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Showing posts from September, 2016

Libyan High State Council makes controversial decision

In a rather bizarre move the State Council of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord(GNA) has said that it will take over full legislative authority of the GNA until the House of Representatives (HoR) votes confidence in the GNA.

According to the Libya Herald,the Council declared what it terms the "non-existence" of the HoR as it was envisaged by the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). What this seems to mean is simply that the HoR has not yet voted confidence in the GNA. It has twice rejected the GNA as presented to it. It has met many times to vote without achieving a quorum and had two meetings disrupted without a vote. The last rejection was on August 22nd and a new cabinet was to have been presented long ago with several weeks having passed since the deadline. A recent statement by over 20 countries on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) website, reaffirms the position of most of the international community that the HoR remains the sole legiti…

General Khalifa Haftar criticizes UN envoy Martin Kobler

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The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) , Martin Kobler, has been criticized by Khalifa Haftar and Ageela Saleh president of the House of Representatives (HoR) and rival government to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
The two said that Kobler also chief of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, was a failure and should be fired. Haftar told the Egyptian news source Al Ahram that Kobler was "meddling in very sensitive issues." Haftar has repeatedly refused requests by Kobler to meet with him. Nevertheless Kobler has gone ahead arranging meetings to try and accommodate Haftar and have him approve the GNA. Haftar said that he respected the UN and secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. In the east especially, there have been demonstrations supporting the seizure of four Oil Crescent oil ports by Haftar and his Libyan National Army. The demonstrators were particularly angered that some EU states and the U.S. had condemned the seizure. There was a…

Nine children killed in bombing by unidentified aircraft in southwestern Libya

At least nine civilians including children and women were killed and twenty wounded in an air strike by unidentified war planes near an oasis town in central Libya according to a hospital doctor and local officials.
 1 of 2 The strikes were near the town ofHoun or Hun.the capital of the Jufra district of southwest Libya. The town is 240 km south of Sirte, and 272 km north of Sabha. In the area armed groups from forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) but also from General Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) loyal to the eastern HoR government both operate. A spokesperson for the LNA said that the planes were from the western city of Misrata loyal to the GNA who meant to target an LNA brigade that had recently been in the area. But a spokesperson for the Misrata air force denied the claim saying that planes only carried out reconnaissance in the coastal area. An eyewitness from Houn said residents heard war planes overhead before learning that civilians had been hit …

Were there deliberate attempts to sabotage the Russian US peace deal?

The recent ceasefire negotiated by John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, created tension between the U.S. Pentagon and the Department of State.

Many in the U.S. military are quite distrustful of Russia. Ironically, apart from some violations of the ceasefire by both sides, the bombing of Syrian forces at Deir ez-Zor that killed over 60 Assad forces and allowed the Islamic State to temporarily seize a key hill overlooking the airport held by the Assad government was the first very serious challenge to the ceasefire. The U.S. claimed that the attacks were a mistake but many Russian sources immediately accused the U.S. of deliberately attacking the troops because they oppose the Assad government to such a degree that they are even willing to help the Islamic State against Assad forces. The situation was not helped by the subsequent Security Council meeting in which the U.S. envoy to the UN called the Russian call for an emergency meeting …

General Haftar beats back counter attack on Libyan oil ports and advances towards Sirte

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Forces of the Petroleum Facilities Guard(PFG) headed by Ibrahim Jodhran, retreated from Es Sidra and Ras Lanuf just a few hours after having retaken them from General Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) forces.
The counter-attack was repulsedwith air attacksthat appear to be by foreign airplanes. The PFG accused Egypt and the UAE of carrying out the bombings. They said four PFG fighers were killed. Defence Minister Al-Mihdi Al-Baraghati said: “There are strong indications that UAE and Egyptian warplanes have bombed PFG forces in Ras Lanuf and Sidra, we are now making sure of these indications”. Mohamad Ibset, a spokesperson for Haftar's forces confirmed that there had been a counter-attack by the PFG at least on Ras Lanuf but did not mention El Sidra that the PFG also claim to have attacked. Spokesperson for the PFG, Ali al-Hassi claimed: “We attacked Al-Sidra and Ras Lanuf, and Haftar’s forces are trying to hit us with their warplanes.” The clashes halted the first loa…

