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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #350 on: October 30, 2013, 10:07:29 AM »



http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/james-beattie/dhs-proposes-lifting-30-year-immigration-ban-libyans-working-us-aviation

DHS Proposes Lifting 30-Year Immigration Ban for Libyans Working in U.S. Aviation and Nuclear Fields
October 29, 2013 - 5:03 PM
By James Beattie


(CNSNews.com) – A draft regulation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would lift a 30-year-ban on Libyan nationals coming to the United States to work or train in “aviation maintenance, flight operations, or nuclear-related fields.”

The 11-page proposed rule was obtained by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

In a statement on his congressional website, Rep. Chaffetz said that the draft final regulation could take effect without prior notice and comment. The congressmen say the prohibition was put in place in the 1980s after the wave of terrorist incidents involving Libyans.

"The administration justifies lifting this ban by claiming that the United States’ relationship with Libya has been ‘normalized,’” the statement said.

But the congressmen also say, "the terror threat continues and numerous news reports document recent terror-related stories coming from Libya. And just over a year ago the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked, which resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens."

benghazi

The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on fire in the early morning of Sept. 12, 2012. (AP)

A House Judiciary Committee source said the document is an “internal draft regulation” and is not final yet, and was obtained by Reps. Chaffetz and Goodlatte. It is not known yet when DHS, formerly headed by Secretary Janet Napolitano -- and now awaiting a new leader -- will officially issue the regulation.

The actual rule says the “United States and the Government of Libya have normalized their relationship and most of the restrictions and sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations toward Libya have been lifted. Therefore, DHS, after consultation with the Department of State and the Department of Defense, is rescinding the restrictions that deny nonimmigrant status and benefits to a specific group of Libyan nationals.”

Libyan nationals who want to come to America to study aviation or nuclear science would have to undergo the “Visas Mantis” security clearance, reads the regulation, and be subject to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security-threat assessments.

Chaffetz: ‘If President Obama Wants Gun Control He Should Start With the United States Park Police’

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). (AP)

Goodlatte, in a statement on Chaffetz’s website, said, “Just over a year ago, four Americans were killed in the pre-planned terrorist attacks on the American Consulate in Benghazi.  We still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and continue to face additional terrorist threats from Libya, yet the Obama Administration is preparing to lift a longstanding ban that protects Americans and our interests.”

Chaffetz said, “It is unbelievable that this administration would again put Americans in harm’s way by lifting a decades old security ban on a country that has become a hotbed of terrorist activity. We must work with the Libyans to build mutual trust that ensures safety and prosperity for both countries to enjoy."

Judicial Watch, a government watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C., commented, “It’s incomprehensible that the U.S. government is even considering reversing the longstanding policy banning Libyans from working or training in areas so crucial to national security.”

Inquiries by telephone and e-mail from CNSNews.com to DHS for comment were not answered before this story was published.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #351 on: February 03, 2014, 07:33:45 PM »

NYT (POTH)

Libya’s Cache of Toxic Arms All Destroyed

By ERIC SCHMITTFEB. 2, 2014


WASHINGTON — Even as the international effort to destroy Syria’s vast chemical weapons stockpile lags behind schedule, a similar American-backed campaign carried out under a cloak of secrecy ended successfully last week in another strife-torn country, Libya.

The United States and Libya in the past three months have discreetly destroyed what both sides say were the last remnants of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s lethal arsenal of chemical arms. They used a transportable oven technology to destroy hundreds of bombs and artillery rounds filled with deadly mustard agent, which American officials had feared could fall into the hands of terrorists. The effort also helped inspire the use of the technology in the much bigger disposal plan in Syria.
Related Coverage

    Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, center, said Friday  in Geneva that he did not rule out returning for more negotiations.
    Syrian Talks, Ending First Round, Fail Even to Agree on Easing Aid BlockadeJAN. 31, 2014
    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, right, met with Polish defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak, left, on Thursday.
    Delay in Chemical Arms Pledge CriticizedJAN. 30, 2014

Since November, Libyan contractors trained in Germany and Sweden have worked in bulky hazmat suits at a tightly guarded site in a remote corner of the Libyan desert, 400 miles southeast of Tripoli, racing to destroy the weapons in a region where extremists linked to Al Qaeda are gaining greater influence. The last artillery shell was destroyed on Jan. 26, officials said.

As Libya’s weak central government grapples with turmoil and unrest, and as kidnappings and assassinations of military and police officers accelerate in the country’s east, American and international weapons specialists hailed the destruction of the Libyan stockpile as a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy security environment.

“It’s a big breakthrough,” said Paul F. Walker, an arms control expert with the environmental group Green Cross International who has helped in efforts to demilitarize the American and Russian chemical weapons stockpiles since the 1990s. “Even though Libya’s chemical stockpile was relatively small, the effort to destroy it was very difficult because of weather, geography and because it’s a dangerous area with warring tribes, increasing the risks of theft and diversion,” he said.

Libya’s last two tons of chemical weapons were dwarfed by the 1,300 tons that Syria has agreed to destroy. But American and international arms experts say the need for easily transportable and efficient technology to wipe out the Libyan arms became a model for the Syria program now underway.

For Libya’s fragile transitional government, such collaboration with the West on security matters is a delicate issue. It gives the country’s leaders desperately needed assistance to defuse internal threats, but also risks accusations of compromising national sovereignty.

Asked about the American efforts to destroy the chemical weapons, Libyan security officials in Tripoli initially issued sweeping denials. One later briefly acknowledged the operation on the condition of anonymity, and then officials stopped returning phone calls.

On Sunday, the White House said that it would ensure that the Syrian government complied with an accord to give up its chemical arsenal despite missed deadlines and delays in carrying out the deal.

The White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, said on the CBS News program “Face the Nation” that the deal was “not falling apart, but we would like to see it proceed much more quickly than it is.”

The disposal of the last of Libya’s chemical weapons closes a chapter that Colonel Qaddafi began in early 2004, when his government turned over a vast cache of nuclear technology and chemical stockpiles to the United States, Britain and international nuclear inspectors.

At that time, Libya declared for destruction 24.7 metric tons of sulfur mustard, a syrupy liquid that when loaded into bombs or artillery shells and exploded creates a toxic mist that penetrates clothing, burns and blisters exposed skin, and can kill with large doses or if left untreated. The chemical was used extensively in World War I.


Libya had destroyed about half of these stocks when civil war broke out in 2011. Western spy agencies closely monitored the destruction site in the Libyan desert to ensure the stockpiles were not pilfered by insurgents.

When the new government took control in Tripoli that fall, it signaled its intent to finish the job. Libyan officials also surprised Western inspectors by announcing the discovery in November 2011 and February 2012 of two hidden caches of mustard, or nearly two tons, that had not been declared by Colonel Qaddafi’s government. That brought the total declared amount of chemical to 26.3 tons.

Unlike the majority of Libya’s mustard agents, which were stored in large, bulky containers, the new caches were already armed and loaded into 517 artillery shells, 45 plastic sleeves for rocket launchings and eight 500-pound bombs.

The new stockpiles immediately posed huge challenges for the fledgling Libyan government, which had no ability to destroy the combat-ready chemical weapons, as well as for its American and European allies called upon to help.

The disposal site is deep in the desert, in an area where Islamist militants hostile to the West wield growing influence. It also sits on the front line of the struggle between Libya’s eastern and western provinces over political power and oil revenue. A defining issue in post-Qaddafi politics, the regional rivalry has often spilled out into armed blockades of the national highways and crucial oil-export terminals as well.

Using $45 million from the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which has helped rid the former Soviet Union of thousands of nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon and its Defense Threat Reduction Agency tapped the Parsons Corporation, a construction firm based in Pasadena, Calif., to work with Libya to oversee the rebuilding and safeguarding of the Libyan disposal site, which had been ransacked during the civil war.

Remarkably, the mustard agents stored in bulk containers at the site were untouched and their inspection seals unbroken, American and international officials said. These have all been destroyed, too.

Canada donated $6 million to help restore water, sewage service and electricity to the site, and to build living quarters for Western and Libyan contractors. Germany agreed to fly international inspectors to the site.

The project has relied on a custom-built device from Dynasafe, a Swedish company, to destroy the weapons. It is essentially a giant, high-tech oven called a static-detonation chamber. The munitions were fed through an automated loading system into a gas-tight chamber, where the toxic materials were vaporized at temperatures between 750 and 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Gases created in the process were scrubbed by special filters.

“The destruction of these munitions was a major undertaking in arduous, technically challenging circumstances,” Ahmet Uzumcu, the director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, whose inspectors supervised the destruction of the chemical weapons, said in a written statement.

Although American officials acknowledge that Libya is awash with conventional arms, they expressed confidence that the vast Libyan desert holds no other secret caches of unconventional arms for jihadis to exploit.

Andrew C. Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, said, “This is the culmination of a major international effort to eliminate weapons of mass destruction from Libya and to ensure that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.”
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G M
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« Reply #352 on: February 03, 2014, 09:56:12 PM »

Sure they did.…

 rolleyes
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #353 on: February 17, 2014, 06:51:09 AM »


Summary

Maj. Gen. Khalifa Haftar, a Gadhafi-era military commander who defected from the regime and attempted to aid the Libyan rebels during the 2011 uprisings, said Feb. 14 that Libya's beleaguered transitional political body should cede power because its mandate to rule ended Feb. 7. In his announcement on a Saudi-backed television channel, he ordered the General National Congress to step down in favor of fresh elections and claimed that Libyan army troops were in the streets of the capital. This statement was later proved false as local news stations went to the Congress and other government buildings in Tripoli and found lawmakers, including the prime minister and the president, working as usual.

Though Prime Minister Ali Zeidan referred to the episode as "laughable," this scenario underscores the often outwardly precarious situation facing Libya's political transition and its domestic stability now more than two years since the fall of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Libya is indeed plagued by a stalled political transition process and a proliferation of armed groups vying to influence the formation of an eventual permanent government. But unlike in Egypt or Algeria -- other countries in the region with a tradition of a strong military influence in domestic politics -- Libya's fledgling military lacks both the physical presence and the institutional legitimacy to either meaningfully challenge the government or to successfully stabilize the anemic authority of the central government by ruling in its stead.

Analysis

Though Haftar's call for a coup did not prove to be an immediate threat to the current Libyan government, the General National Congress does face an uphill battle for successfully holding constituent assembly elections and pushing the country toward a more permanent form of governance under the framework of a new constitution. The transitional process since the fall of Gadhafi has been beset with a number of difficulties: a proliferation of armed groups and militias that claim oversight over the government, weak control of national borders and Libya's vast desert territories and persistent concerns over the numbers of militants entering the country. These problems have led to fluctuating oil production and ongoing challenges to the central government's attempts to implement policies and hold municipal and national elections that would replace the myriad forms of local governance, tribal authorities and rising militia strongmen with democratic institutions.

In Egypt, the military grew into the most powerful state institution, imposing a top-down order to Egyptian governance. It become the ultimate arbiter of political disputes and the guarantor of the state's domestic and international obligations. With the 80 million people living in Egypt, Cairo faces the daunting task of governing the Middle East's largest population, the vast majority of whom are densely settled along the banks of the Nile River. In this situation, the Egyptian military has been well suited to rule, with its organizational capabilities, available manpower and relative popularity among the Egyptian people.
Libya's Population Density and Regions
Click to Enlarge

Gadhafi's Libya is markedly different. Its population is the smallest of the North African states at approximately 6.5 million. Spread primarily along the coast or in various smaller pockets within the Libyan desert, there is no unifying geographic feature to define Libyan society such as Egypt's Nile or the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria. Therefore, Libyan society has maintained its strong tribal identities and affiliations.

Rather than rule only through a crushing concentration of force wielded by a loyal army, Gadhafi maintained a delicate balancing act between Libya's opposing regions and local tribal competitions through his own patronage network that tied tribal networks into the regime. The People's Militia -- armed and loosely trained tribal networks -- also formed a significant number of the pre-revolutionary Libyan armed forces. Because Gadhafi took power through a military coup, as he grew older and increasingly paranoid he sought to limit the military's ability to concentrate force outside his control and thereby threaten his ability to rule the country.

Conversation: Libya's Deteriorating Security

In a bizarre twist of fate, post-Gadhafi Libya has in some instances seen the fruition of the previous dictator's supposed plans for the country -- specifically, the proliferation of local militias keeping in check the central government's ability to rule through force or unpopular decree. Though Gadhafi never intended for public opposition to rise up and depose him, or to effectively stall the government's ability to function, the rise of Libya's armed groups has underscored a startling truth for the General National Congress and Libya's foreign observers: the Libyan military is one of the most dysfunctional and poorly organized institutions within the Libyan state. Competitions for power within the Congress itself, a distrust of the lingering Gadhafi-era military leadership, a well-documented inability to delineate authority and a lack of clear communication have all hampered the military's ability to secure the country or push back against militia posturing.

The Libyan army suffered from large-scale defections and the loss of weapons, equipment and materiel following the 2011 revolution. The Libyan militias' refusal to disarm has created a scenario in which the military is no longer the strongest or most capable projector of force in the country. Local militia groups, such as those from Zintan or various pro-government militias of varying degrees of loyalty and dependability, support the national army in almost all of its operations in the country. Furthermore, there is still strong popular resistance to the formation of another strongman government rising in Tripoli, despite frustrations with the slow pace of change since the fall of Gadhafi.

Haftar's statement that the General National Congress should resign occurred against a backdrop of voices demanding that the General National Congress step down in favor of another governmental body ahead of the planned constitutional drafting process. Though Haftar's threats of a coup proved false, his sentiments correspond with those of many people in Libya who would like to see the General National Congress step aside and allow another group -- one that may be more amenable to the changes they would like to see in the constitution -- to come to power and oversee the drafting of Libya's constitution. However, Haftar is an interesting person to issue such a statement. A figure in Gadhafi's military structure, he defected nearly 20 years before Gadhafi fell, returning in Libya in 2011 to aid the rebellion. Haftar's role as a military commander during the rebellion was quickly ended over suspicions that he had ties to the CIA, and Haftar has lingered ever since with an unclear role in the current military structure and a poor record of military command or loyalty among troops.

The fact remains that Libya's army is demoralized, weak and out-armed by the various militias and armed groups that have risen to fill the void of the central government throughout Libyan territory. Even if a faction of the military could rise up and overthrow the current government, it would be unable to arbitrate between the various militias and political factions that would vie to replace the General National Congress. If it sought to hold power, the military would almost assuredly face the risk of another civil war as the country's tens of thousands of revolutionaries moved to prevent another unelected dictatorship in Tripoli.

Geographic realities also severely impede the army's reach. The army functions mostly as the country's largest militia, and it can reliably secure and protect only Tripoli and its immediate environs. The country's protracted stalemate, already often beset with violence, would further descend into chaos. For these reasons -- internal dysfunction, poor communication and a lack of institutional power -- a rise of the Libyan military similar to that in Algeria or Egypt is unlikely, and even if it were to happen, there is little chance that it would lead to greater stability.

As the country heads shakily into the next period of transition, stakeholders from the various elements of Libyan society will all seek to pressure the General National Congress, the constitutional commission and the eventual permanent government to make sure that their interests are safeguarded and guaranteed within the structure of the constitution. While the militias have weapons, fighters and a key method of pressuring the central state -- shutting off vital energy flows -- the military is less a agile or capable threat. In its inability to secure and support the wavering transitional government, Libya's military has already, albeit unintentionally, undermined the capabilities of Libya's civilian leadership.

Read more: In Libya, Poor Prospects for a Coup | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #354 on: March 07, 2014, 04:32:49 AM »


Niger Extradites Qaddafi’s Son to Face Charges in Tripoli   Niger has extradited
<http://link.foreignpolicy.com/525443c6c16bcfa46f732b5d1gv1y.1455/UxiFdOYQAzU136YRCe0ac>
Muammar al-Qaddafi's son Saadi Qaddafi. The Libyan government had been seeking the
extradition since 2011 when Saadi was granted entry
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ccp
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« Reply #355 on: March 11, 2014, 07:20:54 PM »

This was discussed today on Dick Morris radio (actually a really good show - he is really interesting).   But I thought Libya took responsibility for Lockerbee and admitted it?

 undecided

******Ex-Iranian intel officer says Iran, not Libya, behind Lockerbie attack   

Ex-Iranian intel officer says Iran, not Libya, behind Lockerbie attack

March. 11, 2014 at 4:17 PM   |   1 Comment

EDINBURGH, Scotland, March 11 (UPI) -- The 1988 Lockerbie jetliner bombing was payback for the U.S. Navy's downing of an Iranian airliner six months earlier, an ex-Iranian intelligence officer says.
Abolghassem Mesbahi says Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 290 people died, to avenge the accidental shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf by the USS Vincennes and left 270 people dead, the Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

The London newspaper said previously unreleased evidence that was to have been used in an appeal hearing for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence officer convicted of the bombing, supports Mesbahi's contention. The Lockerbie bombing was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command, the newspaper said the evidence suggests.

