Posts Tagged ‘Khalifa Haftar’

Libya resumes oil exports from east: national firm

July 11, 2018

Libya is resuming oil exports from its eastern production heartland, its National Oil Corporation said Wednesday after a showdown between the war-torn country’s rival authorities.

The internationally recognised NOC was handed back control of four terminals in the oil crescent on Wednesday morning, it said in a statement, adding that “production and export operations will return to normal levels within the next few hours”.

Exports from all four of the region’s ports had been suspended after military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) seized them from a rival militia in June.

The NOC had declared force majeure on oil loadings at the ports, a legal measure that frees parties to a contract from their obligations due to circumstances beyond their control.

But on Wednesday it announced “the lifting of force majeure” at the Al-Hariga, Zweitina, Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra ports, which are conduits for much of the crude, gas and petrochemical sales that form the lifeblood of Libya’s economy.

© AFP/File | Libya’s eastern oil ports are conduits for much of the crude, gas and petrochemical sales that form the lifeblood of the economy

The NOC said in early July that the crisis had slashed crude production by over four fifths and cut the country’s heavily oil-dependent public revenues by some $67.4 million (57.9 million euro) per day.

Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with two rival authorities vying for control.

Haftar’s LNA recaptured the terminals in June after they were seized by armed groups led by militia leader Ibrahim Jadhran, who had controlled them from 2011 to 2016.

Haftar’s forces said they would hand the installations and their revenues to an eastern administration that rivals the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord in the capital.

But the GNA urged the UN to block any “illegal” oil exports, and the NOC in Tripoli said it was the “only recognised Libyan entity” responsible for oil production and exports.

In its statement Wednesday, the NOC said the facilities had been handed back to its control, and added that its board “commended (Haftar’s forces) for putting the national interest first”.

NOC chairman Mustafa Sanallah called for “a proper national debate on the fair distribution of oil revenues”.

“It is at the heart of the recent crisis,” he said, repeating a call for public institutions to publish their budgets.

“The real solution is transparency… Libyan citizens should be able to see how every (penny) of their oil wealth is spent.”

AFP

Advertisements

European Parliament chief Antonio Tajani calls for a “blacklist” of people smugglers

July 9, 2018

European Parliament chief Antonio Tajani in Libya Monday called for a “blacklist” of people smugglers to be set up to help stem the flow of migrants from Africa to Europe.

The European Union is grappling with the issue of migration from Africa and the Middle East and hammered out a controversial plan last week to curb the number of arrivals.

© AFP | European Parliament President Antonio Tajani (L) meets with Libya’s unity government Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj at his office in the capital Tripoli on July 9, 2018

People traffickers in North Africa have taken advantage of chaos in Libya since the 2011 ouster of Moamer Khadafi to send people on the perilous voyage northwards across the Mediterranean Sea.

“We have to establish a blacklist of the major traffickers… so that police and law enforcement in Africa and in Europe can work together on a common objective,” Tajani said after meeting the head of Libya’s internationally backed government in Tripoli.

“If we do not manage to destroy these criminal organisations, it will be very difficult to fight against illegal immigration.”

Italy and Greece have until now recorded the biggest numbers of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach the European Union.

But with the route through Libya shutting down as the Libyan coast guard increases patrols, people smugglers are setting their sights westward to routes from Morocco to Spain.

Libya is split between rival factions, with the UN-backed Government of National accord under Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli opposed by strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east of the country.

A deal between Libya’s vying leaders was brokered in May by France to hold elections this year, but scepticism remains that the vote will go ahead.

AFP

Libya: Haftar force says it has recaptured key oil ports

June 21, 2018

A force led by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar said Thursday it had recaptured two key oil ports, a week after they were seized by a rival militia in a blow to crucial exports.

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Khalifa Haftar

Armed groups led by militia leader Ibrahim Jadhran on June 14 attacked two eastern oil ports controlled by Haftar‘s self-styled Libyan National Army.

