A Freedom of information request has been filed after Pentagon stopped publishing troop levels for Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. “The United States Government and all its institutions represent and are accountable to the American people,” said the former defence secretary Chuck Hagel, Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists government secrecy project said “The idea that the scale of the US military presence in a war zone should be kept secret from the public is a mistake. That’s not how democracies fight or win wars.”
[December 6 2019]
[April 18 2019]
The Pentagon is employing 5,508 contractors in Iraq and Syria — 2,869 of whom are U.S. citizens, 760 of whom are locals and 109 are third country nationals — according to a quarterly report released in April. In January, there was a total of 4,927 contractors reported to be only in Iraq. Of those, 2,767 were Americans, 1,495 were third country nationals, and 665 were locals.
[November 21 2017]
The Pentagon’s quarterly reports on personnel, published November 17, show the number of U.S. troops and Department of Defense civilians in each Middle Eastern country: Egypt, 455; Israel, 41; Lebanon, 110; Syria, 1,723; Turkey, 2,265; Jordan, 2,730; Iraq, 9,122; Kuwait, 16,592; Saudi Arabia, 850; Yemen, 14; Oman, 32; United Arab Emirates, 4,240; Qatar, 6,671; Bahrain, 9,335. Totalling 54,180 from 40,517 in the past four months, representing a 33 percent rise
Currently, there are roughly 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The total number in Somalia is roughly 500.
[August 20 2015 US wants another Turkish base for helicopter support, Turkey on hold ]
A government offensive against terrorist groups and the collapse of a three-year truce with Kurdish militants followed parliamentary elections in June that failed to deliver a ruling majority to any one party. Talks to form a coalition government failed and Turkey may be headed for fresh elections within about three months.
the Pentagon wants access to another base in addition to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve , to stage personnel recovery aircraft. The crew of the HC-130J includes a pilot, co-pilot, a combat systems officer and two enlisted load-masters.
The night vision goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit houses a fully integrated digital avionics suite incorporating head-up displays (HUD) and multifunctional displays (MFD) for flight control and navigation.
The HC-130J also incorporates inertial navigation system (INS), global positioning system (GPS), forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and satellite and data-burst communications.
The HC-130J Combat King II is equipped with refuelling pods on under-wing pylons and additional internal fuel tanks for conducting in-flight refuelling of helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft. It can be used for aerial refuelling of up to two rotorcraft simultaneously at night. The aircraft can also participate in forward area refuelling point (FARP) missions in support of joint and allied forces.
The aircraft is fitted with a universal aerial refuelling receptacle slipway installation (UARRSI) for conducting in-flight refuelling with boom-equipped tanker aircraft.
The HC-130J Combat King II integrates modern threat detection and countermeasures equipment, such as a radar warning receiver, missile warning receiver and chaff and flare dispensing system.
The HC-130J Combat King II has a maximum speed of 316kt. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 33,000ft. The aircraft has a maximum range of 3,478 nautical miles.
[August 9 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano sends jets to Incirlik‘
Six F-16 jets and about 300 personnel to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. the “small detachment” is from the 31st Fighter Wing based at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
[Aug 5 Armed drone flown out of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey strikes Islamic State]
The United States has conducted its first drone strike into northern Syria from a base in Turkey, the Pentagon said on August 5. Manned and unmanned American planes are arriving particularly at Incirlik Air Base, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu .
İncirlik stands roughly 400 kilometers away from Raqqa, ISIL’s de facto capital in Syria. The anti-ISIL coalition has been relying on bases in the Gulf and flying nearly 2,000 kilometers a day to reach their targets against the jihadist group.
June 23 Benghazi: Ali Awni al-Harzi, of attack on u.s. diplomat, killed in airstrike in Mosul – from İncirlik?]
A US drone strike on Mosul, Iraq, killed Ali Awni al-Harzi, an Islamic State fighter linked to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, the Pentagon said on June 22. His full name is Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi, one of the first members of the IS. He was key fundraiser and recruiter for the group, specializing in finding suicide bombers. Australia’s most infamous terrorists, Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, have been killed by a drone strike in the past week in Mosul. Sharrouf and Elomar travelled to Syria and then Iraq in 2013, with Sharrouf using his brother’s passport to leave Australia. Photos were posted online of them holding the severed heads of pro-Syrian government soldiers.
