Showing posts with label Libya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Libya. Show all posts

February 5, 2016

Some ISIS Running Away to Libya


Eyes, guns and missiles are aimed at Iraq and Syria, with allied and Russian airstrikes mounting pressure against Islamic State’s so-called caliphate. But as the West doubles down and the militants’ territorial losses rack up, the jihadists may simply be moving on to Plan B. When the going gets tough — for the tough guys themselves — will they head for the hills or simply move the fight … to Libya?

For many, the going got tough in Syria and Iraq, and they got going. Millions have escaped and continue to flee, braving treacherous maritime crossings — often dying — and months in freezing European camps in the hope of carving out a better life. But now the militants are also feeling the heat, and possibly taking more advantage of Libya’s instability. Already, experts say, they’ve lost up to 25 percent of their territory in Iraq, along with some key oil refineries, and pressure’s mounting, thanks to allied and Russian airstrikes. Combined, it’s getting harder for ISIS to protect the areas they “govern” and keep their machine running by collecting taxes without expanding into other areas. Meanwhile, says Joshua Meservey, the Heritage Foundation’s policy analyst for Africa and the Middle East, Libya has become a “backup plan” or “haven” for if and when things turn sour in Iraq and Syria.

Of course, ISIS isn’t on its back heels. The caliphate model of gaining territory and taxing local populations is still going strong, and the militants are putting more resources into the Maghreb. And while the group has had a presence in Libya since 2014, it’s increasingly shifting eggs from one basket — Syria and Iraq — to the late Moammar Gadhafi’s homeland, where two governments are now vying ineffectively for control. That leaves loads of groups duking it out in a vacuum that ISIS has proven all too effective at monopolizing before, especially in Syria.

It’s going to become increasingly important to focus on Libya.
Right now, ISIS has anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 fighters in Libya, experts estimate. That’s a relatively small number when looking at the country as a whole, though it’s significant if ISIS members are concentrated in a town or specific area because “they can run little areas,” says Professor Daniel Byman of Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. And this piecemeal grabbing of land, and then exploiting resources and local bank accounts, is exactly how the militants roll.

Indeed, the militants have carved out a beachhead in the coastal city of Sirte and are upping attacks against oil fields in a bid to secure lucrative resources in the north. So far these efforts have been fairly amateur, says Madeleine Moreau, a strategic media analyst for Global Risk Insights based in Beirut. But she notes that high-level ISIS leaders are leaving Syria and going to Libya to take advantage of the chaos, especially in the north, fueling fears that over the next six months, “it’s going to become increasingly important to focus on Libya.”

April 16, 2015

Capsized Shipwreck with 400 Migrants Feared Dead off Libya


A shipwreck in which about 400 migrants are feared to have died off Libya this week was caused by excitement at the sight of rescuers, survivors say.
They told officials that the boat capsized when many migrants moved to one side as a rescue ship approached.
Monday's sinking is among the worst migrant tragedies in the Mediterranean.
Aid agencies say not enough is being done to save the lives of the rising number of people trying to cross the sea to Europe. 
Up to 20,000 people fleeing poverty and conflict have made the perilous crossing to Italy since the start of the year, similar to the same period in 2014, a year when a record 170,000 reached the country's shores.
Almost 10,000 people have been picked up in recent days, and more boats are heading for the Italian coast. The Italian coast guard rescued about 140 people from the boat that capsized on Monday. Survivors say more than 500 people were on board when it sank.
Joel Millman, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) quoted by Reuters news agency, says that at least a third were women and children.
"When the men on the deck became restless and started moving about because a rescue boat was beginning to approach them, the boat capsized and water flooded the hull," he said. "Women and children died immediately."
More than 500 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean since the start of the year, 30 times more than in the same period last year.
If the toll from latest tragedy is confirmed, the number of deaths for the year would rise to 900.

