News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Key Libyan oil ports seized by forces opposed to US and UN backed Libyan government-Reuters, Washington Post

4/22/2016, "Profile: Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar," BBC

"Gaddafi put Gen Haftar in charge of the Libyan forces involved in the conflict in Chad in the 1980s. This proved to be his downfall, as Libya was defeated by the French-backed Chadian forces....Gaddafi disowned him. This led Gen Haftar to devote the next two decades towards toppling the Libyan leader.

He did this from exile in the US state of Virginia. His proximity to the CIA's headquarters in Langley hinted at a close relationship with US intelligence services, who gave their backing to several assassination attempts against Gaddafi."...

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9/11/2016, "Eastern Libyan commander's forces seize key oil ports," Reuters, by Ayman al-Warfalli, Benghazi, Libya

"Forces loyal to east Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar on Sunday seized at least two key oil ports from a rival force loyal to the U.N.-backed government, risking a new conflict over the OPEC nation's resources.

Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), said its fighters seized control of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf and Brega, but still faced resistance at the port of Zueitina and around the nearby town of Ajdabiya.

The attacks on Libya's major oil ports by Haftar, who opposes the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), pushes the North African state towards a broader battle over its oil resources and disrupts attempts to restart production. Armed conflict, political disputes and militant attacks have reduced Libya's oil production to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 1.6 million bpd it was producing before an uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Haftar, a former army general who has been a divisive figure in Libya since Gaddafi was killed, has resisted attempts to integrate him into unified armed forces and overcome divisions between the east and west regions.

Many in western Libya and Tripoli criticize Haftar as a former Gaddafi ally bent on establishing a military dictatorship, but he has become a political figurehead for many in the east who feel abandoned by the capital."...

[Ed. note: Haftar, (or "Hifter" per Washington Post below) is described by Reuters as "a former Gaddafi ally." Washington Post describes him as a "former Gaddafi ally turned foe." Haftar was disowned by Gaddafi after which he lived in exile in the US state of Virginia for 20 years. He spent his time plotting to take down Gaddafi.]

(continuing): "The state-run National Oil Corporation (NOC) confirmed Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were under the full control of Haftar forces while Zueitina was still contested.

EXPORT QUESTIONS

The attacks complicate Western attempts to bring together Libya's rival armed factions under the GNA and stabilize a country where chaos allowed Islamist militants and migrant smugglers to operate across swathes of territory.

The ports targeted by the LNA were previously under the control of the Petrol Facilities Guard (PFG), whose leader, Ibrahim Jathran, struck a deal with the GNA in July to end its blockade of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider and Zueitina.

But there had been little sign of any rapid resumption of exports in recent weeks, and control by Haftar's brigades could make the deal irrelevant.

A government and parliament based in the east still resist the GNA's authority in Tripoli and they have in the past threatened to try to sell crude themselves.

Mismari said the LNA had been able to seize Ras Lanuf and Es Sider quickly because it had won over local tribes before staging a rapid advance. "This force was being prepared for a long time, and it entered without any resistance from Jathran's forces," he told Reuters.

One eyewitness said there had been a heavy deployment of LNA armored vehicles around Ras Lanuf and Es Sider.

Akram Buhaliqa, a second LNA spokesman, said there had been no casualties among LNA forces in the early morning operation, though the NOC said a small fuel tank for power generation had been set ablaze in Es Sider.

On Sunday afternoon, residents said LNA forces had taken control of a large house belonging to Jathran's family in a residential district of Ajdabiya following clashes.

Jathran's exact whereabouts were not clear but in an appeal broadcast on a pro-Haftar TV station, the leader of the eastern Magharba tribe, Saleh al-Ateiwish, called on Jathran to return to the tribe and "to ask his people to surrender and let them go to their families without any losses".

Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were badly damaged earlier this year in attacks by Islamic State militants based in Sirte, where they are on the verge of defeat by forces aligned with the GNA backed by U.S. air strikes.

The forces fighting in Sirte, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, are mainly composed of armed brigades from Misrata. That western city's factions have provided crucial support to the GNA, and many remain fiercely opposed to Haftar."

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9/11/16, "Powerful Libyan commander seizes vital oil ports," Washington Post,


"By Sunday evening, a spokesman for Gen. Khalifa Hifter said his forces had seized control of Ras Lanuf and Sidra, among Libya’s largest oil ports, and were fighting for control for Zuwaytinah.... 

Oil has been an attractive prize since Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in the Arab Spring uprisings five years ago. As Libya plunged into civil war, the fight over oil became a stark sign of the fragmentation of political, economic and military power in the country. Before Gaddafi fell, Libya was producing 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. Today, oil production stands at about 360,000 barrels per day; other estimates place it around 200,000 barrels a day.

