Author Topic: Libya  (Read 160242 times)

Crafty_Dog

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Al Sisi of Egypt opines
« Reply #400 on: March 17, 2016, 07:08:44 AM »
 Libya

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi doesn’t think it’s such a good idea for western powers to get involved militarily in Libya, but if they want to do something, they should send arms and supplies to Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army, which is linked to the internationally recognized government based in the eastern city of Tobruk. The group can fight back against ISIS "much better than anyone else," he told an Italian newspaper, "better than any external intervention that would risk putting us in a situation that could get out of hand and provoke uncontrollable developments." American commandos have been in and out of Libya for months, trying to assess what militias would be the best to throw American support behind, should a national government over form in Tripoli.


Crafty_Dog

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Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: Hillary has no regrets about Libya
« Reply #404 on: April 22, 2016, 05:19:18 PM »
http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/14/hillary-clinton-has-no-regrets-about-libya/



 interesting, it was Obama's, admitted, greatest failure, trusting Hillary / having no plan for the aftermath in Libya.  (Chris Wallace interview)

Crafty_Dog

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FP:
« Reply #405 on: June 22, 2016, 09:00:11 AM »
Libya in flames. At least 34 Libyan pro-government militiamen were killed on Tuesday and about 100 wounded in heavy fighting with Islamic State militants as they continued their push on the ISIS stronghold of Sirte. Fighters from the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) began attacking ISIS positions late last month, and have hemmed several thousand ISIS holdouts into an ever-shrinking pocket, but the fighting is far from over. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Tuesday that “it’s a complicated situation right now,” in Libya, but the United States is eager for the internationally-backed GNA “to take hold” and put down some roots.

So, what’s the American plan in Libya? Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the White House's nominee to take the helm at Africa Command, says there isn’t one. Asked during his confirmation hearing Tuesday by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain what Washington’s strategy in Libya is, Waldhauser replied, "I am not aware of any overall grand strategy at this point.”

Waldhauser also pushed back against the Obama administration's resistance to carrying out more airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Libya. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Waldhauser whether the White House's stance makes sense, to which the general responded, "no, it does not." Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook later told reporters that the situation in Libya is "complicated" and that "If the Libyans can do it on their own, that would be a good thing."


Crafty_Dog

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ccp

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DOJ drops case against arms dealer
« Reply #408 on: October 05, 2016, 09:08:10 AM »
When he threatens to expose more information of Hillary lying and other information that may "embarrass" her and the not so great one.

I am not clear why brocks' DOJ was going after this gut to start with unless they were trying to make him a scapegoat.  Seems he turned the tables:

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/marc-turi-libyan-rebels-hillary-clinton-229115

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Russians moving into Libya
« Reply #409 on: March 25, 2017, 10:02:56 AM »
Baraq-Hillary smart power at work:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-official-sounds-alarm-on-russia-libya-role-1490458620


By Laurence Norman
March 25, 2017 12:17 p.m. ET
0 COMMENTS

BRUSSELS—Russia’s role in Libya is causing growing concern at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a senior official said Saturday, with the Kremlin appearing to throw its support behind Gen. Khalifa Haftar, a rival of the United Nations-backed coalition government in Tripoli.

“I am very concerned about Russian forces seemingly gathering to influence the situation there. It troubles me very much,” said Rose Gottemoeller, a deputy secretary general at NATO.

Speaking at the Brussels Forum annual foreign policy conference, she noted that Russia had backed the United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at gathering international support behind the fragile national unity government. However, she said it seemed that “there was a decision made in the Kremlin to simply toss out that” resolution.
–– ADVERTISEMENT ––

“The fact that they have turned to the General now—to General Haftar—and they’re putting an emphasis on working with him…that’s not the attempt at establishing a government of national unity that was established by the UN Security Council resolution,” she told reporters later.

European countries have lobbied Russia to use its influence with Gen. Haftar, who has received support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to get him to reconcile with the UN-backed Tripoli Government of National Accord, led by Faiez Serraj.

“I actually hope we could get Russia to recommit to the UN Security Council resolution,” Ms. Gottemoeller said. “They voted for it and they are a respected member of the UN Security Council. Why are they suddenly heading off in another direction?”

Gen. Haftar, seen by critics as a would-be autocrat in the mold of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has traveled to Moscow twice in the past eight years and has requested weaponry, people close to the Kremlin have said, despite a U.N. arms embargo.

Moscow says it maintains contact with all sides in Libya in the interest of finding a political solution to divisions in the country. Russia has denied that it has sent any Russian soldiers to aid Gen. Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which controls much of the eastern part of the country.

Ms. Gottemoeller cited media reports suggesting Russia was building up forces in Egypt, near Libya. The Russian Defense Ministry declined to comment on her remarks.

Washington has largely kept its distance from Gen. Haftar, who has had links to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and was part of an effort to oust Gadhafi in the late 1980s.

U.S. forces in Libya have focused on fighting Islamic State. They have conducted aerial strikes and last year U.S.-backed forces ousted Islamic State from the coastal city of Sirte, the group’s stronghold.

The Government of National Accord sent a request to NATO in February for help to improve its security and defenses.

NATO had agreed at a summit last year that it would offer support to the government, which Europe wants as a bulwark against migration from the North African country.

Ms. Gottemoeller said the alliance is “looking for ways to help” build up national institutions in the country, possibly through training the national army. NATO is also working with the EU in a naval operation in the Mediterranean to help fight migrant-smuggling gangs.

—Thomas Grove in Moscow contributed to this article.

Write to Laurence Norman at laurence.norman@wsj.com

Crafty_Dog

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Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: The UN in Libya
« Reply #411 on: September 22, 2017, 05:31:31 AM »
It is not for a lack of trying, but the United Nations has struggled to resolve the Libyan conflict. In 2015, the United Nations brokered a unity deal — the Libyan Political Agreement — between the country's two rival governments, the General National Congress in Tripoli and the House of Representatives, which had fled the capital city a year earlier to set up shop in the eastern city of Tobruk. Instead of unifying the country's governments and bridging its largely east-west divide, however, the U.N. peace process created a third government, the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which the House of Representatives never joined.

Negotiations have continued since — albeit intermittently — and many of the underlying disputes among the country's various factions remain unresolved. On Sept. 20 at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, the newly appointed U.N. special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, announced a plan that would kick off a new round of negotiations to resolve some of the lingering disputes. Salame's plan has three phases and is designed to organize elections and a constitutional referendum within a year in what will be an exceedingly difficult task in the fractious country.
A Proposal to Start Again, in Three Steps

First, Salame will convene a drafting committee next week at the United Nations to modify the Libyan Political Agreement. It is unclear whom Salame will select for this committee. Next, a national conference will be held in Tunis to bring Libya's stakeholders together to discuss their ideas for peace and their concerns. Salame said that both the House of Representatives and the State Council, the Government of National Accord's parliamentary body, will need to attend the national conference, as well as those Libyans who feel they have not been adequately represented by either parliament. At the conference, new members of the Government of National Accord's Presidency Council, which currently is led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and functions as its executive branch, would be elected.

After the conference, the House of Representatives and the Constitutional Drafting Assembly, which was elected in 2014 and finally voted on a draft constitution earlier this year, would work together to organize a constitutional referendum, plus presidential and parliamentary elections. Salame's timetable from drafting committee to national conference to scheduling a referendum and elections is ambitious — within a year. The envoy's three-step plan also includes a number of points and goals that would be addressed. These issues are likely to be the plan's finer sticking points and likely will determine whether the agreement and process can help resolve the crisis.
The Challenge of the Commander

One of the most controversial aspects of the Libyan Political Agreement has to do with determining the role of Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Hifter. Hifter's forces, which the House of Representatives nominally support, control more than half of Libya, including most of the country's vital oil and gas fields and its ports and infrastructure in the south and east. Hifter's troops have been instrumental in reclaiming Benghazi from jihadists, but Hifter is deeply disliked by many in western Libya. He practically invaded the country with the support of Egypt and a few Gulf Cooperation Council states when he announced a coup against the government in Tripoli in February 2014. After the House of Represntatives fled to Tobruk later that year, it entered into a marriage of convenience with Hifter, and his forces fought Islamist militias in western Libya and militias formed in Misrata, on Libya's Mediterranean coast.

The two sides largely stopped fighting one another in 2015 to confront the Islamic State, which had begun to emerge in the vacuum their fighting created, and in parallel with the U.N.-led peace process, but the distrust and animosity between them remains. Libya's Islamists view Hifter as a secular figure in the mold of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, given that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, another anti-Islamist Arab state, back Hifter financially and politically. Islamists struggle with the idea of Hifter having any role in a unified government. His actions and statements have not changed many of their minds, and he and the Libyan National Army frequently have lumped Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood together with the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups. Some of Libya's more moderate Islamists may have warmed to the idea of Hifter having a role in a unified government, and western Libya's Salafists may have accepted him also because Salafist militias are a critical part of his army, but the more hard-line Islamists in Libya have not. Others in western Libya, including some Misrata militias, also have warmed up to Hifter, but many worry that he is just another strongman in the mold of Moammar Gadhafi, a figure who wants to centralize power and rule as an authoritarian.

Successfully navigating the controversy surrounding Hifter is critical for the peace process, not only because the House of Representatives is key to achieving peace, but also because the Libyan National Army remains one of the best-equipped and most effective armed groups in the conflict. Hifter's forces do not have the ability to take over the country by force, but their strength gives him tremendous negotiating power and ensures that he will not be marginalized. One of the amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement being discussed would remove the power of the Presidency Council to appoint and dismiss military commanders and give it to the House of Representatives. This change likely would lead to Hifter's appointment as supreme military commander and would block a head of state — such as Serraj — from removing him. This modification to the agreement would prompt substantial complaints and perhaps even rejections from many of the armed groups and political leaders in Libya's west. Hifter also has been preparing himself for a potential presidential bid, a candidacy that many politicians and armed factions in the west would reject, even if he received the necessary votes.
Barriers to Reconciliation

Many Libyans are frustrated with the impasse. Serraj's popularity and support has waned, and he has been criticized as monopolizing power within the Presidency Council, which was designed to create a balance among different interest groups. A measure of the strength of the political forces left out in the cold will come Sept. 25, the date when Basit Igtet, a former presidential candidate who has ties to Libya's Islamists, has called for nationwide protests against both Serraj and Hifter. Already, rival militias have come out either for or against the protest. And therein lies another key problem for Libya's political reconciliation.

Any result of the political negotiations will be difficult to implement. Libya's militias, whose alignments or views are as varied as the political factions they support, remain a complicating force. When the Libyan revolution began in 2011, armed groups sprouted up seemingly overnight: In Misrata alone, more than 250 militias, totaling an estimated 40,000 members, emerged. The vast majority of Libya's political participants — particularly those in the west — do not control the militias, many of which are still armed and active. Any successful peace settlement will need to include a program to demobilize them or integrate them into the military or police forces.

