Table of Contents:
The Complicated Case Of Libya and its Militias
CGTN, July 18, 2020
Viewed from above, the Libyan conflict has looked like a battle between two main groups, the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and General Khaled Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) based in the east of the country. But the reality is far more complicated than that, with a myriad of different and locally-based militias doing much of the fighting.
Much of the current image of Libya – as a struggle between the GNA and Haftar’s LNA – is a creation from media reports, especially coverage relating to the international community’s response to the conflict.
This perspective dates back to 2014, when in the aftermath of the uprising and overthrow of the Gaddafi regime three years earlier, a transitional and weak central government was dominated by Islamists and revolutionaries. That year Haftar announced his campaign against Islamist militants and the national government, starting in the city of Benghazi.
In June 2014, elections were held for a new parliament. Comprising fewer Islamists and revolutionaries, it established itself in the city of Tobruk, in part to open up the country’s east. Back in Tripoli, meanwhile, several of the militias based there reconvened the previous rump government and contested the status of the parliament.
During 2015, the UN sponsored talks in an effort to resolve the country’s separation and the resulting political agreement provided for the establishment of the GNA. Despite initial interest from the parliament in Tobruk, the GNA’s creation was subsequently overshadowed by ambivalence and non-recognition.
Alongside the country’s political split, Haftar continued with his military campaign. Increasingly, the Tobruk-based parliament fell under his shadow. Tripoli became his target and in April 2019 he launched his latest offensive against it, backed by foreign support from the UAE and Egypt (and to a lesser and more indirect sense, Russia). By the end of the year, Haftar had reached the outskirts of Tripoli.
In November 2019, the GNA reached an agreement for financial and military assistance from Turkey. In January this year, the GNA was prepared to agree to a ceasefire but Haftar walked away. By contrast, in early summer Turkish military assistance had been so underwhelming that alongside the forces aligned with the GNA, the Tripoli-based government had advanced and forced Haftar into retreat. Earlier this month, Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the parliament in Tobruk, was in Geneva exploring ceasefire options. But this time, the GNA showed little sign that it was ready to halt the fighting.
Viewed this way, the international community and media portray the conflict as one which is based largely on the GNA-Haftar rivalry. If they can get the two to agree to a ceasefire then many of the current difficulties may subsequently be overcome. But such an impression is far from reality, not least because neither the GNA nor the LNA are the unified entities portrayed in press reports.
The fact is that both the GNA and the LNA are an amalgamation of different armed groups and militias, many of them with strong local identities and connections as well as influence over the state and public funds in their part of the country. Adding Turkey to the mix only complicates matters further. As well as not having sufficient knowledge of the different forces on the ground, Turkey has its own biases and preferences for some over others. That will result in them privileging some armed groups at the expense of others, exacerbating tensions. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Militias in Libya Involved Deeply in Human Trafficking
MENA, Dec. 20, 2020The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) declared on December 17th that 126 illegal immigrants, including 8 women and 28 children, were returned to Libya after rescuing them in the sea. A horrible accident took place off the coast of Zawiya city a week before, where a migrants’ boat sank. The Libyan Red Crescent found five dead children of Egyptian nationality.
With the increasing number of irregular migrants in Libya, the UNHCR in Libya has rejected any project to resettle African migrants and refugees in Libya.
Dealing with the Migration Phenomenon
UNHCR has requested the EU to launch an initiative in which the countries of origin, transit and destination will cooperate to address migration, thereby protecting the basic rights of migrants in general and of refugees in particular, coinciding with the International Migrants Day.
In a statement issued last Friday, the UNHCR demanded the EU and its member states to reconsider their measures taken to hinder attempts of migrants to reach EU coasts, as their policies are resulting in big human losses.
The UNHCR indicated that the EU countries should not ignore the human nature of the refugees’ crisis and the reasons that led them to flee their country, where poverty, unemployment, instability and violence are widely spread.
UNHCR has expressed concern about the fate of African migrants and refugees returning to Libya from Europe, and that they are suffering physical and psychological torture, ill-treatment and violence. Migrants are also exploited by human traffickers and gangs in Libya.
Libya: The Main Transit Gate
Libya is the main gateway for migrants seeking access to Europe by sea. According to figures from the International Organization for Migration, hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants have arrived in Europe across the sea since the February 2011 revolution, while tens of thousands have died.
Most of those migrants crossed the Mediterranean with unprepared boats, often overloaded by more than twice the allowed number of passengers.
The starting points are the illegal migrants exit zones (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan) in the Horn of Africa, the African Sahel (Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon), the Middle East (Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen), and the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia). Migrants are gathered in specific cities. In the Horn of Africa, they gather in Kassala and southern Kordofan in Sudan, while in the Sahel, the migrants of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso are gathered in Agadis, northern Niger. During the journey, many migrants die, and the survivors arrive in Lampedusa, Sicily, or Sardinia in the Italian south and this journey takes from one day to four days.
As for the Middle East, migrants often come individually through legal crossings, except for Syrians who are banned from entering Libya. Migrants from Tunisia can enter without entry visa through the border crossings of Ras Jedir and Gheithia, while Algerians and Moroccans infiltrate through the western and southern smuggling routes. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Turkey to Send Troops to Libya at Tripoli’s Request: Erdogan
Ece Toksabay and Ahmed Elumami
Reuters, Dec. 26, 2020Turkey will send troops to Libya at the request of Tripoli as soon as next month, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, putting the North African country’s conflict at the center of wider regional frictions. Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has been struggling to fend off General Khalifa Haftar’s forces, which have been supported by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan.
