Saturday, December 21, 2013

Libya disaster just keeps getting worse every day......Colonel Fethallah al-Gaziri, newly appointed head of military intelligence in Benghazi, shot dead during a family visit..... Just three 4x4s to patrol 120 Jufra desert weapons stores ...... UN Security Council Concerned At Worsening Security, Political Divisions in Libya

Libya’s oil production at 233,000 bpd

Tripoli, 23 December 2013:
Libya’s Ministry of Oil and Gas announced today that it is producing an average of 233,889 barrels of oil per day, up to 21 December 2013. It is also producing  just over two million (2, 058.500) cubic feet of gas.
It will be recalled that Libya’s oil production, which had reached 1.5 million bpd after the February 17th Revolution, has been the subject of numerous political, social and economic demands ranging from the Cyrenaica Federalists in the east, the Tebu and Tuaraeg in the south and the Amazigh in the Nefusa mountains. There have also been stoppages by the war injured and for various labour despites since 2011.
The minority Amazigh, Tebu and Tuarage populations, suppressed for years under Qaddafi , are taking full advantage of a weak interim government to press home their demands, using oil and gas sources and pipelines in their regions as leverage.





Akakus oilfield closure “due to opposition to Obari council” claim protestors

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 24 December 2013:
The main reason for the continuing closure of the Sharara oilfield near Obari in the south west of the country is not demands by Tuareg demonstrators for Libyan national ID cards but opposition to the old unelected Obari Local Council, a member of the demonstration committee has claimed.
Rejecting suggestions that there were militiamen among the protestors, Mahmoud Al-Ansari admitted to the Libya Herald that the protestors included a small group of Tuaregs demanding ID numbers but they were far from the only group taking part in the blockade. The removal of Obari’s unelected, old council was, he insisted , the sole official demand of all the demonstrators and their supporters. He claimed their number was between 1,500 and 1,700.
The local council, which he called “illegitimate”, continued to refuse to hand over power to the new elected one, he claimed. “We’ve sent a number of letters to the GNC and the government to press our demands”, he added. “We need a real development projects in Obari.”
The Shahara field, 60 kilometres west of Obari and run by Akakus Oil, a joint venture between Spain’s Repsol and the National Oil Corporation, reopened exactly a year ago after a three-week closure forced by Tebu activists. It was then closed again last August after militiamen from Zintan shut down the pipeline from it, but it reopened in September.
A month later it closed again after local protestors from Obari, mainly Tuaregs, broke into the oilfield to stage a demonstration. It was said at the time that they were demanding National ID numbers and their language be given official status in the new constitution.
Oil from the 350,000 b/d-capacity field is piped to the oil terminal at Zawia.
The Oil Minister, Abdulbari Al-Arusi, visited  Sharara after it shut down in October, but according to Al-Ansari, the demonstrators refused to meet him was because he was accompanied by local Congresswoman Muna Koukla, a member of the Justice and Construction Party.
“We warned him not to come with Muna Koukla. She represents a small group in Obari and protects the old non-elected local council”, he alleged. The demonstrators felt they could not trust her, he claimed.
The Defence Minister, Abdullah Al-Thinni, had also visited, Al-Ansari said, but he too was ignored because he had met with the non-elected local council.
The issue over the two rival councils, together with claims and counter claims of overspending and corruption, may soon become irrelevant, however.
The Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections (CCMCE) says that it is planning in January to start the process to elect a new municipal council for Obari.







GNC votes to extend its life another year

By Ahmed Elumami.
the GNC vote to extend its life is counted today (Photo: Naharnet)
the GNC votes to extend its life is tallied today (Photo: Naharnet)
Tripoli, 23 December 2013:
The General National Congress, whose duties were originally due to expire 120 days after it was elected in July 2012, has decided to extend its life for another year, until 24 December 2014.
Voting 102 to 24, congress members today agreed to carry on with their work.
Benghazi Congressman, Ahmed Langhi,told the Libya Herald that the Congress had approved “a roadmap” to determine its duties in the extension period, of which the most important was the completion of the 60-member Committee in February 2014.
Langhi said that the road map has also showed the work schedule of the 60-Committee, which will run from March to July 2014.
In the meanwhile, he added, the GNC would produce the referendum law and oversee the reformation of the High National Election Commission.
Langhi said that the new constitution would be put to a referendum next August. If it were not endorsed by at least two thirds of the electorate, the 60-Committee would have to redraft the document.
He also suggested that the current congress would produce a general election law, on the basis of the constitution, and that this might also be voted on in August next year. Langhi said that he anticipated that if the roadmap were followed successfully, power would be handed to a permanent congress on 24 December 2014.