Turkey is allowing Predator drones to take off from the U.S. airbase in Incirlik, near Adana. three drones were transferred in April and joined two other drones already deployed. The use of Turkey’s air bases in the Mosul offensive was discussed in March when U.S. Central Command Commander Lloyd Austin arrived in Turkey to hold talks on the regional turmoil. İncirlik is 434 miles from Mosul
February 5 Islamist Ansar al-Sharia pushed back towards port by Libyan Army forces]
Libya has failed to build up a national army and efficient state institutions since the end of Gaddafi’s one-man rule, and the country is now effectively dominated by former rebel brigades who have carved out competing fiefs. Backed by forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, army special forces in mid-October launched an offensive against Islamists in Benghazi, expelling them from the airport area and from several camps the army had lost during the summer.
Army forces have since been trying to retake the port area and two other districts where pro-government forces say fighters from the militant Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group are holed up. The port, the main gateway for food imports into eastern Libya, has had to close.
On February 5, army vehicles advanced on the Corniche road toward the port gate and a nearby court building. Soldiers took over several government buildings such as a passport office, a state insurance and a state bank damaged in earlier fighting. Around 25 soldiers were wounded, army sources said. “The road to the port is under our control,” said Faraj al-Barassi, a military commander.
[December 25 2014 Storage tank in Libyan port for Benghazi on fire]
The al-Sidra and its adjacent Ras Lanuf terminal have been closed since a force allied to a rival government in Tripoli moved east trying to take them.
“A storage tank was hit but the damage is limited,” said an official from a security service allied to the internationally-recognized government, now operating from eastern Libya. He said there were heavy clashes in the Ben Jawad area west of Es Sider where he said some of the rival forces were based.
Heavy fighting broke out near the seaport of Libya’s eastern Benghazi city on November 3 as forces of Major General Khalifa Haftar, backed by the army, attacked Islamist groups. Located in Benghazi’s main commercial zone, the seaport used for crucial wheat and petrol imports is in the Assabri district. Dozens of residents were leaving the city, heeding a call by the army to evacuate the port area where Islamists were holed up and the army was deploying tanks and artillery. A Libyan navy ship docked at Benghazi port was reported hit.
[October 28 this country is running out of time]
Special UN Envoy Bernadino Leon started an initiative to bring together both sides for a dialogue and ceasefire. But fighting has worsened in the past two weeks in the eastern city of Benghazi as well as in western Libya
“I think this country is running out of time. The danger for the country is that in the past weeks we are getting very close to the point of no return,”
[October 18 Benghazi youths are pointing guns against each other]
Benghazi youths who once fought side by side against Gadhafi are pointing guns against each other in a struggle where neither side appears able to deal a decisive blow. All around the country, cities, towns, tribes and ethnic minorities are now choosing sides, raising the possibility of greater conflict.
At least 18 people were killed onOctober 18 in heavy fighting between the Libyan National Army led by Major General Khalifa Haftar and Islamist militant of Ansar al-Sharia group in the country’s eastern city of Benghazi.Combat was the fiercest since the start of the operation, with the two sides using weapons of all calibers in street fighting. The exact number of deaths could be much higher, however, as warring groups usually retrieve the bodies of their own. Forces of Major General Haftar, a coalition of pro-government forces and armed civilians, have been joined by Salafi fighters known as Sahwa – similar to the Iraqi Sunni militias that joined U.S. troops in the fight against al-Qaida at the height of that country’s insurgency in 2007 and 2008.
Some of the heaviest clashes were taking place around Benghazi University, where Islamist militants were reportedly holed up.The army has this time publicly thrown its weight behind Haftar, who launched a first, unsuccessful, campaign against the Islamists in Benghazi in May, dubbing it “Operation Dignity”.
“The Libyan army claims Operation Dignity ” as one of its own campaigns, spokesman Colonel Ahmed al-Mesmari said October 16.
[September 24 Airstrikes on Tripoli and Benghazi: from U.A.E.?]
Tripoli, 24 September 2014: In the last 24 hours, The air strikes targeted several areas in Tripoli including the Yarmouk base and a militia transport pound in Salaheddin. An eye-witness to the overnight attacks told the Libya Herald that he first heard the sound of aircraft high overhead followed by anti-aircraft fire. Shortly afterwards there were explosions on the ground. He added that there had been the sound of detonations further away but he could not identify their location.
