 11. This brings a new dimension to the conflict, since it will be the first time a son of Gadhafi enters the political scene. As for the tribal fabric of Libya, the majority of Libyan tribes are represented by a broad umbrella groupcalled The Supreme Council of Libyan Tribes and Cities thatoperatesfrom neighboring Egypt. In the past, tribes have been overlooked by all former UN envoys, a mistake Salame should not repeat. Another major problem Salame must try to tackle is the outside interference in the Libyan affairs, particularly by regional countries. Such meddling in the internal affairs only contributed to heightened tensions, making the local smallsporadic wars more of a proxy war between the United Arab Emiratesand Egypt supporting the Tobruk-based governmentwhile Turkey, Sudan and Qatar support other factions in western Libya. With Qatar on retreat, the new envoy might have more room to maneuver. Salame should not attempt to open up the LPA for renegotiations as many parties call for the UN deal to be rewritten. In fact, what could be renegotiated is only a couple of articles related to the role of the military and downsizing the number of the Presidential Council from its current nine members to maybe three representing each of the countrys three regions:Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the eastand Fezzan in the south. Salame has good ties with France, which played a leading military role in bringing down Gadhafis regime in 2011 and has ever since been puzzled by the complicated mess Libya is in.He is well-known to French politicians and well-connected to decision-makers, which will help him align whatever plans he has hatched to the larger European Union ideas when it comes to tackling the Libya crisis. He must make good use of the French veto power in the UN Security Council by making sure that those who disrupt the political process can and will be held accountable before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. A kind of carrot-and-stick tactic will certainly deter many negative moves. UN Resolution 1973 of March 2011 still applies to Libya calling for the ICC to investigate suspected human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity. However, since 2011, no one has been investigated despite all the small wars and violence Libya has been through. No UN envoy or mediator has any magic solution and Salame can only do so much. In the end, it is the quarreling Libyan factions that must chose peace if they care about their country and its people as much as they care about their own political interests. Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/06/libya-new-un-envoy-mission-mistakes-peace.html

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Total blackout hits western region of Libya – The Libya Observer

The Libya Observer Total blackout hits western region of Libya The Libya Observer The western region plunged into total blackout on Friday, the General Electricity Company (GECOL) reported, adding that work is underway to restore the electric grid. GECOL sources said the blackout affected the region from Sirte in central Libya to …

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OPEC oil output jumps to 2017 high as Nigeria, Libya pump more – Reuters

LONDON OPEC oil output has risen in June by 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a 2017 high, a Reuters survey found, as a further recovery in supply from the two member countries exempt from a production-cutting deal offset strong compliance by their peers. High compliance by Gulf producers Saudi Arabia and Kuwait helped keep OPEC’s adherence with its supply curbs at a historically high 92 percent in June, compared with 95 percent in May, the survey found. But extra oil from Nigeria and Libya, exempted from the cut because conflict curbed their output, means supply by the 13 OPEC members originally part of the deal has risen far above their implied production target. The recovery adds to the challenge the OPEC-led effort to support the market is facing from a persistent inventory glut. If the recovery lasts, calls could grow within OPEC for the exempt countries to be brought into the production deal. “The rise in OPEC production will further delay the point at which balance is restored on the oil market,” said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. As part of a deal with Russia and other non-members, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries originally pledged to reduce output by about 1.2 million bpd for six months from Jan. 1. Oil prices have gained some ground but high stocks and rising U.S. output kept them in check. To provide additional support for prices, the producers decided in May to prolong the deal until March 2018. June’s biggest rise came from Nigeria, where output extended a recovery after being curtailed by militant attacks on oil installations. The second-biggest was from Libya. Nigerian output is expected to rise further in coming weeks. Planned exports in August are scheduled to reach at least 2 million bpd, a 17-month high. In Libya, output was on average higher despite fluctuation and has now exceeded 1 million bpd, a four-year high. Production remains some way short of the 1.6 million bpd Libya pumped before the 2011 civil war. Saudi Arabia pumped 40,000 bpd more, the survey found, although its compliance remained above 100 percent. Even with June’s increase, the curb achieved by OPEC’s top producer is 564,000 bpd, well above the target cut of 486,000 bpd. Aside from a rise in Angolan exports, no other significant change in output occurred elsewhere in OPEC. OPEC announced a production target of 32.5 million bpd last year, which was based on low figures for Libya and Nigeria. The target includes Indonesia, which has since left, and does not include Equatorial Guinea, the latest country to join OPEC. The Libyan and Nigerian increases mean OPEC output in June averaged 32.57 million bpd, about 820,000 bpd above its supply target, adjusted to remove Indonesia and not including Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea, which became an OPEC member in late May, has now been added to the Reuters survey. The country’s crude production is estimated at 150,000 bpd, which brings total OPEC production in June to 32.72 million bpd. The Reuters survey is based on shipping data provided by external sources, Thomson Reuters flows data, and information provided by sources at oil companies, OPEC and consulting firms. (With additional reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Dale Hudson) MOSCOW Russia’s Rosneft, the world’s top listed oil producer, wants to supply gas in parts of Europe where Gazprom is not present to avoid the risk of losing those markets to U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG), a Rosneft executive said. LONDON Not very long ago, a 17 percent oil price fall would have sent emerging market stocks into a tailspin. But this year they are set for their best first half since 2014.