Haftar on Thursday announced an offensive to recapture the terminals after a week of clashes that had damaged vital infrastructure and slashed crude output, the lifeblood of Libya‘s economy.

“Our armed forces have full control of the Ras Lanuf region,” LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari said later, adding they had also retaken the Al-Sidra terminal.

Image result for Al-Sidra terminal, photos
Damaged oil storage facility at Al-Sidra

The violence in coastal Libya’s oil crescent, some 650 kilometres (400 miles) east of Tripoli, has caused “catastrophic damage”, according to the National Oil Company.

Coming just weeks after rival Libyan leaders met in Paris and agreed to hold nationwide elections in December, the clashes have underscored how little the political push has affected the situation on the ground.

Libya has been wracked by conflict since the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising, with rival governments and militias competing for authority and control of key infrastructure, particularly oil facilities.

Damage to infrastructure

Haftar, addressing his forces in an audio message on Thursday, said that “zero hour has passed” to “crush the enemy”.

Haftar accused Jadhran of “allying with the devil” and called Thursday’s operation a “sacred invasion to cleanse the land and restore justice”.

Image may contain: 1 person

Ibrahim Jadhran

Jadhran’s Petroleum Facilities Guard had for years controlled the terminals and blocked exports, but was forced out by the LNA in 2016.

Last week, Jadhran, whose Al-Magharba tribe hails from the region, said in a video that he had formed an alliance to retake the terminals.

The LNA, which is opposed to an internationally recognised government based in Tripoli, responded with “a major offensive” by ground and air forces to oust “the militias of Jadhran and his allies”.

Sources close to the LNA have reported that Jadhran joined forces with the Benghazi Defence Brigades, made up of Islamist fighters ousted from the main eastern city by the LNA.

The US State Department on Wednesday condemned the assault by Jadhran’s forces and the “ongoing violence that has damaged Libya’s vital oil infrastructure and disrupted oil exports”.

Libya’s economy relies heavily on oil, with production at 1.6 million barrels per day under Kadhafi.

His ouster saw production fall to about 20 percent of that level, before recovering to more than one million bpd by the end of 2017.

The head of the National Oil Company told AFP on Wednesday that the violence had also hit natural gas output and had slashed oil production by nearly half.

Mustafa Sanalla said the clashes “will ultimately result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs, and billions in lost sales opportunities”.

On Monday, the NOC said fires caused by the clashes had destroyed two crude tanks — reducing storage capacity at the Ras Lanuf terminal by 400,000 barrels.

(AFP)

Libya: Oil ports closed, evacuated due to attacks by armed brigades

June 14, 2018

The major Libyan oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were closed and evacuated on Thursday due to attacks by armed brigades opposed to the powerful eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, causing a production loss of 240,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

FILE PHOTO: Libya’s eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar attends General Security conference, in Benghazi, Libya, October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori/File Photo

At least one storage tank at Ras Lanuf terminal was set alight, an engineer told Reuters. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared force majeure on loadings from both terminals, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The clashes between forces loyal to Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and rival armed groups were taking place south of Ras Lanuf, where the LNA was targeting its opponents with air strikes, local sources said.

The LNA took control of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf along with other oil ports in Libya’s oil crescent in 2016, allowing them to reopen after a long blockade and significantly lifting Libya’s oil production.

More than half the storage tanks at both terminals were badly damaged in previous fighting and have yet to be repaired, though there have been regular loadings from Es Sider.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said it had evacuated staff from the two terminals “for their safety”. The production loss was around 240,000 bpd and the entry of a tanker due at Es Sider on Thursday was postponed, it said.

A military source said the three-pronged attack was launched by the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), a group that has previously tried to take the oil crescent and advance on Benghazi, which has been fully controlled by Haftar since late last year.

Ibrahim Jathran, who headed an armed group that blockaded the terminals for more than two years before being forced out by the LNA, appeared in a video posted on social media announcing the start of a campaign.

“We announce the preparation of our ground forces and supporting forces in the oil region, and our objective is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years,” he said, standing in a camouflage jacket in an unidentified desert area.