The Telegraph said documents obtained by the Arab television network al-Jazeera for a documentary called "Lockerbie: What Really Happened?" names key individuals allegedly involved in the attack.

The Telegraph said the new evidence puts the conviction of al-Megrahi in question and supports allegations the truth about Lockerbie was covered up by Britain and the United States to avoid angering Syria, a key player in the Middle East

Al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the Lockerbie attack, dropped his appeal after being released from prison in 2009 because he was suffering from cancer, though he maintained his innocence until his death in 2012.

Al-Megrahi's conviction was based on the prosecution's theory that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had personally ordered the Lockerbie attack in retaliation for the U.S. bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986, in which Gadhafi's daughter was killed.

But Mesbahi contends it was Iran, not Libya, that sought revenge.

"Iran decided to retaliate as soon as possible," Mesbahi, who had reported directly to Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and now lives under a witness protection program in Germany, told al-Jazeera. "The decision was made by the whole system in Iran and confirmed by Ayatollah Khomeini.

"The target of the Iranian decision-makers was to copy exactly what happened to the Iranian Airbus. Everything exactly the same, minimum 290 people dead."

The newspaper reported the U.S. State Department said it wanted all those responsible for the Lockerbie attack brought to justice, while Britain's Foreign Office said the case remains open because investigators believe al-Megrahi didn't act alone.

The Iranian government had no comment on the documentary's findings, but has previously denied any involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.


Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/03/11/Ex-Iranian-intel-officer-says-Iran-not-Libya-behind-Lockerbie-attack/UPI-51221394569068/#ixzz2vheOEkoK*******
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #356 on: March 11, 2014, 07:28:58 PM »

Maybe as part of ongoing negotiations the Iranians are trying to look more dangerous by claiming it as their deed?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #357 on: March 12, 2014, 11:02:46 AM »

Libya's Prime Minister Dismissed After Tanker Escapes
________________________________________
 
Libya's parliament held a vote of confidence Tuesday to dismiss Prime Minister Ali Zeidan over the failure to prevent an oil tanker from exporting oil from the rebel-controlled Sidra port. Defense Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has been named as Libya's interim prime minister. Despite a travel ban against Zeidan, Malta's prime minister reported that Zeidan had arrived in Malta Tuesday en route to a European country. Libyan authorities seized a North Korea-flagged tanker Monday after it attempted to leave Sidra port, however the tanker escaped the naval blockade overnight. The tanker -- the first vessel to have loaded oil from a rebel-held port since the separatist revolt erupted in July 2013 -- is estimated to have taken on at least 234,000 barrels of crude oil from the rebels. On Monday the parliament ordered an operation to liberate all rebel-held oil terminals. Special forces are expected to deploy within one week. In related news, the U.N. Security Council's Libya sanctions committee reported this week that Libya had become "a primary source of illicit weapons," and that trafficking from Libya was fueling conflict and instability on several continents.

==============

The last point about arms trafficking is one we have been making here for quite some time-- including the notion that the US should have been scarfing these weapons (including MANPADs) up as part of our helping the overthrow of Kadaffy , , ,
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G M
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« Reply #358 on: March 12, 2014, 07:35:23 PM »

Is Lurch enroute with a reset button?


Libya's Prime Minister Dismissed After Tanker Escapes
________________________________________
 
Libya's parliament held a vote of confidence Tuesday to dismiss Prime Minister Ali Zeidan over the failure to prevent an oil tanker from exporting oil from the rebel-controlled Sidra port. Defense Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has been named as Libya's interim prime minister. Despite a travel ban against Zeidan, Malta's prime minister reported that Zeidan had arrived in Malta Tuesday en route to a European country. Libyan authorities seized a North Korea-flagged tanker Monday after it attempted to leave Sidra port, however the tanker escaped the naval blockade overnight. The tanker -- the first vessel to have loaded oil from a rebel-held port since the separatist revolt erupted in July 2013 -- is estimated to have taken on at least 234,000 barrels of crude oil from the rebels. On Monday the parliament ordered an operation to liberate all rebel-held oil terminals. Special forces are expected to deploy within one week. In related news, the U.N. Security Council's Libya sanctions committee reported this week that Libya had become "a primary source of illicit weapons," and that trafficking from Libya was fueling conflict and instability on several continents.

==============

The last point about arms trafficking is one we have been making here for quite some time-- including the notion that the US should have been scarfing these weapons (including MANPADs) up as part of our helping the overthrow of Kadaffy , , ,

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #359 on: March 17, 2014, 10:36:39 AM »



U.S. Navy SEALs have seized a North Korean-flagged tanker loaded with oil from a rebel-held port in Libya. A separatist militia took control of the oil terminal in July 2013, demanding a greater share of the country's oil wealth. The tanker, the Morning Glory, evaded a naval blockade at the eastern port of Sidra last week, embarrassing the government and spurring the dismal of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. North Korea disavowed the ship, saying it did not provide authorization. According to the Pentagon, U.S. forces boarded the Morning Glory before dawn Monday in international waters off Cyprus, and took control of the tanker, at the request of the Libyan and Cypriot governments. The move may prevent further attempts by the rebels to sell oil on the black market. Meanwhile, a car bomb hit outside a military base in the eastern city of Benghazi killing at least five soldiers and wounding another 14 people.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #360 on: May 18, 2014, 06:47:19 PM »

Analysis

Fighting erupted in Libya's capital city on May 18 when a militia loyal to Lt. General Khalifa Hafter reportedly attacked the Libyan Parliament.  Earlier in the week Hafter-affiliated militias launched an operation against a February 17 Martyr's Brigade base in Benghazi. The government-aligned Martyr's Brigade is considered one of the biggest and best-armed Islamist militias in Libya. If the reports are confirmed, the assault on the Parliament in Tripoli means that Hafter’s forces are now engaged in battle across Libya’s two traditional seats of power. It is quite possible that Hafter is attempting to consolidate power in Libya, hoping to bring an end to the chaos that has wracked the country since the overthrow of the Gadhafi regime in 2011. It is believed that Hafter's broader intent is to push the Islamists out of Benghazi and oust the General National Congress from Tripoli, effectively taking control of Libya.

Haftar’s forces reportedly used airstrikes in their operations in Benghazi, though at this point Stratfor is unsure of the exact size and disposition of the force deployed to Tripoli, or indeed who may be allied with Haftar himself.

Haftar has a long relationship with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that has been well documented in the press. He worked with the Americans to form an anti–Gadhafi militia in the 1980s that operated in the south of Libya, and from neighboring Chad. The militia was reportedly forced to leave Chad in 1991, prompting Hafter to move to the United States.

Last week 200 U.S. Marines were prepositioned in Sicily, on alert to respond to contingencies in Northern Africa. This troop movement could be an indication that the U.S. government was aware of Hafter’s planned operations, having the Marines ready in advance to reinforce the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli if the need arises.

At this point there are more questions than answers, but it is possible that this move could be more than just another short-term militia event in Tripoli. If this is a drive to consolidate power in Libya, the parliamentary attack could lead to extensive fighting between Hafter’s forces, allies and opposing militias in Tripoli and Benghazi.  Stratfor will keep a very close eye on Libya in the coming hours to further assess the situation.

===================================
If I am not mistaken, folks here should be able to see this:

http://www.stratfor.com/video/conversation-deteriorating-security-libya


« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 06:49:13 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #361 on: May 22, 2014, 08:41:27 AM »

Retired Libyan General Khalifa Heftar, who has launched attacks on Islamist militias in Benghazi and on the Libyan government, has called on the judiciary to appoint an emergency cabinet and oversee parliamentary elections. Heftar called the country a "terrorist hub" and claimed the government had "fostered terrorism" and failed Libyans. Heftar's campaign, named "Libya's dignity" by supporters, got a boost when the country's top air defense commander, Juma al-Abani, and Culture Minister Habib Amin declared their support. The government said the operation was an attempted coup and Libya's new prime minister, Ahmed Maitiq, called for negotiations to end the political crisis.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #362 on: July 24, 2014, 02:41:52 PM »


Summary

News of an impending deal to bring oil exports back online is likely to create more problems for Libya's embattled central government rather than solve them. After the fall of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, Tripoli has found that such deals usually trigger a larger competition between various armed groups demanding often-competing concessions, further destabilizing the country. As long as Libya depends on cooperation from the various armed groups within its borders to maintain stability, its reliance on negotiating and granting concessions (rather than using force) to end protests and fighting will perpetuate the very pattern of extortion and violence by militias that Tripoli is trying to end.

Analysis

Libyan media outlets are reporting that members of the government-funded Petroleum Facilities Guards and Tripoli have reached an initial deal allowing for a temporary resumption of exports at the 90,000 barrels-per-day Marsa el Brega loading facility in eastern Libya. The deal, brokered by tribal elders from Marsa el Brega, is provisional. The guards whose protests closed the facility last week are demanding pay increases and, more controversially, the reinstatement of Brig. Idris Bukhamada, the former commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guards. The protestors are giving the government 20 days to meet their demands, though this process likely will be complicated by the impending dissolution of the outgoing General National Congress in favor of a new transitional political body, the House of Representatives, expected to take place in early August.

Bukhamada was removed in deals between the General National Congress and a group of renegade Petroleum Facilities Guards in April and earlier this month. Ibrahim Jathran, a former regional commander of the Petroleum Facilities Guards and leader of the breakaway group that has kept much of Libya's eastern oil exports offline for nearly a year, demanded that his forces be reincorporated into the larger body of the guards. Leveraging his control over the majority of eastern Libyan export capacity, Jathran also pushed the government to appoint new leadership for the force, effectively ousting Bukhamada, his professional and regional rival. The replacement was Ali al-Arash, a man seen as closer to Jathran than to the government and whose leadership has been contested and ultimately rejected by the Bukhamada loyalists within the Petroleum Facilities Guards.
Libya's Urban and Rural Power Centers
Click to Enlarge

The episode underscores the difficulty in reaching lasting arrangements in Libya's increasingly fragmented political and social order. Stratfor has long noted the temporary nature of agreements reached by the weak central government and the highly competitive tribal, militia and ethnic groups that have dominated post-Gadhafi Libya. It is nearly impossible to make concessions to one group without angering its competitors, and nearly all of the rival groups are able to control and take critical infrastructure -- including airports, pumping stations, oil refineries and export terminals -- offline.

The outgoing government and its successor body now must choose to either acquiesce to the demands of Bukhamada's supporters at Marsa el Brega and bring the terminal and its airstrip back online, or placate Jathran, whose forces still guard the bulk of eastern Libya's export capacity. While Jathran is present at more ports, Bukhamada's cousin, Col. Wanis Bukhamada, is head of Bengahzi's Sawaiq special forces currently fighting alongside retired Gen. Khalifa Hifter's anti-Islamist forces in the east.

The embattled central government's considerations go beyond pay scales and leadership structures of embittered petroleum guards into broader issues of renegade national forces, anti-incumbency movements and a risk of larger-scale fighting between the country's many competing armed groups. The central government will have a difficult time reaching a deal with one group of Petroleum Facilities Guards that does not violate the terms of its deal with the other, and risks angering both -- resulting in cutoffs of all or some of Libya's eastern oil terminals. Those on strike are unlikely to modify or lessen their respective demands, making a limited restart followed by a partial shutoff or delay from either Marsa el Brega or other eastern terminals the most realistic outcome. Such an outcome would occur within weeks rather than months

This unpredictability and the government's lack of enforcement capabilities is causing other larger, structural issues for a government keen to export what oil it can while some fields and terminals are still open. Buyers are demanding discounts -- rumored to be between $1-2 per barrel for now -- for spot purchases, making it more difficult for the National Oil Company to sign months-long supply contracts to traders who are wary of Libya's ability to guarantee stable, ongoing supply deals. After nearly a year of halted exports, Libyan crude supplies have become largely displaced in international markets. Buyers are also hesitant to buy Libyan crude blends of volatile and unknown quality at current prices, especially since the central government has been prevented from testing crude flows into coastal storage tanks and monitoring the additional processing necessary to refine crude blends.

Tripoli now has to deal with a national force tasked with protecting its oil fields and infrastructure that effectively is split into two camps: Jathran supporters and Bukhamada supporters, with both possessing questionable loyalty at best to the national government. Regional militias and tribal and ethnic groups continue to maintain a disjointed system of local fiefdoms, largely preventing the national government from controlling their oil resources and critical infrastructure. This scenario makes it quite probable that either Marsa el Brega or other eastern terminals, such as Ras Lanuf and As Sidra, will start cutting off oil exports again in the near future as Libya destabilizes rapidly beyond the point of political reconciliation.

Read more: Oil Export Deal Could Further Destabilize Libya | Stratfor
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« Reply #363 on: July 26, 2014, 01:50:30 PM »



http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/26/us-evacuates-embassy-libya-amid-violent-clashes-be/
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« Reply #364 on: August 25, 2014, 11:36:15 AM »

Leading with your behind can lead to this.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/25/world/africa/libyan-unrest.html?emc=edit_th_20140825&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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« Reply #365 on: August 25, 2014, 11:52:43 AM »

second post today:

And without our "permission"!  rolleyes

Emirates and Egypt Said to Secretly Attack Militia in Libya

Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents of political Islam.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said.

The strikes are the most high-profile and high-risk salvo unleashed in a struggle for power that has broken out across the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolts, pitting old-line Arab autocrats against Islamists.

READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/26/world/middleeast/egypt-and-united-arab-emirates-said-to-have-secretly-carried-out-libya-airstrikes.html?emc=edit_na_20140825

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« Reply #366 on: August 28, 2014, 04:07:25 PM »

 The Difficulty of Choosing Sides in Libya
Analysis
August 28, 2014 | 0415 Print Text Size

Fighters from the Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) coalition guard the entrance to the Tripoli International Airport on Aug. 24. (MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary

Weeks of fighting to the south of the Libyan capital have resulted in an uneasy stalemate. The lull came after Islamist fighters backed by the powerful coastal city of Misrata successfully ousted the Zentan-based al-Qaaqaa and al-Sawaaq militias from Tripoli International Airport. Misrata is Libya's third-largest city and has maintained a remarkable degree of localized stability and security, while the larger cities of Tripoli and Benghazi have grappled with repeated bouts of violence, militant activity and cuts in water and power supplies. The renewed presence and authority of the Misrata-backed brigades in Tripoli after their ouster in November 2013 will have broader political and security implications for Libya's post-revolutionary transition.

Early champions in the fight against former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Misrata's political and militia leaders are attempting to leverage their strong presence in the capital to achieve broader national authority, a move that has sparked a violent and chaotic competition for power in the process. Neighboring countries and international observers are uneasy with the growing instability within Libya's borders, but calls for international intervention to prop up Libya's struggling transitional government will continue to be confounded by the difficulty of establishing who legitimately represents the fragmented and chaotic post-Gadhafi state.

Analysis

On Aug. 27, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 2174 authorizing sanctions against individuals and groups that undermine Libya's political transition, as well as those who attack ports, diplomatic offices and key infrastructure. Libya has also been under an arms embargo since the 2011 revolution, though it has done little to halt the proliferation and transfer of weapons across its vast deserts and into neighboring states. Even though Libya's newly installed transitional government, the House of Representatives, issued multiple requests for foreign intervention to help stabilize the country, outside observers, including the United Nations, the United States and NATO, balked at the idea of placing troops on the ground to help limit violence and support Libya's political transition.

There are multiple conflicts spanning the Libyan political space. Competition between advocates of either a centralized or federal model of governance brought much of Libya's oil exports offline for over a year. Meanwhile, regional, sectarian, ethnic and tribal disputes regularly erupt in armed clashes that affect urban centers and target key infrastructure installations. The return of groups from Misrata to Tripoli is itself part of a larger battle that has turned Benghazi and the region south of Tripoli into battlefields, pitting foreign-backed forces organized under retired Libyan Gen. Khalifa Hifter's Operation Dignity campaign against alliances of jihadist and Islamist forces. In Benghazi, Islamist militias that are rumored to be supported by states such as Qatar and Turkey have partnered with jihadist groups like Ansar al-Sharia to fight Hifter's forces, while in western Libya -- and specifically the area around Tripoli -- Misrata-backed regional fighters allied with Islamist forces under Operation Dawn have banded against Hifter's Zentan-based allies, the al-Qaaqaa and al-Sawaaq brigades.
Libya's Urban and Rural Power Centers
Click to Enlarge

Hifter's rumored foreign backing, demonstrated by alleged Egyptian and Emirati coordinated airstrikes against Operation Dawn targets in Tripoli and claims of his cooperation with the CIA, has left much of Libya's powerful network of nationalistic tribes and militias apprehensive of directly engaging in fighting against other forces on his behalf, despite many regional centers' growing fear of the rising regional clout of Misrata and its Islamist allies. Herein lies the challenge for outside observers, including the United States and NATO: The international community is concerned about the geographic space Libya's post-revolutionary chaos has made available to regional militants, but fighters within the current battlefield spectrum -- from Misrata-backed forces, to Islamist fighters, to the divided national army -- do not always fit neatly into the category of ally or foe. There are serious fears that a foreign intervention launched to tackle jihadists or renegade militias could quickly turn into a broader conflict between foreign forces and the very revolutionaries that they trained and armed to fight Gadhafi.