There has been no reliable report of the damage caused in these attacks. If they were launched by the UAE airforce then it will have been on the same night that other UAE warplanes joined in the first US-led multinational airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria.
UAE F-16s have a combat range of around 550 kilometres, depending on the weapon-load carried. Even operating from Egyptian bases, as is being alleged, F-16s would probably need two inflight refuelling sessions for an attack on Tripoli from Egypt. The Mirage 2000-5s also flown by the UAE, have a slightly greater range. The UAE airforce operates a single Airbus refuelling tanker aircraft.
BENGHAZI Libya (Reuters) – A warplane attacked the non-oil port in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi on Wednesday, witnesses said. Forces loyal to former general Khalifa Haftar said they carried out the attack to stop a ship from docking and supplying Islamist fighters.
“We warned the port manager that we will not allow ships to dock to supply Majlis al-Shura with weapons,” said Saqer al-Jouroushi, Haftar’s air defense commander . He was referring to an umbrella group of Islamist fighters that Haftar has been fighting in Benghazi. “We are still controlling the airport,” Saqer al-Jouroushi, adding that his troops had four helicopters and four MiG fighter jets. On 18 August, Brig Gen Jarushi said that Su-24s were under his control, but provided by a foreign air force, had carried out airstrikes that he implied were in addition to the earlier ones. The attacks were from U.A.E. http://wp.me/p1kUZv-2F http://wp.me/p1kUZv-ls
September 2 Buatni has been the backdrop to the worst fighting in Benghazi and on the approach to Benina Airport.]
Benina Airport and a nearby Air Defence base are the last major positions held by Operation Dignity in Benghazi since its Special Forces partners were pushed from its headquarters in Buatni at the end of Ramadan. Buatni has been the backdrop to the worst fighting in Benghazi over the last month with most residents now displaced and sheltering in schools or with friends and relatives in other parts of the city.
[August 24 Benghazi: fighting taking place in Buatni and on the approach to Benina Airport.]
Fighting has been reported in Benghazi in the Islamist held districts of Sidi Faraj, Guwarsha and Hawari but with, as has become usual in recent weeks, the worst of the fighting taking place in Buatni and on the approach to Benina Airport.
Hassi said that, away from the fighting, Dignity forces were still the subject of assassinations. He said that today Saiqa Special Forces officer Misbah Al-Maghrebi had been shot and killed by unknown assailants in the city.
[August 5 Benghazi was quiet with no shooting]
There has certainly been little in the way of violence in the city between Ansar Al-Sharia and its allies on one side and Operation Dignity forces on the other in the past two days. Apart from some explosions on the Airport Road at around midnight last night, the city was quiet yesterday with no shooting, and is quiet again today.
Who would have thought the best hope for Libya might turn out to be Gaddafi’s former chief of staff? Yet if he survives, then Khalifa Haftar, the anti-Islamist general who is both trained by the Soviet Union and accused of being a CIA operative, starts to look like our son of a bitch.
[August 2 Reports that Libya’s Major General Khalifa Haftar has fled Libya denied.
Spokesman Mohamed al-Hegazi denied July 30 media reports that Libya’s Major General Khalifa Haftar had fled Libya.
“General Haftar has not left Libya and is currently preparing for a major military operation in Benghazi.” He, however, gave no details about the fresh offensive.
Elected in June, lawmakers met on August 2 for an emergency session in Tobruk, a coastal city east of Benghazi, where they are supposed to form a new government .
Heavily armed interior ministry troops and the Libyan army protected the Tobruk hotel that was chosen to host the parliament meeting after Tripoli and Benghazi were deemed too risky.
The meeting August 2 saw 152 lawmakers gather in Tobrouk. Abu Bakr Baiera, the anti-Islamist lawmaker who presided over August 2’s session, decided to postpone the official opening until more lawmakers arrive.
Benghazi was calmer on August 2, four days after an alliance of Islamist militants from the Ansar al-Sharia group and ex-rebels drove the armed forces out of a special forces base and overran a major police station.