“The past two years have been catastrophic for people in the oil crescent because of the presence of the system of injustice which is the other face of terrorism and extremism.”

Repeated previous attempts by the LNA’s opponents to retake the oil crescent have failed, and it is unclear how much military and local, tribal support Jathran or BDB forces currently have.

However the LNA, which is the dominant force in eastern Libya and rejects an internationally recognized government in the capital, Tripoli, has been stretched thin.

Since last month it has been waging a campaign to take control of Derna, the last city in the east to elude its control.

Thursday’s clashes were not affecting any oilfields, the military source said. The LNA had at least five men killed and around six wounded, he said.

A local resident said he had heard the sound of heavy clashes and air strikes at dawn and had seen a large fire at the Ras Lanuf tank farm.

Crude exports from Ras Lanuf stood at 110,000 bpd in May, while exports from Es Sider were around 300,000 bpd, according to oil analytics company Vortexa.

The Minerva Lisa oil tanker, which was due to arrive at Es Sider to load a crude cargo on Thursday, was advised to stay outside the port, a source familiar with the matter said.

The tanker, chartered by trader Petraco, was seen turning away from the port on Thursday morning without loading, according to Reuters ship tracking.

A second tanker, the Seascout, is expected to arrive at the port on June 18.

Libya’s oil production recovered last year to just over 1 million bpd and has been mostly stable, though it remains vulnerable to shutdowns and blockades at oil facilities.

National output is still well under the more than 1.6 million bpd Libya was producing before a 2011 uprising led to political fragmentation and armed conflict.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli, Ahmad Ghaddar and Aidan Lewis; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans

After Military Push in Syria, Russia Plays Both Sides in Libya

June 7, 2018

Kremlin-backed businessman befriends Tripoli government while Moscow shows support for its powerful opponent

Image result for Libya, photo, ABDULLAH DOMA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, who has received Russian backing and dominates much of Libya’s east, prepare for military operations in April. ABDULLAH DOMA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—When Russia welcomed a Libyan warlord aboard its aircraft carrier last year, it looked like the Kremlin was throwing its weight behind a rival to the United Nations-backed government in the North African country.

But by that time a Russian businessman was already one year along on a quieter Kremlin-backed mission to court the official administration in Tripoli.

The envoy’s pursuits have confuted expectations that Moscow could give Khalifa Haftar, armed forces chief of the second of Libya’s two rival governments, the kind of decisive military clout that turned the tide in Syria in favor of leader Bashar al-Assad.

Instead, Russia has staked a foothold in Libya’s future by cultivating allies on opposing sides of the conflict.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shows the way to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, center, during a meeting in Moscow in August.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shows the way to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, center, during a meeting in Moscow in August. PHOTO: SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

“We haven’t placed a bet on one player,” said Lev Dengov, the 34-year-old businessman who has spearheaded the Kremlin’s strategy in Libya. Leaders of the Tripoli government are now regular visitors to Russia, and Russian companies are exploring businesses opportunities in Libya.

Moscow’s efforts have extended its reach from the Middle East to North Africa and made it a central player in the resource-rich country.

While the U.S. is rival to Russia for influence in Syria, President Donald Trump said in April 2017 that he saw no role for the U.S. in Libya beyond combating Islamic State. Since then the U.S. has supported U.N. peace efforts and focused on counterterrorism, including airstrikes against militant groups.

Leaders of Libya’s warring political factions, including Fayez Sarraj, prime minister of the Tripoli government, and Mr. Haftar, who controls much of eastern Libya, set a path to elections later this year at a meeting in Paris on May 29. Moscow said it supports international mediation efforts.

Libya remains the main route for waves of undocumented migrants bound for Europe via the Mediterranean. Islamic State and other extremist groups that target Europe are ensconced in lawless areas throughout Libya.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala said in an interview that the Tripoli government wanted Russia to take on a bigger role. “We want a balance between the external players,” he said.

Mr. Dengov’s role in Libya highlights how businessmen sometimes work to further the Kremlin’s power while advancing their own interests, goals that are often intertwined.