The United States' and Libya's primary partners in NATO -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy -- have all publicly decried the alleged Emirati airstrikes in Libya, warning against adding violence to the country's already volatile security situation. Western states, the United Nations and neighboring Algeria and Tunisia are calling for a "political process" to solve Libya's problems. Since early August, Libya's struggling national parliament, the House of Representatives, has convened in Tobruk instead of Benghazi as originally planned because of security concerns. Some 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) away from the nation's capital, the internationally recognized parliament has struggled to make its voice heard in the power centers of Tripoli, Misrata, Zentan and Benghazi.

In response to the most recent ouster of the Hifter-aligned Zentan militias in Tripoli, members of the defunct General National Congress have reconvened in the capital, leaving Libya with two competing parliaments, a divided army and an uncertain political future. Clashes and violence are inevitable, and covert involvement by states -- particularly Egypt and its primary Gulf backers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- is likely. The competition for legitimacy between the two parliaments will also likely extend into a fight for control of the country's sizable oil revenues and the right to receive revenues from export cargos -- a dispute that will probably cause production and exports to falter yet again. Additionally, the decision by Libya's more moderate Islamists to reject their erstwhile jihadist partners after their gains against the Zentan militias may reflect a desire to portray a more moderate disposition but also risks pushing the jihadists to target the more moderate Islamist militias as well as the Operation Dignity forces lead by Hifter.

Libya's democratic transition will remain stagnant until Libyans themselves can coalesce across tribal and regional lines to form a majority body that external governments can more effectively support. Even then, Libya will likely face a broader conflict than the ongoing localized fighting between regional competitors as the national government attempts to bring opposition forces -- of which Libya has many -- under a single national authority through either coercion or force. Outside powers such as the United States are still unwilling to designate who is "good" or "bad" within Libya's divided landscape, and even power centers such as Misrata remain too fundamentally weak to extend authority beyond their immediate geography, leaving Libya without any force that can operate on a national scale. A foreign intervention in Libya still seems unlikely, and there are few indigenous solutions to keep the country from moving closer to an eventual de facto fragmentation along its internal fissures. Meanwhile, Libya remains without a permanent government, national Cabinet or expectations of a constitution or national elections before the end of 2014 -- in short, without an effective domestic entity that is capable of working with outside governments.

Read more: The Difficulty of Choosing Sides in Libya | Stratfor
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« Reply #367 on: August 31, 2014, 07:39:30 PM »

Not a terribly reliable source, but the story sure is plausible:

http://www.tpnn.com/2014/08/31/report-islamist-terrorists-overtake-u-s-embassy-in-libya/
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« Reply #368 on: September 02, 2014, 07:09:55 PM »

not just swimming...
http://freebeacon.com/national-security/missing-libyan-jetliners-raise-fears-of-suicide-airliner-attacks-on-911/
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« Reply #369 on: September 02, 2014, 07:12:55 PM »

Jane's: "not likely to be credible".

http://www.janes.com/article/42080/algerian-reports-of-jihadist-attack-threat-using-commercial-aircraft-stolen-from-libya-unlikely-to-be-credible
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« Reply #370 on: September 02, 2014, 08:13:05 PM »

Thank you for the follow up-- which exemplifies our code here:  "We search for Truth."
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« Reply #371 on: September 03, 2014, 04:36:01 PM »

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/09/photos-posted-of-captured-commercial-planes-at-tripoli-international-airport/

Jane's wrong?
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« Reply #372 on: September 08, 2014, 05:32:54 PM »

You're welcome, Mark.

Regarding the planes, the photos are pretty hard to deny it seems.  One thing I have wondered about was the recent UAE/ Egyptian strikes on the area "near the airport" I had read.
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« Reply #373 on: September 09, 2014, 10:35:25 AM »

Mike:

I had not put together the missing airliners and the UAE/Egypt attack. Good attention to detail.

Marc (with a "c")
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« Reply #374 on: September 09, 2014, 11:03:08 AM »

Sorry, I think you corrected me on that before...  My dad was Mark with a "k", force of habit.   embarassed
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« Reply #375 on: September 09, 2014, 11:05:33 AM »

And, regarding the airliners, not to belabor the theory, but they also would potentially have 'motive', especially the Egyptians...  I read someplace that if commercial jets were launched form Libya, that they would have literally "minutes" to react as far away as Saudi Arabia.  The threat being a transhipment facility or something in an effort to destabilize world markets.
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« Reply #376 on: September 11, 2014, 09:20:06 PM »


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External Powers Have Good Reason Not to Intervene in Libya
Analysis
September 10, 2014 | 1108 Print Text Size
External Powers Have Good Reason Not to Intervene in Libya
A Libyan flag flutters under a bridge near Tripoli on Sept. 9. (MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary
France continues to focus attention on Libya. Most recently, on Sept. 9 the Elysee issued a call for joint international action in the North African country. While France stopped short of discussing military intervention, Stratfor sources say that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have approached Paris about just such an option, and they may also approach the United States.
 
Countries wanting to intervene in Libya face considerable constraints, and the objectives that could be attained are unclear. Regional actors will probably continue to be those most involved in direct and indirect interventions in Libya.
Analysis
Egypt and the Emiratis have been the most overt supporters of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives that was elected in June and of retired Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who leads a coalition of Libyan troops, loyalists to former Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi and a special operations forces unit against Islamist militias in eastern Libya. Saudi Arabia has also supported Hifter, but less visibly. Egypt wants to remove the Islamist threat on its western border, or at the very least ensure that Libya's Islamist actors only play a minimal role in the government. Cairo is wary of militancy spreading across its borders, and Egypt has propped up actors such as Hifter's Operation Dignity forces and the democratically elected House in an attempt to establish a buffer in eastern Libya. Egypt has a limited capacity to address Libyan unrest due to insecurity at home and a dire financial situation, so Cairo has come to depend on the Emiratis and Saudis to back its interests in Libya.
 
By backing Egypt in Libya, the United Arab Emirates is seizing an opportunity to prevent rival Qatar from regaining leverage in North Africa. Having solidified their influence in Cairo, the Emiratis would rather not see this undermined by instability generated by Islamists in neighboring Libya. Abu Dhabi has a tense relationship with its own domestic Muslim Brotherhood movement, al Islah, and would like to see Qatar's leverage with Islamist communities held to a minimum. The United Arab Emirates has also joined Egypt in limited airstrikes over Libya, deploying aircraft from Egyptian air bases. These airstrikes have had at best a minimal effect on the situation on the ground.
 
Striving to turn the security situation around in Libya, Abu Dhabi and Egypt have purportedly turned to Paris for help. France has notable interests in the region -- energy, military basing and arms trade -- and Cairo and Abu Dhabi are hoping the French are willing to consider a serious intervention. France has repeatedly pushed the issue before the U.N. Security Council, but so far France has stopped far short of anything that suggests a full-scale intervention. Paris did announce Sept. 9 that it could deploy forces based in countries bordering Libya in an attempt to shore up border security, but that would not be a substantial commitment.
 
 
France also has the ability to mount a wider air campaign over Libya, but the effects of this would likely be minimal and France would probably avoid carrying the full weight of such an intervention. Other Western allies, such as the United States, have announced support for the Libyan government but have been reluctant to match that support with direct military efforts -- anything beyond training elements of the Libyan armed forces. Even Italy -- which sits close to Libya, has direct energy interests there and is vulnerable to streams of immigrants seeking refuge on European shores -- doesn’t want to overcommit. During the air campaign in 2011, Rome only dedicated a portion of its full capabilities to operations in Libya.
Regional Actors' Limitations
Qatar has been active in Libya but has sought to support anyone who is not pro-Hifter or supportive of the elected House. Doha was the leading Arab force in toppling the Gadhafi regime in 2011, going so far as to deploy its highly trained special operations forces. Qatar's currency reserves have allowed Doha to funnel cash and weapons to militias in Libya.
 
The distance between Qatar and Libya limits Doha's involvement; there are no nearby friendly bases from which it could stage operations. Turkey has offered Qatar some limited backing because Ankara saw Egypt's deposed President Mohammed Morsi as a key ally and would prefer not to see Egypt dislodge another entrenched Islamist polity, this time in Libya. Access to cheap energy and potential infrastructure bids for the firms that support Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party have also compelled Turkish involvement, but Libya simply is not high enough of a Turkish priority to justify a level of engagement similar to that of Qatar.
 
Doha has also likely worked through Sudan to deliver arms to Libya, which puts it in direct competition with Egyptian and Saudi interests for influence in Khartoum. The Sudanese military industrial complex is useful in directing secondhand support of armed groups, but Sudan depends on investments and loans from both Qatar and Saudi Arabia to keep its economy going. Conflicting influences could therefore limit Sudan's usefulness in this particular situation.
 
Even if the actors backing Tobruk and Hifter's forces want to increase their active support, they would have to act cautiously because their assistance would undermine the credibility of the supported militias in Libya itself. Further, the effect of an air campaign would be fairly limited. Only a few Islamist groups would be targeted so as not to antagonize the Libyan population at large. While this could ease the pressure on Hifter's forces, targeting groups such as Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi would only have temporary benefits. The targeted militias could simply deploy forces that are being held back right now because they are not necessary. Any air campaign over Libya would thus be mostly a token intervention with little real chance of stabilizing Libya.
 
An airstrikes offensive against Islamist militias in cities such as Tripoli and Benghazi would be difficult, and to have a lasting effect it would need to be followed by intense state-building operations that would require a level of commitment nobody is willing to offer. External actors will remain reluctant to move forward with such a campaign.

Read more: External Powers Have Good Reason Not to Intervene in Libya | Stratfor
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« Reply #377 on: October 16, 2014, 08:22:51 AM »


Libyan army troops aligned with former General Khalifa Heftar have intensified a ground assault and airstrikes against a coalition of Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi. The offensive has come a day after Heftar vowed to "liberate" Benghazi in a televised address following an attack by militants from Ansar al-Sharia on one of the last army bases controlled by government forces in the city. The Associated Press reported two Egyptian officials said Egyptian warplanes were attacking Islamist militias in Libya, though Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denied the report. Egypt has pledged to train Libyan soldiers, and in Heftar's address Tuesday, he thanked countries that had helped in his fight against what he referred to as "terrorism."


Egotistically I note that this was something I discussed in my proffered strategy.
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« Reply #378 on: December 29, 2014, 11:29:05 AM »

Warplanes struck Libya’s port city of Misurata for the first time Sunday. The air force, allied with Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’s Tobruk-based government, launched up to three airstrikes in Libya’s third-largest city hitting an air base, the port, and a steel factory. The strikes came after the air force issued an ultimatum to the Misurata-led Libya Dawn militias, following their attacks on the oil ports of el-Sidr and Ras Lanuf, as well as an attack on a Sirte power plant on Dec. 25. Rocket strikes ignited fires at el-Sidr, though the fires at three of five oil-storage tanks have been extinguished. According to officials, fire has destroyed about 850,000 barrels of crude, over two days of Libya’s output.
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« Reply #379 on: February 17, 2015, 11:36:59 AM »

Islamic State Secures New Haven in Libya
A country torn by civil war provides fertile ground for the extremist group—right on Europe’s doorstep
By Yaroslav Trofimov
Feb. 16, 2015 7:10 p.m. ET

Two rival governments in Libya have fought an increasingly bloody civil war since last summer, as the world paid little attention. While they battled for control of the country’s oil wealth, a third force—Islamic State—took advantage of the chaos to grow stronger.
Analysis

The beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by Islamic State followers has finally drawn the global spotlight to the group’s rising clout in Libya, which not long ago was touted as a successful example of Western intervention. The killings prompted Egyptian airstrikes on Islamic State strongholds in Libya and spurred calls for more active international involvement in what is fast becoming a failed state on Europe’s doorstep.

The Libyan affiliate of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has, in fact, been spreading its sway for months. First it established an area of control last fall in and around the eastern city of Derna, a historical center of Libyan jihadists. Recently, it also took over parts of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, on the central coast, setting up a radio station there and sending Islamic morality patrols onto the streets.

All the while, the two rival governments of Libya focused on combatting one another, each supported by regional powers. Both preferred to largely ignore the influx of foreign jihadists forming new alliances with local extremists—and their unification under Islamic State’s banner.

“As all the attention of the two sides was on fighting the other side, this kind of group prospered in the political and military void,” said Karim Mezran, a Libya expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “There are no good guys or bad guys there—both sides have been acting in bad faith.”

Libya isn’t the only place outside Syria and Iraq where the extremist group has established affiliates, largely by absorbing homegrown jihadist groups into its project of world domination and religious war until the total triumph of Islam. There are also Islamic State “provinces” in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, in Yemen, and in so-called Khorasan, a region straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Islamic State’s slickly produced video of the slaughter of the Egyptian Copts, released on Sunday, concluded with the promise to conquer Rome, the historic center of Christendom. That threat is bound to reinforce existing pressure in countries such as France and Italy for a military intervention to stave off the complete collapse of Libya, which is just across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy.

“The situation in Libya has been out of control for three years,” Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi cautioned in a television interview after the video’s release. “We shouldn’t go from total indifference to hysteria.”

Libya has been unstable since Gadhafi’s ouster and killing in 2011, but it descended into all-out civil war last summer.

One side is the old parliament, elected in 2012 and dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies. It includes militias from the conservative city of Misrata, a key force in the revolution against the Gadhafi regime. That parliament, known as the General National Congress, was replaced in last summer’s elections by another legislature, the House of Representatives, dominated by more secular and nationalist forces.

While the international community has recognized the new House of Representatives as the legitimate new authority in Libya, the GNC refused to accept its electoral defeat. Militias affiliated with the GNC last summer drove the new administration out of Tripoli to the eastern city of Tobruk, triggering what soon became an all-out war that destroyed the Tripoli airport and valuable oil infrastructure.

As the West was distracted by Islamic State’s blitz through Syria and Iraq last year, regional powers unleashed a proxy war in Libya. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power in his own country in 2013, threw his weight behind the Tobruk government, arming and assisting it. So did Egypt’s regional allies, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, Turkey and Qatar—supporters of Islamist causes around the region—rallied behind Tripoli, as did Sudan. It was only last month that a cease-fire in Libya was reached, following United Nations-sponsored talks in Geneva.

By then, however, it may have already been too late to stop Islamic State’s spread, especially as the Tripoli administration has long played down the threat posed by Islamist militants. On Jan. 27, Islamic State attacked the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, killing several foreigners and showcasing its ability to operate in the heart of the capital. Amazingly, the Tripoli administration’s reaction to that outrage was to allege that the massacre was a provocation carried out by its Tobruk rivals and Egypt. Since then, most of the last Westerners in town left Tripoli.

The latest Islamic State attack, on the Coptic Egyptians, was intended to directly draw Egypt into the Libyan conflict, said Khalil al-Anani, an Egyptian scholar of Islamist movements at Johns Hopkins University.

Mr. Sisi, whose takeover in 2013 was widely popular among Egypt’s Coptic minority, has positioned himself as a defender of the country’s Christians; last month, he became the first Egyptian president to visit a Coptic church on Christmas.

But his task of thwarting Islamic State grows more complicated. His army already faces a deadly Islamic State insurgency in the eastern Sinai Peninsula, losing hundreds of soldiers over the past two years.

“ISIS wants to drain the Egyptian army,” Mr. Anani said. “Egypt now has ISIS on both sides. They did not succeed in Sinai, so how will they do it in Libya?”
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« Reply #380 on: February 18, 2015, 06:36:01 AM »

 Why a U.N. Intervention Would Fail to Help Libya
Geopolitical Diary
February 18, 2015 | 02:00 GMT
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Almost four years to the day after the Libyan uprising began, the U.N. Security Council will meet to determine whether it should intervene militarily in the beleaguered North African country.

On Tuesday, Egypt, Libya's eastern neighbor, became the latest in a growing number of countries to implore the international body to act after Islamic State militants killed 21 Egyptian Copts in the Libyan city of Sirte. Egypt, situated so close to Libya, is naturally concerned about instability to the west. But since Mohammed Morsi, the former Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, was removed from office in 2013, its position on the matter has been fairly consistent: It has provided limited logistical assistance to actors who can advance its interests. Likely, it has done so with the help of its main backers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

But Egypt certainly is not the only country put ill at ease by what Libya has become. Europe, too, has cause for alarm. As a former colonial power, France has deep-rooted interests in the region surrounding Libya, and Italy, Libya's former colonizer, has extensive economic interests in the country's oil industry. And both, but especially Italy, have struggled to manage the flow of illegal immigrants from across the Mediterranean.
 