Islamic State in Libya still resisting in one last district in Sirte

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While there have been many announcements of the final battle to liberate Sirte from the remnants of the Islamic State(IS) there are a few IS fighters still holding out in one small area of the city.
Earlier, it had been predicted that the battle would be over before the Eid celebrations. It was not to be. Now that the holiday is over a renewed push to finish the job appears to be taking place. The forces of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous (Solid Structure or BAM) are allied with the UN-supported Government of National Accord. The majority of the fighters are with brigades from the city of Misrata. Since August 1st, the BAM forces have been supported by air strikes by the U.S. as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning. The operation was extended for thirty days at the beginning of September. There are also a few special forces from the U.S. and the U.S. is providing logistical and other assistance to the BAM forces. A Reuters report claims that two were killed in clashes today and six wounded accord…

National Reconciliation Conference suffers from divisions

A National Reconciliation Conference was held in the city of Nalut in western Libya near the Tunisian border. The conference was sponsored by the Nalut City Council.
 1 of 2The conference attracted about one thousand delegates from throughout Libya. According to Wikipedia:"Nalut is the capital of the Nalut District[4] in Libya. Nalut lies approximately halfway between Tripoli and Ghadames, at the western end of the Nafusa Mountains coastal range, in the Tripolitania region." It is a Berber community. The conference got off to a rocky start on Friday when a number of delegates objected that the national anthem was not played or the Libyan flag displayed. Organizers explained that the opening was held in a mosque where it was thought to be inappropriate to display the national flag and sing the national anthem. The solution was to break up into smaller meetings in the homes of their hosts. According to a tweet: "2/4 Objections by supporters of former regime to start confer…

Canadian debt greater than GDP in second quarter this year

Canadian household debt's ratio to household income rose to a record high in the second quarter according to statistics just released by Statistics Canada.
The report is likely to raise concerns that Canadian consumers are overborrowing. Statistics show that the ratio of household debt to disposable household income rose to 169.85 percent from 167.37 percent in the first quarter. For every dollar of disposable income, Canadians are spending $1.70. The ratio of household debt to gross domestic product rose to 100,54 per cent compared to 98.7 percent in the first quarter. This means the total household debt during the quarter was slightly greater than the value of GDP during the quarter. The long period of low interest rates after the financial crisis have encouraged Canadians to take on more debt. This is especially true with respect to buying homes, with the result that prices have shot up in most markets. In markets such as Vancouver or Toronto houses are simply too expensive for…

Meetings in Cairo to discuss plans for a new unity government

Faiez Serraj, who is the Prime Minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is meeting in Cairo with Ageelah Saleh, president of the rival House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk.
Reportedly,the two are attempting to come up with a government lineup that is acceptable to GNA and HoR. Saleh, who is sanctioned by the EU and US for obstructing the vote of confidence in the LPA, wants a down-sized government acceptable to each side. The HoR had earlier rejected a government with 30 ministers. On August 22 they rejected a government of 17 ministers and asked that the GNA return with a government with only 8 ministers. The deadline given for the presentation has long passed. No one even bothers to mention this anymore. According to Ramzi Ramieh, a Libyan military analyst, the talks are centered on building a tightly knit government of under a dozen people. Ramieh said that Saleh and Serraj were trying to form a government with a three-member defense council, includin…