The Soviet Union had close ties to longtime Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi, which Russian leader Vladimir Putin sought to rekindle on a visit in 2008 that brought billions of dollars in arms, oil and rail contracts.

Mr. Dengov said he began visiting Libya that year. Through various business projects he built relations with officials in Gadhafi’s administration, some of whom are now serving in rival governments, he said.

Lev Dengov, who has built ties for Moscow with the Libyan government in Tripoli, speaks at a May conference in St. Petersburg, where he encouraged Russian countries to invest in Libya.
Lev Dengov, who has built ties for Moscow with the Libyan government in Tripoli, speaks at a May conference in St. Petersburg, where he encouraged Russian countries to invest in Libya. PHOTO: DMITRI BELIAKOV FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

During the uprising in 2011 that took down the regime, Russia initially didn’t object to airstrikes by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization against Gadhafi’s forces. But after Gadhafi was captured and killed, Mr. Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of overstepping their mandate.

Mr. Haftar, a Soviet-trained former commander in Gadhafi’s military, had turned against the Libyan ruler and lived for two decades in exile in the U.S. before joining the uprising.

In 2014, he led a military campaign that he said was aimed at ridding the country of terrorists, bringing together disparate militias to take control of a swath of eastern Libya, including most of the country’s main oil-exporting ports.

At the end of that year, Mr. Dengov was made head of a diplomatic outreach to Libya under the supervision of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya in southern Russia.

Mr. Kadyrov, an ally of Mr. Putin, is a central figure in Russia’s efforts in the Middle East, where he has myriad contacts and significant sway, Mr. Dengov said.

After Mr. Dengov arranged for a delegation led by Mr. Haftar’s son to visit Russia in 2015, Moscow started providing support. Ignoring protests from Tripoli, Russia printed Libyan currency in 2016 for the government allied with Mr. Haftar. As well as his trip on the warship, Mr. Haftar visited Moscow in 2016 and 2017.

A U.S. official said Russia had furnished Mr. Haftar’s forces with weapons and military advisers. Russia has denied this, saying it abides by a U.N. arms embargo. A spokesman for Mr. Haftar didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The Russian government sought to build international support for Mr. Haftar, including in the Trump administration. He has gained backing from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates—though both endorsed the plan to hold national elections.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dengov was working in Tripoli with a lower profile. One of his first tasks was to wrangle the release of 11 Russian sailors held over alleged oil smuggling. He succeeded, bringing them out in three groups in 2015 and 2016.

Libya’s opposing parties agreed at a meeting in Paris on May 29 to hold national elections in December. Participants included, from left: Khalifa Haftar and his ally Aguila Saleh from the leadership in eastern Libya, Fayez Sarraj, prime minister in the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, and Khaled Mishri, the recently elected head of the High State Council, an advisory body based in Tripoli.
Libya’s opposing parties agreed at a meeting in Paris on May 29 to hold national elections in December. Participants included, from left: Khalifa Haftar and his ally Aguila Saleh from the leadership in eastern Libya, Fayez Sarraj, prime minister in the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, and Khaled Mishri, the recently elected head of the High State Council, an advisory body based in Tripoli. PHOTO: ETIENNE LAURENT/PRESS POOL

To build trust, Mr. Dengov said, he also worked to dispel the image of Russia as siding with Mr. Haftar. “When we came to Tripoli, they said: ‘You are with Haftar,’” he said. “We offered them friendship.”

“The Russians realized they have to diversify their contacts,” said Frederic Wehrey, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “They sense an opportunity to play the role of a power broker.”

Russia’s reputation in Tripoli has been burnished, Mr. Dengov said, by the success of Mr. Putin’s military backing for Mr. Assad in Syria, which Moscow portrays as support for a legitimate government.

“People see that Russia is confident in the steps it takes. In Libya, they saw that our leader was a person who could take autonomous decisions,” said Mr. Dengov.