[August 1 Benghazi police station hit again: Tripoli closes border, too many crossing
A huge explosion totally flattened the police station in the Al-Hadayeq (the gardens) district of Benghazi early this morning, but miraculously there are no casualties being reported
August 1. a powerful explosion ripped through the main police headquarters in Benghazi, nearly flattening it, witnesses said. The blast shook nearby houses and echoed across the eastern city.
The headquarters was empty because of earlier shelling by militiamen. The blast appeared to be from explosives planted inside the building, said witnesses at the site.
Tunisia closed its main border crossing with Libya on August 1 after thousands of stranded Egyptian and foreign nationals, fleeing militias’ fighting and violence in Libya, tried to break through the passage
[July 31 Gen. Haftar has left for Egypt to spend Eid with members of his family. Withdrawal of troops from Benghazi is tactical]
Al-Sa’iqah commander Wanish Bukhammadah is nowhere to be seen after rebel sources said that they have taken him in. A well-informed source in Benghazi told Alhayat that Haftar left for Egypt in order to spend Eid with members of his family who live there.
A spokesman for the general, Muhammad Hijazi, described the withdrawal of troops from Benghazi as tactical. Yet, medical sources, including the Libyan Red Crescent, have said that they found no less than 75 bodies most of which belong to Haftar’s National Army faction whose authority has now been confined to the city of Tobruk and areas on the outskirts of Benghazi. His loyalists now appeared to only hold the airport on the city’s edges.
Circles close to Haftar attributed the defeat of his forces to the failure of the east Libyan tribes to stand by him as well as to having faith in an appeal for a ceasefire made by former Provisional Council Head Mustafa Abd Al-Jalil. The latter was asked by the provisional government to mediate in the conflict.
[July 29 Saiqa special forces flee after taking artillery fire, Islamists in possession]
“We have withdrawn from the Saiqa special forces base in Benghazi after heavy shelling,” Saiqa Special Forces officer Fadel Al-Hassi. Part of the area is Camp 36 in the Abu Attni district and the special forces school. Militant fighters overran it on July 29 after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people. A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city.A separate special forces spokesman confirmed the militants had taken over the camp after the troops pulled out.
Benghazi has been at the centre of fighting between special forces and ex-rebel fighters of the Benghazi Shura Council who have joined up with the Ansar al Sharia, a militant Islamist group. Ansar al Sharia, classified as a terrorist organisation by Washington, has been blamed by authorities for attacking the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012 when the U.S. ambassador was killed.
Special forces and some regular air force units had recently joined forces with a renegade former army general, Khalifa Haftar, who had launched a self-declared campaign to clear the city of Islamist militants.
[July 28 Fighting in Tripoli seems fueled by the campaign of Gen. Hifter to rid the country of Islamist militias.]
Major General Khalifa Hifter has won support from Libyans who fear the growing assertiveness of extremists, especially in eastern Libya. But his campaign has also stirred new divisions, and violence, across the country. Militias from the coastal city of Misurata that oppose Maj. Gen. Hifter have been clashing for weeks around the Tripoli airport with fighters from the mountain city of Zintan, who support him.
The fighting in Tripoli seems at least partly fueled by the campaign of Gen. Hifter, who vowed in May to rid the country of Islamist militias. He and his national army have focused their fight in Benghazi, where daily battles with the militias have settled into a deadly stalemate.
The United States has sent mixed signals about Gen. Hifter’s efforts, warning about the violence while conceding that he was pursuing militiamen it considered terrorists.
The country is coming undone. Relentless factional fighting in Tripoli and in the eastern city of Benghazi has left dozens of people dead. Well-known political activists have been killed, diplomats have been kidnapped, and ordinary citizens fear bandits on the roads.
[July 27 Intense fighting throughout much of the day in Benghazi’s Buatni and Leithi districts July 26, 2014.
There has been intense fighting throughout much of the day in Benghazi’s Abu Attni and Leithi districts as militants attacked the Saiqa Special Forces’ headquarters with missiles and were attacked in turn by air and counter missile strikes. There were massive explosions and smoke rising into the sky.
Benghazi Medical Centre (BMC) report at least 10 bodies being brought in as well as 50 injured. The hospital also put out an appeal for blood, saying it was desperately short. Doctors and nurses at the hospital have been working round the clock to deal with the injured.
Because of the intensity of the fighting, residents in the Musakam area near Leithi have been fleeing their homes in fear.
