Libya Entanglement: Ex-Langley Affiliate Khalifa Haftar Leads Anti-Islamist Uprising

Libya Entanglement: Ex-Langley Affiliate Khalifa Haftar Leads Anti-Islamist Uprising

A retired Libyan general whose movement launched an assault on Islamist militias in Benghazi and demanded the suspension of parliament has called for a new council to take over the running of the country. CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh reports.

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Haftar refuses to work with Libya unity government (gulfnews, May 21, 2016)

Military intervention in Libya is ‘too risky,’ says Sisi (ahram, Mar 17, 2016)

British special forces forming SECRET ARMY in Libya to OBLITERATE evil Islamic State jihad (express, Feb 28, 2016)

Leader of Libya anti-Islamist offensive calls for new civilian council (CNN, May 22, 2014)

“Khalifa Haftar said Wednesday that the General National Congress, the interim parliament, had failed the people and that its mismanagement of the country had turned Libya into “a state sponsor of terror… and a hideout for terrorists.”

He made his call for a new, civilian council to take its place during a televised news conference in Benghazi.

On Sunday, armed men claiming allegiance to Haftar’s newly formed movement, known as the Libyan National Army, stormed parliament and announced they had suspended it….”

US distances itself from renegade Libyan general (channelnewsasia, May 21, 2014)

“The United States on Tuesday distanced itself from a renegade general who has vowed to rid Libya of jihadists and said it was watching events in the country closely.

Khalifa Haftar led a deadly assault on Islamist militia in Libya’s second city Benghazi last week and has been accused by some of attempting a coup, in the latest unrest in the North African country since the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moamer Gadhafi.

“We have not had contact with him (Haftar) recently. We do not condone or support the actions on the ground, and nor have we assisted with these actions,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.

“So we are continuing to call on all parties to refrain from violence and to seek resolution through peaceful means,” added Psaki, declining to say whether Washington viewed Haftar’s actions as a coup attempt…

Gunmen from the ex-rebel Zintan brigade, who say they back Haftar, attacked the parliament building in the capital Tripoli on Sunday, while Haftar has been branded an “outlaw” by Libyan authorities….”

Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya? (businessinsider, Apr 22, 2011)

“As the United States and its allies get deeper into the confrontation with Qaddafi in Libya, it’s worth stepping back to consider what is actually taking place—and why.

We’ve been told very little about the rebels seeking to supplant the dictator. But one in particular deserves our attention. General Khalifa Hifter, the latest person to head the rebel forces…..

A New York Times report of May 1991 shed more light on the CIA’s sponsorship of Heftir’s men. “They were trained” it said, “by American intelligence officials in sabotage and other guerilla skills, officials said, at a base near Ndjamena, the Chadian capital. The plan to use the exiles fit neatly into the Reagan administration’s eagerness to topple Colonel Qaddafi”….

In March 1996, Heftir returned to Libya and took part in an uprising against Gaddafi. Details of what happened are scant but the Washington Post reported from Egypt on March 26th that travelers from Libya had spoken of “unrest today in Jabal Akhdar mountains of eastern Libya and said armed rebels may have joined escaped prisoners in an uprising against the government….

What part the CIA played in the failed uprising and whether the then US president, Bill Clinton had given the operation his approval are not known. By coincidence or not, three months later, Gaddafi’s forces killed some 1200 political prisoners being held in Benghazi’s Abu Simal jail. It was the arrest of the lawyer representing many of the prisoners’ families that sparked the February 17th uprising against Gaddafi and with it, the return of Khalifa Heftir. As usual, the back story is complex…..”

Libya On Edge: Fighting Sweeps Across Tripoli Following Violence In Benghazi

Libya Army In Benghazi Clashes With Ansar Al-Sharia

Libyan Militia Fires On Protesters Killing At Least 43

Putting Light On A Dark Period Of Cooperation

A Bitter Season Of Discontent

“No One In Libya Wants Al-Qaeda”

Embracing Sharia In Libya


  1. Haftar's Libyan militia clash with rival factions in Benghazi (alaraby, Jul 23, 2017):

    "Forces loyal to General Haftar Khalifa, known as the Libyan National Army, clashed with rival armed groups in the port city of Benghazi amid the militia's continued assertion of control over the country's second most populous city.

    The LNA killed six troops and wounded eight, a commander said on Saturday.

    "Special forces carried out an attack on Friday on the last resistance pockets of terrorism in Khraibeesh area and successfully the forces advanced and controlled several points," LNA commander Mari El-Houti said.

    LNA forces also carried out airstrikes on rival groups in Derna, local witnesses told Reuters.