Mr. Dengov heads the Russian-Libyan Trade House, formed in 2017 by businessmen from the two countries to increase economic links. Russia is interested in reviving old deals made under Mr. Gadhafi, including in oil exploration and the construction of a railway line, and exploring new areas, such as agriculture and information technology, he said.

Mr. Dengov uses his contacts to help Russian companies establish connections in Libya and arranging security for visiting executives.

“We can use business to build up relations,” he said.

Russian state oil giant PAO Rosneft began purchasing crude from Libya’s state oil firm last year.

A delegation of Libyan security-service officials came to Moscow to meet Russian counterparts in April, Mr. Dengov said. Mr. Siala, the foreign minister, visited Russia twice in May, most recently for an economic forum in St. Petersburg where he appeared on a panel with Mr. Dengov and encouraged Russian companies to invest.

Mr. Siala didn’t indicate concern about Russia’s relations with Mr. Haftar. “Anyhow we are happy now that Russia is giving the same footing of importance for all the Libyans and all the political players,” he said in the interview.

Mr. Dengov is also making efforts to extend Tripoli’s influence in Libya’s oil-rich south by brokering peace at a local level. In November, he said, he met with tribes in the town of Ubari in the lawless region and persuaded them to align with Mr. Sarraj’s government in return for recognition of their municipal government.

On the panel in St. Petersburg, Mr. Dengov described efforts to convince disparate local groups of the value of having a Russian company invest in an oilfield, without giving further details.

“Political and economic links are inseparable,” he said.

Write to James Marson at james.marson@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-military-push-in-syria-russia-plays-both-sides-in-libya-1528372802

Libyan factions agree to December 10 elections at Paris talks

May 29, 2018

Rival Libyan factions agreed on Tuesday on a declaration that would create a political framework to pave the way for U.N.-backed elections in December to end the country’s seven-year-old conflict.

The oil-producing nation splintered following the 2011 NATO-backed revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, and since 2014 has been divided between competing political and military groups based in Tripoli and the east.

The United Nations is leading an effort to reunify Libya and to organize national elections. France under President Emmanuel Macron has sought to play a bigger role in coaxing the factions to end the turmoil, which has let Islamist militants gain a foothold and migrant smugglers flourish

The Paris meeting, included eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, Tripoli Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, and the leaders of rival parliamentary assemblies, aimed to urge them to agree general principles for ending the conflict and moving toward elections.

© FRANCE 24 screen grab | French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the talks with Libya’s rival factions in Paris.

“Against the backdrop of a Libyan-owned process and the full engagement of all Libyan parties involved, we committed in Paris on May 29, 2018 … to work constructively with the U.N. to realise credible and peaceful elections as soon as possible and to respect the results of these elections when they occur,” an eight-point joint statement by the four stakeholders read.

The declaration was not signed as originally planned. It calls for the immediate unification of the central bank and the phasing out of parallel government and institutions. It makes a commitment to support the creation of a national army and encourage a dialogue on the issue in Cairo.

“The parties have committed to set the constitutional basis for elections and adopt the necessary electoral laws by September 16, 2018 and hold Parliamentary and Presidential elections on December 10, 2018,” the statement said.

It agrees to an inclusive political national conference, but unlike an earlier draft seen by Reuters it no longer sets a timeframe. The final statement no longer directly threatens international sanctions on those who impede the accord or dispute the outcome of elections, saying only that they will be held accountable.

Several countries, including the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Italy, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Libya’s neighbours attended the meeting.

Past attempts at peace deals in Libya have often been scuttled by internal divisions among the country’s armed groups and by the different countries backing the local actors.

Under President Emmanuel Macron, France has tried to play a bigger role in coaxing the factions to end the turmoil, which has let Islamist militants gain a foothold and migrant smugglers flourish.

(REUTERS)

Doubts cloud start of Libya peace talks in Paris

May 29, 2018

Rival Libyan leaders vying for influence in the fractured and war-scarred country meet in Paris on Tuesday for a major peace conference seen as a risky French-backed push for a political settlement in the country.