Salame's plan, while noble, will be a tall order to fill, especially with its expedited timeline and given the devolved nature of Libya's militias and the diverse set of interest groups. While the United Nations, as well as Egypt, Tunisia, France, Russia, Italy, Algeria and others, can put into place a mechanism for dialogue to try to end the Libyan civil war, only Libyans have the power to drive Libya toward peace. And right now, that remains its biggest challenge.

DougMacG

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Slave auctions in Libya, thanks to Hillary, Obama.
« Reply #412 on: November 27, 2017, 12:05:07 PM »
Her failure in Libya is affecting our options elsewhere.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/11/27/clinton-ponders-2020-run-lets-not-forget-her-real-libya-scandal-glenn-reynolds-column/895853001/

'We came, we saw, he died,' she joked. But overthrowing Gadhafi was a humanitarian and strategic debacle that now limits our options on North Korea.

Footage from Libya, released recently by CNN, showed young men from sub-Saharan Africa being auctioned off as farm workers in slave markets.

And how did we get to this point? As the BBC reported back in May, “Libya has been beset by chaos since NATO-backed forces overthrew long-serving ruler Col. Moammar Gadhafi in October 2011.”

Glenn Reynolds

« Last Edit: November 27, 2017, 02:57:22 PM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Nice work Hillary
« Reply #413 on: June 04, 2018, 02:51:38 AM »
    Despite a commitment by rival Libyan leaders to hold elections in December, the country's factions remain far apart on key issues, making the vote unlikely.
    Some factions already have rejected aspects of the unity talks, and the agreement does not resolve the key differences that have persisted in Libya for years.
    To hold elections without near-universal support from the most heavily armed factions risks a breakdown in the shaky national cease-fire.
    France, competing with Italy for influence in Libya, is betting it can shepherd the elections through the tumult and manage the risk of a cease-fire collapse.

Almost a year after French President Emmanuel Macron tried unsuccessfully to guide Libya through its political chaos and to elections, he has launched another attempt. On May 29 in Paris, Macron hosted four rival Libyan leaders in hopes of bridging the gaps among them, just as he'd tried to do in July 2017. This time, the Libyans agreed to determine by Sept. 16 which version of the constitution the elections would be held under and to hold presidential and parliamentary balloting — the first since June 2014 — by Dec. 10.

But the same rifts that existed during the Paris negotiations last year remain today, and the same obstacles to organizing elections are also still present. The chances for success are low, and elections pushed by the West could end up being rejected by large swaths of the country. They could also lead to a more unstable Libya.
The Big Picture

More than seven years have passed since the fall of longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi amid civil war, and nearly four years have gone by since Libya descended into a second civil war. The West and the United Nations have pushed for the country's rival governments to put aside their differences, hold national elections and unify institutions. But pushing the process prematurely risks causing the very thing it seeks to prevent: instability.
See The Libyan Civil War
Enduring Problems

It is hard to understate the complexity of the Libyan political environment. The country has two competing national parliaments, three men claiming to be prime minister, two central banks, two national oil companies and a myriad of groups armed to the teeth. On top of that, each major political faction, from the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west to the organizations linked to Khalifa Hifter in the east, is deeply fragmented, and each subgroup has its own agenda and a shifting willingness to work with the others. But the most contentious issue remains Hifter — the field marshal of the Libyan National Army — and the unification of the country's military.

Resentment toward Hifter in the western part of Libya runs deep. In 2014, he declared a coup against the government in Tripoli, which had the support by the port city of Misrata and the country's Islamist parties, saying it had overstayed its time in office. Because he was powerless in Tripoli, he launched "Operation Dignity" in the country's east, attacking Islamists and jihadists alike in cities such as Benghazi. During this time, Misrata and its military leadership helped support various Islamist groups in Benghazi against Hifter. He has not forgotten their involvement and rejects working with any of the western Libya's Islamists and a large slice of the Misratans.

Talks to unify the country's militias under Hifter continue in Egypt, but the idea has not been received positively in the east. He doesn't have the support of Misrata's military council, one of the country's most powerful military organizations, either. In addition, militias from the town of Zintan in the Nafusa Mountains in northwestern Libya — while once loosely allied with Hifter — have their own military commanders who see themselves as rivals to the field marshal.

Parliamentary leaders in Tripoli are also uneasy about talks with Hifter. They reject his insistence on treating political Islamists and more hard-line, sometimes violent jihadists equally. Khalid al-Mishri, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected to lead the High Council of the State in April. He was one of the four key Libyan leaders invited to the meeting with Macron, but afterward he rejected the idea of Hifter becoming the leader of the military.

 
A chart shows how the number of governments in Libya have grown

Another enduring problem arises from Libya's competing constitutions. In 2014, Libyans elected an assembly to draft a new constitution for a referendum, and in July 2017, it came up with a solution. However, one hasty change over foreign citizenship added at the last minute allowed Hifter to be eligible to run for president. A referendum on that constitution before a December election is key. Hifter may insist on one so he could become eligible for the presidency. On the other hand, Aguila Saleh, speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR), one of the rival governments, has supported using the 1951 constitution, which has stronger language for a federal political model and would prevent Hifter from running.

While there is still hope that Libya will finally set an election date, the country has flirted before with elections with no results, as happened after the agreement by GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Hifter in February 2017 to hold a vote by the end of March 2018. In this and other previous instances, negotiations would break down over the choice of which constitution or agreement to use to hold the elections. The same is likely to be true of the election hopes this time. The key sticking points remain: Who is the commander in chief? Who has the authority to remove the military commander (the parliament or the president) under certain circumstances? How much political power should be shifted to the local level?
Power and Rivalries in Motion

Any plans for completing elections by the end of 2018 will also be complicated by changes in the balance of national power. The greatest shifts are happening in the west. One year ago, the Tripoli-based GNA headed by al-Sarraj was on life support, and the city could be described as a mix of militias, several of them nominally supporting him. The real political power resided with the militias of Misrata and their political allies Ahmed Maiteeq — al-Sarraj's deputy — and then-High Council of the State Speaker Abdulrahman Swehli.

Since then, power has shifted there in three ways. First, a few powerful militias more closely aligned with the GNA have largely taken control of Tripoli, and al-Sarraj gave the Rada Special Deterrence Forces a sweeping mandate in May. This has pushed Misrata's militia influence out of the city. Second, the Misratan militias have pulled out of Fezzan, a province in Libya's south, reducing Misrata's national influence. Finally, al-Mishri, a Tripolitian, defeated Swehli in the election for the High Council of the State while al-Sarraj has consolidated power against Maiteeq in the Presidential Council. This has marginalized Misrata's political influence in the western bloc.

This marginalization and the rising cohesion of Tripoli have pushed Misrata to seek allies among some of its former foes, including the militias from Zintan, which also risk being excluded from the national dialogue. While a few leaders from both cities were present in Paris, they were not prominent in talks. Tellingly, 13 militias from Libya's west — including the Misrata Military Council and the Zintan Military Council — issued a joint statement on May 29 rejecting the Paris talks. If their interests are not taken into account, they have the ability and means to disrupt and prevent elections, or even launch another civil war.

 

The rising cohesion of Tripoli and the marginalization of Misrata have pushed it to seek allies among some former foes, including the militias from Zintan, who also risk being excluded from the national dialogue.

In the east, political power is also shifting in the competition between its two key leaders, Hifter and Saleh, the HoR speaker. Hifter's clan and tribe have sought to consolidate and institutionalize military control over the east at the expense of Saleh and other tribes. This has made Saleh far more supportive of talks with al-Mishri. Saleh also tried to replace Hifter with an ally while the field marshal was in Paris for medical treatment in April. Saleh controls the House of Representatives, which will need to pass electoral laws and legislation to hold the national elections. But the HoR's four-year mandate ends Aug. 4, and Hifter could try to declare the body irrelevant after then. He tried to do the same with the Tripoli-based government in 2014 and the GNA under al-Sarraj after its two-year mandate expired in December 2017.
French Ambitions

For France, and the United Nations, solving the political crisis in Libya would have its own rewards. Unifying the country's institutions would help in the fight against extremist groups. Though the Islamic State was pushed out of its Libyan stronghold in Sirte in December 2016, it has resurfaced in a big way in 2018. It made its first terrorist attack in Tripoli since 2015 when it assaulted the election commission's headquarters on May 2. It has also conducted a string of bombings at checkpoints in the Oil Crescent region.

Of course, France is well aware of the risks of its strategy. It is taking a wider approach this time than it did in 2017 in response to accusations that it had been been too supportive of Hifter in the past. It hopes that its influence will limit the risk of a breakout in fighting. It is also trying to bring in more stakeholders from inside and outside of Libya. But the election timeline is also driven by its competition with Italy for influence in Libya and the rest of North Africa.

In the past, Rome has strongly backed western Libya's groups. Its influence, however, has waned in Tripoli because many of the ties it had built up were with Misrata. In addition, the Paris conference was announced just a week before it was held — as Italy was distracted by its own political crisis. France undoubtedly saw the Italian mess as an opportunity to entrench itself as the leading European power directing the Libyan political dialogue.

Nonetheless, the talks and elections are a gamble with Libya's future. Unity could help stabilize its economy, wrecked by the nearly four years of fighting, and finally unlock the financial relief needed to rebuild it. But the country's divisions remain deep, and many stakeholders are not truly on board with the plan. While Saleh, al-Mishri, Hifter and al-Sarraj all made the necessary photo-ops with Macron, once they returned to Libya, each cast doubt on the process and on their ability to work with one another. Moreover, the powerful militias in Misrata and Zintan — as well as most of the region of Fezzan — do not have an obvious role in the dialogue. This exclusion risks undermining any elections, and it also increases the probability that even if they are held, they will be widely rejected.

 

DougMacG

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Re: Stratfor: Nice work Hillary
« Reply #414 on: June 04, 2018, 09:27:32 AM »
"It is hard to understate the complexity of the Libyan political environment. The country has two competing national parliaments, three men claiming to be prime minister, two central banks, two national oil companies and a myriad of groups armed to the teeth. On top of that, each major political faction, from the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west to the organizations linked to Khalifa Hifter in the east, is deeply fragmented, and each subgroup has its own agenda..."