“We tried to stay but a missile hit our building. We left instantly, but there was heavy street fighting nearby,” one resident told the Libya Herald.
Much of the city is also suffering from power cuts as a result of an electricity station being hit yesterday. It has affected the mobile phone service and the internet. Both are down.
The clashes in Benghazi have been almost non-stop over the past few days. The number of dead taken to the BMC today was much the same today as Wednesday, when it received nine bodies and 20 injured, again because of fighting in Buatni. Others have been taken to the hospital in Marj, the operational centre of the Hafter’s forces. It too has reported shortages not only of equipment and medications but also of doctors and other medical staff.
For its part, the 17 February Battalion, which is allied to Ansar Al-Sharia, said yesterday that six of its members had been killed.
At least 10 people were also killed and 50 more injured in clashes between Libyan special forces and Islamist militants who are entrenched in the eastern city of Benghazi, security and hospital sources said
At least five soldiers were killed on July 22 in a double suicide bombing on a special forces base under the command of Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada in the southeast of the city.
On July 21, an Islamist militia attacked a military barracks, leaving at least 16 dead.
Major General Khalifa Haftar, backed by Abu Khamada, has since May led an operation “to eradicate terrorism in Benghazi” by targeting Islamists.
Islamist groups such as Ansar Al-Sharia, classified as a terrorist organisation by Washington, have held sway in Benghazi since the fall of Kadhafi.
[June 9 Operation Dignity : court decision, which reinstates Abdullah al-Thinni]
Libya’s Supreme Court ruled on June 9 that parliament’s election of Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq a month ago was unconstitutional,. Maiteeq said he would accept the court decision, which reinstates Abdullah al-Thinni. Maiteeq comes from Misrata, a western coastal city where the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is strong but faces strong opposition in the east and in the western mountains.
Abdullah al-Thinni, who insists that he is still the rightful prime minister, has now decamped to the oil-rich eastern province of Cyrenaica with his cabinet and sections of that same congress.
Al-Thinni is now in talks with army officers allied to the renegade general Khalifa Haftar, in Cyrenaica’s capital, Benghazi, whose forces have for three weeks battled Islamist militias that he labels “terrorists”. “The support for Haftar is in essence support for institutions, not for individuals,” said Libyan journalist Mohamed Eljarh. “There is this movement in eastern Libya which has managed to bring lots of actors together.”
Tripoli, 6 June 2014:Two car bombs exploded early this morning outside the Tripoli home of Hashim Bishr, the former head of the Supreme Security Committee (SSC). The blast damaged six properties, including his own, wrecked 13 vehicles but caused no casualties.
In the first explosion at around 4am, a neighbouring electricity sub-station was severely damaged, cutting power to the locality. Minutes later, a second, more powerful device, planted in a white pick-up, was detonated in front of Bishr’s Suq Al-Juma home.
Suicide bombers are a disturbing shift in tactics in Libya “A suicide bomber in a vehicle packed with explosives attacked a villa where we had gathered,” said, General Adam Saqr Geroushi, who heads the air division Haftar has deployed in his attacks.
“Three of our soldiers were killed,” Jerushi said, adding that he had been “lightly wounded”.
Suicide bomber are a disturbing shift in tactics among radical jihadists in Libya. Many of them have been carried out by foreigners drawn to the conflict from across the region, including Tunisians, and from Europe.
Colonel Saad al-Werfelli, who commands the Benghazi air force base, said the jihadists “bombarded base 21 early on Monday, killing and wounding soldiers (from the elite unit) who were trapped inside”.
The air force retaliated by launching strikes on the assailants, added Werfelli, who along with the elite forces backs Haftar’s campaign against Islamists accused of repeated violence in Benghazi.
helicopter gunships flown by pilots loyal to the general have been bombing the base of the February 17 militia, as well as positions of another militia, the militant Ansar al-Shariah group, on the city’s western outskirts.
Libyan Air Force aircraft targeted a base in the eastern city of Benghazi of the February 17th Brigade, one of the main armed groups in the area.The brigade is a powerful force known for its close ties to the hardline Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Ansar al-Sharia’s commander Mohamed al-Zahawi described the military operations against his group and others in Benghazi as a “crusade”.
