Libya: Plowing Through The Obstacles

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May 3, 2018: The country is still chaotic because of the hundreds of militias and private armies operating with little supervision. Many of these, especially the ones that are Islamic, are unifying behind what is left of the GNA (Government of National Accord) in Tripoli in an effort to survive. Many Islamic militias are losing their most radical members to ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), which is still trying to establish a base area in Libya. To this end ISIL is deliberately attacking targets that will prevent elections and the formation of a unified national government. Meanwhile in eastern Libya the LNA (Libyan National Army) continues to defeat or absorb defiant militias, especially ones that are religion based or outright Islamic terrorists.

While many Western nations consider the LNA, or at least some of its commanders, to be war criminals the fact is that pro-GNA faction leaders are no better and often a lot worse. The Arab nations that have long supported the LNA and its creator Khalifa Hiftar and understand this and the fact that Hiftar is simply a more effective military leaders. After living in the U.S. for over a decade, Hiftar knows first-hand what works. Hiftar works for the rival Libyan HoR (House of Representatives) government in Tobruk. Most Libyans, having little or no personal experience of a much less corrupt and more productive Western economy, just want someone to make all the chaos and pain go away. There is no easy way to make that happen. A first step would be to form a united government. That is still a work in progress but at least progress is being made. Hiftar is also popular in Libya (and with other Moslem governments in the region) for his steadfast and effective opposition to Islamic terrorists and Islamic radicalism in general.

The Wages Of Sin

ISIL and AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) are continuing to survive in Libya by controlling the movement of illegal migrants through Libya to the coast and then on boats that take them to Europe. This is big business and generates enough cash for the Islamic terrorists to bribe local militias and government officials to make it possible to continue the people smuggling. AQIM is more into the money and will work with ISIL if offered the opportunity. But AQIM leaders know that ISIL will ultimately turn on all other Islamic terror groups (because ISIL considers itself the only true holy warriors). Even where the two groups are cooperating ISIL is calling on the more zealous AQIM members to join ISIL.

May 2, 2018: In Tripoli an ISIL force consisting of two suicide bombers and several gunmen attacked the HNEC (High National Elections Commission) building killing at least 16 people and wounding 19. Fires were started when the two suicide bombers detonated. This was a very deliberate and direct attack on the effort to restore national government in Libya. European and Arab nations offered additional help to keep the plans for national elections this year on track.

May 1, 2018: The LNA has managed to arrange an end to fighting between black African and Arab tribes around the southeastern town of Kufra (near the Chad border.) This had been going on since late 2011 and flared up again in February 2018. The disputes are largely about control of water and land and are part of centuries old animosity between the Arabs (the much larger Zuwai tribe) and black Africans (Tebu tribe). The two tribes involved have a long history of conflict. Belgasim Al Abaj, an LNA general arrived in mid-April to negotiate a lasting peace deal. Abaj is a Zuwai and the Tebus in general respect the LNA. One reason for this respect is that the LNA has established a track record of negotiating peace deals in several tribal conflicts by establishing good relations with the major tribes (Magharba, Baraasa, Hasa, Obaidat, Zuwai and Zintan) and getting these larger tribes to make peace with their smaller rivals. Some of these peace deals are only temporary, until Libya is united and no longer in danger of massive social and financial collapse. But that is enough. .

The UN, which keeps track of such things, reports that in April 31 civilians were killed (4) or wounded (27) as a result of fighting in Libya. As low as these civilian casualties were in April that was up sharply from March when five civilians were killed and eleven wounded by this largely terrorist violence. This was a sharp drop from January and February when there were several major terror attacks. There were many more casualties among the military forces (LNA and militias) as well as the few Islamic terror groups still operating. Various surveys indicate that nationwide fewer than 500 civilians died during 2017 from the fighting between militias, Islamic terror groups, criminal gangs and the LNA. The armed men in these groups suffered higher casualties, most of them among the Islamic terror groups, which were considered legitimate targets by everyone.

April 30, 2018: Heavy fighting broke out in Tripoli between two rival pro-GNA militias. The fighting was apparently over possession of an armored vehicle. The fighting took place in several parts of the city and was settled by the end of the day.

Elsewhere in Tripoli it was revealed that Wisam Ben Hamid, the leader of the largest coalition of Islamic militias in Tripoli, had recently been killed. His family made the announcement and did not give any date of death but the LNA had been after him for a long time.