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Summer double standards: Some Libyan cities in utter darkness, others enjoying electric power 24/7 – The Libya Observer

The General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL) pronounced Thursday that it is going through critical situations currently with the ever-rising temperatures in the country. GECOL said on Facebook that despite all efforts to keep the general power network balanced, the swat-urging heat waves and soaring degrees of humidity got the upper hand. “We have registered overloads due to increased use of electric power across Libya. We ask all Libyans to cooperate with GECOL staffers and maintain logical use of power these days.” GECOL’s Facebook post reads. It also condemned the assault on two control centers in Al-Ruwais and Shakshook by gunmen from western mountain cities, which are refusing to be included in the GECOL’s load shedding hours that aim to drop the overload burden on the general network. “We call on relevant authorities to intervene in the issue and oblige the districts and cities, which are rejecting the load shedding policy, to be part of GECOL’s program to help achieve justice across Libya as regards the outage of power. “Al-Khums, Al-Zawiya, and some western mountain districts are rejecting the idea of load shedding.” GECOL said on Facebook on Wednesday. GECOL’s Chief, Abdelmajid Hamza, also held an emergency meeting at the GECOL’s headquarters in Tripoli to discuss the load shedding policy due to the high temperatures in Libya, discussing as well a formation of a committee that will help solve the issue of the rejectors. Libya is undergoing a heat wave with temperatures exceeding 40 C in most cities leading to more demand and use of electric power, thus obliging the GECOL to resort to load shedding hours reaching over 8 hours a day in some cities.

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Cardiff man appeals for help after cousin is kidnapped in Libya – WalesOnline

A Cardiff man has spoken of his torment after his cousin was kidnapped in Libya by a gang demanding a 10,000 ransom. Abdi Egal, 52, who moved to the Welsh capital in 1974 from Somaliland, was contacted by his cousin from the country of his birth to tell him her 19-year-old son had been abducted. It is believed that Abdis cousin Hakim Adan was targeted in Libya because he was a vulnerable refugee who visited the country in an attempt to make his way to Europe. Abdi, who lives in Canton , said: There are a lot of African Muslims who are trying to get into Europe and my cousin walked from Somaliland to Libya. A couple of days ago, some people phoned his mother saying they wanted 10,000 to set him free. She said they wanted 10,000 and she has managed to raise 5,000 so far so shes trying to do all she can. I only work part time and I dont have any money so we are in desperation. I was crying myself when she told me, I feel helpless because I cant do anything. Were very concerned in the family. Abdi said his family have nowhere to turn as the UK Government cannot get involved because his cousin is not a British national. He added it was unlikely the government in Somaliland would be able to help. He said: Apparently in Libya this happens regularly and theres no government in place to do anything about it. It was all in the mistaken belief he could get into Europe, a lot of people think they can get into Europe but there is no way in. I have got an idea why he wanted to come to Europe because there is nothing in Somaliland but his mother wants him back and safe absolutely. The Foreign Office has advised against all travel to Libya and for British nationals still living in Libya to leave immediately. A spokesperson said: Although the Government of National Accord (GNA) is working to restore stability and security to Libya, intense fighting continues in a number of areas and local security situations can quickly deteriorate. Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Libya. There remains a high threat throughout the country of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners, including from Daesh-affiliated extremists and al-Qaeda, as well as armed militias. Since 2015, Daesh [also known as Islamic State] have attacks a number of oil and gas installations and killed or kidnapped workers, including foreign nationals. The British Embassy in Tripoli remains temporarily closed, and is unable to provide consular assistance.

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