Are you implying that after all we learned in Iraq, we didn't do enough planning for the aftermath of our next intervention?  Maybe these questions would have come out in the Congressional Authorization debates (a constitutional requirement that Bush called for and Obama didn't).  Ooops.  A "scandal free" Presidency... proven wrong a thousand times over.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Libya Civil War- the fight for Tripoli
« Reply #415 on: April 08, 2019, 03:27:47 PM »
 

What a Fight for Tripoli Could Mean for Libya's Future

Highlights
•   An offensive against Tripoli by the Libyan National Army (LNA) has bogged down in the capital's outskirts, increasing the risk that the conflict will become protracted.
•   Militias from Tripoli and Misrata are presenting a united front against the Khalifa Hifter-led LNA, whose supply lines from its main base of operations in Benghazi are in danger of becoming overextended.
•   The militias supporting the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord lack a unified command structure, giving Hifter the opportunity to peel individual units away from the GNA's defense.
•   Prospects for the U.N.-sponsored conference planned for April 14-16 to negotiate a national unity government appear dim, but both sides retain an incentive to control valuable territory in Libya's west should dialogue restart in the future.
________________________________________
The conflict in Libya has entered a new phase. Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter has sent his Libyan National Army on the offensive in Tripoli, sparking open warfare with the competing Government of National Accord (GNA) for the first time in about four years. After Hifter announced his offensive on Tripoli on April 4, the LNA quickly seized control of Garyan, a city about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital, and Tripoli International Airport. Its advance, however, quickly bogged down, and in subsequent fighting, it lost control of the airport to GNA-aligned militias.
The Big Picture
________________________________________
After four years of a cease-fire among Libya's rival factions, open conflict has returned to Libya. Fighting surrounding Tripoli has not yet affected Libya's oil production, but a protracted conflict would make it more likely that the Libyan National Army will take the country's oil exports offline to try to starve the Government of National Accord in Tripoli of a major funding source. If the fighting drags on, the risks of a return to a full-on civil war increase.
________________________________________
The Libyan Civil War
With their forward progress halted, it's unlikely that Hifter's forces will be able to take full control of the capital any time soon, leading to a high probability that the battle will become a protracted affair. Here are some critical points to consider as the conflict continues.
Can the LNA Sustain Its Operations?
It appears as if Hifter believed that a surprise attack would have allowed his LNA to consolidate control of key positions in Tripoli before the disparate pro-GNA militias could coalesce and respond to his offensive. Hifter had also likely hoped that alliances with some local forces would have helped the LNA hold territory and sustain its offensive, given his army's success in following this pattern as it spread south and east from its strongholds in eastern Libya: It would move in quickly to seize territory, then secure support from local allies to help hold it.
But this strategy will not work in Tripoli. The militias from Tripoli and nearby Misrata, which is also pro-GNA, are the most well-trained and best-equipped opposition that the LNA has faced thus far. The Misratan militias, for example, possess caches of arms and equipment that they confiscated from the army of former leader Moammar Ghadafi during Libya's 2011 civil war. They have also been provided with additional support and training over the years as they helped fight Islamic State militants. After all, it was Misrata's al-Bunyan al-Marsous militia collective, not Hifter's LNA, that defeated the Islamic State in its stronghold of Sirte in 2016. And because the fighting is in their backyard, those militias do not have long supply lines to protect, freeing their forces to move quickly as necessary.

For Hifter to find success in this conflict, he will need to figure out how to protect his forces' supply lines, which stretch across hundreds of kilometers of desert to his base of operations near Benghazi. The LNA's biggest weakness had been the size of its forces relative to the large swaths of territory that it tries to control across Libya. In an offensive earlier this year to seize oil fields in Libya's south, Hifter could rely on air power to quickly target and disperse the small militias fighting the LNA, bypassing the need to protect long supply lines. But this strategy is unlikely to work in an urban environment such as Tripoli, where Hifter must rely on his ground forces and the local allies that his forces cultivate.

This leaves the LNA's lengthy supply line vulnerable to attack. The key conduits along that route are in Jufra, in central Libya, as well as Garyan and the Tripoli International Airport, a prize both sides continue to grapple over. Pro-GNA forces are likely to continue to target those crucial hubs. And, with Hifter's forces stretched thin, rival militias and terrorist groups in the territory the LNA already had seized, such as in Benghazi, will have the opportunity to regain a foothold. Any significant fighting that develops in these areas would limit Hifter's ability to maintain operations in Tripoli.
 
 
Can the GNA's Protectors Stay United?
Internal divisions have riven the Government of National Accord and its Western Libyan allies since the GNA was formed in 2016, with factional fighting occasionally erupting among them. Hifter clearly had hoped that those divisions would prevent pro-GNA militias from quickly organizing to stop his offensive, but thus far, they have remained largely unified. In fact, a few days before the LNA offensive kicked off, the Tripoli Protection Force – comprising the four major militias in Tripoli itself – announced that it was forming a joint operations room to coordinate the dozens of separate militias stretching between Sirte and the Tunisian border. Thus far, that alliance has held true.

As the fighting around Tripoli becomes entrenched, Hifter and his backers will try to peel off elements of those militias and bring them to their side. One key set of groups to watch are the Madkhali Salafists, defenders of an Islamic sect associated with Saudi Arabia. Hifter's LNA is a coalition of militia groups from various backgrounds, including a number of other Madhkali Salafist militias. Hifter, who talked with Saudi King Salman at an Arab League meeting in March, could be hoping to gain their support for this offensive. A key indicator of his success would be if he won the cooperation of Special Deterrence Forces in Tripoli, also known as the Rada Forces, and the 604th Battalion, which is a member of al-Bunyan al-Marsous. There are also moderate factions and militias in most of Western Libya's cities that could be induced to support Hifter.
 
The chaos emerging from another full-scale conflict could allow the Islamic State to restrengthen as political crises continue in Algeria and Sudan.

What Is the International Reaction?

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have strongly supported the rise of Hifter and the LNA, which France and Russia have also backed to a lesser extent. But the extent of support for the current offensive among the LNA's foreign backers isn't clear. The Emiratis, perhaps Hifter's most aggressive backers, have distanced themselves from the operation, and Egypt would be wary of a battle that could metastasize into another Libyan civil war. The chaos emerging from another full-scale conflict could allow the Islamic State to restrengthen as political crises continue in Algeria and Sudan.

But even if Hifter had launched the offensive without their blessing, those governments will not give up their support for him or back the idea of the West pushing against the LNA leader in any significant fashion. This has already played out in Russia's blocking of language in a U.N. Security Council statement on the fighting directly mentioning Hifter and the LNA. But as the conflict evolves, the West — and Hifter's backers — will weigh in on one side or another.

What about Political Negotiations?

Hifter launched the offensive just 10 days before the National Conference planned for April 14-16 as a part of the U.N.-led dialogue process. It appears as if he launched his offensive in hopes of securing significant leverage in the dialogue. But now it is unclear what will happen next in that process. The United Nations still plans to hold the conference. But while rival parties may have been willing to negotiate with Hifter before, his offensive is likely to entrench opposition to any significant concessions to him as the fighting continues.
 
Read on Worldview




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Defense One: Libya-- Egypt and Saudi Arabia getting involved further
« Reply #416 on: April 15, 2019, 08:17:39 AM »


 

Rogue Libyan General Khalifa Haftar's offensive on Tripoli has stalled, so he decided to drop by Cairo this weekend for a chat with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

"Egypt has close ties with Haftar, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) controls the east and swept through the mainly desert south earlier this year before moving to Tripoli ten days ago in a major escalation of conflict," Reuters reports from Egypt's capital. "Sisi, a former army chief, has led a far-reaching crackdown on Islamists with Egypt and has blamed Libya-based militants for some cross-border attacks."

By the way: Haftar's offensive threatens to disrupt regional oil supplies, "boost migration to Europe, let Islamist militants exploit the chaos, and worsen Libyans' suffering," Reuters writes.

Saudi's chip in for Haftar's offensive: The kingdom "promised tens of millions of dollars to help pay for the operation," The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend. "The offer came during a visit to Saudi Arabia that was just one of several meetings Mr. Haftar had with foreign dignitaries in the weeks and days before he began the military campaign on April 4."

"Mr. Haftar accepted the recent Saudi offer of funds," Saudi advisors told the Journal. "We were quite generous," one of the advisers said.

What's Haftar gonna buy with that money? "The loyalty of tribal leaders, recruiting and paying fighters, and other military" stuff, the Journal writes. 

What's Riyadh get from this arrangement? "Mr. Haftar as a bulwark against Islamist groups, notably the Muslim Brotherhood, who took on a prominent role in Libya following the 2011 uprising and continue to participate in political life under the Tripoli government."

Also supporting Haftar: The United Arab Emirates and Egypt with air power; and Russia has allegedly provided weapons and military advisers, according to the U.S. Not to be forgotten: "In 2016, France sent special forces to fight Islamist militants around the city of Benghazi in cooperation with Mr. Haftar's troops."

The damage of Haftar's offensive includes 121 people killed so far, "mainly fighters," Reuters reports. And the number of wounded has risen above 550, according to the U.N. In addition, "Some 13,600 people have fled their homes." Meantime, "Tripoli government forces have halted [Haftar's men] about 11 km (7 miles) from the center near an airport that was largely destroyed in a previous bout of fighting five years ago." Read on, here.


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Re: Libya
« Reply #417 on: April 16, 2019, 07:24:35 AM »
An Escalation in Tripoli Pushes Libya to the Brink of Open War
The Libyan National Army's recent ambush on the country's capital has likely shattered the possibility of peace talks any time soon.
(MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)


    By launching a military offensive on Tripoli, Khalifa Hifter has made it clear that he views himself as the sole solution to Libya's political crisis, and that any negotiations to weaken his control of the Libyan National Army (LNA) are unacceptable.
    Hifter's staunch commitment to these tenets will continue to prove problematic for outside efforts to unify Libya's competing governments, and will make it difficult for him to agree to a cease-fire.
    France, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia will continue to support Hifter militarily and politically — not wanting to lose their investments in him as a leader over the past five years.
    The offensive has also likely ended the possibility of any political negotiations between the LNA and the Government of National Accord for the time being by hardening Western opposition to Hifter.

Libya is, once again, teetering on the edge of full-scale civil war. On April 4, Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter and his Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive against Tripoli, likely as a ploy to gain an unassailable position before his rivals with the Government of National Accord (GNA) could respond. But it appears Hifter may have underestimated his enemy, as his attack was quickly met with a fierce and unified resistance.

Since then, the commander of the GNA's southern forces has reportedly seized control of Sebha in the Fezzan region — taking advantage of the LNA's reduced presence there after the fighting in Tripoli broke out. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has already claimed two attacks, on April 9 and April 11, in central Libya.

The Big Picture

Libya has devolved into another round of violent conflict between the internationally backed Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army. The fighting upends an ongoing peace process and cease-fire that had largely remained in effect over the past four years — raising the question of whether a negotiated settlement is possible in the country, or if renewed open warfare is inevitable.

See The Libyan Civil War

The best case scenario at present for the prevention of further escalation and the resurgence of the Islamic State is a cease-fire between Hifter's LNA and the pro-GNA militias. Otherwise, the conflict in Tripoli will likely remain a stalemate as the civil war risks spreading to other parts of the country. But getting Hifter to accept a cease-fire — even one backed by his loyal foreign supporters — will be easier said than done, given the doctrine he has committed himself to.