Many analysts are sceptical that the initiative to invite four senior figures representing Libya‘s factions, as well as neighbouring countries and regional powers, can lead to significant progress.

Years of mediation by the United Nations, as well as former colonial power Italy, have failed to bring stability to the north African nation which descended into chaos after the ousting of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

© Jacques Demarthon / AFP (file photo) | French President Emmanuel Macron (C) with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (L) and General Khalifa Haftar at talks in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, near Paris, on July 25, 2017.

“I believe that elections are a big risk in a country armed like Libya,” Federica Saini Fasanotti, an analyst with the Washington-based Brookings Institution, told AFP.

There are also disagreements over whether a vote on a new constitution, or elections for the presidency and parliament, should come first.

“While the Italians, Turkish, Qataris and to a large extent the Americans believe the constitution comes before elections, on the other side, the French, Egyptians and Emiratis want elections first,” Mohamed Eljarh, from the Libya Outlook consulting firm told AFP.

Also, despite French efforts to convene all of the leading players in the oil-rich country, militias in and around the city of Misrata have boycotted proceedings, leaving western Libya under-represented at the talks.

Big guestlist

The Libyan invitees include Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli, and 75-year-old military strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose rival Libyan National Army dominates the country’s east.

Aguila Saleh Issa, the parliament speaker based in the eastern town of Tobruk who opposes the UN-backed administration, is also expected, as is Khalid Al-Mishri, the newly elected head of the High Council of State.

Representatives from around 20 countries involved in the Libya crisis have been invited — an acknowledgement that the problems can only be resolved if regional powers agree on a common roadmap.

These include Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates which have backed Haftar and the rival administration in Tobruk in the east, not the UN-recognised government based in the capital Tripoli.

Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as neighbours Algeria and Tunisia and west African leaders from Niger and Congo will also attend, the French presidency has announced.

Competing interests

European leaders see stabilising Libya as key to tackling jihadist threats and migration from the country which has become a departure point for hundreds of thousands of Africans trying to reach Europe.

Macron threw himself into finding a solution shortly after his election in May last year.

The 40-year-old French leader brought Sarraj and Haftar together in Paris in July where they agreed a ceasefire and to hold elections in 2018 — a move that irked the Italian government at the time which was blindsided by Macron’s diplomacy.

The task of stabilising Libya is complicated by diverging interests among Middle Eastern countries, which have sometimes backed opposing sides in the fighting, as well as competition between European powers.

Macron is suspected by some in Italy of organising the conference at a time when France’s southern European neighbour, which has major oil interests in Libya, is facing a serious political crisis.

“It’s as if Macron wanted to make the most of the this moment of absence by Italy on the Libyan dossier,” Italian newspaper La Repubblica wrote last week, citing diplomatic sources.

France is also suspected by some rivals within Libya of favouring Haftar, a military strongman who has fought Islamist militias and who was recently treated in Paris for an undisclosed ailment.

“There is clear apprehension among many in western Libya that the French initiative is an attempt to reinforce the position of Khalifa Haftar as the key power broker in Libya,” Eljarh from Libya Outlook added.

The Crisis Group, an NGO that studies conflict zones, also voiced caution about the French conference.

“Much more work remains to be done for a peace-building effort in Libya to succeed,” it said on Monday. “For this reason, Crisis Group believes that France should not request that its four Libyan guests sign an accord.”

(AFP)

Eastern Libyan commander Haftar returning to Benghazi Thurs after Paris treatment

April 25, 2018

Here is a guy lucky to be alive. First a rumor said he had a stroke — then that he had died….

Khalifa Haftar, the powerful military commander who is the dominant figure in eastern Libya, will return to Benghazi on Thursday, a spokesman for his forces said on Wednesday, after receiving medical treatment in Paris.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

FILE PHOTO: Libya’s eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar attends General Security conference, in Benghazi, Libya, October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori/File Photo

Haftar had been in Paris on a foreign tour two weeks ago and his spokesman said he was treated there after feeling unwell.

