Posts Tagged ‘Moamer Kadhafi’

Iraq’s Sadr warns Assad could share Kadhafi’s fate — Calls for Assad to resign

April 11, 2017

AFP

Image result for Moqtada Sadr, photos

Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr — Al-Sadr is the most revered name in Shia Iraq and a friend if Iran and Russia

NAJAF (IRAQ) (AFP) – Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr on Tuesday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he risked suffering the same fate as slain Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi if he did not step down.

The maverick cleric had last week condemned the suspected deadly use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces against civilians, becoming a rare Shiite leader to openly challenge the Syrian president’s legitimacy.

Sadr issued a new statement on Tuesday that reiterated his position.

“I have urged him to step down to preserve the reputation of the Mumanaa and to escape a Kadhafi fate,” he said, using a word that refers to a so-called anti-Western “resistance front” that includes Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

The Libyan strongman was captured and brutally killed in 2011 after 42 years in power while trying to flee Sirte, his hometown, as NATO-backed rebels closed in.

A chemical attack which has been widely blamed on Assad’s regime killed 87 civilians, including 31 children, in the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun on April 4.

The United States subsequently fired a barrage of 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat air base in Syria to punish Damascus, despite its denials of responsibility.

Sadr, who led a militia that fought the US occupation of Iraq, also condemned the American missile strike, urging all foreign parties involved in the Syria conflict to withdraw.

He had similar advice for two other leaders: President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

“I have not only called for the resignation of Bashar, but I had already called for Abedrabbo and the ruler of Bahrain to step down because they are still oppressing their people.

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Libya’s power struggle could tip Libya deeper into crisis as jihadist threat persists

January 6, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Imed LAMLOUM | Libya’s power struggle pits an administration based in eastern Libya, backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar (pictured), against a UN-brokered unity government in Tripoli

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Escalating tensions between rival Libyan armed forces threaten to plunge the North African country deeper into turmoil only weeks after the fall of the Islamic State group’s bastion Sirte.

The deeply tribal nation has been sharply divided since the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival militias vying for influence and control of oil resources.

The power struggle pits an administration based in eastern Libya, backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, against a UN-brokered unity government in Tripoli supported by militias from the western city of Misrata.

“The situation is most likely going to escalate further given that the voices of war are now the loudest” after an air strike by Haftar’s forces against the Misrata militias, analyst Mohamed Eljarh of the Atlantic Council said.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) is the centrepiece of Western hopes to stem an upsurge of jihadism in Libya, but it has failed to assert its authority across the country.

The rival authority in the east has refused to cede power and has its own armed forces, which call themselves the Libyan National Army (LNA) and are led by Haftar.

Pro-GNA fighters mainly from the Western town of Misrata drove IS from Sirte in December, capping a deadly months-long campaign for Kadhafi’s hometown.

The Misrata militias include hardliners determined to fight Haftar’s army.

The LNA has battled jihadists in second city Benghazi for more than two years and blames Misrata militias of backing diehard extremists.

On December 7, two days after Sirte’s liberation, tensions flared when hardline Misrata militias joined an attack against Haftar’s forces launched by an alliance of Islamist and tribal fighters.

– Fears of IS regrouping –

The assault on a town near Libya’s “oil crescent” — where Haftar had seized four export terminals from pro-GNA forces in September — was launched from Al-Jufra air base in southern Libya.

The LNA repelled it and since then has frequently bombarded the base, calling it a den of “terrorists”.

On Monday, an LNA air strike hit a military plane carrying senior Misrata military and political figures who were flying out of Al-Jufra, killing one and wounding several.

The Misrata militias dispatched reinforcements to Al-Jufra as well as the Sebha region further west.

Martin Kobler, the UN special envoy to Libya, said he was “alarmed by the tensions in Libya’s south” and urged all sides “to act with restraint and to resolve issues through peaceful dialogue”.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby warned that further fighting could embolden the Islamic State group and other jihadists to reorganise.