Prospects of a Prolonged Civil War

From both the perspective of the pro-GNA militias and the LNA, it makes tactical sense to broaden the fight beyond Tripoli. Hifter likely thought he would be able to gain a foothold in the capital through a surprise attack, but the opportunity for such an ambush seems to have passed. As a result, Hifter must now prepare for a longer fight in Tripoli, which means protecting the LNA's long supply chains to the city by opening up an offensive around Sirte.

The GNA militias Hifter is facing in Tripoli, however, are better organized, trained and equipped compared with those he fought previously in Fezzan, Darnah and Benghazi. And it appears that Misratan militias — which are some of the most powerful forces currently backing the GNA — have already set their sights on severing the LNA's supply chains. In addition to sending forces to reinforce GNA efforts in Tripoli, the Misratans have bolstered their presence in central Libya in preparation for a potential LNA attack, and have launched airstrikes against Hifter's supply chains that run south of Sirte. They might also try to take advantage of Hifter's overextended forces to seize valuable oil terminals east of Sirte — forcing Hifter to retreat in order to retake them.

The International Response 

Hifter's foreign backers have been crucial to his rise and continued dominance over the past five years. Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and France have all invested heavily in Hifter's future since his offensive in Libya was first announced in 2014 — viewing Hifter as a strong military commander who could help stabilize a country rife with security threats. And while it's not clear whether these four countries have backed his latest offensive, Hifter's recent trips to Moscow, Cairo and Abu Dhabi — along with his meeting with Saudi King Salman in March — signify that they will continue to support him as a leader, both militarily and politically.

There's a good chance that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, in particular, could intervene to bolster the LNA's efforts in Tripoli. In addition to being backed by their regional rivals Turkey and Qatar, Tripolitanian and Misratan forces that have united against Hifter also include members of the jihadist and Islamist-linked Benghazi Defense Brigades — further motivating Abu Dhabi and Cairo to join the fight. France, on the other hand, may not be as willing to step in directly through airstrikes and equipment, but will likely push for a diplomatic settlement that rebuilds Hifter's political capital and keeps it intact.

Compared with Hifter's loyal foreign backers, the countries backing the GNA will likely not step in as readily or substantially in Tripoli. While Turkey and Qatar do have ties to some of its allied militias, their overall ties to the GNA remain weak. It's unlikely that Italy — the strongest pro-GNA voice in Europe — would intervene militarily either. But Rome might instead push for the European Union to respond with sanctions pressure, and could even call for a no-fly-zone or an increased EU presence along the Libyan coast to prevent a naval attack by the LNA.

The United States, meanwhile, will likely continue its hands-off approach to the Libyan conflict, which has been a politically toxic issue since the 2012 attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has tacitly approved of Hifter's gaining strength in recent years, but has also called for increased dialogue between the LNA and GNA. Washington has pragmatically worked with both LNA and GNA forces in its effort to counter terrorism in the Middle East. But should its access to Libyan oil get cut off amid the chaos, the United States could threaten to impose sanctions against Hifter, like it did in 2018 to get him to back down on withholding oil exports.

Hifter's Credo

Regardless of whose side they're on, the potential for renewed civil war is a significant concern for all outside powers. Hifter's foreign supporters will try to convince him to enter into a cease-fire with the GNA to prevent another war, but it is unclear whether he will be willing to do so.

Over the years, Hifter has dabbled in peace initiatives: He flirted with the U.N.-led peace process in 2015, agreed to a cease-fire during the civil war in 2017 and has even met with the GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on several occasions. But Hifter has yet to fully back any peace initiative or offer any significant concession, in large part because they haven't aligned with his doctrine about how the Libyan conflict should evolve.

Two tenets define Hifter's doctrine: First, the only way to solve Libya's challenges is through a unified military that is answerable to no one and has a strong leader at its helm. And second, Libya's Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other jihadist and politically motivated Islamist elements, must be defeated.

As evidenced by the attack on Tripoli, it is increasingly clear that Hifter views himself and the LNA as the legitimate savior from Libya's woes. The offensive also underlines that he views the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked groups (such as the Benghazi Defense Brigades) — as well as their allies — with equal levels of staunch disdain, which has made it all the more difficult for Hifter to find consensus with moderate Islamist lawmakers in Tripoli.

The Slim Chance of a Cease-fire

His commitment to these tenets has been problematic for outside players trying to unify Libya's competing governments over the years. In 2016, for example, the United States and Europe tried to get Hifter to form a united front with Misratan forces in the assault on the Islamic State stronghold of Sirte. But Hifter was unwilling to work with the Misratans — who he had previously been fighting in Benghazi — instead sitting out the fight entirely.

The longer the conflict rages, the greater the likelihood that efforts to unify Libya and keep its oil exports open will collapse.

Protecting the influence he's been able to build among militia leaders in Libya will likely once again keep Hifter reticent to sign any cease-fire with the GNA. Although it is called a national army, the LNA is best described as a collection of militias underneath Hifter, each with its own interests. And many of them are demanding the retaking of Tripoli. Agreeing to a lengthy cease-fire could be viewed as a betrayal of that vision. Perhaps more important, a cease-fire would shatter the idea that Hifter is becoming a strongman fit to lead the nation and a unified army.

But without a cease-fire, the renewed fighting between some of Libya's most powerful forces is only going to entrench animosities toward one another — complicating negotiations for a peaceful resolution to Libya's most recent full-scale civil war. Hifter's offensive on Tripoli has likely burned any bridges in the ongoing peace process with the United Nations as well, at least for the time being. After all, why would anyone in Tripoli trust him in a political settlement after his ambush? But the longer the conflict rages, the greater the likelihood that the progress made on unifying Libya's institutions — and keeping its oil exports open — will backslide.


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Stratfor: Turkey deepens its play in Libya
« Reply #419 on: December 19, 2019, 01:37:34 PM »



Turkey Is Poised to Expand Its Military Role in Libya's Conflict
4 MINS READ
Dec 19, 2019 | 19:51 GMT
HIGHLIGHTS
A request by the internationally recognized government in Libya for more military and security assistance from Turkey will make a complex conflict even more so....

The Big Picture
An already complicated civil war in Libya could become more convoluted as the internationally recognized government in Libya requests increased military and security assistance from Turkey. The Government of National Accord has struggled to find outside support as most of the international community has proved unwilling to violate the U.N. arms embargo against Libya, but increased support from Turkey could give it a much-needed lifeline in the face of a continued offensive on Libya's capital.

See The Libyan Civil War
In the face of the continuing offensive on Tripoli by its main rival, the Libyan National Army, Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) announced Dec. 19 that it had activated the security and military cooperation deal it had reached with Ankara on Nov. 28, paving the way for increased assistance from Turkey. Additional Turkish involvement in Libya, however, will complicate the country's already complex conflict, making its resolution even more difficult.

A Libyan Bargain Supports Turkey's Regional Strategy
Turkey has had a close relationship with the GNA since its formation, something explained by Ankara's good relations with Islamist groups in western Libya — such as the country's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — and the commercial interests of Turkish companies in the region. That relationship has grown dramatically during 2019 as Turkey sent military supplies, equipment, and advisers and specialists to support the GNA and the militias fighting the Libyan National Army (LNA) after its leader, Khalifa Hifter, launched an offensive on Tripoli in April.

Turkey gained what it considers a major victory from that relationship in November when it signed two deals with the GNA. For Ankara, the more important deal was a maritime border agreement that Turkey has used to extend its claims in the eastern Mediterranean Sea westward, near the Greek island of Crete. For the GNA, the more important deal was on security. The GNA traded the maritime agreement — which damaged its relations with European countries — to give Ankara a vested interest in the GNA's long-term survival against the LNA, which would not recognize the maritime agreement.

The War for Tripoli
Turkey's support is critical for the GNA just now. Hifter and the LNA have received equipment and financial support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Since early September, the LNA has also employed Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, who have become increasingly active on Tripoli's frontlines. The extensive support these allies have given Hifter has reinvigorated the Tripoli offensive in recent weeks and, more importantly, given his forces the military advantage over the GNA.

While Hifter's backers have shown little concern about violating a U.N. Security Council arms embargo on Libya, the West has proved less willing to violate the embargo so blatantly even though it is the GNA that enjoys international recognition. Though Turkey has broken that taboo, its support had been relatively limited compared to what Hifter and the LNA have been receiving.

Turkish officials have said Ankara has no immediate plans to send combat troops to Libya, but left the possibility open.

But since the Tripoli offensive began in May, Turkey has substantially boosted its support for the GNA, improving the ability of the militias supporting it to withstand the LNA's attacks. Turkey has transferred arms and equipment, including Turkish-made BMC Kirpi armored vehicles and Bayraktar TB2 UAVs, to the GNA, helping it defend its airspace against the LNA air support. (The LNA has received UAE support, obtaining Chinese-made Wing Loong II UAVs and the Russian-made Pantsir air defense system from its Gulf ally.)

The security deal will formalize the Turkish-GNA relationship and could pave the way for even more military equipment from Turkey. So far, Turkish officials have said Ankara has no immediate plans to send combat troops to Libya, but left the possibility open. Sending Turkish troops would require Turkish parliamentary approval, which is not a given since several rival parties to the governing Justice and Development Party have opposed the security deal with Libya.

Troop deployments aside, as with Russian involvement, Turkey's growing military role in Libya has made the conflict there even more complex. Since the outsiders with the main role in the conflict, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, are not invested in the U.N.-led mediation process in Libya, that process is unlikely to resolve the issue in the near term. Germany still seeks to organize a new international Libya conference in 2020, but the GNA and LNA have ruled out direct talks, and poor relations between Turkey on one side and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other make a solution from that quarter unlikely at present. With Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan planning to meet to discuss Libya in the near future, Turkish-Russian cooperation might help resolve the situation — making other interested outside parties like the United States extremely nervous.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2019, 01:50:44 PM by Crafty_Dog »

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Re: Libya
« Reply #420 on: December 19, 2019, 01:51:00 PM »
second post

Libya's Muslim Brotherhood Government Requests Turkish Intervention
by John Rossomando  •  Dec 19, 2019 at 4:14 pm
https://www.investigativeproject.org/8217/libya-muslim-brotherhood-government-requests



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GPF: Turkey & Libya
« Reply #423 on: December 27, 2019, 01:41:13 PM »
Libya draws in other players. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday that Turkey has accepted the Libyan Government of National Accord’s formal request for assistance in the country’s civil war. Ankara has started drafting a bill that would allow Turkish troops to be deployed to Libya on Jan. 8. In addition, pro-Turkey militias in Syria have reportedly set up registration centers in Afrin to recruit militants to fight alongside Turkish forces in Libya. Concerned about Turkey’s growing footprint in the region, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus have mustered support from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Italy and France, while Turkey has attempted to recruit Tunisia, Algeria and Qatar to help support the GNA. On Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss the situation in Libya and referred to Turkey’s involvement in the country as “foreign exploitation.” Libya’s neighbors have raised concerns over the escalating civil war; Tunisia declared that it would remain nonaligned, and Algeria announced that it would increase security on its border with Libya.