Analysis: Quentin Sommerville, Misrata, Libya

The warmer weather means calmer seas off the coast of Libya - and more migrants trying to make the journey to Italy.
The coastguard here warns that with clear skies expected the next few days hundreds will attempt the crossing. Most are from sub-Saharan Africa. They pay people smugglers £500 (700 euros; $740) for a place on crowded and underpowered boats.
In Misrata the morgue is already full of corpses of drowned men and women who were washed up on nearby beaches.
Libya, with two rival governments and facing a threat from hundreds of Islamic State fighters, is in turmoil. It is unable to secure its own borders, much less stop those already there from heading to Europe.
Meanwhile the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said unprecedented numbers of refugees were arriving in Greece's Dodecanese islands - off Turkey's south-western coast.
MSF said about 100 new migrants were landing on the islands every day. It urged Greek and EU officials to do more to receive them. 
UNHCR spokesman Federico Fossi told the BBC there was no indication that the numbers risking their lives to come to Europe would drop soon.
"There are still people fleeing from wars and persecution in countries such as Syria, dictatorships in countries such as Eritrea," he said.
He called on the European Union "to step up a strong search and rescue mechanism" to save people's lives.
As many as 3,500 migrants died while trying to cross the Mediterranean last year, officials say, as record numbers tried to reach Europe.
Late last year the Italian government scaled back a maritime rescue operation launched in response to another tragedy, in which 366 migrants died off the island of Lampedusa.
There were concerns that the Mare Nostrum mission was encouraging migrant crossings, and a more limited EU border security operation took over. 
Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been without a stable government allowing trafficking networks to thrive.

November 4, 2014

300 Libyan Army Cadets Being Sent Home after 2 Sexually Assaulting Women

Libyan cadets sent home early after Cambridge sex assaults

Bassingbourn Barracks sign
 About 300 Libyan recruits arrived for training at the barracks in June 

Libyan army cadets training in the UK are to be sent home early after two recruits admitted sexually assaulting women in Cambridge
It said it would also review whether further groups of Libyan recruits should be trained in the UK.
The decision came after South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley wrote to the MoD calling for training to end.
The consequences of allowing soldiers on unescorted trips had been "unacceptable", he said.
About 300 recruits arrived at the base in June as part of a government agreement to train up to 2,000 cadets to ensure Libya's security.
At the time the MoD said the recruits would only be allowed on escorted trips.
However, it has emerged these rules were later relaxed. Last week they were reinstated, the MoD confirmed.
'Repatriate the trainees'
Two Libyan recruits admitted carrying out a series of assaults on women in Cambridge's Market Square area on 26 October and are awaiting sentencing.
Conservative Mr Lansley said he initially supported the UK's commitment to train the recruits.

"It is with regret that I must now say that it has not worked as we had hoped," he said.
"It is clear that the stipulation that there was to be no unauthorised exit from the base has not been adhered to and the consequences have been unacceptable.
"As I have today expressed to MoD, I now see no alternative but to terminate the contract and repatriate the trainees currently on the base. 
"As this stands, no further groups of trainees could be brought here from Libya."
Mr Lansley's office confirmed he had written to Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois on Monday morning.
In a statement, the MoD said: "Training was initially expected to last until the end of November but we have agreed with the Libyan government that it is best for all involved to bring forward the training completion date. The recruits will be returning to Libya in the coming days.
"And as part of our ongoing support for the Libyan government, we will review how best to train Libyan security forces - including whether training further tranches of recruits in the UK is the best way forward."
Bassingbourn BarracksLibyan troops would only be allowed out on escorted trips, the MoD initially told nearby residents

August 27, 2014

(Something You didn’t know): Egypt and Emirates are bombing Libya

 Strikes said to be from planes flying out of Egyptian airbases signal step towards direct action in conflict by other Arab states
Libya's capital b0mbed by warplanes 
 US officials have claimed the United Arab Emirates and Egypt were behind several air strikes on Islamist militias in Libya last week, in what would be an escalation of a regional power-play between Islamists and opposing governments across the Middle East.

UAE pilots flying out of Egyptian airbases allegedly twice targeted Islamist f!ghters vying to take control of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, last week, several US officials claimed to the New York Times, and later to the AFP news agency. Speaking to the Guardian, a US official confirmed the reports were plausible.