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

Other countries farther afield broadly agree that Libyan instability poses a significant security risk not just to Libyans and neighboring states but also to international interests. But they cannot agree on how to create stability from the chaos. After all, there is no central government in Libya, let alone a national military force. Libya's problems with militancy are symptomatic of its disunity, not the cause of it. And so international efforts meant to route jihadist groups such as the Islamic State will do little to heal the political, ideological and tribal wounds that have torn Libyan society apart since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Regional leaders like Algeria and Egypt understand as much and are therefore disinclined to take a bigger role in rebuilding Libya. Even if they wanted to help, they probably could not afford it. Those who could afford it — the European Union, NATO and the broader international community — have yet to volunteer for the job. Egypt is content to continue direct, albeit limited, involvement.

But not everyone agrees with Cairo's approach. Qatar, Algeria and Turkey have strongly advocated negotiation as a solution to the Libyan problem — an approach that has also received support from the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, which have worked behind the scenes to monitor militant groups and to encourage reconciliation talks between the competing governments in Tripoli and Tobruk. Washington has even publicly warned against unilateral airstrikes, since they may make the security environment even worse.

And as the killing of the Egyptian Copts shows, direct attacks also run the risk of retaliation against those who meddle in Libyan affairs. The Egyptian military has since deployed soldiers throughout the country to defend key infrastructure and population centers from potential reprisal attacks. (Of course, Egyptian citizens have long been the target of Libyan militants, organized crime groups and local tribal elements for a variety of "offenses," including proselytization by Christian Copts and competition for jobs in a region ravaged by the Arab Spring uprisings.)

At best, the U.N. Security Council, which will meet Feb. 18, can condemn the instability in Libya and perhaps even authorize a military operation like the one underway in Iraq and Syria. But the United States will be only a marginal participant in such an operation, and indigenous Middle Eastern militaries probably cannot handle the logistical and economic demands of maintaining an open-ended air campaign against Libyan militants. In any case, Washington probably would not trust Cairo and its regional backers to lead the operation on their own — in the past, they have targeted more moderate Islamist groups and political opposition groups. Even France, which has worked closely with Arab states in pushing for a U.N. Security Council meeting on Libya, has sought to bring together an international coalition to avoid shouldering all the responsibility on its own (as it did in Mali in 2012).

Ultimately, the international community is most likely to leave Libya to its own devices, waiting to work with whoever wins the conflict. Tomorrow's council meeting may offer a solution to the problem posed by the Islamic State in Libya, but it will fail to address the broader challenges brought on by four years of instability.
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« Reply #381 on: February 18, 2015, 10:57:27 AM »

You can't make this up , , ,  cry cry cry

http://www.redflagnews.com/headlines-2015/obama-condemns-egypt-bombing-isis-in-retaliation-for-slaughter-of-christians
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« Reply #382 on: April 01, 2015, 06:39:37 AM »

http://pamelageller.com/2015/03/obamas-al-qaeda-ally-now-leading-isis-in-libya.html/
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« Reply #383 on: April 12, 2015, 10:42:29 AM »

http://sofrep.com/36328/ansar-al-sharia-overruns-libyan-special-forces/
Lots of good pictures of weapons seized


Ansar al-Sharia Overruns Special Ops Base & Seizes US Weapons in Benghazi
14Charlie 23 Comments SOF News

According to recent reporting from the Long War Journal and Agence France Presse, Salafist jihadist militia Ansar al-Sharia and its allies have seized Camp Thunderbolt, a key base for Libyan Special Operations Forces located in Benghazi.  The base is reported to have fallen following a week’s worth of sustained artillery shelling.
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Ansar al-Sharia, the Islamist group responsible for the 11 September 2012 Benghazi attack on the US Temporary Mission Facility and CIA Annex that left four Americans dead (as SOFREP has extensively reported), also announced complete control over the city in the form of an “Islamic emirate” earlier this week.

This attack and announcement of an Islamic emirate follow weeks of intensified fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi that pits Islamist and jihadist militia coalitions against secular militias and government forces, and also follows the recent evacuation of US and other western embassy officials from the country earlier this week.

The Long War Journal reports that Ansar al-Sharia is “currently fighting under the umbrella of the ‘Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council’, and is an alliance of multiple [Salafist jihadist] groups.”  Ansar al-Sharia claims that the seizure of Camp Thunderbolt deals a blow to the secular militias and government forces currently working to regain control over the city, namely career Libyan soldier General Haftar and the forces loyal to him.

Haftar, a “renegade general who last month launched an offensive against Islamist militias and their suspected political backers”, has been working closely with Libyan special forces to target the various Islamist militias in Benghazi.  It remains to be seen how the loss of Camp Thunderbolt will affect these operations.

Ansar al-Sharia uploaded photos of the weapons, munitions, and equipment it seized following the assault on Camp Thunderbolt to its official Twitter account (which they’ve operated since November 2013 as SOFREP has previously reported), which can be found below (courtesy of the Long War Journal).

Among the captured equipment are vehicles used by Libyan Special Forces, countless US and foreign munitions, SA-7 MANPADS, PK machine guns, explosive detection equipment, mortar systems, assault rifles, and much more.

Regardless of the strategic value the seizure of Camp Thunderbolt provides to Ansar al-Sharia in the coming weeks, it is clear that the immediate tactical-level benefits gained by Islamist militants in Benghazi now pose an even greater threat to any forces working to stem their control over the city.

This increased threat will also be of significant concern to any additional nations planning to evacuate their embassies, facilities, or personnel in the coming weeks should fighting intensify further.  It has already been reported that a British convoy came under small arms fire during an evacuation of personnel to Tunisia earlier this week.

For a quick refresher on Ansar al-Sharia, visit this BBC Profile or the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium’s (TRAC) profile.  SOFREP’s List of Terrorism Resources will also provide additional resources that contain more in-depth information if required.

Thanks for listening.

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About the Author

14Charlie is a young intelligence professional supporting an airborne-capable unit. Not SOF, just a regular guy. He holds a commission, a BS in Political Science with a German minor from a small engineering school in Colorado, and loves the adventure found in mountains, foreign travel, and single malt scotch. He strongly advocates admitting nothing, denying everything, and making counter-accusations. Nothing written here is in an official capacity or represents the positions of the USG. NFQ

 

Read more: http://sofrep.com//sofrep.com/36328/ansar-al-sharia-overruns-libyan-special-forces/#ixzz3X6silmSr
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« Reply #384 on: May 14, 2015, 11:31:06 AM »

Consensus continues to elude participants in U.N.-backed reconciliation talks aimed at cobbling together a national unity government in Libya. Myriad competing groups and feuding parliaments in Tripoli and Tobruk have found their conflict right in the middle of several regional crises. Headlines have focused on escalating numbers of illegal migrants making their way to Europe, difficult negotiations, fighting between militias and attacks by Islamic State-affiliated militants. But local interests continue to compete and complicate international efforts to resolve the Libyan conflict. Moreover, Libyan leaders can concede on a few points despite generally opposing another Western intervention.

Nevertheless, outside powers such as the European Union, NATO and the United States are unlikely to consider a military intervention on the ground in Libya before U.N.-sponsored talks designate a recognized national unity government. And as that process plays out, Libya's instability will continue to hamper the country's oil output and give safe haven to a range of militant actors and various organized criminal activities.
Analysis

NATO foreign ministers gathered in Antalya, Turkey, on May 13 for two days of talks focused on the threats emanating from the bloc's southern periphery. The host state of Turkey is the only NATO member that borders Islamic State-controlled territories in Iraq and Syria. Moreover, in the days leading up to the NATO meeting, Libyan military forces (loyal to the staunchly anti-Turkey government in Tobruk) fired upon a Turkish ship, killing one seaman. Although the bloc will undoubtedly focus on Russian activities along its eastern periphery, especially in Ukraine, recent events are likely to focus at least part of the discussion on the situation in Libya.

Libya's vast space has flourished as a haven for regional militant groups because of the absence of a strong central government. Local groups pledging loyalty to the Islamic State have gained particular notoriety in recent months. But while militancy has been a persistent threat, both to Libya and Algerian natural gas flows, the lack of reliable law enforcement has exposed much of Europe's southern flank to a different kind of problem: organized crime.

Libya has become a prime staging ground for a variety of criminal activities, such as smuggling weapons and drugs across a sprawling network of traditional desert trading routes and human trafficking. The Syrian civil war, and poor conditions across much of sub-Saharan Africa, has transformed Libya by some estimates into the largest transit hub for non-European migrants in the European Union. Illegal immigrants from Libya, almost entirely Syrian and African refugees, numbering in the tens of thousands have sparked policy debates among EU member states. Sharing the burden of migrant populations, reforming immigration and asylum policies, and policing the Mediterranean are just some of the fractious discussions going on in Europe.
What Europe Wants

Still, of all EU member states, Italy has borne the brunt of rescue and coast guard operations because of its proximity to the Libyan coast. Over 4,100 migrants were rescued off the shores of Libya between May 2 and May 3 alone. EU policy has since shifted away from active rescue activities to remove the incentive for migrant behavior. But the decision has resulted only in the unfortunate drowning of thousands of people each month in their effort to cross the Mediterranean, intensifying the EU policy debate of how to best handle the crisis.

Since April, EU member states have sought to address the problem within Libya itself, with potential scenarios including airstrikes against human smuggling positions along the coast and attempted naval blockades, among others. Many of these plans rely on U.N. or NATO support and could involve the United States. Some countries, including Italy and France, have also reportedly consulted Egypt and some Arab states in the Gulf to garner regional support for international involvement.

In the days leading up to the NATO meeting, the European Union decided to focus its plans on policing Libya's maritime waters and pursuing U.N.-backing for the operation. However, strong opposition from both Libyan governments has again put the European Union's plans on hold. Furthermore, the United States, Libya and Algeria are advocating that the international community give the U.N.-backed, national unity negotiations process more time.

But Libya's spot within several overlapping peripheries does not help efforts for stabilization. Outside powers in the Middle East and Europe either do not want the responsibility of reconstructing Libya alone, or do not want a potential rival increasing its influence over Libyan factions and the country's sizable oil reserves. Often it is both. Consequently, the collapse of Libyan power structures will continue to be managed in a piecemeal fashion. Foreign stakeholders instead prefer a more distant, capable partner, such as the United States, to take on the costs of rebuilding a Libyan state, or for indigenous forces to slowly come together to partner effectively with the international community. Both preferences require waiting.
The Impediments

All the while, both Libyan governments have continued to take part in the U.N. talks. Leaders generally agree to form a unified body with additional councils that will include traditional tribal leaders and potentially militia commanders. Yet the internationally recognized government in Tobruk, the House of Representatives, has failed to establish control over much of the country since its inception. The decision to move the government to Tobruk to avoid violence in Tripoli and Benghazi alienated many of the country's powerful revolutionary militias. It also enabled a reformed General National Congress in Tripoli to take control of bureaucratic institutions, including the Oil Ministry.

The House of Representatives tried to counter this weakness by working with rogue Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who had attempted a military coup to topple its predecessor body. Hifter's strong anti-Islamist position gained the support of eastern Libyan strongmen such as rebel commander Ibrahim Jadhran, remnants of pro-Gadhafi fighters and foreign support from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Tripoli's General National Congress has enjoyed the backing of the city-state of Misrata and its powerful militias, as well as a constellation of Islamist groups opposed to Hifter's anti-Islamist military operations.

Though violent clashes between Tripoli and Tobruk aligned, forces have slowed since late March and intra-regional competition has begun to intensify. Over the course of the summer we expect increased fighting between militias aligned with the General National Congress — especially those from Misrata — and a broad array of hard-line Islamist groups, including the Islamic State. Both want to increase their bargaining position ahead of an eventual negotiated deal. Eastern Libyan forces, such as Jadhran's Petroleum Facilities Guards and Libya's divided military, may also fight among themselves. Such conflict will exacerbate Libya's security vacuum in the short term as the groups fight to stabilize the country and reap the benefits of rising economic activity and oil production.

The biggest impediment is what to do with the extremist elements that support each government. Divisive hard-line Islamist fighters with links to the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, pro-Gadhafi fighters and Hifter himself have all contributed to a gradual but steady violence against the bases of support for each government. Misratan militias increasingly fight Islamist fighters opposing a future unity government that will not make room for their views. In the east, strong personal differences between leaders such as Jadhran, Hifter and Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani have slowed the momentum of the military campaign to secure Benghazi from Islamist forces and to combat Islamic State forces in Darnah.

Oil production has suffered as well. As fighting spread across the oil-rich Sirte Basin, competition for control of the country's export facilities has brought total production to about 260,000 barrels per day as of mid-May 2015. Other financial pressures on both governments are also a key motivator to keep talks moving forward. Libya's central bank, specifically its reserves, has opted to support neither the House of Representatives nor the General National Congress until a unity government is formed.

Ultimately, the competing governments are loath to cede authority to a unity government with each other. More important, the dialogue has served as the backdrop for a convoluted vetting process, as each government tries to separate itself from the more extreme elements of its respective support base. European and regional Arab actors are still largely unwilling to bear the burden of restructuring Libya out of its chaos on their own. Libyans will be left to consolidate their ranks and cobble out a fledgling national government to partner with international support in the future. The process will be difficult and violent. Instability will get worse before domestic forces are able to effectively police the state with outside assistance.
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« Reply #385 on: July 23, 2015, 07:33:16 PM »

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/LibyaChronology
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« Reply #386 on: November 29, 2015, 08:14:56 AM »

This is a big article

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/world/middleeast/isis-grip-on-libyan-city-gives-it-a-fallback-option.html?emc=edit_th_20151129&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0

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MISURATA, Libya — Iraqi commanders have been arriving from Syria, and the first public beheadings have started. The local radio stations no longer play music but instead extol the greatness of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

When the Libyan arm of the Islamic State first raised the group’s black flag over the coastal city of Surt almost one year ago, it was just a bunch of local militants trying to look tough.

Today Surt is an actively managed colony of the central Islamic State, crowded with foreign fighters from around the region, according to residents, local militia leaders and hostages recently released from the city’s main prison.


“The entire Islamic State government there is from abroad — they are the ones who are calling the shots,” said Nuri al-Mangoush, the head of a trucking company based here in Misurata, about 65 miles west of the Islamic State’s territory around Surt. Many of its employees live in Surt, and five were jailed there recently.

State of Terror

Articles in this series examine the rise of the Islamic State and life inside the territory it has conquered.

As the Islamic State has come under growing military and economic pressure in Syria and Iraq, its leaders have looked outward.

One manifestation of the shift is a turn toward large-scale terrorist attacks against distant targets, including the massacre in Paris and the bombing of a Russian charter jet over Egypt, Western intelligence officials say. But the group’s leaders are also devoting new resources and attention to far-flung affiliate groups that pledged their loyalty from places like Egypt, Afghanistan, Nigeria and elsewhere. There are at least eight in all, according to Western officials.

Of those, by far the most important is based in Surt, a Libyan port city on the Mediterranean about 400 miles southeast of Sicily. Western officials familiar with intelligence reports say it is the only affiliate now operating under the direct control of the central Islamic State’s leaders. In Libya, residents of Surt and local militia leaders say the transformation of the Islamic State group here has been evident for months.

“Libya is the affiliate that we’re most worried about,” Patrick Prior, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top counterterrorism analyst, said at a recent security conference in Washington. “It’s the hub from which they project across all of North Africa.”

The leadership of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is now clenching its grip on Surt so tightly that Western intelligence agencies say they fear the core group may be preparing to fall back to Libya as an alternative base if necessary, a haven where its jihadists could continue to fight from even if it was ousted from its original territories.

“Contingency planning,” said a senior Defense Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence. Western officials involved in Libya policy say that the United States and Britain have each sent commandos to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on the ground. Washington has stepped up airstrikes against Islamic State leaders. But military strategists are exasperated by the lack of long-term options to contain the group here.


Libya could present the West with obstacles at least as intractable as those in the Islamic State’s current home base in Syria, Raqqa, amid the bedlam of the civil war. There, the Islamic State is hemmed in by a host of armed groups with international backing and is being hammered by American, Russian, French and Syrian airstrikes.


Graphic
ISIS Is Likely Responsible for Nearly 1,000 Civilian Deaths Outside Iraq and Syria

At least a dozen countries have had attacks since the Islamic State, or ISIS, began to pursue a global strategy in the summer of 2014.
OPEN Graphic

In Libya, where a NATO bombing campaign helped overthrow Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi four years ago, there is no functional government. Warring factions are far more focused on fighting one another than on taking on the Islamic State, and Libya’s neighbors are all too weak or unstable to lead or even host a military intervention.

The Islamic State has already established exclusive control of more than 150 miles of Mediterranean coastline near Surt, from the town of Abugrein in the west to Nawfaliya in the east. The militias from the nearby city of Misurata that once vowed to expel the group completely have all retreated. Only a few checkpoints manned by one or two militiamen guard the edge of the Islamic State’s turf, where its fighters come and go as they please.