Cyrenaica tribal elders reaffirm support for Jedhran, promise to export oil

By Ahmed Obeidi.
Federalists meet in Benghazi
Federalists meet in Benghazi
Benghazi, 22 December 2013:
Tribal chiefs and supporters of federalism have warned the government, Congress and the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Room (LROR) that they will not stand aside if force is used to end the closure of the eastern oil terminals. They also insisted that Cyrenaica would export oil independently of the NOC
At a meeting in Benghazi yesterday, Cyrenaica tribal elders and federalism activists said that any action or threat of action against the region or those who were “protecting” its ports and oil fields would be considered an assault on the people of Cyrenaica as a whole.
Last week, the Congress’ Oil and Energy Committee said that it was giving the government a week to reopen the oil terminals, otherwise it would advise Congress to authorise the use of force. Members of the LROR also said that they would take unilateral action against Ibrahim Jedhran, head of the self-styled Political Bureau of Cyrenaica, and his forces if the terminals did not reopen.
The Cyrenaica elders yesterday warned the LROR, primarily drawn from western Libya, that it should not meddle in the country’s social fabric. Doing so, they said, could fuel moves for separatism.
Echoing Jedhran’s demands, the tribal elders demanded the establishment of an independent committee to look into allegations of corruption in oil sales. They also demand the Public Auditor draw up a report on Libyan funds invested aboard, frozen assets and past contracts awarded.
“We are here today to send a clear message that not only action, but the suggestion of action, will end the patience of residents in eastern Libya,” Ryad Abu Mtary, an activist at the meeting, told the Libya Herald. He said had attended because of threats made by both the government and GNC to the young people of Cyrenaica who, he claimed, were protecting the ports in eastern Libya. “If you disagree with someone, you don’t attack an entire region”, he added.
“I came [to the meeting] to send a message to the feeble government that any military action is a second March 19th aggression [referring to the 19 March 2011 assault on Benghazi by Qaddafi forces] and we have the resources and capabilities to fight back any invasion,” Younis Al-Zwaya likewise told this newspaper.
However, in his opening speech to the meeting, Sheikh Al-Lawati Al-Agoria said that no one genuinely believed that military action would happen.
The real question now, he said, was when Cyrenaica would start to export oil.
“In Tobruk [where Cyrenaica federalists met recently] we asked for dialogue. It’s been a month now. Cyrenaica is well known. Its youths liberated Libya and today they intend to export its oil. They will export the oil tomorrow, or after tomorrow. Cyrenaica will export its oil.”
Sheikh Ali Bohlil Al-Obeidi whose presence was loudly applauded told attendees that “when Cyrenaica exports its oil all of Libya will be well.”
The issue of participation in the upcoming elections for the 60-member constitutional drafting committee produced conflicting views among those at the meeting.
“I support full participation in the elections even though I have some misgivings about the electoral system designed to benefit specific political parties and ideologies. Since 1963 [when the federal constitution of 1951 was replaced], the political system in Libya has been unstable and today the choice is between a simple or complex system of government, a system that benefits all Libyans equally. I am for federalism,” said Abu Mtary Ryad.
Another federalist at the meeting, Ali Al-Denaly, said that he supported participation in the elections.
“We need to focus on electing 20 true nationalist to represent Cyrenaica in the committee not individuals affiliated with political parties or having ideologies foreign to Libyan culture,” he said.
However, the head of the of Cyrenaica Council’s Media department, Dr Jaballa said he was opposed to the elections. “We already have a internationally-recognised constitution [the 1951 Constitution], we don’t need to have elections. The 1951 Constitution provides for a federalist system of governance. I believe today’s meeting is about either federalism or self determination,” he said. A media professor who has taught at a number of higher education institutions in Texas since 2001, Jaballa said he hoped “in 2014, Libyans will be happy under a federal system”. He added: “We have every right to sell the oil resource in our region. We should also control our entry points. Our main difficulty now is lack of funding which could be resolved through the export of oil.”
His views were backed by Younis Al-Zwaya: “I am against participation because the electoral process was drafted by the tarnished General National Congress is only likely to produce a defective constitution. We have the 1951 constitution.”
For Al-Motaz El-Aribe, a young supporter of federalism, the problem is Libya’s size. “Libya is a large country difficult to run by a centralist system. We don’t have a problem with individuals but with a system that is incompetent and corrupt.”
He claimed that Cyrenaica was not getting a fair share of investment. “How do you expect us to run our affairs if we don’t have access to education and scholarships which seem to be benefiting young people in other regions. Those accusing us of trying to split this country are ignoring Libya’s social fabric linking Libyans across regions and communities.”
The sense of eastern Libya being discriminated was strong at the meeting.
“I have three messages for Libyans today,” Abu Mtary said. “First, calling people traitors because of their thoughts is unacceptable; we [in Cyrenaica] could do the same. Secondly, we don’t believe in dividing this country. Libya is one with justice and equality for all. And finally, the threats of aggressive actions are only cheap words designed to agitate citizens and will only result in a speedy dismissal of the government and the GNC.”