    Haftar's LNA, which has set itself against the UN-backed government in Tripoli and Islamist groups, has emerged as a powerful force in Libya's current power struggle.
    A former Gaddafi ally, Haftar has received backing from Egypt and the UAE, who have diverged from a broader international consensus backing the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

    Sarraj's government has struggled to assert its authority over Libya and its prized oil assets, despite international backing.

    General Haftar declared Benghazi's "liberation" earlier this month after winning a number of victories over rival groups in the city.

    Street-to-street fighting continues within the coastal city, however, particularly from an alliance of former rebels and Islamists known as the Majlis Shura Thuwar Benghazi."

  2. ISIS BACKLASH: Moment 18 blindfolded jihadis are shot dead by Libyan army (express, Jul 25, 2017):

    "SHOCKING footage has been released of the moment 18 prisoners, believed to be ISIS fighters, are shot dead from point-blank range as the terror cult face being completely wiped out.

    The video shows the prisoners, wearing orange jumpsuits, kneeling in four rows with black hoods over their heads.

    Executioners, believed to be members of the Libyan National Army (LNA), then walk up to the prisoners, armed with semi-automatic rifles.

    One row at a time, the gunmen fire a spray of bullets into the heads of the prisoners from point-blank range, before moving onto the remaining lines of prisoners.

    The gruesome video has emerged amid ongoing fighting in Libya between factions trying to take control of the war-torn state.

    The LNA, led by Khalifa Haftar, recently declared victory over ISIS in the eastern city of Benghazi.

    The UN has condemned the LNA’s use of summary executions as the country depends further into chaos…"

  3. Exclusive: Only military solutions will be used against terrorists, says Libya's Haftar (france24, Jul 27, 2017):

    "There will be no dialogue with "extremists" in Libya, the country's eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar vowed in an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 on Wednesday, saying that only "military solutions" could be used to defeat such groups.

    Haftar was speaking a day after he signed a landmark deal with Libya's UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Paris in which the two agreed to a ceasefire and to work towards holding elections in the heavily divided country.

    However, Haftar, whose forces control much of the east of the country and have spearheaded the fight against Islamist groups such as the Islamic State group in the region, said no similar deal would be struck with "extremists".

    "Military solutions shall be selected for enemies," Haftar told FRANCE 24. "For example, the Islamic State group, al Qaeda. And also extremists (such as) the Muslim Brotherhood. These are enemies, there is no doubt on that and there will be no dialogue with them."

    Such groups, he said, shall be dealt with "through weapons".

    Sarraj 'needs to prove himself'

    Tuesday's agreement in Paris follows six years of division and uncertainty in Libya after the country plunged into chaos in the wake of the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

    But although Haftar said that there was "100 percent agreement" between himself and Sarraj "on a personal level" he did not shy away from expressing reservations about the Libyan prime minister and his Tripoli-based government, whose authority he has previously refused to acknowledge.

    "He has no authority in Tripoli. He needs to prove himself," Haftar said.

    "No one can take over the city. It is the capital that belongs to all of the Libyan people and this kind of bluster is not acceptable. He is an engineer and he should stay within his competencies and away from this kind of grandstanding.""

  4. Libyan general orders navy to confront ships entering waters (abcnews, Aug 3, 2017):

    "The commander of Libya's self-styled national army in the country's east has ordered naval and air forces to confront any vessel entering the country's territorial waters without permission, after Italy began a naval mission to help stem a popular migration route at the behest of the U.N.-backed government in the west.

    The move signals unresolved tensions between the two rival leaders, Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter and Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, who pledged to cooperate at a meeting outside Paris last week.

    In two statements released by Hifter's LNA on its Facebook page late Wednesday, Hifter directed his command to eastern naval bases in Benghazi, Ras Lanuf, Tobruk, as well as the capital Tripoli, in the west, and the air force after an Italian patrol boat arrived there. The command excluded authorized trade ships.

    Italy's Parliament approved the naval mission to help the Libyan coast guard curb the flow of hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa and elsewhere crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

    The U.N. migration agency reported in August that the number of migrants and refugees travelling via the Mediterranean exceeded 114,000 since the beginning of 2017 until July 30, with almost 85 percent arriving in Italy.

    Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni said Italy's deployment responded to a request by the Tripoli-based government, which later denied striking a deal with the Italians.

    Libya's eastern-based parliament, which is also recognized internationally, is a rival to Tripoli and is allied with Hifter. It saw the move as a "violation of the sovereignty of Libya" that aims at "exporting the illegal migration crisis to Libya" by sending thousands of migrants back to the country.

    At the meeting hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron last week, Hiftar and Serraj committed themselves to a ceasefire, to work toward presidential and parliamentary elections, and to establish a roadmap to secure lawless Libya against terrorism and trafficking of all kinds.

    Libya has descended into chaos following the 2011 civil war that ended with the overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country has been split into two, with the competing institutions in east and west each backed by a set of militias, tribes and political factions."