Militia leaders and Western officials estimate that the group’s forces in Libya now include as many as 2,000 fighters, with a few hundred in Surt and many clustered to the east, around Nawfaliya. A flurry of recent bombings, assassinations and other attacks has raised fears that the city of Ajdabiya, farther to the east, is the group’s next target. Its conquest could give the Islamic State control of a strategic crossroads, vital oil terminals and oil fields south of the city.

What is more, in the tangle of factions that have taken over whatever remains of the Libyan government, Islamic State fighters have been receiving weapons and other support from the accumulated oil wealth that should belong to the Libyan state. And they are getting the weapons through an intermediary who himself played a peripheral role in the deadly attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012.

One of the Islamic State’s most senior leaders, a former Iraqi Army officer under Saddam Hussein now known as Abu Ali al-Anbari, recently arrived in Libya by boat from across the Mediterranean, residents and Western officials say. And Western officials say another senior Iraqi leader of the Islamic State — Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, also known as Abu Nabil — may have recently served as the group’s top commander in Libya until he was killed this month in an American airstrike near the eastern Syrian city of Darnah.

“A great exodus of the Islamic State leadership in Syria and Iraq is now establishing itself in Libya,” said Omar Adam, 34, the commander of a prominent militia based in Misurata.

The group in Surt has also begun imposing the parent organization’s harsh version of Islamic law on the city, enforcing veils for all women, banning music and cigarettes, and closing shops during prayers, residents and recent visitors said. The group carried out at least four crucifixions in August.
Continue reading the main story



Last month the group held its first two public beheadings, killing two men accused of sorcery, according to prison inmates who knew the men and a Surt resident who said he had witnessed the killings.

An Image to Sustain

The Islamic State once called on Muslims everywhere to come to Syria and Iraq to join its self-declared caliphate. Its propaganda portrayed migration as all but a religious duty. Muslim doctors, engineers, and other professionals as well as fighters should all hurry to join the Islamic State, the group’s English-language magazine Dabiq often warned, or they would face the consequences on Judgment Day.

“Rush to the shade of the Islamic State with your parents, your siblings, your spouses and children,” the first issue of the magazine declared last year.

But the messages began to change as the state-building project came under increased military pressure in Syria. Increasingly, Islamic State leaders began to focus more of their attention on the battle abroad. When the United States started airstrikes against the group last fall, its official spokesman, known as Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, called for Muslims in the West to stay where they were and murder those around them.

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian,” Mr. Adnani urged in an audio message, “then rely upon Allah and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.”


The logic of the growth of the Islamic State, though, has always depended on a steady beat of battlefield victories. It craved the headlines to reinforce its apocalyptic propaganda and lure new recruits. It depended on conquests to loot money and weapons. In Syria and Iraq, all of that has recently slowed to a near standstill.

The Islamic State has seized no significant territory there since May, when its fighters took the cities of Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria. Instead, it withdrew in June from the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad and this month from the towns of Sinjar in Iraq and Al Hol in Syria.

The Islamic State forces “still send small groups to attack us now and then, but they can’t move in big convoys or they’ll get bombed by the coalition,” said Faisal Abu Leila, a rebel commander allied with Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Recent American airstrikes on Islamic State-controlled oil trucks and facilities have sent fuel prices soaring. Until lately, the Syrian and Iraqi governments paid thousands of civil servants working in Islamic State territories.

But this summer the Iraqi government stopped paying salaries in Mosul and Anbar Province, and shifts on the battlefield have prevented public employees in Islamic State territory from reaching banks on the outside to cash their paychecks.

“ISIS is still strong,” said the manager of an electronics store who lives in Raqqa. “But it has lost popularity among ordinary, uneducated people because it has lost its brilliant victories.”

Perhaps hoping to sustain its image of invincibility, the Islamic State’s propaganda has increasingly promoted the operations of its foreign affiliates. Western intelligence agencies say it is devoting more resources to them as well.

Most remain largely autonomous. The Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, deemed second after Libya’s in the scale of its threat, had a long record as a domestic insurgency before pledging its allegiance. The branch appears to have acted on its own initiative to carry out the bombing of the Russian charter jet on Oct. 31, say Western officials familiar with the intelligence reports. But the objective, those officials say, was to impress the group’s central leadership in order to win financial support. The core Islamic State immediately embraced the bombing, which killed 224 people, trumpeting the achievement of its Egyptian “brothers.”

The Nigerian group Boko Haram has been around for two decades and became a regional scourge five years ago. Western officials say its pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State this year changed almost nothing. The group had been almost comically inept in its use of social media, though, and it has evidently learned from the Islamic State’s savvy example.

Western officials believed that a breakaway faction of the Taliban in Afghanistan was also using the Islamic State name primarily to distinguish itself. But then in recent months the core group delivered several hundred thousand dollars to the Afghan fighters, helping them gain ground and recruits. Western officials say its operations so far have mainly sought to attract publicity or stir sectarianism, but clashes with the Taliban are increasing.

Foreigners in Control

Two fuel truck drivers recently released after a month in Surt’s main prison said they were stunned by the extent of the foreign control over the group’s Libyan outpost. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity for their safety but provided consistent accounts in separate interviews, backed up by a third interview with their employer, Mr. Mangoush, who had also debriefed three other drivers kidnapped with them.

The drivers were stopped on Oct. 6 on a desert highway 90 miles south of Misurata, in part for the fuel in their trailers and in part to be taken as hostages. They were surprised to find themselves surrounded by two dozen masked fighters who spoke mainly in foreign dialects of Arabic — there were many Tunisians, but also Egyptians, Iraqis, Yemenis and Sudanese, they said.

The fighters and guards in Surt all bowed to a Saudi administrator, or “wali,” who had been sent by the Islamic State to preside over the city. (A former Surt City Council member now in exile in Misurata said the Islamic State periodically rotates in new administrators, who typically are from the Persian Gulf.) Whenever drones were heard flying overhead, guards would run to the Saudi, take away his cellphone, and hurry him away to safety, the truck drivers said, suggesting that the Islamic State considered him important enough to be a target of American airstrikes.


The truck drivers said that the Islamic State fighters were commanded by Iraqis more powerful than the Saudi, but they met only the civilian administrator. He questioned each of the roughly 90 prisoners himself and offered some clemency in exchange for “repentance” — that is, a pledge of loyalty to the Islamic State.

“He would ask each prisoner, ‘Why are you here? What is your case?’ He has a very good memory,” one driver said. But, he added, “Thieves would join them just to get out.”

The prisoners were put in front of a flat-screen television to watch a video of the Islamic State’s leader, Mr. Baghdadi, proclaiming himself caliph in a sermon in Mosul last year, with occasional pauses while the guards explained the importance of a given passage. At other times, the prisoners had to watch hours of footage of the group’s attacks around the world, in Libyan cities like Benghazi, but also in Syria, Iraq and Egypt. “They would bring in a hard drive with what they called ‘the new releases,’ ” one prisoner said.

Both recounted meeting an Islamic State fighter from Chad who had been jailed for disobeying orders. But they also met a young man from Benghazi who worked with the guards and said he had just returned after five months of fighting in Syria for the Islamic State. He gave his name as Abu Malik and he planned to return to the battlefield after a short visit with his mother, suggesting that the Islamic State could arrange easy transit back and forth.

The drivers said the Islamic State seemed to command a strong intelligence network in Misurata. They marveled at an interrogator’s probing and well-informed questions about their families and personal histories. “If he said he was my own brother I would have believed him,” one driver said.

Other prisoners often returned from questioning with bloody faces, lash marks on their backs, or other marks of abuse. Then, one Friday last month, they said, two older prisoners who had been accused of sorcery — Adel Hafez, in his 50s, and, Saed Al Ma’dani, a septuagenarian — were led away to be executed in the first public beheadings in the central square under the Islamic State’s rule.

“The guards were so excited and happy,” one driver recalled. “They said, ‘Thank God, we have started the hudood,’ ” or Islamic punishments.

“They are vicious,” the other driver said. “Nobody is safe from them, and Surt is going to be very different.”

The State of the War Against ISIS

The United States, Iraq and their allies are engaging the Islamic State on multiple fronts in an attempt to weaken the militants' defenses.


The drivers themselves were treated well. They were informed at the start that they had been taken as hostages for a prisoner exchange. On Nov. 11, five kidnapped truck drivers and the bodies of three Misuratan fighters were swapped for the release of 11 Islamic State men held by the authorities in Misurata, according to the drivers and Mr. Mangoush, their boss.

The Islamic State also appeared to be seeking toll revenue from the main desert highway, Mr. Mangoush said. “People who are working with us and living in Surt told us, ‘ISIS is willing to give you safe passage in exchange for bringing fuel and other things into Surt,’ ” he said.


Instead, he said, the Misurata trucks stopped using the road, cutting off hundreds of trucks a month that had previously carried goods and supplies south through the desert.

“If we agree to a deal, what we would get is small peanuts compared to what ISIS would gain,” he said. “The next step, they will be here in Misurata.”


The Stronghold

Surt was the hometown and last refuge of Colonel Qaddafi, and the Islamic State’s roots there go back to the battle to remove him.

A Misuratan brigade under the leadership of a charismatic local extremist entered at the time and stayed to occupy part of the city. By the fall of last year, Surt was at the center of an escalating civil war. The militias that had overrun Libya were squaring off in two rival coalitions battling for money and power.


One faction based in Misurata included various moderate and extremist Islamists. The other, based in eastern Libya, was dominated by a would-be strongman, Gen. Khalifa Hifter. The Misurata forces took over the government in Tripoli, and a second government aligned with General Hifter set up in the eastern city of Tobruk (that one includes the internationally recognized Parliament).

The fighting between the two sides allowed the extremists to take full control of Surt but also killed off their leader, leaving militants searching for a new direction just as the Islamic State was storming across Iraq and declaring its caliphate.

“There was a vacuum,” said Makluf Ramadan Salim, 45, the Surt City Council member now in Misurata. “That was when Surt first heard the name of the Islamic State.”

“That is when the foreign fighters started appearing — the Tunisians, the Egyptians,” he added. By the beginning of 2015, he said, foreigners were openly manning checkpoints and questioning drivers.

In February, the Islamic State fighters in Surt collaborated with the core group in Raqqa on the beheading of about 20 Egyptian Christian migrant workers who had been kidnapped in Surt. The Raqqa group’s media arm released under its own logo a video of the killings that had been produced with its usual studio-quality sophistication but was filmed on the Libyan coast. A brigade from Misurata set out for Surt in March vowing to retake the city. But it never got past the outskirts. Its commanders said at the time that they had been surprised by the Islamic State’s strength and numbers. The brigade’s fighters complained they had not been paid in months.

“The Islamic State had weapons, they had strength and we had no support whatsoever,” one of the brigade’s fighters recalled last week. He gave his name only as Ali, for the safety of cousins still living in Surt.

Some unconvincingly dismissed the group as Qaddafi “remnants.”

The Evolution of ISIS

How has ISIS, a 21st-century terrorist organization with a retrograde religious philosophy, spread from Iraq to Syria, Libya and beyond? By Quynhanh Do on Publish Date December 13, 2014. Watch in Times Video »

“Martyrdom operations, bombings and foreign fighters,” Hassan el-Karami, a Libyan Islamic State preacher mocked in a sermon. “After you see all of this, you still say ‘remnants?’ Who do you think you are fooling?”

In August, Islamic State fighters killed a popular ultraconservative imam, Khalid bin Rajab Ferjani, for refusing to swear allegiance. When his followers and his tribe tried to rise up, the group killed three dozen of them, crucifying at least four in a busy traffic circle.


The group seized the houses and property of those who fled, and the leaders gave them to their fighters, including the foreigners, as “spoils of war,” said Mr. Salim, the council member, who soon escaped himself.

“They established Islamic police, an Islamic court, and a tax office, and they numbered all the shops in Surt to collect taxes,” he added ruefully. “They showed they really were a state.”

Contradictory Loyalties

The Islamic State’s fighters are attacking both of the country’s rival governments with bombings and assassinations, but the Central Bank continues to pay for public budgets and payrolls across both governments and the Islamic State’s territory. Surt residents — including Islamic State fighters — drive into Misurata to cash checks and buy fuel and other supplies.

Through a web of contradictory local alliances, the jihadists have even been able to tap into a line of weapons and funding through the Misurata-dominated government in Tripoli and its allies among the Benghazi militias — even as it continues to attack that faction in Tripoli, Misurata and elsewhere.

The point man responsible for obtaining the money from the Tripoli government and buying weapons for the Benghazi militias — including the Islamic State fighters — is Wissam bin Hamid, a commander well known for his ties to hard-line Islamist groups.

He was the leader of Benghazi’s most formidable fighting force at the time of the deadly assault on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012. By his own account he stood outside watching and did nothing to stop it, and he later tried to cover up for the fighter that witnesses said led the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala.

Among the Islamist militias fighting General Hifter in Benghazi, though, Mr. Bin Hamid “is the person everyone revolved around,” in part because he has maintained good relations with all of the factions, including the Islamic State, said Ziad Bellam, another brigade leader in the same coalition. “His only ideology is defeating Hifter.”

Outraged at the realization that their own faction was indirectly supporting the Islamic State fighters attacking it, several Misurata militia leaders complained to the Tripoli government. “The Islamic State in Surt will fight us with the same weapons you are funding,” Mr. Adam, the militia leader, said he told the officials in Tripoli.

When Tripoli refused to change its policy, Mr. Adam and other Misuratan militia leaders confronted Mr. Bin Hamid, their supposed ally, with the same accusation, demanding that he at least declare publicly that he opposed the Islamic State.

Mr. Bin Hamid refused, said Mr. Adam, Mr. Bellam, and others close to Mr. Bin Hamid. He insisted that he privately opposed the Islamic State but “he does not want to split the front against Hifter,” Mr. Bellam said.

Unconvinced, Mr. Adam and other Misurata leaders say they have barred Mr. Bin Hamid from returning to Misurata. But others here connected to the Tripoli government say they are still working with Mr. Bin Hamid even if he is providing weapons to Islamic State.

“Wissam bin Hamid is a true revolutionary, and he is working with the government,” said Ismael al-Shokri, who holds the title of head of military intelligence for the Misurata-Tripoli forces.

Mr. Shokri promised that those forces would someday turn their guns against the Islamic State. But he declined to say when.

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Misurata, Ben Hubbard from Sanliurfa, Turkey, and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Suliman Ali Zway contributed reporting from Misurata and Tripoli, Libya, and an employee of The New York Times from Damascus, Syria.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2015, 08:19:11 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #387 on: November 29, 2015, 08:18:13 AM »


By Tamer El-Ghobashy and
Hassan Morajea
Nov. 29, 2015 6:55 a.m. ET
18 COMMENTS

MISRATA, Libya—Even as foreign powers step up pressure against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the militant group has expanded in Libya and established a new base close to Europe where it can generate oil revenue and plot terror attacks.

Since announcing its presence in February in Sirte, the city on Libya’s Mediterranean coast has become the first that the militant group governs outside of Syria and Iraq. Its presence there has grown over the past year from 200 eager fighters to a roughly 5,000-strong contingent which includes administrators and financiers, according to estimates by Libyan intelligence officials, residents and activists in the area.

The group has exploited the deep divisions in Libya, which has two rival governments, to create this new stronghold of violent religious extremism just across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy. Along the way, they scored a string of victories—defeating one of the strongest fighting forces in the country and swiftly crushing a local popular revolt.

Libya’s neighbors have become increasingly alarmed.

Tunisia closed its border with Libya for 15 days on Wednesday, the day after Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a bus in the capital Tunis that killed 12 presidential guards.

Tunisia is also building a security wall along a third of that border to stem the flow of extremists between the countries. Two previous attacks in Tunisia this year that killed dozens of tourists were carried out by gunmen the government said were trained by Islamic State in Libya, which has recruited hundreds of Tunisians to its ranks.

This burgeoning operation in Libya shows how Islamic State is able to grow and adapt even as it is targeted by Russian, French and U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria as well as Kurdish and Iraqi ground assaults in Iraq.

In Libya, Islamic State has fended off challenges from government-aligned militias, crushed an uprising in Sirte and called for recruits who have the technical know-how to put the nearby oil facilities into operation.

Libyan officials said they are worried that it is only a matter of time before Islamic State attempts to take over more oil fields and refineries near Sirte to boost its revenue—money that could fund attacks in the Middle East and Europe.

Sirte is a gateway to several major oil fields and refineries farther east on the same coast and Islamic State has targeted those installations over the last year.

“They have made their intentions clear,” said Ismail Shoukry, head of military intelligence for the region that includes Sirte. “They want to take their fight to Rome.”

Islamic State is benefiting from a conflict that has further weakened government control in Libya.

An image taken from Aamaq News Agency, a YouTube channel that posts videos from areas under the Islamic State control, and provided courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group on June 9 allegedly shows a flag of the group flying on top of what they say is a power plant in the southern Libyan city of Sirte.