Sarir power station halted again

By Libya Herald staff.
The Sarir power station has stopped electricity production again (Photo: GECOL).
The Sarir power station has stopped electricity production again (Photo: GECOL).
Tripoli, 22 December 2013:
Following  yesterday’s brief announcement by the General Electricity Company of Libya’s (GECOL) Station Control Engineer Mohammed Almujbary that  Sarir power station was working at its full capacity of 450 MW, GECOL announced today that the power station had once more stopped production.
It had shut down because of security concerns, the station’s executive manager, Hashim Al-Maliki, told the Libya Herald.  “We shut down the generators at ten this morning”.
Two days ago, he said, army units guarding the power station as well as the Sarir and Messla oil fields had been had had to repel gunmen who  attacked the Al-Sarir farm project 40 kilometres east of the station. Although five of the attackers had been killed and one caught and the rest had fled to Jakharra and Tazerbu, the sound of heavy artillery firing had panicked  employees, Al-Maliki said.
He added said that because all the power stations in Libya were connected in the national electricity grid, it was highly probable that the stoppage would mean power cuts across the country unless the Zuweitina station north of Ajdabiya upped its production.
Earlier today, a statement by GECOL confirmed that workers at the power station had stop working to because of security concerns resulting from the fighting and that output at the station was now down to zero.
As a result, the statement continued, GECOL expected that there wuld be power cuts again across the whole of Libya.
The Sarir power station had been embroiled in the various political, economic and social demands of the local Tebu community. It was only on 11 December that the road blockade preventing trucked fuel supplies to the power station by Tebu protestors had been ended.
This latest stoppage was as a result of what is believed to be Zwai militiamen attacking those regular army units in the region which happen to be made up of Tebus.
With input by Tooza Hasairi and Jamal Adel.

Libya’s first suicide bomber slays seven

By Libya Herald staff
Tripoli and Benghazi, 22 December 2013:
In the first attack of its kind in Libya, seven people died and 12 were injured when a suicide bomber in a truck hit a military checkpoint  at Bersis, 50 kilometres east of Benghazi early this morning.
“The incident took place at 1.30 am today” Benghazi Joint Security Room spokesman Ibrahim Shara, told the Libya Herald ” The suicide bomber blew himself up in Toyota Cruiser vehicle”.
One account of the attack has the suicide bomber ramming his vehicle into a checkpoint. Another is that he had parked some distance away and detonated his explosives when a soldiers went to check him. Civilians are reportedly among the dead and injured.
The first use of a suicide bomber in Libya has caused widespread shock.
“What happened in Bersis  has only seen in Iraq and Afghanistan “ said Shara, “This was a critical and dangerous attack which is moving the country to a dangerous stage”.
He added that the security forces have began investigations into who was behind the attack. However, he added that  suicide attacks were difficult because so much evidence was destroyed in the explosion.   Poor quality TV footage showed the attack site when it had not been cordoned off.  Soldiers and civilians appeared to be moving at random among the wreckage.
This is not the first time that Bersis has been the scene of a terror attack. Following the capture last month of a group of Ansar Al-Sharia fighters near Bersis in a vehicle carrying weapons and explosives, there was a failed ambush on a convoy carrying the prisoners. Later, on 28 November,  three members of Mushat Al-Awal, the 1st Marines Battalion, were killed and seven injured in clashes in Bersis.
The commander of Saiqa Forces, Wanis Bukhamada, said at the time on television that the attackers were members of Ansar Al-Sharia.