  5. Libyan Gen Haftar ordered Italian vessels be bombed-report (ansamed, Aug 3, 2017):

    "Tobruk-based General Khalifa Haftar has ordered his forces to bomb Italian vessels deployed in a mission to provide naval support to Libya, according to a tweet published by broadcaster Al Arabiya.

    Haftar's order reportedly follows a vote of the Tobruk parliament tied to his faction, which expressed opposition to the Italian naval operation, saying the presence of foreign vessels in Libyan waters represented a "violation of national sovereignty".

    The Italian Lower House and Senate Wednesday voted in favor of the government's naval mission to support the Libyan coast guard to combating human traffickers and help stem a migrant flow that is causing massive strain on the Italian authorities.

    Most of the over 95,000 migrants who landed in Italy so far this year started their journey across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya.

    Haftar is a rival to the internationally-backed Tripoli-based Premier Fayez Sarraj."

  6. Libya navy bars foreign ships from migrant 'search and rescue' zone (middleeasteye, Aug 10, 2017):

    "The Libyan navy on Thursday ordered foreign vessels to stay out of a coastal "search and rescue zone" for migrants headed for Europe, a measure it said targeted NGOs.

    "We want to send out a clear message to all those who infringe Libyan sovereignty and lack respect for the coastguard and navy," Libyan navy spokesman General Ayoub Qassem told a news conference in Tripoli.

    General Abdelhakim Bouhaliya, commander of the Tripoli naval base where the conference was held, said: "No foreign ship has the right to enter" the area without authorisation from the Libyan authorities.

    Libya has "officially declared a search and rescue zone", said Bouhaliya, without specifying the scope of the exclusion zone.

    Qassem said the measure was aimed against "NGOs which pretend to want to rescue illegal migrants and carry out humanitarian actions".

    He urged humanitarian organisations to "respect our will… and obtain authorisation from the Libyan state even for rescue operations".

    Italy has also said it wants to keep a tighter rein on NGOs helping the multinational search and rescue operation by making them sign up to a new code of conduct.

    Italian authorities last week impounded a boat operated by German aid organisation Jugend Rettet on suspicion its crew effectively collaborated with people traffickers in a way that facilitated illegal immigration.

    Its crew is suspected of taking on board migrants delivered directly to them by people traffickers, and of allowing the smugglers to make off with their dinghies to be used again.

    The Libyan coastguard has accused NGOs of aiding people traffickers in their lucrative business.

    Six years since a revolution that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has become a key departure point for migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

    Italy, the main destination of the people traffickers, has sent naval vessels at the request of Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord to assist Tripoli, on a mission disputed by rival authorities in eastern Libya.

    More than 111,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year, the vast majority of them arriving in Italy, according to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    More than 2,300 have died attempting the crossing."

  7. Doctors Without Borders Suspends Migrant Rescue Patrols Off Libyan Coast (NYT, Aug 12, 2017):

    "The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said Saturday that it was temporarily suspending the operations of its ship used to rescue migrants because of what it said were threats from Libya’s Coast Guard.

    The crews of the Libyan vessels have become more aggressive in patrolling the coasts where human traffickers launch boats crowded with migrants desperate to reach Europe.

    The aid group said the rescue coordination center operated by Italy’s Coast Guard had informed it on Friday that the Libyan threats posed a security risk. The group added that the Libyan authorities declared their own rescue area, extending into international waters, the same day.

    Doctors Without Borders said that its medical crew would keep working from a ship operated by another aid group but that its own vessel, Prudence, would not be involved in rescues.

    The Italian government agreed last month to send a naval mission to assist the Libyan Coast Guard with patrols aimed at stopping human smuggling. Hundreds of thousands of rescued asylum seekers, many of them fleeing poverty in Africa, have been brought to safety in Italian ports in recent years.

    Continue reading the main story

    The government also has pressed rescue groups to sign on to rules that would forbid them from entering Libyan waters to save migrants without specific authorization and require them to agree that armed Italian judicial authorities may board their ships.

    Italy is requiring groups operating rescue ships to subscribe to the rules or risk not being allowed to dock in Italian ports. Doctors Without Borders has refused to endorse the rules, while some other humanitarian groups have given their approval.

    Critics of the new policies say they could put lives at risk by delaying rescues in Libyan waters. They also contend that if the Libyan Coast Guard blocks smugglers’ boats, migrants will be returned to inhumane conditions, including beatings and forced labor, in Libyan detention centers.

    “If humanitarian ships are pushed out of the Mediterranean, there will be fewer ships ready to aid persons before they drown,” the president of the Italian branch of Doctors Without Borders, Loris De Filippi, said in a statement. “And whoever doesn’t drown will be intercepted and brought back to Libya, which we know to be a place of absent legality, arbitrary detention and extreme violence.”