ENLARGE
An image taken from Aamaq News Agency, a YouTube channel that posts videos from areas under the Islamic State control, and provided courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group on June 9 allegedly shows a flag of the group flying on top of what they say is a power plant in the southern Libyan city of Sirte. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

For nearly a year, the U.S. and European powers have pointed to the Islamic State threat to press the rival governments to come to a power-sharing agreement. Despite a United Nations-brokered draft agreement for peace announced in October, neither side has taken steps to implement it.

A new U.N. envoy, Martin Kobler, was appointed this month to break the stalemate, part of efforts to find a political solution to counter the extremists’ expansion.

“We don’t have a real state. We have a fragmented government,” said Fathi Ali Bashaagha, a politician from the city of Misrata who participated in the U.N.-led negotiations. “Every day we delay on a political deal, it is a golden opportunity for Islamic State to grow.”

Islamic State militants have successfully taken on and defeated myriad Libyan armed factions, including the powerful militias from Misrata which were the driving force behind the revolt that unseated longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Misrata, 150 miles west of Sirte, has recently come under sporadic attacks from Islamic State.

Since early 2014, two rival factions have ruled Libya, effectively dividing the country. In the east, an internationally recognized government based in the town of Tobruk has won the backing of regional powers Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. In the west, an Islamist leaning government based in Tripoli has relied on Misrata fighting forces for political legitimacy.

Members of Misrata’s militias, who are loosely under the control of the western government in Tripoli, say they lack the support to mount an offensive against Islamic State. Earlier this month, the Tripoli government forced the Misrata militias into a humiliating prisoner swap with Islamic State.

“There will be no meaningful action without a political agreement,” said Abdullah al-Najjar, a field commander with the Brigade 166, an elite Misrata militia that engaged in a protracted fight with Islamic State on the outskirts of Sirte earlier this year. “You have to know you’re going to war with a government that is going to back you.”

This month, the U.S. launched its first airstrike against Islamic State outside Syria and Iraq, underlining concern about the group’s expansion. Officials said they believe the strike killed one of the top deputies of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The deputy, Abu Nabil al-Anbari, had been sent to Libya last year to establish the group’s presence there.

In recent weeks, a flood of foreign recruits and their families have arrived in Sirte—another indication the group is becoming increasingly comfortable in its North African base, according to residents and activists from Sirte and Libyan military officials.

Islamic State has called on recruits to travel to Libya instead of trying to enter Syria, while commanders have repatriated Libyan fighters from Syria and Iraq, Libyan intelligence officials said.

“Sirte will be no less than Raqqa,” is a mantra often repeated by Islamic State leaders in the Libyan city during sermons and radio broadcasts, several residents and an activist from the city said. Raqqa is the group’s self-declared capital in Syria.

Like its mother organization in Syria, Islamic State has appointed foreign “emirs” in Sirte to administer its brutal brand of social control. Music, smoking and cellphone networks have been banned while women are only allowed to walk the streets in full cover. Morality police patrol in vehicles marked with Islamic State’s logo and courts administering Islamic law, or Shariah, as well as prisons have been set up.

With a population of about 700,000, Sirte was long known for being Gadhafi’s hometown and a stronghold of his supporters. Soon after Libya’s uprising ended more than four decades of Gadhafi’s rule, he was killed in Sirte by fighters from Misrata.


Earlier this month, Islamic State reopened schools in the city, segregating students by gender and strictly enforcing an Islamic State approved curriculum. On Fridays, the traditional day of communal prayer, the group organizes public lectures and residents are often herded into public squares to witness executions and lashings of those who run afoul of the strict rules.

The seeds of Islamic State’s growth in Libya were planted after Gadhafi’s ouster. In the almost exclusively Sunni Muslim Libya, the Sunni extremist group exploited tribal and political rifts that lingered after the strongman’s death, particularly around Sirte. Islamic State lured extremists from other groups under the Islamic State umbrella.

By June, Brigade 166, one of western Libya’s strongest armed brigades, abandoned a monthslong battle with the militants on Sirte’s outskirts. In August, Islamic State cemented their grip on the city, bringing the last holdout district under their control, officials and residents said.

Islamic State crushed an armed uprising in August in three days. It was sparked by local residents angered over the group’s killing of a young cleric who opposed the radicals. Militants publicly crucified several people who participated in the revolt and confiscated homes.

The brutality moved the internationally recognized government of eastern Libya to plea for military intervention by Arab nations and a lifting of a U.N. arms embargo on Libya in effect since 2011. But the support never came.

Unlike in Syria, the group has struggled to provide basic services. Gas stations are dry and residents are expected to smuggle in their own fuel—as long as it is not confiscated by Islamic State.

Hospitals have been abandoned after Islamic State ordered male and female staffers be segregated. The ill must travels miles to other cities for treatment, a trip that is often accompanied by difficult questioning and searches at Islamic State checkpoints.

“No services, just punishment,” said Omar,  a 33-year-old civil engineer who fled Sirte after taking part in the failed uprising against Islamic State. “Sirte has gone dark.”

Despite the challenges, Islamic State has big plans for Sirte. A recent edition of their propaganda magazine, Dabiq, featured an interview with Abu Mughirah al-Qahtani, who was described as “the delegated leader” for Islamic State in Libya. He vowed to use Libya’s geographic position—and its oil reserves—to disrupt Europe’s security and economy.

“The control of Islamic State over this region will lead to economic breakdowns,” the Islamic leader said, “especially for Italy and the rest of the European states.”
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•   Military Intervention in Libya Serves No U.S. Interests
•   Libya and the U.S.: The Unique Libyan Case

Libya's Descent into Chaos
North African Turmoil
by Yehudit Ronen
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2016 (view PDF)
http://www.meforum.org/5686/libya-descent-into-chaos
 
 
Western intervention in Libya helped topple the 42-year rule of dictator Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi, seen here at the African Union meeting in February 2009, but it seems to have done so at the expense of the Libyan nation-state and surrounding nations of the Maghreb and north-central Africa.

The overthrow of Libya's long-reigning dictator Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi by an international coalition in the summer and autumn of 2011was hailed at the time as paving the way for a "New Libya." Instead, the country rapidly slid into widespread anarchy and violence as a kaleidoscope of tribal, ethnic, religious, political, economic, ideological, and regional interests, powerfully suppressed by the fallen regime, tore the country apart.

Nor has the violent chaos stopped at Libya's borders. With groups tied to the global jihadist community stepping into the fray in strength, political-religious militancy and a sea of sophisticated weaponry has spilled over to Libya's African and Arab neighbors, with dramatic implications for Europe as well.

Anti-Western terrorist organizations affiliated with the global jihadist community have been the chief beneficiaries of the turmoil, destabilizing bordering areas and, in turn, injecting strong doses of belligerence and terror back into Libya. Escalating fighting, rampant lawlessness, and a power vacuum have turned Libya into an attractive arena for the aspirations of the Islamic State (IS), which by late 2014 to early 2015 had established a power-base in the country's eastern and central areas.

The collapsing Libyan state has become a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences. A review of how things fell apart—and what challenges lie ahead—may thus offer clues for how to approach similar situations.

The Qaddafi Regime Succumbs

Throughout the spring of 2011, a coalition of Western non-ground forces and Libyan rebels scored a series of military successes against Qaddafi and his loyalists. Rebels advanced westward from eastern Libya along the Mediterranean coast in an effort to seize the oil and gas fields, refineries, and export terminals and to inflict a fatal blow to the regime's power-center in Tripoli. By that point, there were growing cracks within the top political and military leadership of the Qaddafi regime. Eight thousand soldiers had already deserted during the initial phase of the uprising, including forces associated with the Zintan tribal group of the western mountainous regions. Musa Kusa, Libya's foreign minister and a Qaddafi confidant, had already defected in March. As of June 2011, the Libyan military "had shrunk to somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 (from its original 51,000),"[1] yet the Western-rebel military coalition was unable to achieve a decisive victory.

 
Militia members celebrate a victory. In the absence of any effective central authority, an estimated several hundred militias in 2012 had grown to approximately 1,700 by early 2015. Funds from various sources, such as the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated "Libya Shield Force," have enhanced their recruitment potential and diminished the power and effectiveness of the national army.

This changed in early June when U.S., British, and French forces initiated air attacks on targets in built-up urban areas. The devastating impact on Qaddafi's army was soon apparent despite its reinforcement by devoted Sahelian Tuareg soldiers mainly from Mali, who fought fearlessly for "Brother Leader" as well as for their own survival. In early August, NATO stepped up its military pressure, concentrating its air assaults on the area surrounding Tripoli and paving the way for the rebels to storm the capital later that month.

On October 20, 2011, Qaddafi was captured and executed by the rebel militia of Misrata, a city on the Gulf of Sirte. Three days later, the National Transitional Council (NTC), the representative organ of authority established earlier that year by the rebels and, at that point, recognized by most countries as Libya's government, formally proclaimed the country's liberation. It was both "the end and a beginning,"[2] opined one writer, but what kind of beginning soon became abundantly clear.

The Slippery Slope to Civil War

Soon after the regime's collapse, Libya was further wracked by turmoil and chaos, unprecedented in scope since gaining independence in 1951. The elimination of Qaddafi's iron grip, which had held together the diverse and often contentious elements of the fragmented Libyan society, unleashed with volcanic force the long-restrained effects of cruel political-religious oppression, chronic economic neglect and deprivation, and social and tribal marginalization.[3]

Alongside these long-repressed rivalries, there were the additional stresses to the state's formal, yet weak, institutions of governance in the form of secessionist threats to Libya's territorial integrity in Cyrenaica in the east and, to a lesser extent, in Fezzan, the southern region. What economic opportunity existed was shattered by the sharp decline in oil and gas exports, which had been practically the sole source of foreign currency. The NTC and forces allied with it were no match for the violent power struggles taking place among rival armed militias, nor could they do anything to stand up to the empowerment of a large-scale criminal economy based on illegal trafficking of drugs, migrants, and arms, which affected the security of Libya as well as Africa and the Middle East.[4]

The Western nations had no stomach for nation-building in the wake of their traumatic experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. Deliberately staying aloof from the nascent anarchy, they watched as Libya descended into the all-too-familiar pattern of a failed military intervention, with the nation turning into a cauldron of jihadist fanaticism and domestic and regional strife. The ex-rebel forces and other armed militias took advantage of the newly created power vacuum to promote their political and religious aspirations and, at the same time, redress their chronically socioeconomic grievances. It was not long before these groups amassed enough strength to become the dominant players on the Libyan stage and a threat to the new state's fragile organs of authority. Moreover, the militias' connections with a wide gallery of regional and international players also redrew the map of the country's foreign relations, which in turn, played a crucial role in exacerbating the fighting and in accelerating Libya's plunge into the abyss.

The numbers tell it all. In the absence of any effective central authority, by early 2013 an estimated several hundred militias operating in the immediate wake of the intervention had grown to approximately 1,700.[5] Funds from various Libyan and non-Libyan sources bolstered both the militias' prestige and financial solvency, enhancing their recruitment potential and further widening the gap between their power and that of the ineffective national army. For example, the Islamist-affiliated Libya Shield Force, operating in Benghazi under the command of warlord Wissam Bin Hamid, received funding from the powerful Islamist bloc within the General National Congress (GNC), Libya's parliament and successor to the NTC following elections in June 2012.[6]
Misrata and Zintan Fuel Chaos

Within the chaotic landscape of multiple rival armed forces, the clash between the Misrata and the Zintan militias stands out as a major catalyst to the dissolution of the state. These two groups initially developed a tactical alliance during the 2011 uprising against Qaddafi. Prior to that, the people of the city of Zintan, about 140 kilometers southwest of the capital, had been traditionally linked by kinship bonds to the Warfalla, Libya's largest Bedouin tribal group, which together with the Maqarha tribe and the dictator's own Qaddafa clan composed the regime's backbone.[7] As noted however, Zintan soldiers from the state army defected en masse in 2011, regrouping with the anti-Qaddafi coalition of urban coastal tribes, including rebels from the Misrata.

This Western-backed alliance ultimately crushed the regime's last bastion in the capital: Qaddafi was captured and executed by Misrata militiamen while Zintan irregulars played a similarly significant role in extracting Saif al-Islam, Qaddafi's son and right-hand man, from his hiding place in November 2011 and holding him prisoner, despite persistent NTC demands to surrender him. (In late July 2015, still in the hands of the Zintan militia, a court in Tripoli sentenced Saif al-Islam to death in absentia).

The Misrata camp was closely affiliated with Islamist groups; the Zintan affiliated with the more secularist and nationalist groups.

It was hardly surprising, therefore, that each militia, controlling substantial arsenals of weapons, perceived itself as having the right to reshape the state. By mid-November 2013, their alliance had collapsed. The trigger was a demonstration in Tripoli by the Zintan militia, viewed by the Misrata as a provocation. In response, Misrata militiamen opened fire on the demonstrators, killing forty and wounding 150.[8] These armed hostilities were intertwined with fierce political tensions as both militias expanded their respective coalitions. At one end of the reinvigorated conflict stood the Misrata camp, which was closely affiliated with Islamist groups politically active in the General National Congress, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood. At the other end, stood the Zintan camp affiliated with the more secularist and nationalist National Forces Alliance (NFA) that had gained a slight majority in the 2012 GNC elections. Both militias, however, used whatever legal or illegal measures at their disposal to gain the upper hand.[9]

Soon the GNC itself became irrelevant. Due to a lack of financial resources, the state had no ability to recruit and build effective defense and security organs, certainly in comparison to the militias. In the ensuing chaos, there were frequent abductions and assassinations of politicians, policemen, military commanders, soldiers, judges, human rights activists, journalists, and foreign diplomats. Main road intersections, police stations, and government buildings came under attack. People were imprisoned in clandestine detention centers run by the militias, and the militias attacked state prisons, releasing both criminals and political prisoners affiliated with them. Even Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was briefly abducted in October 2013 after a failed no-confidence vote against him in the parliament; by spring 2014, he had fled the country.
 
Contemporary Libya is less a nation than a geographical construct populated by competing and often interlocking tribes and clans. The Zintan (here Zentan) of the western regions and the Misrata (here Misurata) are perhaps the most prominent today locked in a deadly battle for control of the country and its resources.

The General National Congress's decision to remain in office until December 24, 2014, instead of ending its session earlier as scheduled, further exacerbated the state's break up. Elections to a new GNC, in fact, the government, were eventually held in June 2014, but its first sitting took place two months later in the port city of Tobruk on the country's eastern Mediterranean coast, intentionally far from the capital where Islamists had refused to dissolve the existing government, insisting on its legitimacy. The Tobruk-based government—internationally recognized as the exclusively legitimate one—was supported by Zintan militias and their allies while Islamist-affiliated Misrata militias and their respective supporters backed the one in Tripoli. As one commentator put it:

"What was one single weak regime has now turned into two regimes, each of which claims legitimacy for itself and denies it to the other."[10]
Further military unrest accompanied this political turmoil. In May 2014, Operation Dignity was launched by a newly established national army under the command of former army general Khalifa Haftar, who had defected from Qaddafi's army as early as 1987. Haftar's ambitious campaign was aimed at "cleansing" eastern Libya and, particularly, Benghazi and Derna of its Islamist and jihadist groups and at generating sweeping changes in the state's top political organs on behalf of the anti-Islamist camp.[11] The Islamist militias in eastern Libya responded by forming a tactical alliance, declaring jihad against the "infidel" opponents. The Islamist alliance included the Ansar al-Shari'a Brigade, infamous for its role in the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.[12]

Unfortunately for Haftar and his supporters, Operation Dignity failed to produce the desired results. The militias of eastern Libya were fiercely motivated by their religious vision, their long-harbored secessionist aspirations, and their claims on oil resources. Moreover, renewed fighting in Tripoli gnawed at the resources available to Haftar's war in the east.

Regional and international involvement in Libya peaked in late August 2014. The Tripoli government backed by the Islamist Misrata forces maintained ties with Qatar, Turkey, and Sudan, which provided them with political, financial, and military support.[13] They also received support from Libya's former grand mufti, Sadiq Ghariani, who, from the comfort of his refuge in Britain, used an Internet channel to urge Islamist forces to widen their anti-government revolt in a "Libya Dawn" campaign in Tripoli.[14] The rival Tobruk-based government, backed by the Zintan camp, was backed by Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, France, and other Western states. France was especially concerned with the potential spillover of Libyan chaos and terror into its former colonies in the Sahel and the Maghreb, including Mali, Niger, and Algeria, where it had strategic, military, and other interests.
 
By early 2015, fighters from the Islamic State had established beachheads in centrally-located Sirte and in Derna (pictured here) in eastern Libya for the new caliphate that they envisioned. In an effort to promote its expansionist and jihadist goals aggressively, the group launched a series of terrorist attacks, including the horrific beheading of twenty-one abducted Egyptian Copts.

Providing a further twist on foreign involvement, mysterious air attacks struck Misrata-held sites in Tripoli during the second half of August 2014. Many believe them to have been Egyptian aircraft supported by planes from the UAE while others implicated Tunisia, Italy, and Belarus.[15] Whatever the bombers' identity, the battles between the two political and military camps over control of the country exacted a heavy toll on the civilian population. In the end, however, Misrata forces claimed victory signaled by their control over Tripoli International Airport and effective command over air traffic to, from, and within Libya.