An official in Tripoli confirmed a formal request had been made for Turkish military support in the air, on the ground and at sea. The official, who asked not to be named, spoke after the GNA’s interior minister, Fathi Bashagha, suggested in comments to reporters in Tunis that no such request had been made. Haftar’s forces, which are based in eastern Libya, could not be reached for comment.
Haftar’s fighters have failed to reach the center of Tripoli but have made small gains in recent weeks in some southern suburbs of the capital with the help of Russian and Sudanese fighters, as well as drones shipped by the UAE, diplomats say. The Chinese-made drones have given Haftar “local air superiority” as they can carry over eight times the weight of explosives than the drones given to the GNA by Turkey and can also cover the whole of Libya, a United Nations report said in November.
Last month, Ankara signed two separate accords with the GNA, led by Fayez al-Serraj, one on security and military cooperation and another on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean. The maritime deal ends Turkey’s isolation in the East Mediterranean as it ramps up offshore energy exploration that has alarmed Greece and some other neighbors. The military deal would preserve its lone ally in the region, Tripoli. “Since there is an invitation (from Libya) right now, we will accept it,” Erdogan told members of his AK Party in a speech. “We will put the bill on sending troops to Libya on the agenda as soon as parliament opens.”
The legislation would pass around Jan. 8-9, he said, opening the door to deployment.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday held a telephone call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the White House said, in which the two leaders “rejected foreign exploitation” regarding Libya. “The leaders … agreed that parties must take urgent steps to resolve the conflict before Libyans lose control to foreign actors,” the White House said. Egypt reportedly supported Haftar’s forces, while Washington has called all sides to de-escalate and warned over rising Russian involvement. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK– Ed.]
Libya Needs Her Jews as Much as They Need Her
Jewish News, Dec. 10, 2020Last week we marked the commemoration day for the expulsion of Arab Jews from their countries. In 1967, Jews were stripped of citizenship and property and expelled from Libya, each allowed nothing more with them than a single suitcase and $20. It was a crime against humanity in the full sense of the word yet, strangely, there had never been any UN resolutions in this regard.
The longest continuous human settlement for the Jewish people is in Libya. Jews continuously lived there for some 2,200 years. They are Libyans beyond any doubt. History and archaeology testify to that. Moreover, they had never been involved in any conflict with fellow Libyans. Indeed, Islam grants freedom of religion to all peoples and does not approve of the persecution of any minorities whatsoever.
What happened to Libyan Jews was blatantly against Islam. The Democratic Party stands in solidarity with the right of return of Libyan Jews and there is no linkage whatsoever between them and any other regional conflict.
Those who continually insist on defending the 1967 expulsion of the Libyan Jews from their country by linking it to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict simply fail to provide any moral argument to support their case. They are defending the indefensible. The Quran states clearly: “No one can bear another’s burden.”
It is a sad fact that many Libyans do not realise there exists a whole Libyan Jewish community in exile. All Libyan Jews were expelled, so the majority of Libyans have never come into contact with any Libyan Jews. Some mistakenly think Libyan Jews were expelled owing to their loyalty to Israel; that they chose to be Israelis thus losing any legitimate claims to being Libyan.
Such totally mistaken views are fuelled by some Libyan businessmen who became rich after the expulsion of the Jews through illegally confiscating their commercial and residential properties. Naturally, this group is totally against the return of Libyan Jews.
These gross misunderstandings and distortions were largely enforced by Gaddafi’s brand of Arab nationalism, which rejected all non-Arab minority rights. The subject of Libyan Jews was simply a taboo under Gaddafi. The Democratic Party considers it to be its duty to clear such historical misunderstandings, and makes the right of Libyan Jews to return to Libya a fundamental party policy. It is an Islamic and a human right. The Jews of Libya share the same Libyan culture, traditions and customs. They lived in harmony with the rest of Libyans for millennia. Archaeological evidence tells us that the original inhabitants of Libya were the Amazigh and the Jews. The way Libyan Jews were expelled was neither Islamic nor human. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
For Further Reference:
Aya Burweila on Turkey’s Goals in Libya: Marilyn Stern, Middle East Forum, Dec. 18, 2020 — Aya Burweila, a senior advisor at the Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS), spoke to participants in a November 6 Middle East Forum webinar (video) about Turkey’s involvement in Libya.
Energy and Security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Libyan Conflict: TRT, YouTube, Dec. 14, 2020 – In TRT World Forum 2020, Expert Roundtable session ”Energy and Security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Libyan Conflict” hosted Egemen Bağış, Former EU Minister of Turkey and Ambassador to Czech Republic, Mustafa Abushagur, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Libya, Peter Millett, High Commissioner of UK to Cyprus & Former UK Ambassador to Libya and Jordan, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Delegation of the European Union to Turkey.
Crisis Group Libya Update #2: Crisis Group, Dec. 24, 2020 — This Briefing Note provides up-to-the-minute analysis of attempts to end Libya’s almost decade-long civil war through talks focused on reunifying the country’s government, oil-based economy and security forces. It is the second in a series of twice-monthly updates.
Russian Mercenaries in Libya Leave Mines as Deadly Calling Cards, Observers Say: Salem Solomon: VOA, Aug. 4, 2020 — International observers are sounding the alarm about an alliance between Russian mercenaries and a Libyan militia, which they say imperils civilians and risks intensifying Libya’s civil war.
The Strategic Implications of Chinese UAVs: Insights from the Libyan Conflict: Ryan Oliver, China Brief Volume: 20 Issue: 15, Jamestown Foundation, Aug. 31, 2020 — In recent years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has emerged as a leading producer of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms for both commercial and military use, and its technologies are being used in unprecedented ways.