Internet returns to Tripoli as “emergency plan” activated

By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 22 December 2013:
In the wake of  yesterday’s loss of internet connection to most parts of Libya, service was resumed today after the Ministry of Communications activated its “emergency plan”. Meanwhile armed raiders smashed up the car of one of a team that tried to negotiate with them.
An alternative plan has been used to cover the forced internet shut down following the storming of both the Libyana and Libya Telecom and Technology (LTT) headquarters by protesters, Libya Herald has been informed.
Deputy Communications Minister Mohammed Belras Ali, told the Libya Herald today that the protesters had prevented Libyana and LTT employees from entering the headquarters and doing their jobs this morning.
Ali said that the Ministry had decided to use the “emergency line”, which was developed after the liberation of Tripoli to feed the network through an alternative route. He would not elaborate on this “emergency line”.
He said that the internet is now working at only 60 percent of its full capacity.
This morning, LTT released a statement saying that about 150 protesters were still occupying the headquarter of the company and that they were armed with various kinds of knives which they had used to force engineers to shut down  all of Libya’s internet system.
When a team including Ali, the LTT human resources director and some members of the ministry  tried to negotiate with the  raiders and understand their demands,  the protestors reacted  by smashing the human resources director’s car. No one was apparently hurt.
LTT pointed out that the protesters’ violent response to attempted negotiations was clear evidence that they had no intention in engaging in dialogue.





Libyan military colonel assassinated

Colonel Fethallah al-Gaziri, newly appointed head of military intelligence in Benghazi, shot dead during a family visit.

Last updated: 20 Dec 2013 22:05
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Libya has been plagued by growing lawlessness since the 2011 war that toppled Muammar Gaddafi [File: EPA]
Colonel Fethallah al-Gaziri, the newly appointed chief of military intelligence in Benghazi, has been assassinated during a visit to his family in the eastern Libyan city of Derna.
A Libyan security official, speaking to the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that "unknown assailants opened fire at Colonel Fethallah al-Gaziri... and killed him."
The official said al-Gaziri was in Derna for the marriage of a niece. His bullet-riddled body was taken to Derna hospital.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for al-Gaziri's killing.
Libya has witnessed a string of assassinations and bombings since former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011. In most cases, the government has been unable to identify the assailants.
Derna is known as a stronghold of Ansar al-Shariah, a hardline group suspected to have been behind the September 11, 2012, attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Much of recent violence and lawlessness in Libya has been blamed on heavily armed militias with roots in the 2011 war. They have undermined successive transitional governments and parliament, but the government also relies on many of them to provide security in the absence of a functioning police force.