Leaked documents show pervasive influence of money in Wisconsin politics

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Documents leaked to the Guardian comprising 1,500 pages collected as part of a probe, the John Doe files, were evidence gathered by prosecutors to show alleged irregularities in political fundraising.
The documents point towards the pervasive influence of cash, corporate and otherwise, in the political process in Wisconsin. However the Wisconsin Supreme Courtlast year found that the documents do not show that anything illegal was done: On July 16, 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4–2 that Walker did not illegally collaborate with conservative groups during the recall campaigns. Writing for the majority in the case, Justice Michael Gableman stated: “To be clear, this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law,” he said, “Consequently, the investigation is closed.”[121] Not satisfied simply in ruling there was no illegality, the court also ordered that all the documents gathered during the investi…

General Haftar turns control of seized ports to National Oil Company

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The four export ports in Libya's Oil Crescent seized by Libyan general Khalifa Haftar were turned over to the Libyan National Oil Company based in Tripoli.
General Haftar launched Operation Surprise Lightning on September 11. With little resistance, Haftar's forces ended up in control of four ports: Ras Lanuf, Es Sidra, Zuwetina, and Brega. Haftar subsequently turned over control of the ports to the Tripoli-Based NOC. I believe that the situation as it is now is the result of an agreement between the head of the NOC Mustafa Sanalla and Haftar. The agreement I believe was along the following lines. Haftar would seize the ports that were under the control of the Petroleum Forces Guards a group whose leader Ibrahim Jodhran Sanalla hates. He had vehemently criticized the deal between the GNA and Jadhran even though Jadhran, unlike Haftar, accepted the authority of the GNA. In return, Haftar would agree to turn over the ports to the control of the NOC. As a reward for doing so, the…

US Russia cease fire agreement caused tension between State Dept. and Pentagon

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The deal between Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Russia for a ceasefire in Syria has increased the tension between Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
The cease-fire agreement took effect at sundown last Monday. Although violence has been reduced, there have been a number of violations and problems. The situation was not improved byAssad sayinghe intended to recapture all areas of Syria. Carter had been one of several administration officials who argued against the agreement in a conference call with the White House that included Kerry. President Obama eventually approved the agreement after a long debate. However, Pentagon officials were not convinced. Pentagon officials would not even agree to the proposal that if violence ceases for a week, the next day the U.S. and Russia would share information on Islamic State targets in Syria. Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of the United State Air Forces Central Command said: “I’m not saying yes or no. It would be pr…

Libyan state oil company releases positive statement after seizure of oil wells by General Haftar

The seizure of the four oil export ports in the Libyan Oil Crescent has resulted in a positive statement from the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation in contrast to the response of the UN which complained it could hinder expansion of exports.
The Tripoli-based National Oil Company(NOC) said that it would begin work immediately to restart exports from Oil Crescent ports. NOC chair Mustafa Sanalla said: “We welcome statements from the Libyan National Army allied with House of Representatives and the president of the HoR, Aguila Saleh, that the ports should be placed under NOC’s control, our technical teams already started assessing what needs to be done to lift force majeure and restart exports as soon as possible. As Libyans we have a common interest in keeping our oil flowing. By raising oil production and exports we can reduce our budget deficit and pay for vital services.” There are actually two NOC's one based in Tripoli and associated with the UN-backed Government of Nationa…

UN envoy's statement to the UN security council on the situation in Libya

Martin Kobler, the UN envoy to Libya, briefed the UN Security Council today on the situation in Libya after forces of General Khalifa Haftar seized four oil ports from the Petroleum Forces Guard (PFG).

After the meeting Kobler issued a statement on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) website. The statement has much more information and detail than many of Kobler's statements.Kobler said that he wanted to brief the council on four points: the worrying security situation; the political momentum created by the recent decision of the House of Representatives; the need for national reconciliation; and the failing economy. For once, Kobler actually mentions Haftar: On the eve of Eid Al Adha, the fragile peace in Libya’s Oil Crescent has suffered a fierce blow when units of the Libyan National Army under the command of General Khalifa Haftar attacked the oil terminals and ports in the Oil Crescent area. This area was under the control of forces loyal to the Presidency Co…