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Re: Libya
« Reply #424 on: January 04, 2020, 07:57:32 PM »
Libya is starting to looking like Spain in the 1930s, a practice run for what was  to come for the backers of  the various factions.

Given Turkey's play here it seems fair to wonder if President Trump knew what he was doing on the Syrian Kurd issue.

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Turkey- Libya
« Reply #425 on: January 08, 2020, 12:41:10 PM »
Turkey's Help Won't Win Its Allies the Libyan War
8 MINS READ
Jan 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This Dec. 26, 2019, photo shows a damaged vehicle in the wake of an airstrike in Zawiya, 45 kilometers west of Tripoli.
This Dec. 26, 2019, photo shows a damaged vehicle in the wake of an airstrike in Zawiya, 45 kilometers west of Tripoli. Turkey's assistance to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord might help the administration win a battle or two, but not the wider war.

(HAMZA TURKIA/Xinhua via Getty Images)
HIGHLIGHTS
Ankara's offer of special operations forces and more to Libya's ailing Government of National Accord is unlikely to roll back Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter anytime soon....

Squeezed by an army on the advance, Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) has reached for a lifeline across the Mediterranean in Ankara, which is planning to send special forces, drones and other assistance to Tripoli. But while Turkey's military support will help keep the GNA afloat in Tripoli with an eye to ensuring it remains part of any future Libyan political system, it's unlikely to move the needle enough to halt the opposing Libyan National Army's (LNA) offensive on the city entirely. More to the point, LNA leader Khalifa Hifter's foreign backers are likely to respond to Turkey's move by increasing support for the field marshal — meaning that, in the long run, Ankara's involvement in Libya runs a high risk of encountering mission creep.

The Big Picture
Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter's offensive on Tripoli has shown just how little support the Government of National Accord (GNA) commands even though it is Libya's internationally recognized government. While Hifter has enjoyed significant backing from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and others — in part as the result of a wider regional campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood — the GNA has only received limited military assistance. That may change as Turkey has now authorized the deployment of troops to Libya to support the GNA.

See Middle East and North Africa section of the 2020 Annual Forecast
Hifter Plays the Long Game
When Hifter launched his offensive in April 2019 on Tripoli, he intended to go for the GNA's jugular in Tripoli before opposing forces could mobilize in defense. Furthermore, he hoped that the militias in the northwestern region of Tripolitania would fracture and that some of them, such as the Madkhali Salafists, would join his cause against the GNA and other fighting groups. The field marshal's plans quickly went awry, as his opponents quickly mobilized with greater coordination than anticipated. (Some Madkhali Salafists in Sirte, however, did aid the LNA in its takeover of that city on Jan. 6.)

Prior to the LNA's offensive, Turkey's support for the GNA was modest. But as Hifter's offensive gained momentum and the GNA's Western-backers declined to provide significant military and political support for the internationally recognized government, Ankara stepped in with more training and equipment in May 2019, including Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 UAVs and Kirpi 4x4 MRAP vehicles. Their arrival not only bolstered the anti-Hifter forces enough that they stopped the LNA's offensive, they even recaptured Gharyan, which had been the staging ground for Hifter's offensive in Tripoli, in June 2019.

This map shows the areas of control in Libya's civil war.
Hifter and his backers decided not to yield to Turkey's greater involvement since freezing or completely abandoning the offensive on Tripoli risked upending his coalition. Countries like the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have invested in Hifter for years and feel they have no choice but to continue propping him up. Responding to Ankara's move, Abu Dhabi and Cairo increased their support for Hifter, transferring more funds, offering more air support and shipping more arms, including Pantsir surface-to-air missile systems and Wing Loong II UAVs — a move that has, in part, resulted in Libya's conflict becoming the world's first proxy battlefield for drones. In the meantime, Hifter has hired more Sudanese mercenaries to protect infrastructure, freeing up other forces. The LNA leader has also benefited greatly from the Russian Wagner Group, which deployed mercenaries to the front line in Tripoli in September 2019.

The redoubled support for Hifter gave his forces a qualitative edge. Wagner's mercenaries, for instance, are well-equipped and -trained, while the equipment the LNA has received is far more capable than that which the GNA has acquired from Turkey. The Wing Loong II UAV, for example, can carry eight times the weight of ordnance as the Bayraktar TB2. What's more, the Wing Loong II's range covers all of Libya, unlike the Bayraktar TB2, which can barely cover the hotspots of western Libya. Ultimately, the Wing Loong II drones, as well as suspected manned Emirati and Egyptian aircraft sorties, have allowed Hifter and his allies to pummel ground forces in Tripoli and Misrata and hit strategic air targets like the Mitiga airport in Tripoli and the Misrata War College.

Turkey to the GNA's Rescue?
As part of a November 2019 agreement between the GNA and Turkey that the latter's parliament ratified on Jan. 2, Ankara has agreed to send more equipment, including drones and combat vehicles, as well as to train an elite Libyan force that could quickly deploy to various areas. Turkey, however, is unlikely to send a large contingent of combat troops to Libya, preferring instead a detachment of special operations forces. In addition, Turkey could deploy the operators and technicians of the systems that it transfers to the country. Such deployments could make Hifter wary about continuing frequent airstrikes in areas in which Turkish troops are present, as Ankara would almost certainly retaliate if the LNA killed a Turkish soldier. (Naturally, the same goes for Russian private military contractors, who will have to calculate the risk of significant attacks on the front lines if Turkish advisers and special operations forces are in the area.)

Perhaps the most intriguing potential deployment would be from Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. Several media reports have suggested that Turkey is planning to send insurgents to Libya, including members of the Sultan Murad Division, Suqour al-Sham Brigades and Faylaq al-Sham. Some of these groups, such as Faylaq al-Sham, have ties to Libya that date back to 2012, when Libyan militias transferred arms and fighters to them. If true, the deployment of Syrian groups instead of Turkish combat troops would give Ankara an added layer of protection from the heat of the front-line battle, mirroring the Kremlin's use of Russian mercenaries.

The GNA's accord with Turkey has proven to be a blunder in terms of optics.

The Limits to Ankara's Aid
But while Turkish support will allow the GNA to withstand Hifter's assault on Tripoli, it won't be enough to win the wider war. For one, the GNA's accord with Turkey has proven to be a blunder in terms of optics. Even ahead of the agreement on Turkish deployment, European support for the GNA had plummeted after the Tripoli-based government and Turkey ostensibly fixed their maritime border midway between them in the Mediterranean Sea, infuriating neighboring states like Cyprus, Egypt and Greece — the latter of which abandoned its neutrality in the Libyan conflict in favor of Hifter. More than that, the use of Syrian rebels, many of whom have suspected or overt connections to jihadist groups, as well as a checkered past regarding humans rights, is a propaganda coup for Hifter and his supporters like the United Arab Emirates, which have argued that Tripoli is infested with criminals and terrorists.

Moreover, Ankara has few options to dramatically increase the capabilities of its allies' air capabilities through the transfers of systems alone. Turkey's defense industry, while large, has not developed deployable systems that can rival the Wing Loong II or the Pantsir. Ankara could conduct attacks from the Turkish mainland with its F-16s, refueling them along the way with tankers, but doing so would embroil Turkey in Libya's conflict even further and increase the risk that it and the United Arab Emirates could target one another directly. As a result, Hifter and his allies will likely retain air superiority in Libya for the time being; and even if the offensive in Tripoli continues to stall due to increased Turkish support, they can continue to play the long game.

As it is, Abu Dhabi and Cairo already doubled down in their support for Hifter once before in 2019 in response to Turkey's backing for the GNA. And given the broader regional competition between Turkey and countries like the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, the latter two are likely to respond once more to Ankara's assistance to Tripoli.

One remaining question mark is the reaction of Russia, which could opt to increase or reduce its support for Hifter. With Turkey ultimately out to ensure that the GNA retains a high degree of influence in Libya's political system, Ankara and Moscow could well reprise their dialogue regarding Syria with talks on Libya, potentially paving the way for the withdrawal of the Wagner Group from the front line in Tripoli. But while such developments — along with Turkey's other efforts to prop up the GNA — likely mean that Libya's biggest city won't fall to the field marshal anytime soon, they're not nearly enough to win the country's nine-year-old war. And as the war drags on, so might the chances that Ankara finds it difficult to extract itself from a North African adventure.

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Libya Peace Talks
« Reply #426 on: January 17, 2020, 09:48:48 AM »
By: GPF Staff

Libyan peace talks. The leaders of Libya’s two rival governments, the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army, will meet for the second time this year at a peace conference in Berlin this weekend, nearly a week after cease-fire talks were held in Moscow. Representatives from Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Russia, the Republic of Congo, the U.K., France, Italy, the U.S., the U.N., the EU and the African Union will also attend. Notably, Greece was not invited, causing some tension between the Greek and German governments. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Khalifa Haftar, leader of the LNA, had already visited Athens to discuss the situation in Libya and that Greece was prepared to send forces to help monitor a cease-fire and the arms embargo. Foreign leaders who are scheduled to attend the Berlin conference have already started making preparations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with his Italian counterpart, Luigi Di Maio, prior to the event, and diplomats from Egypt and Italy, as well as Greece, have reportedly discussed Turkey’s decision to send troops to Libya. Meanwhile, after agreeing to a cease-fire this week, the LNA has accused pro-Turkey Syrian militants who have joined the GNA of “flagrant violations” of the truce. LNA forces have also reportedly shelled GNA-held crude oil storage facilities in the capital, Tripoli.

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Re: Libya
« Reply #427 on: January 17, 2020, 11:20:31 AM »
second post

The Power Players in Libya’s Civil War
By: Caroline Rose

Just a few weeks ago, the crisis in Libya was on the verge of boiling over. On Jan. 2, the Turkish parliament had authorized the deployment of Turkish troops to support the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord and had begun to recruit Free Syrian Army soldiers to fight as mercenaries in Libya. The GNA’s adversary, the Libyan National Army, was accelerating its campaign against Tripoli, Libya’s capital and the GNA’s stronghold, taking over strategic outposts such as Sirte and penetrating Tripoli’s southern peripheral neighborhoods. And as Turkey began to show its teeth in Libya, so did Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, France and Russia, increasing armament shipments and aid to fortify the LNA.

Incrementally, new alliance systems were activated and fault lines widened. Gradual escalation in Libya was underway, with powers closely walking a line of brinkmanship. But last week, the situation changed as Turkey and Russia, backers of opposing sides in the conflict, initiated a peace process. Suddenly (and ironically), geopolitical opponents were leading a diplomatic charge together. Ankara and Moscow jointly pressured the GNA’s leader, Fayez al-Sarraj, and the LNA’s commander, Brig. Gen. Khalifa Haftar, to implement a temporary cease-fire and travel to Moscow to discuss de-escalation.