Islamists raided a U.S,training base outside Tripoli and stole hundreds of American-supplied weapons and vehicles. In Libya, the Pentagon has allotted just over $16 million from a train-and-equip fund to develop two companies of elite troops and their support elements “to counter terrorist and extremist threats in Libya,” according to budget documents. For the aborted training outside Tripoli, the Defense Department also tapped into a classified spending account called Section 1208, devised to aid foreign troops assisting American forces conducting counterterrorism missions.
In Tripoli, the most ambitious initial training ended ignominiously last August after a group of armed militia fighters overpowered a small Libyan guard force at a training base outside Tripoli and stole hundreds of American-supplied automatic weapons, night-vision goggles, vehicles and other equipment.
As a result, the training was halted and the American instructors were sent home. Libyan and American officials have been searching for a more secure training site in Libya to restart the program. But last summer’s debacle and the political upheaval in Libya since then have caused American officials to rethink how they select local personnel.
“You have to make sure of who you’re training,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, the commander of United States Army soldiers operating in Africa. “It can’t be the standard, ‘Has this guy been a terrorist or some sort of criminal?’ but also, ‘What are his allegiances? Is he true to the country, or is he still bound to his militia?’ ”
United States Special Operations troops are forming elite counterterrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa that American officials say are pivotal in the widening war against Al Qaeda’s affiliates and associates on the continent, even as they acknowledge the difficulties of working with weak allies.
The secretive program, financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending and carried out by trainers, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, was begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.
Speaking at the Stimson Center in Washington, US Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones said that the Barack Obama administration did not support and had no advance knowledge of Hifter’s actions . But she added that “it’s very difficult to step up and condemn” Hifter given that his forces are “going after very specific groups … on our list of terrorists.” “I am not going to come out and condemn blanketly what he did,”
As time went by, Haftar, who played a key role in toppling Gaddafi, has gained more allies than the biggest party in parliament. He also obtained support from the country’s minister of culture, the air force chief and Libyan ambassador to the United Nations.
He is kind of a ‘fumpy’ guy,” said one of the former US officials. “They tend to underestimate him. He’s a pretty tough old guy and he could win, whatever winning in Libya means.”
Heftar, like Sisi, is said to have the enthusiastic backing of the fiercely anti-Islamist United Arab Emirates, as does his ally, the former prime minister Mahmoud Jibril. Heftar even created a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – the same name used by the Egyptian military.
But Libya’s armed forces is not as strong as the Egyptian counterparts. Heftar is leading just another militia.”
The US is not backing Heftar, his current offensive should be seen as an audition for future US backing. By showing that he can take on the Islamist militias and win, he establishes himself as somebody the west cannot ignore.
Several government ministers, speaking on live television, accused the GNC of ignoring a recent government initiative calling for a freeze of parliament until the next elections – to defuse a political crisis. The congress had ignored a proposal to hold parliamentary elections at the end of June.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said on May 20 that 250 Marines as well as Osprey and C-130 aircraft have been deployed to Sicily and are ready for any evacuations from Libya.
Support is growing for Haftar’s so-called “Operation Dignity” because the government isn’t integrating former fighters into the army, excluding many for having served under Qaddafi. Colonel Ali Nalouti, who heads the Qaqaa brigade, part of a Zintan-led group that dominates sections of Tripoli, said:
“We are witnessing the formation of new Libyan national army. The war against terrorism and terrorists will continue. We will never let Libya be a base for those militants; we made a pledge and there’s no way going back.”
Conflicts in Libya, where oil production has slid to less than a fifth of its capacity, helped drive up the price of Brent crude by as much as 18 percent to $117.45 a barrel between April and August last year.Brent for July settlement was 7 cents lower at $110.48 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 9:32 a.m. local time. It settled at $110.55 yesterday, the highest closing price since March 3.
The outgoing cabinet of Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on May 19 called on the caretaker government to recess and re-organize the controversial election of the Prime Minister. The move aimed to save Libya from plunging into civil war.
An elite Libyan unit has joined Major General Khalifa Haftar, who accuses the government of backing al-Qaeda-inspired fighters as rising lawlessness in the nation’s two largest cities edges it closer to civil war. Colonel Wanis Abu Khamada, the commander of the country’s special forces, An elite Libyan unit , announced on May 19 that his troops would join Major General Khalifa Haftar’s operation targeting armed groups in Benghazi, the country’s second city.