“We note with deep concern… renewed fighting between Libyans… fighting which we believe will only benefit Daesh (IS) and other violent extremists there,” he said.

“The truth is that to date, Libyan forces have made progress against Daesh in Sirte and in eastern Libya, and that’s what makes this renewed fighting here of concern,” Kirby added.

Despite the recapture of Sirte, which had been IS’s main base in Libya, the jihadist threat persists in the country where experts say IS cells are present in several other areas including Tripoli.

– Hardliners win support –

Eljarh said a confrontation between Misrata and Haftar’s forces could play out in Tripoli as well as the “oil crescent” and the southern region.

Such an outcome “will have a knock-on effect on Libya’s oil and water facilities adding to the suffering of the entire population especially in western Libya and the capital,” he added.

Eljarh said that the attack on the plane carrying Misrata dignitaries had inflamed even the most moderate factions in the western city.

“Hardliners … have now managed to successfully switch public opinion within Misrata in their favour” and could now mobilise public support against the LNA, he added.

Mattia Toaldo, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Haftar was trying to form alliances with Libya’s powerful tribes to control the south of the country.

“The south is the most immediate flashpoint where Haftar is trying to replicate the strategy of tribal alliances and limited show of force that allowed him to capture the oil crescent in September,” he said.

“Sirte is another flashpoint with Misratan fears that Haftar will use tribal allegiances to strip Misrata of its gains on the ground,” he said.

by Imed LAMLOUM

Sarkozy hit by fresh claims of Kadhafi campaign funding

November 15, 2016

AFP

© AFP / by Clare Byrne | Nicolas Sarkozy (left) was welcomed by Moamer Kadhafi during a 2007visit to the Libyan capital Tripoli

PARIS (AFP) – Nicolas Sarkozy’s links with the late Moamer Kadhafi came under fresh scrutiny Tuesday after a businessman admitted delivering three cash-stuffed suitcases from the Libyan leader toward the Frenchman’s first presidential bid.

In an interview with the Mediapart investigative news site, Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine said he had made three trips from Tripoli to Paris in late 2006 and early 2007 with cash for Sarkozy’s campaign.

Each time he carried a suitcase containing between 1.5 and 2.0 million euros in 200-euro and 500-euro notes, Takieddine told the site in a video interview, saying he was given the money by Kadhafi’s military intelligence chief Abdallah Senussi.

Sarkozy, who is bidding to recapture the presidency in next year’s election, has for years been dogged by allegations that he accepted millions from Kadhafi during his successful 2007 run for the top office.

During questioning in a separate case, Takieddine accused Sarkozy of having been in Kadhafi’s pocket in 2006-07 but he had never previously claimed to be the bagman.

The allegations against Sarkozy first emerged in March 2011, when the French leader was campaigning for the NATO-led military intervention that helped overthrow Kadhafi.

“Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign,” Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, who is now in jail in Libya, demanded.

A year later, as Sarkozy was campaigning for a second term, Mediapart published a document signed by former Libyan intelligence boss Musa Kusa referring to an agreement for 50 million euros ($54 million at current rates) in backing from Tripoli.

Sarkozy, who lost his 2012 re-election bid, vigorously denied the allegations, claiming the document was a fake.

Takieddine’s video testimony comes five days before Sarkozy goes up against former prime minister Alain Juppe and other rivals in a primary to choose the candidate of the French right in next year’s presidential vote.

– ‘Mafia state’ –

The first round of the two-stage primary takes place on Sunday.

Takieddine said he delivered the cash directly to the interior ministry, which Sarkozy headed at the time.

He said he was received on the first two occasions by Claude Gueant, Sarkozy’s then cabinet chief whom he later made his interior minister.

The businessman, who said he wanted to tell all about “the mafia state in which we are living”, said he set down the cases in Gueant’s office but did not discuss the contents with him.

On the third occasion, he was received by Sarkozy himself in an apartment on the first floor of the ministry, he claimed.