The abrupt change from escalation to tentative resolution is not coincidental, nor does it translate to warmed relations between Ankara and Moscow. Instead, it is indicative of an adjustment in Turkey’s and Russia’s strategic thinking. The dynamic between the two powers remains the center of gravity in Libya, but they aren't the only powers trying to shape the conflict. In order to understand the actions of different players and where things will go from here, it’s necessary to break down some of the constraints and impulses of Libya’s competing factions.
Turkish Impulses and Constraints

Turkey has two driving geopolitical impulses in Libya. First, it has an economic need for steady access to Libya’s energy resources. It also needs to protect existing business contracts in the country. After the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, Libya was an easy target for Ankara, which seized on the opportunity to rebuild Libyan infrastructure with Turkish contractors. In recent weeks, Turkey has accelerated its strategy to secure business, oil and gas contracts. Ankara penned a memorandum of understanding with al-Sarraj’s GNA whereby Turkey would provide technical, advisory and armaments support in return for a delimited maritime zone in the Eastern Mediterranean, enabling Turkey to conduct seismic drilling projects off Libya’s gas-rich coasts and paving the way for future oil contracts with Turkish companies.

Second, Libya — particularly the GNA — offers a foothold for Turkey to expand its influence beyond its borders deeper into the Eastern Mediterranean. By backing the Islamist al-Sarraj against the LNA's secularist leader Haftar, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party can promote its Islamist agenda and place itself diametrically opposed to its adversaries in the Gulf and Mediterranean. Additionally, Turkey sees Libya as a military asset to its growing regional power status. Turkey already has bases in Sudan and Somalia that give it to access the Red and Arabian seas, but it wants a base in the Eastern Mediterranean from which it can continue to challenge and pressure Greek, Cypriot, Egyptian and Israeli opposition.
 
(click to enlarge)

But Turkey still faces an array of obstacles in achieving these objectives. Al-Sarraj is rapidly losing ground to the LNA and is facing opposition in GNA-held territory. The LNA currently surrounds the southern area of Tripoli and controls most of the country’s gas and oil fields. Additionally, though the U.N. recognizes the GNA, and though Qatar has promised the GNA economic aid, Turkey remains the sole military backer of al-Sarraj's forces, providing $350 million worth of armed drones, trucks and equipment, as well as mercenary personnel from northern Syria. In contrast, the LNA is supported by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and even, indirectly, France.

Then there is Turkey's willingness and ability. Weeks ago, Turkey’s offer to send its own forces to at least help the GNA defend Tripoli found resistance at home and abroad. The Turkish air force is incapable of sustaining such a mission, lacking jets capable of striking from its base in Northern Cyprus and unable to refuel its aircraft at such a distance. Turkey would ultimately struggle against its LNA rivals who possess far more adroit air power and sophisticated drone-jamming technology provided to the LNA by the Russians. Moreover, the effort is unpopular at home, with 58 percent of the Turkish population opposing Turkey’s intervention. These constraints meant Ankara could not immediately follow through on its threats to intervene decisively in Libya.

Balancing Ankara and Moscow

Turkey also faced a more powerful competitor in Libya: Russia. Russia’s interests in Libya are nearly identical to Turkey's: oil and gas exploration contracts and building a defense strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean. Moscow began to participate in the Libyan civil war after the 2011 NATO mission primarily to curb U.S. and Western influence in the region. Ultimately, Moscow wishes to be seen to be a player in the region – as long as the risks do not outweigh the benefits. Like Ankara, it believes that its presence can translate into postwar domination. Russia also wants deals on Libyan resources (wheat, oil, gas) to mitigate its own economic problems, where a slowing economy is demanding new sources of revenue. With Russian expertise in the oil and gas market, Moscow saw an opportunity to commandeer lucrative energy contracts.

Finally, Russia sought to engage in Libya to achieve one of its greatest strategic objectives: holding a base on the southern rim of Europe. For Moscow, Libya’s instability proved an opportunity to construct a military base similar to Soviet-era naval bases in Tobruk and Tripoli, allowing Russia to build its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean (complementing a naval base already in Tartus, Syria) and mitigating Russian insecurity in the Black Sea, where access to the Mediterranean is controlled by Turkey via the Bosporus.

For Russia, the LNA was a means to an end; the LNA preferred strongman rule over Islamist governance, had control over most of Libya’s oil and gas reserves, and did not receive Western and U.N. support (excluding France). Russia became militarily involved with the LNA when the Kremlin-connected Wagner Group deployed about 300 or so mercenaries, a number that reportedly increased last week when two other Russian firms, Moran and Schit, sent more mercenaries to the LNA’s front. Russia has reportedly provided Sukhoi jets, missiles and precision-guided artillery, which has been a big boost to the LNA's capabilities. Of course, the Kremlin has denied such involvement.
After the Turkish parliament voted in favor of putting Turkish boots on the ground in Libya, the government in Ankara hesitated. While Erdogan continued repeatedly to threaten to send troops, other government officials began to backtrack, saying Turkey would deploy forces only if a political solution was not found. It's clear that Turkey recognized the situation its troops would be entering: Ankara would lose in a fight against the LNA's broadening alliance system, it would damage its regional credibility, and importantly, it would risk confrontation with Russia.

Moscow, too, conducted a cost-benefit analysis. While the LNA was gaining considerable ground, the plausible introduction of Turkish troops meant costly escalation. Russia could either pull out its mercenaries or acknowledge its involvement by augmenting its presence with Russian armed forces, committing itself to a mission in the Eastern Mediterranean that it could not logistically or financially sustain and attracting American attention that the Kremlin did not want. Before Turkey’s involvement, Russia believed it would be the sole benefactor of energy, infrastructural and defense contracts in postwar Libya. But Turkey's presence meant resource competition for the long-haul – and the war was far from over.

So Ankara and Moscow altered their strategies. Russia invited Turkey to broker a political solution. With limited cooperation, the two powers could pursue their interests by hastily injecting themselves into a political solution. This strategy heads off possible confrontation between Russia and Turkey and, if a cease-fire can be established and upheld, limits the additional damage to the Libyan oil infrastructure that both powers wish to preserve.
Italy, France and Middle Eastern Powers

But there were a few problems with Russia and Turkey’s new strategy. For one, they aren’t the only external actors in Libya. The European Union has for years been a bystander in the conflict. Italy and France have been quick to attempt to fill the EU’s shoes, but squabbles between them have hampered their efforts to broker peace. While Italy has been hesitant to implicate itself in the Libyan struggle, geography has demanded engagement.
Historically, Italy has maintained interest in Libya, which was an Italian colony from the beginning of the 20th century until the end of World War II. Today, its interest is shaped by its desire to prevent the instability created by the conflict from reaching Italy. Italy is separated from Libya’s coast by just over 1,000 miles, and the risk of violent overspill and waves of migration have compelled Italy to become more involved in the Libyan peace process.

Italy also has economic interests in the country. Libya used to be Italy’s main source of crude oil, but the war has slowed its oil exports over time, and today Libya stands as Italy’s fourth-highest oil supplier. The largest oil and gas company in Italy, ENI, secured a joint agreement with the Libyan National Oil Corp. to create Mellitah Oil and Gas in 2008. Since then, Italy has become more involved in Libya to protect its oil interests and assets among warring factions. And as Libya's top export destination, Italy has weight to throw around in the Libyan peace process. Italy has behaved more as a neutral actor, preferring to deal both with al-Sarraj’s and Haftar’s governments to protect its oil interests, seeing itself as uniquely positioned to balance out pro-GNA Turkey and pro-LNA Russia in finding a diplomatic solution. This is a card that Rome is willing to play to secure its energy sources, avoid a resumption of war in its near abroad and salvage its diplomatic credibility, particularly at a time when the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte faces growing domestic unpopularity.

France, on the other hand, has established an indirect but decisive role in Libya. It has invested its efforts in Haftar’s LNA for three primary reasons: to support its counterterrorism campaign in Africa, to seek out energy resources, and to assert French leadership in the Libyan power grab. Since 2015, France has built up the LNA as part of a larger regional strategy it employs on the continent (consider its G5 Sahel joint force) to counter extremist groups, aligning with Haftar because of his anti-Islamist stance. France has been accused of supplying the LNA with U.S.-made Javelin anti-tank missiles and has been heavily involved in backdoor discussions, advising Haftar on grand strategy against the GNA and Turkey. Armaments and political support have enabled France to lay the groundwork for future oil and gas contracts. For example, the French multinational company Total S.A. forged an agreement with Libya’s National Oil Corp. to exchange technical expertise for oil concessions in the Sirte Basin.
France’s involvement became more visible during the recent cease-fire proposal and meeting in Moscow, where France (and the UAE) reportedly persuaded Haftar to leave Moscow without signing the peace agreement, in an attempt to curb Turkish and Russian influence while enhancing France’s hand in shaping the war’s outcome.
Brokering a Libyan peace deal has been an agenda item for France, with President Emmanuel Macron inviting both Haftar and al-Sarraj to a chateau outside Paris soon after his 2017 election to discuss potential de-escalation. However, France and Italy have clashed over Libya. France often excludes Italy from diplomatic discussions, creating the impression in Rome that a new European power may challenge its energy interests in the country.

The UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have been more visible supporters of the LNA. For these Arab League members, particularly Egypt, a potential spillover of the Libyan conflict is too serious for it to stay on the sidelines. However, while countries like Italy have been concerned about Libyan refugees, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s concerns are different. These Middle Eastern countries not only engage in Libya as regional neighbors but as a front to deter Libyan Salafist fundamentalist groups and Muslim Brotherhood cells, which they see as having the potential to galvanize their Sunni populations and threaten authoritarian and monarchial governmental control. Particularly for Egypt, securing Eastern Cyrenaica as a buffer zone between Islamist groups in the GNA-controlled west and the Egyptian border is crucial to its national security strategy. While Saudi Arabia has offered economic support, the UAE, Jordan and Egypt have consistently provided Haftar’s forces with modern weapons and were indispensable in supporting the LNA’s assaults and air raids in Benghazi and Tripoli. These countries’ support of the LNA has only intensified in the wake of Turkish threats to enter the conflict, as they perceive Ankara as an emerging regional rival. After Turkey announced it intended to send troops to Tripoli, Cairo began a campaign in the Gulf and Arab League to garner further financial and military support for Haftar, and joined the UAE in reinforcing Haftar’s forces with military cargo planes, weapons and armored vehicles.

Stalemate, Political Solution or Confrontation

Russia and Turkey have rushed to make sure they are the kingmakers of postwar Libya. Their impulse isn't necessarily to preserve the seat of power for a particular government anymore but to secure their oil, economic and strategic interests in the country's postwar landscape. Russian and Turkish interests are compatible – to a point. Their support of the opposing LNA and GNA is just a different means to the same end. Both powers wish to avert an ugly conflict between the GNA and LNA’s array of allies that could damage the country’s infrastructure, hurt their long-term resource interests and disrupt their grand strategies to establish a defensive presence in the Eastern Mediterranean.