The announcement came a day after gunmen stormed the General National Congress (GNC), the country’s parliament, in southern Tripoli.
It is easy to see why some have compared Haftar to Egypt’s former military chief and favourite in next week’s presidential election, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
Both have vowed to rid their countries of the Muslim Brotherhood, and both have shown that they will not shy away from the use of considerable force to achieve this goal.
A Libyan air force base in the eastern city of Tobruk on Monday joined the forces of a renegade general who had stormed the Libyan parliament to demand its suspension.
“The Torbuk air force base will join…the army under the command of General Khalifa Qassim Haftar,” a statement posted on social media said.
Staff at the air base confirmed its authenticity. Militias allied with a Major General Khalifa Haftar staged an attack on Libya’s parliament and declared it dissolved on May 19, in some of the worst fighting the capital has seen since the 2011 revolution. Haftar’s forces focused in particular on Ansar Sharia, an organisation designated by the US as a “terrorist” group. Former CIA Director David Petraeus is told House and Senate committees in 2012 that after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, it was suspected Ansar al Sharia was responsible.
Armed forces chief of staff Abdessalam Hadallah al-Salihin denied any army involvement in the Benghazi clashes, although he admitted that some officers and army units had defected to join Haftar.
The Tobruk air base development was significant as it was not clear how much backing Haftar’s men had within Libya’s nascent regular armed forces and the powerful brigades of former rebels who had toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Libya and evacuated its diplomats on May 19 as the North African country slid further into violence, with the government losing control of a second military airbase. On May 18, armed Islamists attacked Benina air base in Benghazi but no one was hurt, base commander Colonel Saad al-Werfalli said.
Libyan officials believe members of the al-Qaaqaa and Sawaaq militias – the largest in Tripoli – backed Hifter, even though they operate under a government mandate
Mokhtar Farnana, speaking on a Libyan television channel on behalf of Hifter’s group, said it had assigned a 60-member assembly to take over for parliament. Farnana said Libya’s current government would act as an emergency cabinet, but gave no further details.
Farnana, who is in charge of prisons operated by the military police, said forces loyal to Hifter had carried out Sunday’s attack. He insisted it was not a coup, but a battle by “the people’s choice”.
“We announce to the world that the country can’t be a breeding ground or an incubator for terrorism,” said Farnana, who wore a military uniform and sat in front of Libya’s flag
Major General Khalifa Haftar, who lived in exile in the United States before returning home to lead ground forces after the Arab Spring swept eastwards from Tunisia in the 2011 in the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. On May 16 his paramilitary force, backed by warplanes and helicopters, pounded Islamist fighters in Libya’s second biggest city, in clashes that killed at least 36 people and injured another 138.
By the night of May 18, those forces announced that the elected General National Congress was being replaced by an existing constitutional drafting committee. It was far from certain that the order would be observed. But the power grab threatened to send Libya hurtling into a full-blown civil war.
Tripoli residents and journalists reported heavy fighting, including rocket attacks and gunfights, in several central neighborhoods. Dozens of vehicles mounted with antiaircraft guns could be seen speeding toward the center of the capital from a southeastern suburb. Plumes of black smoke rose over the city.
It was unclear whether ex-general Khalifa Haftar commanded sufficient force to prevail in the showdown in Tripoli — the latest chapter in a struggle for power, land and resources that has raged in this oil-rich country since the fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi. The central government has struggled unsuccessfully to rein in scores of militias that emerged from the anti-Gaddafi uprising. In November 2011 about 150 officers from the former military gathered in the town of Baida to appoint Major General Khalifa Haftar as the new chief of staff in an attempt to pressure the NTC. The NTC was largely a composition of mysterious characters that had little presence within Libya’s national consciousness. Hifter found himself as the third man in the military ladder, which he accepted but apparently grudgingly so. more below.
Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) elected Ahmed Maetig as the country’s new prime minister to succeed Abdullah Al-Thinni. Maetig won 121 votes in the third round of voting on Sunday, which pitted him against Omar Al-Hassi, a university professor from Benghazi. In the first round of voting Maetig obtained 73 votes versus 43 for Al-Hassi. It was not until after some tough and bitter wrangling between the various blocs in the Libyan assembly that Maetig was able to garner the sufficient amount of votes, in a third round, to be named prime minister.