After setting down the case, he said Sarkozy spoke to him briefly about a group of Bulgarian health workers imprisoned in Libya whose liberation Sarkozy negotiated later that year.

But he studiously avoided the topic of the briefcase.

In 2012, Senussi, who is also imprisoned in Libya, told investigators he “personally supervised” the handover of 5.0 million euros towards Sarkozy’s campaign.

But despite several other such former high-ranking members of Kadhafi’s regime making similar claims, French investigators have yet to find any evidence of illegal campaign funding, according to AFP’s sources.

Sarkozy has brushed off the allegations as the claims of vindictive Libyan regime members, furious with him for leading the intervention that ended Kadhafi’s 41-year rule.

The 61-year-old right-winger, who is trailing presidential frontrunner Juppe in opinion polls, is embroiled in several scandals.

He has been charged with influence peddling in a separate affair and with illegal financing of his 2012 campaign. Sarkozy has accused the judiciary of trying to stymie his comeback ambitions.

by Clare Byrne

Libya: lawlessness and uncertainty

July 30, 2014

Tripoli (AFP) – Islamist groups seized the headquarters of the army’s special forces in Libya’s second city Benghazi after days of fighting, plunging the country further into lawlessness and uncertainty.

An Islamist and jihadist alliance announced the capture of the main military base in the eastern city in a statement early Wednesday, which was confirmed by an army official.

Ansar al-Sharia, blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington, on its Facebook page published photos of dozens of weapons and crates of ammunition it claimed its jihadists who joined the assault had seized from the base.

Intense fighting in Benghazi has claimed about 60 lives since Saturday, medical officials in the city said.

“Special forces under the command of (Colonel) Wanis Abu Khamada withdrew after several attacks,” said the army official after the biggest loss yet for the armed forces in their fight against the country’s powerful militias.

The special forces are one of the units of Libya’s regular armed forces that support rogue Libyan general Khalifa Haftar but have not placed themselves under his command.

Haftar began his offensive against radical Islamist groups in Benghazi, dubbed “Operation Dignity”, in mid-May.

Former deputy prime minister and newly-elected MP Mustapha Abu Shagur was meanwhile freed by his kidnappers, hours after they snatched him from his Tripoli home on Tuesday, his family said.

The kidnapping highlighted the failure of authorities to rein in dozens of militias that sprang up during the 2011 uprising which overthrew longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

“Doctor Abu Shagur has been freed. He is tired but in good health,” his nephew Isam al-Naass told AFP. “He was not treated badly” by his kidnappers, he added.

– Less intensity –

Amid the increasing lawlessness, a number of countries, including Portugal, the Netherlands, Canada and Bulgaria, evacuated their citizens or closed their embassies in Tripoli earlier this week.

France said on Wednesday it had temporarily closed its embassy while a French diplomatic source said 40 French nationals, including the ambassador, had been evacuated along with seven British nationals by sea.

The naval ship carrying them is bound for the southern French port of Toulon, the foreign ministry said.

Tripoli’s airport has been closed due to fighting between rival militias seeking to control the facility, with a rocket fired during the clashes on Sunday sparking a blaze at a nearby fuel depot which was still burning on Wednesday, but with less intensity.

The blaze began in a tank containing more than six million litres (1.6 million gallons) of fuel and then spread to another fuel storage site nearby.

Libya has appealed for international help, but former colonial power Italy and Greece have said their involvement would be contingent on a halt to the fighting.

On Tuesday, the Libyan government again called for a ceasefire in the battle for the airport that has killed around 100 people and wounded 400 since July 13.

The clashes, the most violent since the 2011 revolt against Kadhafi, started with a July 13 assault on the airport by armed groups, mainly Islamists.

The attackers are battling to flush out fellow former rebels from the hill town of Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, who have controlled the airport for the past three years.

Top world leaders on Monday urged an immediate ceasefire and called on the UN “to play an essential role in facilitating the political process” to restore stability to Libya.