However, when a cease-fire is implemented and Libya’s civil war comes to an end (whenever that is), competition between Russia and Turkey will further increase. It’s clear that Turkey and Russia did not believe that escalating the civil war on opposite sides could guarantee their national interests, and therefore sought to pressure the GNA and LNA to a solution. But even if the two sides sign a cease-fire, a political solution must still deal with the tribal patronage systems, militia networks, independent city-states and divergent allegiances that complicate Libya’s civil war. The conflict is far from over.

And at the same time, Turkey’s threatened intervention has drawn in more players and forced others to step up their involvement. This weekend, the peace process will add even more actors into the framework, as Germany hosts the two Libyan factions as well as representatives from Turkey, the U.S., the U.K., France, China, Russia, the EU, the Arab League and African Union members at a peace conference in Berlin. However, despite the internationalization of the war, Russia-Turkey relations remain its center of gravity. An interruption or miscalculation in their limited cooperation could throw Libya off-balance, reviving the risks for escalation.

Crafty_Dog

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ISIS has major opportunity in Libya
« Reply #428 on: January 21, 2020, 04:22:27 PM »
Islamic State Has a Major Opportunity in Libya
by Olivier Guitta
Special to IPT News
January 21, 2020
https://www.investigativeproject.org/8264/islamic-state-has-a-major-opportunity-in-libya

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DougMacG

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Re: Erdogan pushing Muslim Brotherhood in Libya
« Reply #430 on: January 23, 2020, 09:12:10 AM »
https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15474/libya-erdogan-muslim-brotherhood

Wasn't there a Libya-Turkey arms running connection underlying the Benghazi attacks? 

Turkey is our ally?  MB is our ally??

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Re: Libya
« Reply #431 on: January 23, 2020, 02:17:21 PM »
"Wasn't there a Libya-Turkey arms running connection underlying the Benghazi attacks?"

As stated here or on the Benghazi thread, I am of the opinion that the CIA annex was there to keep an eye on a gun running operation to the Sunnis in Syria (including Al Nusra?) against Assad masterminded by Hillary with some other country (Turkey?) handling the actual logistics. 

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Re: Libya
« Reply #432 on: January 23, 2020, 04:27:40 PM »
"Wasn't there a Libya-Turkey arms running connection underlying the Benghazi attacks?"

As stated here or on the Benghazi thread, I am of the opinion that the CIA annex was there to keep an eye on a gun running operation to the Sunnis in Syria (including Al Nusra?) against Assad masterminded by Hillary with some other country (Turkey?) handling the actual logistics.

https://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2362.msg106453#msg106453

https://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2362.msg97738#msg97738
https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/08/hillary-clinton-wikileaks-benghazi-scandal-arm-syrian-rebels-al-qaeda-isis-libya-turkey/

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2015/05/18/fox-report-today-documents-reveal-benghazi-libya-weapons-provided-by-u-s-and-nato-shipped-to-syria/
« Last Edit: January 23, 2020, 04:39:19 PM by DougMacG »

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Re: Libya
« Reply #433 on: January 23, 2020, 07:47:06 PM »
Nice back up  8-)

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GPF: Libyan fustercluck continues
« Reply #434 on: February 18, 2020, 01:07:41 PM »


Europe's response to the Libya conflict. The European Union is considering its response to the lack of enforcement of the arms embargo in Libya. The EU proposed a naval patrol mission to monitor migrant routes and check vessels that could be transporting weapons to Libya. The United Nations has been critical of the embargo as states like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, France and Turkey have sent arms supplies and personnel to support opposing sides in the conflict. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio met with Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar to discuss cooperation and de-escalation. The defense ministers of Russia and Italy also met in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the situation. Earlier this month, Italy stopped a Lebanese ship suspected of carrying Turkish supplies to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. Despite attempts to reach a cease-fire deal, the GNA and LNA have clashed repeatedly. Most recently, the LNA reportedly attacked a Turkish vessel on Tuesday carrying GNA arms supplies at the port in Tripoli.

Meanwhile, Libya’s neighbors have stepped up engagement in the conflict and have begun to bolster their own defenses. Algeria’s foreign minister arrived in Tripoli to discuss cooperation with the GNA after visiting Benghazi for talks with the LNA last week. Egypt is beefing up its military capabilities, negotiating procurement of two FREMM frigates from Italy, and announced plans to build a new military base to secure the Suez Canal. And Cyprus participated in a joint military exercise with France, an LNA supporter.

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Re: Libya
« Reply #435 on: May 15, 2020, 12:06:46 PM »
Washington Lobbyists Duke It Out Over Libya's Civil War
by John Rossomando
IPT News
May 15, 2020
https://www.investigativeproject.org/8400/washington-lobbyists-duke-it-out-over-libya-civil


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GPF: Turkey vs. Russia in Libya
« Reply #436 on: May 19, 2020, 08:56:49 AM »
Turkey vs. Russia in Libya.

Tensions may be rising in Libya, not between the primary belligerents in its civil war but between their most important foreign benefactors, Turkey and Russia, whose strategic objectives are incompatible. With the help of Turkish drones and supplies, Libya’s Government of National Accord made serious gains in western Libya, pushing Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army out of areas surrounding the capital, Tripoli, and two towns near the Libya-Tunisia border.

This is problematic for Russia, which backs Haftar and the LNA. Reports suggest that in taking over the air base, Turkey-backed forces acquired the Russia-made Pantsir-S1 air-defense system. Though the system may not have been directly sold by Russia to the LNA, it’s played a critical role in both the Libyan and Syrian wars. The incident prompted an immediate telephone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both of whom shared concerns about an escalation of hostilities. So far, however, no change in military action has been reported.

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Libya is now the ME's most important proxy war
« Reply #437 on: May 29, 2020, 04:53:54 PM »
Libya is Now the Middle East's Most Important Proxy War
by Seth Frantzman
The Spectator
May 20, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60969/libya-is-now-middle-easts-most-important-proxy-war

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GPF: The Tug of War over Libya
« Reply #438 on: June 12, 2020, 05:30:57 AM »
June 12, 2020   View On Website
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    The Tug of War Over Libya
The country has a long history of occupation and intervention by foreign powers.
By: Hilal Khashan

Cordiality has not been a characteristic of relations between nations in the modern Middle East and North Africa. Rather, relations have been more commonly defined by rivalry and competition for influence over the region’s most vulnerable states.
In the 1950s, it was Syria that became the main battleground in which Middle Eastern powers competed for regional domination. In the 1960s, Yemen was the arena in which Egypt and Saudi Arabia battled for control following a republican coup in Sanaa in 1962. (Yemen again became a major battleground in 2015 as the Saudis allied with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Sudan to halt the advance of the Iran-backed Houthis.) During the 1970s and 1980s, Arabs settled their differences in religiously fragmented Lebanon and fueled its civil war, which ended in 1989 following Saudi-led Arab efforts to find a resolution to the conflict. The impending crisis posed by the growth of political Islam and Iraq’s rise as a regional power required refocusing Arab political and military resources to deal with new threats.

In 2011, the Arab uprisings exacerbated turmoil across the MENA region and introduced new theaters of open competition, namely in Syria and Libya. Like in Syria, where Russian intervention was a major factor in determining the balance of power in the conflict, in Libya, Turkish involvement has proved to be a game-changer.

The Disintegration of Libya

In September 1969, a coup led by Moammar Gadhafi overthrew the Senusi monarchy, which had reigned in Libya since the country gained independence in 1951. Gadhafi’s erratic rule included a combination of heavy-handed policies and bizarre proclamations about the institution of direct democracy. His “Green Book” laid out his vision for Libya, which included popular congresses and people’s committees that would mobilize the entire population in political action and economic production. In practice, however, Gadhafi wielded excessive authoritarian powers and gave critical political, security and military positions to immediate relatives and trusted members of his Gadadfa tribe. He banned all types of political opposition and clamped down on Islamic activists. In 1996, he ordered a massacre in Bu Slim prison that killed 1,200 inmates. But Gadhafi viewed Libya as too small to fulfill his grandiose leadership ambitions. When his hopes to preside over a pan-Arab state failed to materialize, he entertained the thought of ruling over Africa as the king of all kings.

In 2011, however, his hopes for regional domination came to an abrupt end. Inspired by the initial success of the Egyptian uprising in January 2011, a rebellion began in Benghazi and spread to the capital, Tripoli, three weeks later. NATO’s intervention led to the demise of Gadhafi’s regime and his death at the hands of rebels in October 2011. The National Transitional Council failed to stabilize Libya as it fragmented into unruly mini-states administered by local militias. In August 2012, the council disbanded and was replaced by the newly elected General National Congress.

In 2014, retired army Gen. Khalifa Haftar established the Libyan National Army and launched Operation Dignity to flush out radical Islamic rebels from Benghazi. Days later, he called for general elections to supersede the GNC because it colluded with the militants. As a result, Libya had two governments – one led by the GNC in Tripoli and another in the east known as the Tobruk Parliament.

Haftar rejected the 2015 U.N.-brokered Libyan Political Agreement and pledged to reunite Libya under his leadership. He quickly seized the oil crescent after allying with tribes in the east and south. In April 2019, he launched a major operation to take Tripoli and dismantle the Government of National Accord, led by Fayez al-Sarraj. Haftar’s forces reached the suburbs of Tripoli and seemed poised to overrun the city.

His forces were backed to varying degrees by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Russia, France and Sudan. The UAE, Haftar’s primary source of military assistance, operates two air bases in the eastern region of Cyrenaica, one south of Benghazi and the other southwest of al-Sarir, Libya’s largest oil field. Since 2014, it has organized a steady airlift, which accelerated over the past year, to replenish Haftar’s military arsenal. It also helped send 3,000 Sudanese mercenaries to Libya, mostly from the Rapid Support Forces, and covered their salaries. Saudi Arabia paid mercenaries from the Wagner Group to take part in the offensive to capture Tripoli, which ultimately failed.

Haftar adamantly refused to abide by the cease-fire agreements reached in Paris, and talks that took place in Palermo, Italy, proved futile. He withdrew from the Berlin Peace Conference in January 2020 and pressed the offensive on Tripoli.

Ultimately, though, it was the Turkish parliament’s vote to send troops to Libya following the failure of the Berlin conference that turned the tide against Haftar. By June 2020, Haftar’s forces were chased out of eastern Libya and to the outer perimeter of Sirte. Turkish and Qatari support for the GNA has been instrumental in preventing Haftar from seizing Tripoli.
 