From Paris, Haftar flew to Cairo for talks with officials from Egypt, his main backer, several Libyan and Egyptian sources told Reuters.

Haftar, 75, has long been seen as a likely contender for national power, and reports about his health sparked a flurry of speculation inside Libya.

A representative of his Libyan National Army (LNA) said that on his return, Haftar would take part in celebrations marking the anniversary of his “Karama” (Dignity) campaign, the military operation he started in 2014 to drive Islamist militants out of Benghazi.

He declared victory in July 2017, though sporadic fighting continued until late last year.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Aidan Lewis and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Reuters

Libyan strongman Haftar in coma after suffering stroke, reports say

April 12, 2018

Military commander’s spokesperson says he’s in good health amid reports he is in coma after suffering stroke

Thursday 12 April 2018 02:17 UTC

Last update:

Thursday 12 April 2018 11:09 UTC

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

A spokesperson for the military leader of Libya’s eastern government, Khalifa Haftar, has denied reports that he has suffered a stroke and is in a coma.

Al Jazeera network reported on Wednesday that Haftar is in a coma at a hospital in Paris after suffering a stroke, but the general’s spokesperson dismissed the account as fake news, insisting that he is in good health and overseeing military operations in eastern Libya.

Haftar, 75, whose forces have taken most of eastern Libya from Islamist fighters and militants, may run for president in Libya’s upcoming election this year.

French newspaper Le Monde said that Hafter was transferred from Jordan to receive medical care in France. Journalist Huguex Vincent, who writes for French weekly L’Express, tweeted on Tuesday that Haftar was admitted to a hospital in Paris for a “serious condition”.

Several officials in Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) denied the reports.

“There’s no truth to the news spreading around about field marshall; he’s in excellent health,” Haftar LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari said.

Still, two anonymous LNA sources told Reuters that Haftar was indeed experiencing health issues.

One high-ranking east Libyan military source told Reuters on Tuesday that Haftar had been flown to Jordan, and would travel on from there to a third country for treatment for a critical health condition.

A second source close to the east Libyan military command said on Wednesday that Haftar was in France, but gave no details on his condition.

Libya’s 218 TV channel, which is supportive of the LNA, reported that Haftar “was undergoing a medical inspection in Paris and that there was no real danger to his health”.

Haftar has for several years been the dominant figure in eastern Libya, and has widely been seen as seeking national power in the oil-rich nation of six million people.

Read more ►

Torture and arbitrary detention widespread across Libyan prisons: UN

He has presented himself as a scourge of terrorism and taken a hardline stance against the Muslim Brotherhood, mirroring the position of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Still, critics accuse Haftar of fuelling armed conflict and committing human rights violations.

Haftar is aligned with a parliament and government that moved to eastern Libya after a major escalation of fighting in the capital, Tripoli, in 2014.

He rejected the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), which arrived in Tripoli in 2016 as part of United Nations-led efforts to reunify the country.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/reports-raise-questions-about-health-libyas-haftar-550231400

With information from Reuters

Explosion at mosque in Libyan city of Benghazi, residents say

February 9, 2018

Image Caption : Members of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country’s east strongman Khalifa Haftar, patrol the roads leading into the eastern city of Benghazi on February 7, 2018. (AFP)
BENGHAZI: An explosion took place at a mosque in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Friday, residents said.
.
There was no immediate word on casualties.
.
Two weeks ago, around 35 people were killed by a twin bombing at a mosque in the same city.
.
Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar. The LNA was battling Islamists, including some linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda, as well as other opponents until late last year in the Mediterranean port city.
.
Haftar, a possible contender in national elections that could be held by the end of 2018, has built his reputation on delivering stability in Benghazi and beyond, promising to halt the chaos that developed after a NATO-backed uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi’s long rule nearly seven years ago.
.
Haftar launched his military campaign in Benghazi in May 2014, in response to a series of bombings and assassinations blamed on Islamist militants.
.
In past months there have been occasional, smaller scale bombings apparently targeting LNA allies or supporters.