April 29, 2018: Egypt and France confirmed that they are working together to assist Libya in holding elections by the end of 2018 and thus making possible a united government.

April 28, 2018: In Tripoli American and GNA officials signed an agreement in which the United States will provide assistance in improving airport security and improvements in policing, running prisons and the judicial system. The Americans also back the formation of a united government between the GNA and HoR.

April 27, 2018: In the southwest, across the border in Algeria (Illizi Province) Algerian troops patrolling the border have found and destroyed more weapons apparently brought across the border from Libya and hidden for Algerian arms dealers to pick up.

April 26, 2018: LNA commander Khalifa Hiftar returned to Benghazi after receiving medical treatment. Hiftar fell ill while visiting France in mid-April on official business and remained under treatment until he was deemed fit to return to Libya. Hiftar appeared healthy on his return today. He is 75 years old and was believed to have suffered a stroke but today he walked off the airliner and gave a speech and then held meetings.

In Morocco officials from the GNA and HoR met to work out a political compromise so Libya could have a unified government by the end of 2018. Both groups are confident that such a deal can be worked out this year. One reason for that confidence is the growing control HoR has over the country as the LNA under Hiftar continues to pacify unruly areas. GNA is still dealing with internal disorder and loss of popular support.

April 25, 2018: In the south (Sabha, 770 kilometers south of Tripoli) fighting, apparently between Tebu and Zaghawah tribesmen broke out again and left 12 dead and over 50 wounded. Over a thousand civilians fled the area where the fighting was going on. The Zaghawah are nomads from Chad to occasionally try to move into Libya seeking water and pasturage.

April 24, 2018: LNA forces clashed with the few remaining Islamic terrorists in Derna (200 kilometers east of Benghazi). This is the only eastern coastal city not under LNA control but has been under siege by the LNA since 2017. Since early 2017 LNA forces from further east followed the ISIL and other Islamic terrorist remnants to Derna. Some ISIL men managed to establish a presence there and have been seeking to carry out bombings and other terror attacks on the coastal areas (where most of the people are). Derna remains a problem as this city is about the same size (100,000 population) as the former ISIL “capital” Sirte. Earlier ISIL failures in Derna were the result of stubborn local militias who disliked outsiders in general. Hiftar was not popular with some of the Derna militias, especially those composed of Islamic conservatives and these groups were not cooperative. Now they are under attack by Hiftar forces and being pushed out of the area. The UN opposes the LNA tactics because it cuts many civilians off from essential supplies. The LNA points out that the Islamic terrorists control who gets what when supplies get through the current blockade.

April 23, 2018: Two former Guantanamo inmates from Libya were returned to Libya, apparently involuntarily. The two then disappeared, apparently seized by a hostile (to Islamic terrorism) militia.

April 22, 2018: In the east (Benghazi) a clash between an LNA unit and a police unit left two dead. The dispute was over a police investigator accused of corruption.

April 21, 2018: In the east an oil pipeline was damaged by local Islamic terrorists. This group had last attacked that pipeline in December 2017 and were still being hunted. The recent attack halted 80,000 BPD to the el Sider export terminal. It took four days to repair the damage.

April 19, 2018: Outside Tripoli someone fired rockets at the airport, damaging a passenger aircraft belonging to Libyan Airlines. No one took responsibility for the attack but it was believed to be one of the militias that used to control access to the airport and made a lot of money doing so.

April 18, 2018: Tunisia reopened its consulate in Tripoli.

In the east (outside Benghazi) some used a car bomb in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the chief-of-staff (and second in command) of the LNA. One civilian was killed and several wounded. This attack was believed to be the work of ISIL.

April 16, 2018: The World Bank reported that Libya is about to exhaust its foreign exchange reserves and be unable to purchase essential imports like food and medicine.

April 14, 2018: In Sudan RSF (Rapid Support Forces) leaders asked the EU to pay them for guarding the Sudan-Libya border and preventing migrants from reaching the Mediterranean Sea. An RSF commander said his units are defending the EU. The RSF has been accused of committing atrocities and now they are trying export some money from the EU for preventing illegal migrants from reaching Europe via the activities of well-armed and financed people smuggling gangs.

 

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