(click to enlarge)

High Stakes

For all the foreign powers involved in the Libyan conflict, the stakes are high, though their level of involvement and objectives vary. The UAE’s goals there are the most ambitious. They include three primary objectives: defeating the pro-Islamic GNA government, pushing Turkey out of Libya and establishing a permanent presence in the country as part of its plan for controlling weak states in the MENA region and the Horn of Africa in the post-oil era. Since the U.S. started disengaging from the region, Abu Dhabi has seemed even more willing to assume greater military responsibilities abroad. But in Libya, it appears to have overextended itself, especially when facing a strong and determined adversary like Turkey.

Egypt’s goals in Libya are relatively modest compared to Abu Dhabi’s. Cairo has grave security concerns related to the infiltration of radical Islamists from eastern Libya to Egypt, including Sinai. It shares a 1,150-kilometer (715-mile) porous border with Libya despite the presence of tens of thousands of Egyptian troops in the area. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi hoped that he could collaborate with Haftar to secure the border. But he opposed Haftar’s decision to capture Tripoli last year because he understood that Turkey wouldn’t allow the city to fall.

El-Sissi is keen on avoiding a direct military confrontation with Ankara and instead prefers to involve Egyptian companies in Libya’s reconstruction and assist in the return of more than 1.5 million Egyptian workers who fled the war. He is also wary about Saudi-supported Libyan Madkhali Salafists and the possibility that they might link up with Egypt’s Salafi movement, which he has been unable to control. El-Sissi considers transnational Islamic movements a direct threat to his regime even if they are not militant. As for the Saudis, they have modest expectations in Libya and want only to secure a modicum of religious influence to contain Islamic political movements.

Despite both supporting Haftar, the objectives of Russia and France in Libya are contradictory. Both countries are interested in having access to Fezzan in the south but for different reasons. For France, Fezzan would give it access to the sub-Saharan states that are central to France’s Africa policy. In these states, French strategy focuses on combating radical Islamic movements, cutting off the flow of illegal immigrants to Europe and securing energy supplies. Russia, meanwhile, is keen on ensuring that France continues to rely on Russian energy supplies, and wants to control the illegal immigration route as a bargaining chip against Europe.

For Turkey, having influence in Libya is critical to securing its status as regional power. This explains why it has adopted an aggressive stance, even signing a Maritime Boundary Treaty with the GNA on Nov. 27, 2019, to delineate each country’s exclusive economic zone for gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey knowns that Egypt, Greece and Cyprus want to exclude it from any gas deal in the region. It’s also clear that Turkey and Russia have come to some sort of compromise on Libya since their interests there are somewhat compatible. The organized withdrawal from Tripoli of mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group indicates that the two countries are in agreement about the division of the spoils so long as Turkey does not try to advance into eastern Libya, and it is unlikely that Ankara would venture eastward beyond Sirte.

Italy occupied Libya in 1911. U.S. forces worked alongside the British Empire in Libya against German and Italian troops during the Second World War. In 1943, Free French soldiers occupied Fezzan, and during the Potsdam Conference in 1945, Stalin tried in vain to secure a Soviet mandate over Tripolitania in western Libya. The U.S. helped the country gain its independence in 1951, and since then it has functioned as a minimalist state. Its three provinces share very little in common due to the heavily tribal structure of its society. King Senusi was able to keep Libya together because he enjoyed traditional religious legitimacy. (He descended from Muhammad bin Ali Senusi, who founded a mystical religious order in the 19th century that appealed to the local population across tribal affiliations.) It’s not easy to imagine a functioning unitary state in Libya outside this context. It’s equally difficult to imagine that foreign powers will leave Libya to determine its own future.   





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Russia's play in Libya
« Reply #440 on: July 06, 2020, 11:02:03 AM »
Anna Borshchevskaya on Russia's Military Activity in the Eastern Mediterranean
by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Radio
July 5, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/61185/borshchevskaya-on-russias-military-activity-in-libya

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Stratfor: Libya-- Egypt readies to intervene
« Reply #441 on: July 24, 2020, 11:21:42 AM »
Egypt Readies to Intervene in Libya as Hifter Struggles
Matthew Bey
Matthew Bey
Senior Global Analyst, Stratfor
Emily Hawthorne
Emily Hawthorne
Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor
7 MINS READ
Jul 24, 2020 | 10:00 GMT

Fighters aligned with Libya's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) patrol a village located halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi on July 20, 2020.
Fighters aligned with Libya's internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) patrol a village located halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi on July 20, 2020.

(MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP via Getty Images)
In response to movements from the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt will likely launch a military intervention in eastern Libya, using tribal ties to gain public support for or the deployment to secure Egypt's western borders. While Egypt will seek to avoid engaging in direct combat with rival Turkish forces in the region, its presence on the ground will raise the risk of a wider confrontation that draws Cairo deeper into Libya's increasingly insoluble civil war.

Egypt would prefer to continue backing international negotiations to end the nearby Libyan conflict, though Khalifa Hifter and his Libyan National Army (LNA)'s demands — which both Cairo and the United Arab Emirates support — are making successful negotiations unlikely. Eastern Libyan officials have demanded that Libya's financial system and distribution of oil revenue become more transparent, and that the revenue be shared directly with Libya's three regions (Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania).

Egypt has supported these proposed oil and financial reforms, as they would serve two purposes: increasing transparency to limit the funding of Islamist militias in western Libya, and making the eastern Libyan economy and financial system more sustainable amid the country's deadlocked conflict.

The Tripoli-based GNA, however, will not accept such an arrangement, as it would strengthen eastern Libya's control over oil revenue and allow Hifter's LNA to continue to use its control of the country's oil industry as political leverage, thus leaving negotiations in a stalemate.

The continued failure of negotiations will likely prompt the Turkish-backed GNA to launch an offensive on Sirte and Jufra in the coming weeks. Gaining control of these two cities would provide the GNA with a launching point for seizing strategic export terminals in the arc of coastal towns between Sirte and Benghazi known as the country's "oil crescent," as well as Libya's most productive oil basin, the Sirte basin.

Egypt-backed Hifter and the Libyan Arab Armed Forces currently control all of the country's onshore oil infrastructure, boosting both their political strength and international influence, as well as their leverage in peace negotiations.

Beyond ensuring Hifter and his LNA forces maintain control of vital oil infrastructure (and thus their political leverage), Egypt's primary concern in neighboring Libya is the GNA's growing Islamist component, as well as Turkish affinities for such groups and the GNA's recent eastward advancements, which it views as a major threat to its physical security.

Egypt and Turkey are historic Mediterranean rivals whose current governments hold sharply opposing views on political Islam.
One of Egypt's primary national security objectives under President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has been containing the spread of political Islamist groups within and near its borders.

Egypt is especially concerned about the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist politicians in the Turkish-backed GNA, and their potential to gain control of eastern Libya and use it as a base for nearby regional activities.
Egypt will be willing to deploy uncharacteristic military force to protect its vast western desert from the encroachment of pro-GNA or GNA-backed militias from eastern Libya, as the GNA offensive in Libya, along with its Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist components, inch ever closer to its western borders.

Although Egypt is historically averse to deploying its military forces to conflicts abroad, unstable areas that directly border Egyptian territory — such as Libya, the Red Sea or the Palestinian Gaza Strip — are an exception to this rule. In Cairo's view, threats in these territories merit extra diplomatic and military attention to prevent militant activity from spilling over into Egyptian territory or lending support to Egyptian groups.

During an earlier phase of the current Libyan civil conflict in 2017, for example, Egypt participated in an air campaign against Islamist militias in eastern Libya.

If the LNA loses control of Sirte and Jufra, Egypt will thus likely launch a limited military intervention focused on maintaining stability along Libya's eastern half and ensuring the GNA cannot advance further eastward. Egypt's intervention would aim to bolster the LNA's defense of oil fields in central Libya and increase the defense of key cities along the eastern route to Benghazi, such as Ajdabiya. It would also likely include shoring up Hifter's air defense capabilities in Benghazi and the surrounding areas. Assets that Cairo could draw upon include special operation forces and conventional ground forces, as well as air power and air defense batteries.

Al-Sisi declared on July 20 that the GNA crossing into Sirte and Jufra would prompt Egyptian intervention.

On July 20, Egypt's parliament then unanimously authorized al-Sisi to deploy Egyptian military forces over the border into Libya.

Egypt will use real and exaggerated tribal and historical ties to eastern Libya to justify such an intervention, and will also work with local aligned tribes to preserve its economic links in the region. Some tribes in Egypt's western desert have closer social and economic ties with nearby eastern Libyan tribes than they do with other Egyptian tribes. Although the Egyptian government otherwise typically views these tribes as politically marginal communities, Cairo will play up their relations with eastern Libya in order to justify the need to meddle in Libya's civil war to both the Egyptian and Libyan publics.

On July 14, Libya's eastern-based parliament ruled that the Egyptian military could intervene in the country's conflict if Libyan security was in jeopardy.

Shortly thereafter on July 16, al-Sisi also met with tribal leaders from the eastern Libyan cities of Tobruk and Benghazi, some of whom have voiced their support for Egyptian intervention.

The deployment of Egyptian troops to eastern Libya would raise the risk of a confrontation with rival Turkish forces, thus drawing Cairo deeper into Libya's increasingly insoluble civil war.

Egypt's desire to avoid direct confrontation with Turkey will limit the extent of its military operations in Libya, but the risk of clashes between Turkish and Egyptian forces cannot be minimized. Direct Egyptian intervention will raise the cost of the GNA and Turkey continuing their offensive westward, as directly killing Egyptian forces is more likely to provoke a significant response from Cairo than killing Libyan or mercenary forces. Such confrontation could also escalate into broader instability and conflict in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara and Cairo are already in a significant dispute over maritime boundaries and resource rights.

Turkey has become deeply embedded in the GNA's forces, including through the operation of Turkish drones, radar and air defense systems. Ankara would thus likely deploy those assets in Jufra and Sirte, should the GNA seize control of those cities.
Turkey has deployed warships close to the Libyan coastline to support land operations and will likely continue to do so. Egypt, meanwhile, is moving toward finalizing a maritime delineation with Greece – meaning these Turkish vessels will soon have to traverse Egyptian-claimed waters to continue its support operations, increasing the risk for direct confrontation.

By complicating negotiations between eastern and western Libya, an Egyptian intervention would ultimately risk further dimming any near-term prospects for a peace settlement that results in a strong centralized Libya. This could, in turn, leave Libya with a frozen conflict similar to that in Syria by establishing a de facto partitioning of the country, as both Turkey and Egypt dig deeper into supporting their respective sides,

Such a long-lasting Libyan conflict would increase regional instability and migrant and jihadist flows outside of Libya. This would likely compel the European Union to eventually take a more hands-on approach to manage the conflict and mediate directly between Egypt and Turkey. In doing so, the bloc may push to establish the German-proposed demilitarized zone between eastern and western Libya, though this would risk dividing the war-torn country into de facto autonomous regions.