The air strikes failed to stop Islamist militias from capturing Tripoli later in the week, announcing a new breakaway regime and forcing Libya's elected government to flee to the eastern city of Tobruk.

The strikes' alleged origins suggest a block of Middle Eastern countries led by the UAE are seeking to escalate their opposition to the Islamist movements that have sought to undermine the region's old order since the start of the Arab spring in 2011.

Last summer, Egypt's military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood – a major Islamist group – and has since waged an internal crackdown on their activities, a tactic pursued for years in the UAE.

If the US allegations are true, both countries now want to expand their campaign beyond their borders, seeking to curb the rise of Brotherhood-affiliated militias threatening to take over Libya. The move could turn Libya into a proxy war between the country's elected government, backed by UAE and Egypt, and Islamists backed by Qatar, another Gulf state.

On Tuesday, the US would not confirm the reports on the record. But Jen Psaki, a state department spokesman, criticised any external military intervention. "We believe outside interference exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya's democratic transition," said Psaki.
A damaged aircraft is pictured after shelling at Tripoli International Airport on August 24, 2014. Unidentified war planes attacked targets in Libya's capital Tripoli on Sunday, residents said, hours after forces from the city of Misrata said they had seized the main airport. (Reuters/Aimen Elsahli)

A senior Egyptian military source denied Egypt's involvement, as did Egypt's foreign ministry. "We already issued two statements on this," said Badr Abdellatty, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman, referring to comments made by the Egyptian government over the weekend. "That's all we're going to say."

In one of the statements, Egypt denied that "Egyptian military airplanes [had been] carrying out air strikes in areas controlled by armed militias in the Libyan capital Tripoli". But the wording stopped short of denying any Egyptian involvement whatsoever.

When asked about the air strikes, a Libyan cabinet minister expressed surprise at the reports of their provenance, and said that Libya did not want direct military intervention. But Habib Amin, Libya's culture minister, said the international community needed to provide more logistical and diplomatic support to his government.

"The international community until now has not been serious about helping the government, the legal authority in Libya, and the Libyan people," said Amin after discussing the Libyan civil war with Egyptian officials in Cairo.

"Libya is now in a civil war. And the international community is just watching. Tripoli is half-destroyed. Half of Benghazi is destroyed. What does the world want? To see the whole country destroyed?"

In an interview with the Guardian on Monday, Libya's foreign minister, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, claimed his government did not want foreign military intervention.

But he said Libya's government, which has fled to the eastern city of Tobruk, is now unable to safeguard key state institutions by itself, and called for "arms and any other equipment … that could ensure the possibility of protecting our strategic sites, our oil fields, our airports" against militias "who are now stronger than the government itself, and who do now possess arms even more sophisticated than the government itself."

And while Abdel Aziz ruled out requesting foreign air strikes against the insurgents in the short term, he hinted that they were a possibility should negotiations with the rebels fail. "Once we cannot achieve a serious or meaningful dialogue among all the factions, perhaps we can resort to other means afterwards," said Abdel Aziz, who was at a Cairo conference for regional foreign ministers about the future of Libya.

> Aug 26 - UAE and Egypt behind bombing raids against Libyan militias, say US officials - Photo posted in BX Daily Bugle - news and headlines | Sign in and leave a comment below!

> Aug 26 - UAE and Egypt behind bombing raids against Libyan militias, say US officials - Photo posted in BX Daily Bugle - news and headlines | Sign in and leave a comment below!
Militants at the gate of Tripoli airport on Saturday. The strikes failed to prevent the militants from seizing the airport. Photograph: Hamza Turkia/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikesagainst Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts. 

The US, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied to American diplomats that their military played any role in the operation, the officials said, in what appeared a new blow to already strained relations between Washington and Cairo. 

The strikes in Tripoli are another salvo in a power struggle defined by Arab autocrats battling Islamist movements seeking to overturn the old order. Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt last year, the new government and its backers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have launched a campaign across the region to roll back what they see as an existential threat to their authority posed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Arrayed against them and backing the Islamists are rival states Turkey and Qatar. 

Eric Schmitt & David D Kirkpatrick,NYT News Service 

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