The newly appointed Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni is stepping down after he and his family were attacked by a militia on the road to the airport in Tripoli. Mr al-Thinni was only confirmed as PM last week after Ali Zeidan was sacked for failing to improve security.
Crude has been weakening as progress appears to be made in Libya, which has had about 1.3 million barrels a day off the market. News reports that a rebel group agreed with the Libyan government to give up its seizure of ports led to optimism Libyan oil will come back on the market.
The leader of a rebel group in eastern Libya has agreed to end its seizure of several oil-exporting ports within days, raising hopes of ending an eight-month stalemate with the government in Tripoli, agrees deal with government after three of its fighters released,.
The group’s leader Ibrahim Jathran told a rebel television channel his group had reached a solution benefiting “all honourable Libyans” and the people of Cyrenaica, the east’s historic name.
“This agreement will upset all those who don’t want the good for Libya and its people but it will make happy all national thinking Libyans. That’s important for us. That’s what we strive for,” Jathran said.
Abb-Rabbo al-Barassi, self-declared prime minister of the rebel group, told the Reuters news agency: “The oil port issue will be solved within days. We agreed on all issues with the government in Tripoli.”
A government delegation is expected to visit the group’s home base of Ajdabiya in eastern Libya within two days to hammer out the details, al-Barassi said.
Maj. Gen. Khalifa Hifter was announced by a military spokesman as the rebels’ new commander, only for the announcement to be dismissed by the National Transitional Council as false. The NTC was largely a composition of mysterious characters that had little presence within Libya’s national consciousness. Hifter found himself as the third man in the military ladder, which he accepted but apparently grudgingly so.
Arab and western media speak of illegal shipments of weapons arriving into various Libyan airports. The militias are growing in size. The central government is growing irrelevant. Jailbreaks are reported regularly. And Libyans find safety in holding on tighter to their tribal and clan affiliations.
Libyan defense minister Abdulah al-Thani was reported by local media as saying that a military coup had been foiled.
Thani said the coup was an attempt to oust Libya’s government and parliament, which are struggling to create a ruling military council after the country is awash with heavily-armed former rebels and Islamist militants who helped oust the former regime.
Khalifa Hiftar, the Libyan military commander who this morning called for the suspension of the interim parliament and the formation of a presidential committee to govern until new elections are held.
. After Gadhafi’s ouster, he was appointed army chief again, with a mandate to rebuild the forces, but he was removed soon after. He has been little seen since and it is not known how much support he has within the fragmented military or among militia or tribal factions — so it is not known if he has any backing for the calls he made in his video. The central government has little authority, and has been in turmoil for months. Islamist-led factions in parliament have been trying to oust the Western-backed Zidan, gave him until February 21 as an ultimatum to leave and the country’s powerful militias are divided, some lining up behind the prime minister, others backing his opponents in parliament. Esam Mohamed,The Associated Press
[January 07, 2012]
The promotion to army chief of staff of Yousef al-Mangoush, whose family originally hails from Misrata but has strong ties with the eastern city of Benghazi, should help alleviate some regional concerns. The largest and most influential tribe in eastern Libya is the Misurata tribe, which takes its name from the Misurata district in northwestern Libya. The tribe has particularly strong influence in the cities of Benghazi and Darneh.
Mr. Mangoush quit his career as an officer in Gadhafi’s army years ago, and rose to become one of the most prominent rebel commanders on the eastern front of the rebellion in 2011. Mangush was arrested in the oil town of Brega in April by Gaddafi’s forces and freed in late August following the fall of Tripoli. A former colonel in Moamer Kadhafi’s military has been appointed as the new chief of staff of the Libyan army, The U.S. has offered advice and support on the process of establishing a central security force, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on January 3. The new Libya still has no real army and police force worthy of the name. Under public pressure, the Libyan government, began a process of dismantling armed groups; it is envisaged the integration of former rebels in the short term in the army forces and ex-combatants need safety services whose number is evaluated in tens of thousands. Observers all agree on the fact that it will take to the new Libyan authorities very hard to create a secure environment in the post Gaddafi Libya. In November about 150 officers from the former military gathered in the town of Baida to appoint Major General Khalifa Haftar as the new chief of staff in an attempt to pressure the NTC, but his appointment was never made official.