By late 2014, a new belligerent actor had entered the scene—the Islamic State (IS, or ISIS as it was previously known)—which quickly began to establish beachheads in Derna and Benghazi in eastern Libya and in centrally-located Sirte for the new caliphate that it envisioned. Soon the Sirte branch of the Ansar al-Shari'a militia had pledged its allegiance to the newcomer as did the former dictator's own tribe, the Qaddafa. In an effort to promote its expansionist and jihadist goals, the Libya-based IS launched a series of terrorist and military attacks, including one on the Mabruk and Ghani oil fields in the first half of 2015 in tandem with the horrific beheading of twenty-one abducted Egyptian Copts as well as of Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians captured while crossing through Libya's territory in their illegal migration toward the shores of Europe. There could be little doubt now that Libya had turned into a failed state where competing domestic and international parties, notably the Islamic State, used their positions to exact bloody revenge and seek further aggrandizement.

Conclusion

The Libyan state has been characterized in the non-Libyan media as a "pestilential swamp"[16] where the state and its society "have gone beyond the point of no return in its precipitous slide into civil war."[17]

Libya turned into a failed state where competing parties used their positions to exact bloody revenge and seek further aggrandizement.

Calls by the Tobruk-based government for "international intervention" by the U.N. Security Council[18] have gone unheeded yet prompted the hard line, Tripoli-based, Islamist bloc and its jihadist allies to unequivocally reject "any measure that would bring foreign troops onto Libyan soil."[19] Writing in the Los Angeles Times, former U.S. diplomat Mieczyslaw Boduszynski and Middle East expert Kristin Fabbe described the two conflicting militias as both "a cause and a consequence of state weakness."[20] Shortly after this observation was made, the Islamic State took many observers by surprise by its rapid consolidation of power in Libya and the attendant change of both the country's political, religious, and military map and its immediate geostrategic environment.

There are effectively four main state, sub-state, and non-state local and foreign actors, most of them heterogynous and inconsistent in their affiliation, vying for control of Libya and its economic resources while changing the country's territorial map. These are the Tobruk government backed by the Zintan militia, the Tripoli government backed by the Misrata militia, the IS in Libya, and a broad and diverse coalition of local and foreign non-state groups, including non-Libyan rival jihadist groups fighting alongside their Libyan political and ideological camps.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State, including its Libyan offshoot, inebriated by rapid successes, has even launched a social media campaign on Twitter to mobilize supporters from outside the state to "immigrate to Libya [to] guarantee your place in the gateway of the conquest of Rome."[21] It is no accident that the Libya of 2015 is frequently awarded the dubious title of the "True Somalia" or the "Somalia of the Middle East."[22]

By rushing heedlessly into battle in 2011 with no clear, long-term strategy, the Western powers have helped create a Frankenstein monster out of the corpse of Libya, a creature that may before long wage jihad against both Europe and the Middle East.

Yehudit Ronen is a professor in the department of political studies, Bar-Ilan University. Her research focuses on Libya, Sudan, and the Sahel seam-line between the Arab and African worlds.
________________________________________
[1] Florence Gaub, "The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression," The Journal of Strategic Studies, 2 (2013): 233, 235.
[2] Ethan Chorin, Exit Qaddafi (London: Saqi, 2012), p. 253.
[3] For Libya's ethnic fabric, see Youssef Sawani and Jason Pack, "Libyan Constitutionality and Sovereignty Post-Qaddafi: The Islamist, Regionalist, and Amazigh Challenges," The Journal of North African Studies, 4 (2013): 536-40; for the growing sectarianism, see Daniel Byman, "Sectarianism Afflicts the New Middle East," Survival, 1 (2014): 79-100.
[4] More specifically, Mali, Algeria, Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Gaza Strip.
[5] Gaub, "The Libyan Armed Forces between Coup-proofing and Repression," p. 238; Farouk Chothia, "Why Is Libya Lawless?" BBC News (London), Jan. 27, 2015.
[6] Asharq al-Awsat (London), Aug. 6, 2014.
[7] Gilbert Achcar, The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising (London: Saqi, 2013), p. 202.
[8] Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo), July 24-30, 2014.
[9] See Karim Mezran, "What Is Going on in Libya?" Al-Jazeera TV (Doha), July 31, 2014.
[10] Muhammad Kureishan, "Sliding towards the Abyss in Libya," al-Quds al-Arabi (London), quoted in Mideast Mirror (London), Aug. 28, 2014.
[11] Khaled Hanafi, "Unpicking the Haftar Drive," al-Ahram Weekly, June 5-11, 2014.
[12] BBC News (London), June 13, 2014.
[13] Mohannad Obeid, "What's Happening in Libya?" al-Akhbar (Beirut), Aug. 26, 2014; al-Arabiya News Channel (Dubai), Sept. 2, 2014; Sudan Tribune (Khartoum), Sept. 6, 2014.
[14] The Guardian (London), Aug. 31, 2014.
[15] Andrew McGregor, "Egypt, the UAE and Arab Military Intervention," Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, Washington, D.C., Sept. 5, 2014.
[16] Al-Ahram Weekly, Aug. 21-27, 2014.
[17] Ibid.; Abdullah al-Bakoush, in al-Ahram Weekly, Aug. 14-20, 2014.
[18] RT network (London), Aug. 13, 2014.
[19] Al-Ahram Weekly, Aug. 21-27, 2014.
[20] Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski and Kristin Fabbe, "What Libya's militia problem means for the Middle East and the U.S.," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 23, 2014.
[21] "ISIS Recruitment Campaign on Twitter," Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Washington, D.C., Feb. 16, 2015.
[22] See, for example, Maha Sultan in Tishrin (Damascus), quoted in Mideast Mirror, Nov. 18, 2013.
Related Topics:  Libya, US policy  |  Yehudit Ronen  |  Winter 2016 MEQ This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.
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« Reply #389 on: January 19, 2016, 10:44:00 AM »


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In Libya, the West Heeds the Call of Intervention
Analysis
January 19, 2016 | 09:15 GMT Print


Analysis

Though the fight against the Islamic State has many theaters, the front line of the conflict was drawn years ago in Syria and Iraq, devoid as they were of governments that could effectively control the whole of their respective territories. But as the Islamic State loses ground in Syria and Iraq, the group has found a home in another country — a country arguably as bereft of central authority, a country that may, too, be the object of international military intervention in the coming weeks. That country is Libya, which is now home to as many as 5,000 militants loyal to the Islamic State.

In some ways, Libya was a logical place for the militants to end up. After all, eastern Libya has been an important arms exporter to Syrian rebels since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. They began to arrive in early 2014, though many were simply returning to their home country after having fought and trained in Syria and Iraq. They arrived in the eastern city of Darnah but have since spread throughout the country, establishing a presence in Nofaliya, Ghardabiya and most noticeably Sirte.

The Islamic State has also encroached on Libya's oil-producing regions. And even though most of the ports in these regions are currently offline, Libyan authorities cannot afford to let their only viable source of revenue fall into the hands of extremists. Without that revenue, they would be unable to fund the social services that would instill the kind of loyalty that keeps their constituents from joining groups like the Islamic State in the first place. Authorities cannot contain the Islamic State on their own, hence the calls for international intervention.

Preparations Are Underway

And it is a call that several countries seem willing to heed. Libya's proximity to Europe makes Islamic State advances a security concern for Western countries, particularly Mediterranean countries. Not only would Libya be ideally suited as a launching pad for terrorist attacks, greater conflict could produce even more refugees, which Europe has struggled to effectively manage. Moreover, Western countries are concerned that the Islamic State could further destabilize nearby countries such as Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.

Italy and Spain are particularly concerned about how Libyan insecurity would affect their oil and natural gas interests. Currently, the Islamic State has not infringed on the areas in which Italy and Spain operate, but that could change if the group starts to advance westward. For these reasons, it appears increasingly likely that a military intervention is in the offing, but the exact shape and scope of the intervention would depend on how rapidly the security situation deteriorates and how effectively a national unity government in Libya legitimizes its leadership.

What is clear is that, for now, the military intervention would focus on empowering Libya's indigenous capabilities. As with other Western-led anti-Islamic State operations, the mission would be to train and advise Libyan security forces and to improve intelligence collection. Limited targeted airstrikes and support from special operations units, particularly against high-value targets, can also be expected.

Preparations are already underway. Reports from Jan. 4 indicate that the British Special Air Service will work alongside some 1,000 British troops who would in turn be supported by 6,000 U.S. and European military personnel. Italy would lead the operation. In fact, the Italian air force has already deployed four AMX fighter aircraft and a Predator drone to Sicily's Trapani airport. Increased aerial activity suggests that Italy is enhancing the role it plays in conducting reconnaissance and collecting imagery. On Jan. 18, Germany's defense minister also raised the prospect of participating in a military operation in Libya.

Of course, foreign military aid in Libya is nothing new. In 2015, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes in support of the Libyan National Army, the powerful militia aligned with the eastern government in Tobruk. In mid-2015, the United States launched two airstrikes in Ajdabiya that killed two Islamic State leaders and one airstrike in Darnah a few months later. But as modestly successful as the airstrikes were, they could not by themselves dislodge the Islamic State, something that would require a functional ground force.

Members of the international coalition understand as much, and the way they create that ground force will be informed by lessons that were learned in Syria and Iraq. It was in this terrain that Western troops most recently fought a costly and inefficient counterinsurgency, which revealed the importance of engaging local actors and empowering domestic security forces. Accordingly, the coalition will try to work with regional partners to collect intelligence on potential targets, but the focus will be on uniting disparate militant groups in a broad anti-Islamic State operation.

If the Western coalition can be expected to act more intelligently in Libya, it can also be expected to act more rapidly. Geopolitically, there are simply fewer impediments to intervention. Unlike in Syria and Iraq, foreign patrons do not see Libya as a theater for a larger proxy war in the Middle East, so the consequences for supporting one group over another are less dire. Geographically, Libya's flat, open terrain lends itself more easily to troop movement and precision airstrikes than the mountainous areas of Syria.
An Example of Disunity

But several things need to happen inside Libya before the coalition can get started. Western countries need a united government that at least theoretically represents the entire country so that there is a group with which the coalition can coordinate its operations. It is little surprise, then, that several countries have supported the acceleration of unity talks between the House of Representatives, the internationally recognized government in eastern Libya, and the General National Congress, the Tripoli-based body that the West believes undermines the authority of the House of Representatives and thus the legitimacy of a military intervention. While the West would prefer a government that effectively consolidates all the political and military forces operating in Libya, it would settle for any entity that enables them to build a security apparatus in which the country's various militias voluntarily participate.

The U.N.-brokered unity government, which will be known as the Government of National Accord, is slated to begin its mandate in late January. Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj will govern with a presidential council that aims to gain buy-in from different regional and tribal factions. Notably, the General National Congress and House of Representatives are supposed to approve Government of National Accord members, casting doubt on the possibility of the government's implementation.

And therein lies the difficulty of cobbling together a cohesive security force in a country as politically diverse as Libya. A successful intervention depends on at least tacit support from Libya's militias, but those militias have different long-term objectives and political orientations. Frequently the only thing they share is a historical hatred for one another. Oil revenues pay militia salaries, so their members tend to fight one another for primacy of oil infrastructure and facilities. Still, most groups understand the long-term threat the Islamic States poses to their financial well-being — an understanding that may well lead to a higher degree of cooperation.

The question of who would lead a unified military perfectly exemplifies Libya's political disunity. The natural choice is Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who heads the Libyan National Army in the east. He is supported by several eastern cities, including Benghazi, Bayda, Tobruk, and Marj, as well in the west, thanks to his strategic alliance with the city of Zentan. More important, he was the military commander under the House of Representatives in Tobruk.

But he is decidedly less popular in other corners of the country. Some in the west believe Hifter is a counter-revolutionary who wants to rule Libya as forcefully as Gadhafi once did. His forces will therefore struggle to work with General National Congress-aligned militias in the west, including collectives such as Libya Dawn and Libya Shield, both of which have been subject to Hifter's anti-Islamist operations; Libya Dawn comprises Islamist and non-Islamist groups and is particularly active in the west, whereas Libya Shield is more active in central and eastern Libya. Though some General National Congress-aligned militias have thrown their support behind the unity government, many have not, and they will have a hard time supporting a government if its military is led by someone they despise.

Hifter is also unpopular among the country's federalists, who, unlike the general, believe Libya should separated into constituent states. This is problematic because a military intervention against the Islamic State would necessarily involve support from the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which protects export terminals around As Sidra, Ras Lanuf, Marsa el Brega and Zueitina. The Petroleum Facilities Guard is led by Ibrahim Jadhran, a staunch federalist who has clashed with Hifter in the past. Jadhran controls Libya's central oil ports and thus determines which of Libya's national oil companies can move their oil to market, giving him considerable political power. Western military support for Petroleum Facilities Guard supporters could give Jadhran even more influence over the unity government's national oil company contracts and its revenue distribution. Put simply, the two leaders will struggle to work together, as will all the other groups that possess a vested interest in Libya's future.
Narrow Parameters

Even if all of Libya's militias were willing to unite, several other factors will prevent them from becoming a viable military. First, foreign resources such as money, equipment and training will necessarily change the country's balance of power. Newly strengthened militias, for example, may choose to battle their traditional rivals. This kind of shake-up could create new bids for power in opposition to the fledgling unity government.

Second, foreign governments will have a hard time deciding which groups they will back, especially when a lot of those groups practice jihadism. While virtually every group in Libya can agree to rid the country of the Islamic State, they cannot agree on the status of al Qaeda-aligned groups such as Ansar al-Sharia, the Mujahideen Shura Council in Darnah and the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council. Granted, these groups have been effective in combating the Islamic State, but the West will nonetheless have a hard time justifying arming and training them. As conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan show, however, arming, training and funding these kinds of groups is, to a degree, inevitable. Backing any group or groups will be an even more daunting task considering Hifter's intransigent view on virtually all Islamist militias. In turn, the political entities these militias back could be forced to withdraw their support from the unity government.

Last, a foreign military operation against the Islamic State will damage Libya's oil and natural gas sector — the government's sole reliable source of revenue. To realize its hydrocarbons potential, Libya needs strong, functional institutions such as major national oil companies and the Central Bank of Libya, and their survival depends largely on the security forces that protect them, namely the Petroleum Facilities Guard. But that introduces the very problem international coalition members want to avoid: inciting a conflict between rival powers. The prospects of success, even within the narrow parameters of the impending intervention, seem low.
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« Reply #390 on: January 19, 2016, 10:57:19 AM »

Second post

A Terror State in Libya
Islamic State is advancing with too little Western opposition.
ENLARGE
Photo: str/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Jan. 18, 2016 6:18 p.m. ET
93 COMMENTS

Islamic State fighters launched a naval assault in northern Libya last week, dispatching three boats that fired on an oil terminal at Zueitina. Local guards repelled that attack, but it was a reminder of Islamic State’s growing capabilities and reach beyond its heartland in Syria and Iraq. Too bad Western capitals seem unprepared to stop it.

The Zueitina episode was the latest in a string of Islamic State attacks in Libya since the new year. On Jan. 8 an Islamic State truck bomb hit a police academy in Zliten, western Libya, killing 65 people. The same week Islamic State arson attacks ignited two other Libyan oil terminals. Islamic State draws much of its revenue by marketing oil from captured fields in Iraq and Syria.

Following the Zletin truck bombing, the European Union—300 miles across the Mediterranean—offered $108 million in security assistance to Libya. The aid is supposed to take the form of technical and logistical support to the newly formed Libyan unity government, currently based in neighboring Tunisia.

The problem is that the new government—the product of a shaky agreement last month between the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk and the Islamist-backed General National Congress, headquartered in Tripoli—remains a mostly notional entity. The competing governments have been at war for years, even as they both fight Islamic State, and elements of both governments have rejected the unity deal, as have some of their respective tribal and militia supporters. Whether those political divisions can be resolved is anyone’s guess, but in the meantime the jihadist threat from Libya is growing larger.

That was underscored in December when Islamic State paraded a police force in the coastal city of Sirte, where it also holds the airport. Islamic State now controls a long strip of the coastline between Tripoli and Benghazi, territory that also serves the group’s propaganda purposes in claiming to be an Islamic caliphate.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to target Islamic State in Libya, while the U.S. last year conducted limited air strikes against jihadists. But Western leaders insist they are waiting for a political solution to the civil war before intervening directly. A negotiated settlement would be welcome but could take months if not years to materialize. That gives Islamic State and other jihadist groups ample time to profit from the chaos.