    A Spanish humanitarian group, Proactiva Open Arms, said the Libyan Coast Guard ordered its rescue ship to move north and fired warning shots recently when the vessel was involved in search-and-rescue work outside of Libyan territory.

    Humanitarian groups have had ships monitoring the Mediterranean Sea outside of Libya’s territorial waters to help rescue migrants from smugglers’ boats in distress. The Italian Coast Guard coordinates the rescues, including those conducted by naval vessels from other European countries.

    Anti-migrant sentiment has been rising in Italy, where newcomers from Africa and the Middle East are being blamed for crimes."

  8. Witnesses: Militiamen seize Libyan ex-premier in Tripoli (abcnews, Aug 14, 2017):

    "A former prime minister who once led Libya's first democratically elected government has been abducted by militiamen for a second time in the capital, Tripoli, witnesses said Monday.

    They say Ali Zidan was led by an armed group out of a hotel where he was meeting with security officials late Sunday. The militiamen were from the Tripoli Revolutionaries' Brigade, which is allied with the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli. A competing government and parliament are headquartered in eastern Libya.

    There was no official statement on Zidan's whereabouts.

    Libya has been rife with chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Much of the vast North African country is ruled by a patchwork of local militias, and the two governments are locked in a power struggle.

    Zidan was abducted once before by Tripoli's unruly militias, in October 2013, but was released within days. He fled the country before competing militias seized Tripoli in 2014, but later returned.

    A former diplomat and human rights lawyer, Zidan joined the opposition in exile in the 1990s. He was appointed as a prime minister by Libya's first elected parliament, the General National Congress, in 2012."

  9. Haftar's 'execution chief' faces arrest warrant for Libya murders (middleeasteye, Aug 15, 2017):

    "Judges at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for a close ally of renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, over alleged involvement in the execution of dozens of prisoners, many of which were filmed.

    Prosecutors at the world's permanent war crimes court are seeking Mahmoud al-Warfalli, dubbed Haftar's "executioner in chief" to face charges of murder while fighting for Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army (LNA).

    According to the ICC, Warfalli "is alleged to have directly committed and to have ordered the commission of murder as a war crime" during seven incidents involving 33 people in June and July 2017 in and near Benghazi.

    He appears in one video in which 20 people are apparently killed. Graphic footage follows:..

    The LNA, which controls the eastern part of Libya, has been pushing to expand its presence in the central and southern part of the country where it has been vying for control with forces linked to the UN-backed government in Tripoli and other groups.

    The UN called for the LNA to suspend Warfalli after a video in March allegedly showed Warfalli shooting dead three men who were kneeling and facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs.

    The LNA said it would investigate any potential war crimes but has not released any details of such a probe.

    In June, two further videos appeared to show summary executions carried out by LNA fighters on his orders.

    The ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes in Libya after a referral by the United Nations Security Council in 2011 and has been investigating alleged atrocities there."

  10. ‘You will be targeted’ Libyan coastguard issues warning to Spanish migrant rescue boat (express, Aug 15, 2017):

    "THE Libyan coastguard has issued another terrifying warning as it demanded a Spanish ship rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean leave its waters.

    The warning is the latest in a series of incidents in which charities rescuing migrants trying to cross from Africa to Italy have been threatened.

    And today, it was the turn of the Golfo Azzurro, operated by Spanish humanitarian organisation Proactiva Open Arms.

    The rescue boat was repeatedly contacted by a Libyan coastguard vessel, saying: "You are sailing in our waters for months now and you are conducting activities that are causing problems to Libyan state sovereignty.

    "Therefore I ask you to alter your course towards Tripoli port. If you do not obey the orders right now… you will be targeted.”

    The ship was then ordered to leave Libyan waters, and was later followed north by the Libyan coastguard vessel.

    Proactiva spokeswoman Laura Lanuza said the group's vessel had been in international waters, 27 miles (43 km) off the Libyan coast, carrying out search and rescue operations.

    And she added the NGO’s other boat, Open Arms, was also intercepted by a Libyan patrol on August 7, after warning shots were fired in the air.

    Proactiva Open Arms claims to have rescued 25,000 migrants since starting operations in June 2016.

    But the charity may now be forced to join a host of other non-governmental organisations who have suspended operations.

    Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders and Germany's Sea Eye have all temporarily ceased migrant rescue missions at sea in the past week because they felt threatened.

    Luigi Manconi, head of the Italian Senate committee for Human Rights, said: "Life for NGOs is becoming dangerous.

    “There is a strategy of dissuasion and intimidation, and strong pressure by the Libyans in order for (NGOs) to stop operating at sea.”

    A Libyan coastguard spokesman in Tripoli declined to comment on today’s incident, saying they were collecting information on what happened…"


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