Hifter, a former Gaddafi turned foe who lived in exile in Northern Virginia for nearly two decades, is opposed to the Western-backed unity government. He has rejected attempts to integrate his forces into a national army and is widely seen as one of the main obstacles to creating a unified Libya.

Sunday’s attacks will probably deepen divisions among Libya’s militias. The Petroleum Facilities Guard had struck an agreement with the unity government to end its blockade and resume exports of oil from Ras Lanuf, Sidra and Zuwaytinah. If the ports are under Hifter’s control, and remain so, it could affect the unity government’s survival, its ability to unify and rebuild Libya, and its fight against the Islamic State and its aspirations in North Africa."...

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8/22/2016, "Libya’s parliament rejects U.N.-backed unity government," Washington Post, b





ISIS was able to tighten its grip because Libya is a shattered, hollowed-out country, lacking the basic sinews of governance that define a functioning state. There is no singular army or police unit. Instead, a dizzying array of militias holds sway, most of them loyal to towns, tribes, or power brokers. Much of this disorder stems from the legacy of Qaddafi’s forty-two-year rule, but a lack of international follow-up after the 2011 revolution is also to blame. Then, in 2014, the country descended into civil war between eastern and western factions, which each fielded its own parliament, Prime Minister, and coalition of militias. 

Each saw the other as a more pressing threat than the Islamic State, enabling the terrorist group to take hold and spread. Early this year, a United Nations-brokered unity government, meant to bridge the divisions, arrived in Tripoli. But that government is struggling to consolidate its authority and remains unrecognized by the eastern faction, which is allied with a powerful army officer and Qaddafi-era defector, [who lived in exile in the US state of Virginia for 20 years while plotting to oust Qaddafi] General Khalifa Haftar.

By late 2015, local militias across the country had started pushing back against the Islamic State in the pockets of territory it controlled: Derna and Benghazi in the east and the western coastal town of Sabratha. And, in May of this year, the unity government launched a campaign dubbed “al-Bunyan al-Marsus” to evict the Islamic State from Sirte, its strongest and most strategic base, sitting astride the petroleum-rich “oil crescent.” After some euphoric advances, the fighting has slowed to grinding, block-by-block combat against the several hundred Islamic State fighters ensconced in the city center. The Libyan casualties have been heavy: more than three hundred killed since the assault began. Faced with these losses, the unity government requested American air strikes against the Islamic State in Sirte, which came on August 1st.

But, while Western powers may be able to help the military advance, they face a tougher challenge in forging unity among Libya’s factions—even among the disparate militias assaulting Sirte. The Libyan fighters in Sirte number in the thousands and are drawn from hundreds of militias, most from the neighboring town of Misrata. The unity government exerts only nominal authority over them. Some militias in Sirte reject the unity government’s legitimacy altogether and fight for their own parochial reasons, forging alliances with local Sirte tribes to gain political and economic leverage. Still others are Islamists.

 
I visited one militia composed almost entirely of adherents of the austere, literalist current of Islamism known as Salafism. One of its leaders, a bespectacled man in a calf-length gown, sat cleaning his teeth with a miswak, a twig whose use for dental hygiene was advocated by the Prophet Muhammad. He seemed to hold the Islamic State, the rival Muslim Brotherhood sect, and America in equal contempt. America created the Islamic State,” he told me. Among his comrades are a few hundred fellow-Salafists from Sirte who fled last year after a failed uprising against the Islamic State and are now returning.

On the liberated outskirts of Sirte, I visited a family who had suffered the terrorist group’s rule for more than a year. We sat in the cool shade under an awning, overlooking a vineyard and an olive grove. A gangly dog had wandered into the parched field and was chasing a solitary chicken. My militia escort squeezed off a few rounds from his Kalashnikov to scare it away."...

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US taxpayers were forced to pay $1.1 billion for Hillary's 2011 war in Libya which enabled ISIS "to tighten its grip because Libya is a shattered, hollowed-out country, lacking the basic sinews of governance.... A lack of international follow-up after the 2011 revolution is also to blame." By 2014, Libya had formed two separate governments, one in the east and one in the west, each of "which fielded its own parliament, Prime Minister, and coalition of militias."

6/15/2011, "Obama Administration: Libya Operation Has Cost More than $716 Million, Does Not Require Congressional Authorization," ABC News, Jake Tapper

"In a report revealing that the total cost of US intervention in Libya as of June 3 has been $716 million and will reach $1.1 billion by the end of September, the Obama administration today told congressional leaders in a report (click HERE for an unauthorized version)."...

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"On Oct. 20, 2011...militants captured Gaddafi, sodomized him with a knife, and then murdered him. Appearing on a TV interview, (Hillary) Clinton celebrated Gaddafi’s demise with the quip,  

We came, we saw, he died,”"...





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