The West’s central interest in the region isn’t to salvage a Libyan state, assuming that’s even possible. It’s to ensure that the territory doesn’t become a haven for jihadists with access to oil revenues and a dangerous perch on the Mediterranean. A dedicated NATO bombing campaign, if necessary combined with limited ground forces, to destroy Islamic State in Libya would send the valuable signal that the West won’t tolerate such a threat so close to its shores. That signal might also give Libya’s factions more incentive to reconcile, but in any case it would make the world safer.
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« Reply #391 on: January 28, 2016, 09:07:16 AM »



By Scott Stewart

Many indicators suggest that European and regional powers along with the United States are once again gearing up for an intervention in Libya. These signs include increased surveillance activity over the North African country, reports of U.S., British and French soldiers already on the ground, and leaks that countries in the region are being approached to provide assistance.

Libya is mired in a period of protracted chaos. Jihadists aligned with al Qaeda and the Islamic State now control substantial portions of the country. Thanks to their connections with other militant groups in the region, there is a network that provides training and weapons reaching from the Sinai Peninsula to West Africa.

It is understandable that the United States and its allies feel compelled to intervene in Libya to degrade the power of these jihadist groups. However, given the divisive and fractious nature of Libya, putting together a viable and sustainable political system after the military intervention will remain the greatest challenge.

Unshackling the Jihadists

In February 2011, a month before the NATO-led international coalition intervened in the Libyan civil war, I wrote that overthrowing Gadhafi could plunge Libya into chaos that would allow jihadists to flourish. I based this assessment on the continued involvement of Libyans in global jihadist activities from the 1980s in Afghanistan through Chechnya, Bosnia and Iraq. This was exacerbated by Moammar Gadhafi's policy of keeping his security and military forces weak, fractured and dependent on him. Throughout its own history, al Qaeda has had a disproportionate number of Libyan leaders, considering the population of Libya compared to the rest of the Muslim world. Senior al Qaeda figures hailing from Libya have included Abu Yahya al-Libi, Anas al-Libi, Abu Faraj al-Libi and Abu Laith al-Libi.

The degree of Libyan involvement in Iraq was perhaps best documented in a batch of personnel files captured by U.S. troops from an al Qaeda safe house in the northern Iraqi city of Sinjar in 2007. These documents, often referred to as "the Sinjar files," contained the details of 595 jihadists who had traveled to Iraq to fight. Of these 595, 112 were Libyans. The number of Libyans in this sample was smaller than the 244 Saudis, but when compared against the populations of their respective countries, the Libyans had a higher per capita participation rate than the Saudis. The Libyans also appeared to be more radical than the Saudis: 85 percent of the Libyans asked to be suicide bombers complied, compared to only 50 percent of the Saudis.

Of the Libyan jihadists represented in the Sinjar files, 60 percent of them had listed their home city as Darnah and around 24 percent had come from Benghazi. Gadhafi's security apparatus kept a close eye on returning jihadists and used a strong carrot-and-stick approach to keep them under control prior to the outbreak of the civil war in early 2011. On reflection, the pro-jihadist sentiment in Libya's east helps explain why those cities were hotbeds of anti-Gadhafi revolutionary sentiment and why jihadists remain a powerful force in Darnah and Benghazi today.

I believed back in 2011 that this strong jihadist current, combined with literally tons of loose weapons, was a potentially deadly combination for Western interests in Libya, writing that:

    This bodes ill for foreign interests in Libya, where they have not had the same security concerns in recent years that they have had in Algeria or Yemen. If the Libyans truly buy into the concept of targeting the far enemy that supports the state, it would not be out of the realm of possibility for them to begin to attack multinational oil companies, foreign diplomatic facilities and even foreign companies and hotels.

This forecast was proved tragically correct on Sept. 11, 2012, when the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi was attacked. U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and State Department communicator Sean Smith were killed, along with two CIA contractors later that night when a CIA annex was attacked. Since then, jihadists have continued to attack hotels and kill or kidnap foreigners.
Other Fractures

But the jihadist ideology is not the only divisive factor in Libya. Indeed, there are a number of significant ethnic, tribal and regional fault lines inside Libya. I was referencing these divisions in August 2011 (two months before the death of Gadhafi) when I wrote the following:

    As the experiences of recent years in Iraq and Afghanistan have vividly illustrated, it is far easier to depose a regime than it is to govern a country. It has also proved to be very difficult to build a stable government from the remnants of a long-established dictatorial regime. History is replete with examples of coalition fronts that united to overthrow an oppressive regime but then splintered and fell into internal fighting once the regime they fought against was toppled. In some cases, the power struggle resulted in a civil war more brutal than the one that brought down the regime. In other cases, this factional strife resulted in anarchy that lasted for years as the iron fist that kept ethnic and sectarian tensions in check was suddenly removed, allowing those issues to re-emerge.

The country's fractures were clearly on display during the recent attempts to create a unity government sanctioned by both the Tripoli-based General National Council government and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. But even if the United Nations and the international community are able to pressure the rival Tripoli and Tobruk governments to overcome their differences and work together, that divide only represents one of the fault lines in Libya today. And each of these two competing governments represent only a fraction of Libya. A number of other powerful political groups and militias — such as Ibrahim Jadhran's Petroleum Facilities Guard — will have to be persuaded to join the new unity government, or in the case of the jihadist groups, defeated militarily.

The worst-case scenario we foresaw in 2011 has come to pass: Several jihadist groups are flourishing in Libya and are negatively impacting the country's internal security. And, through their training camps and transfers of weapons, the security of places from Sinai to Senegal is also in question. If there is one silver lining in this bleak situation, it is that the proliferation of Libyan man-portable air-defense systems and anti-tank guided missiles has not had the regional terrorist impact we feared. There were a few Libyan missiles used in the Sinai Peninsula, but these projectiles have not yet been used to attack a civilian airliner, attack an embassy or assassinate a public official.

As the United States and its European and regional allies prepare to intervene in Libya, they should be able to reduce the jihadist's ability to openly control territory. However, they will face the same challenge they did in 2011: building a stable political system from the shattered remains of what was once a country. Now, Libya is a patchwork of territories controlled by a variety of ethnic, tribal and regional warlords. The last five years of fighting has led to significant hatred and blood feuds between these competing factions, which will only compound the challenges ahead.

Clearly the Humpty Dumpty that was Libya is shattered. Putting him back together again will be a long and onerous task.
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« Reply #392 on: January 28, 2016, 09:21:11 AM »

Second post

US troops to Libya? In a briefing at the Pentagon on Wednesday, spokesman Peter Cook said that the United States is “looking at military options” for dealing with the rise of the Islamic State in Libya. His remarks follow those made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, who recently said that the U.S. is looking at ways to "take decisive military action" to "check" the expansion of ISIS in Libya. Cook was quick to say that military action is not forthcoming, but he confirmed that U.S. forces have been on the ground there. Their mission has been to get “a clearer picture of what’s happening there, and they’ve made contact with people on the ground to try and get a better sense not only of the threat” ISIS poses, but also to understand “the dynamic on the ground in terms of the security situation.”

They’re already there. A “small group” of American forces have already made contact with Libyan militias, “simply to get a sense of who the players are”, Cook said. But things have been happening in Libya for some time. French authorities have reported that they’ve flown at least two surveillance flights over Libyan towns controlled by ISIS in recent months, and in December, a Facebook page belonging to the Libyan air force posted photographs of a group of American commandos who landed at the wrong Libyan airport on a mission to talk to local leaders.

What do you think Gen. Votel has to say about all this?
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« Reply #393 on: January 28, 2016, 10:17:54 AM »

We are in the best of hands.
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« Reply #394 on: January 30, 2016, 12:03:53 PM »

http://twitchy.com/2016/01/29/feel-good-story-of-the-day-a-mystery-sniper-is-assassinating-isis-leaders-in-libya/?utm_content=buffer0c152&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
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« Reply #395 on: February 16, 2016, 12:59:21 PM »

ISIS Leader Moves to Libya
by Pete Hoekstra
IPT News
February 16, 2016
http://www.investigativeproject.org/5160/isis-leader-moves-to-libya
 
Shishani as a Georgian special forces soldier and as an ISIS leader.

The barbaric and elusive Chechen commander who recruited British executioner "Jihadi John" has moved to Sirte, Libya to assume control of ISIS operations in the terrorist organization's metastasizing Mediterranean caliphate.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism first learned about the movement of Abu Omar al-Shishani – among the world's most-wanted terrorists – through its exclusive Middle East sources. Other news organizations later confirmed the account.

Al-Shishani is a former American-trained officer in the Georgian special forces. He developed a reputation for his ferocity and effectiveness while fighting against the Russians during the 2008 invasion of Georgia and later for ISIS against dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria.  He established his presence not long after arriving in former dictator Muammar Gaddafi's hometown Sirte by ordering one execution and chopping the limbs off another individual.

Western intelligence officials believe that up to 6,500 ISIS fighters – twice the number previously thought – have relocated to Libya as a result of coalition airstrikes on ISIS in the Middle East and new difficulties entering Syria.  Libya's emergence as an ideal location in which to foster its new caliphate arose after NATO assisted radical jihadists in killing Gaddafi in 2011 and abruptly abandoned the country. Left in its wake were two rival governments competing for power, which created space for Islamists to turn Libya into a cesspool of extremism.

ISIS's new caliphate along the Mediterranean coastline reaches as close as 200 miles from the vulnerable southern border of Europe. It exploits Libya as a base to export weapons, jihadists and ideology to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.Benghazi and Derna have long been nests of radicalism. They provided more fighters per capita to Afghanistan and Iraq than nearly any other geographic area in the world. The difference between then and now is that Gaddafi kept the lid on the garbage can.

With al-Shishani hanging his hat in Sirte, Libya has become a safe haven for one of the most murderous leaders in the world today. The situation demonstrates the total failure of a Western foreign policy that "leads from behind."

Pete Hoekstra is the Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism and the former Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. He is the author of "Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya."
 
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« Reply #396 on: February 20, 2016, 09:38:27 AM »

CAIRO — American warplanes bombed a seaside town in Libya early Friday aiming to kill a militant commander linked to attacks on Western tourists. But the mission also highlighted the widening gap between American military operations and diplomatic efforts to bring peace and stability to a tumultuous region.

The airstrikes on a training camp in Sabratha, targeting a Tunisian militant associated with planning two major attacks on Western tourists in Tunisia last year, did demonstrate the United States’ growing concern over Libya as a new base for the Islamic State and its willingness to use air power against militant commanders and infrastructure.

Yet every counterterrorism victory also underscores the limits of the American approach to the countries where the Islamic State is strongest, as the focus on military action has not been matched by diplomatic efforts to resolve the core political issues that allow jihadists to prosper.
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Related Coverage

    Obama Is Pressed to Open Military Front Against ISIS in LibyaFEB. 4, 2016
    Anti-ISIS Coalition to Intensify Efforts, John Kerry SaysFEB. 2, 2016
    U.S. and Allies Weigh Military Action Against ISIS in LibyaJAN. 22, 2016
    In Libya, U.S. Courts Unreliable Allies to Counter ISISJAN. 18, 2016

In Libya, efforts to build a unity government have made little progress. In Iraq, there has been little success in easing Sunni resentment. And in Syria, an announced “cessation of hostilities” has not materialized.
Photo
A man received treatment on Friday after being injured in a United States airstrike against a training camp in Sabratha. Credit Reuters

Secretary of State John Kerry insists that there are political processes in place in each of those countries, and that progress is possible. But he acknowledges that for different reasons all are quite fragile.

In Syria, the United States military efforts have proved modestly successful in degrading the Islamic State. A combination of American and allied airstrikes, as well as military support for fighters on the ground, has caused the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, to lose territory. On Friday, American-backed Kurdish-led forces seized the eastern Syrian city of Shadadi, important for its nearby oil and gas fields.

But Friday was also the day that a “cessation of hostilities” announced by the United States, Russia and more than a dozen other countries, was to take effect. Instead, a scheduled meeting of a cease-fire task force was canceled and violence continued across Syria.

The picture is similar in Iraq, where military support by a United States-led coalition has helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces seize territory from the jihadists. But American pressure has failed to push the Shiite-led government in Baghdad to reconcile with the country’s Sunnis in a way that might help reunite the country and defeat the Islamic State.

And in Libya, the United States had thrown its weight behind a United Nations-led initiative to bring the country’s warring factions into a unity government. That process has been plagued by rivalry between Libya’s myriad political and militarized factions, and in the meantime, Western alarm at the dramatic expansion of Islamic State in Libya has grown.

American officials estimate that, with an influx of men from Iraq, Syria and Tunisia, the Islamic State’s forces in the country have swelled to as many as 6,500 fighters, allowing the group to capture a 150-mile stretch of coastline over the past year. It has mounted attacks on the oil facilities that account for most of Libya’s wealth.

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“The last thing in the world you want is a false caliphate with access to billions of dollars of oil revenue,” Mr. Kerry warned at a meeting of the 23-nation coalition against the Islamic State on Feb. 2 in Rome.
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Sabratha

Darnah

Mediterranean Sea

TUNISIA

Tripoli

Benghazi

Surt

EGYPT

ALGERIA

LIBYA

100 miles

By The New York Times

For weeks, American and allied Western officials have mulled a possible air campaign against the Islamic State in Libya, particularly around its de facto headquarters in Surt. Libyan officials and news media outlets have reported the presence of American, French, British and Italian special forces units in the country in recent weeks, ostensibly on reconnaissance missions and to liaise with local militias.

But American officials stressed that Friday’s strike did not herald the start of such a campaign, and instead was the continuation of targeted strikes that aim to prevent the Islamic State from using Libya as a springboard for attacks in the region or across the Mediterranean Sea in Europe.

One strike last June targeted the Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, while another in November killed Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, an Iraqi who led the Islamic State’s arm in Libya.

The Friday strike, on a seaside town 50 miles west of Tripoli, targeted Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian militant. He had also helped arrange the arrival of Islamic State recruits into Libya, the Pentagon said in a statement confirming the strikes. Mr. Chouchane, 35, was probably killed in the attack on the compound, where up to 60 militants had been actively training for a terrorist operation, the Pentagon said.

Mr. Chouchane was accused of helping to organize an attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis that killed 22 people in March and another in June that killed 38 people at a beachfront resort in Sousse. He is also believed to have helped funnel as many as 1,500 Islamic State fighters to Iraq and Syria.

The Islamic State has continued to push across Libya, underscoring what diplomats say is the importance of settling the multifaceted civil war that has given it space to expand.

Libya’s political leaders are currently divided between two loose political alliances centered on rival Parliaments in the capital, Tripoli, and the eastern city of Tobruk. But the United Nations effort to form a unity government, led by the German diplomat Martin Kobler, has been stymied by the factional differences — based on town, tribe, personality or religious persuasion — that helped set off Libya’s civil war in 2014 and have persistently dogged efforts to resolve it ever since.
Continue reading the main story
Libya: America’s First, and Latest, Target

The United States has a longer history of military intervention in what is now Libya than in any other country, dating from the Jefferson administration and America’s first foreign war.
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An agreement to form a unity government, signed in December, has been loudly opposed by the faction that controls Tripoli, which has refused to allow Mr. Kobler’s plane to even land in the capital since early January. There are tensions over any future role for Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a commander who dominates in the east.

For now at least, the United States seems set on continuing to attack targets of opportunity in Libya while supporting the troubled process led by the United Nations. “We will continue to take actions where we’ve got a clear operation and a clear target in mind,” President Obama told reporters on Tuesday. “At the same time, we’re working diligently with the United Nations to try to get a government in place in Libya. And that’s been a problem.”

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Still, the slow-moving political talks are in danger of being overtaken by the pace of Islamic State expansion on the ground.

During an interview in Cairo this week Mr. Kobler, the United Nations envoy, pulled out maps that contrasted the Islamic State’s relatively modest presence in Libya at the beginning of 2015 with its explosive growth 12 months later.

“This is something that can only flourish in a political and security vacuum,” he said. “That’s why something must be done.”

In Syria, civilians have seen few benefits from the diplomacy other than limited deliveries of humanitarian aid.

Analysts warn that the United States cannot hope to defeat the Islamic State without addressing the wider issues that have allowed the group to thrive.

“It is clear that the priority in Washington now is taking whatever steps are convenient to tactically weaken ISIL over the course of the next year,” said Noah Bonsey, a Syria analyst with the International Crisis Group.

The political process to end the war is a lower priority, he said, and has made much less progress.

“If that political track doesn’t go anywhere, it is pretty clear that there is no backup plan,” he said.
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« Reply #397 on: February 29, 2016, 11:38:53 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/us/politics/hillary-clinton-libya.html?emc=edit_th_20160228&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193

Part Two:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/us/politics/hillary-clinton-libya.html?emc=edit_na_20160229&nl=bna&nlid=49641193&te=1&_r=0

This is a major piece of reporting folks.  Yes, it is Pravda on the Hudson.


« Last Edit: February 29, 2016, 02:49:00 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #398 on: March 15, 2016, 10:41:56 AM »

http://www.clarionproject.org/news/confirmed-isis-now-possesses-anti-aircraft-missiles
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« Reply #399 on: March 15, 2016, 10:49:22 AM »

second post

http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/03/15/hillary-clinton-benghazi-gaffe-we-didnt-lose-single-person-libya
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