Just three 4x4s to patrol 120 Jufra desert weapons stores


By Callum Paton
Hun Libyan Shield Commander Ayed Rehel - "just three 4x4s"
Hun Libyan Shield Commander Ayed Rehel – “just three 4x4s” (Photo:Aimen Eljali)
Tripoli, 20 December 2013:
TheLibya Shield commander in Hun has said that weapons stores in the desert around Jufra lie at the mercy of gun runners and Al-Qaeda. He added that his forces are already stretched as they combat drugs trafficking, smuggling and illegal immigration.
Speaking to the Libya Herald at his headquarters in Hun, Ayed Rehel, said  that he has just three all-terrain vehicles to patrol a region that contains some 120 weapons stores. These arsenals are supposedly under the control of military police in Jufra. However, Rehel said the dumps were poorly-protected and subject to raids.
He admitted that the soldiers protecting these arsenals “are old and lacking in energy and resources”. Rehel went on to explain that the dumps containing small arms were difficult to protect because they had “many access points”.
The commander, who leads  a force of just 140 in the Jufra region said his men had not confronted Islamist groups operating through the desert. However, he said he could confirm that Libyans were selling arms, seized from nearby weapons caches, to Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups, moving between Niger, Libya and Mali. These arms, he said, were for the most part, outdated Kalashnikovs.
There are a further 20 weapon stores in the area holding chemical weapons and the raw materials to produce them. These armaments, insisted Rehel, are secure and in the process of being destroyed by the United Nations with the cooperation of Libya Shield.
His force’s main job is pursuing illegal aliens and drug traffickers who cross over the frontiers with Egypt, Mali and Niger. In the last year, it had arrested 270 mostly agricultural workers from sub-Saharan Africa trying to make their way to Europe. He said that the illegals were detained by his men for around 24 hours, during which the detainees are given health checks, before being deported.
“Libyans move them [Illegal immigrants] from the border to Jufra for roughly LD 400.” Rehel explained, “Taxis and big vans will take them from Sebha to the north and Tripoli for LD 850 a person”.
The commander said that his force was spread far too thinly to be truly effective. He said that only extra manpower and the expertise that could only be provided by a highly-trained unit, could meet the challenges
He said that his organisation is more than ready to hand over power to the army and police. Until then, he said, he and his men will work with security forces.
“Then the young men in our force will then return to their studies and their work. Some even now spend four hours at work and then go off to study,” he added.
The Hun commander was optimistic but said that change in the area would take time.
“Before [the revolution] we were not free. We could not talk to the media. We could not express our ideas. We could not hold weapons,” he said, “It has been a good thing that the youth have been able to hold weapons and assert their will. But it will not be long before this will all disappear and life in Libya will return to normal.”

Petrol pumps stolen from one fuelling station
Ten Petrol stationshave been sabotaged, forcing their closure
Tripoli, 19 December 2013:
Police and military forces were securing Tripoli’s petrol stations this evening at the request of the Prime Minister’s Office, after vandalism forced the closure of ten stations.
Spokesman for Tripoli Security Directorate Essam Naas told the Libya Herald that the Prime Minster’s Office had agreed, on the advice of the Directorate, to deploy security forces across the capital following the sabotage of petrol stations.
These instances of vandalism reignited fears that the petrol crisis, which ended three days ago, might return. However, various officials have spoken out on television news programmes and social media networks stressing that there is no fuel shortage and that the current problems have been caused solely by vandals.
At one petrol station in Hadba Toul, the manager was forced to close after several armed men in plain clothes stole the petrol pumps, saying this was for the station’s protection. While police have arrived at some petrol stations, the situation on the streets remained tense as bystanders questioned why security forces had relinquished control of the fuelling stations so soon.

UN Security Council Concerned At Worsening Security, Political Divisions in Libya
19/12/2013 18:17:00
The UN Security Council has voiced its grave concern at the worsening security situation and political divisions in Libya that threaten to undermine the country's democratic transition, saying in a presidential statement that it was calling on all parties in Libya to support the democratic transition in Libya, including agreement on its immediate next steps, and to engage in political dialogue and refrain from violence and actions that challenge the stability of the State.

Since the ousting of the former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi over two years ago, Libya has been undergoing a democratic transition, and in recent months it has seen increasing acts of violence and worsening security, including the abduction - and subsequent release - of Prime Minister Ali Zidan, the killing of unarmed protesters in the capital, Tripoli, and targeted assassinations in Benghazi.

The 15-member body forming the Council emphasised that all parties "must reject violence against civilians and respect the right of all Libyans to peaceful assembly."

While noting the withdrawal of some armed groups from Tripoli, the Council called for urgent progress towards an inclusive national approach to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration into civilian life or integration into state military and security institutions.

"The Security Council stresses the urgent need to strengthen military and police institutions in Libya," it added. "In line with the needs and wishes of the Libyan people, the Council supports the efforts of Libyan state forces to restore public security across Libya and counter violence by extremist groups... "

Last week, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Tarek Mitri, said the continued "precariousness" of security in Libya highlights the need for dialogue between the Government and the main armed militias.

"It is essential for all parties to engage in dialogue and create the right balance of incentives in order to stimulate a comprehensive process of reintegration and eventual disarmament," he stated.

The Council also welcomed the efforts of Mr. Mitri and UNSMIL to facilitate a meaningful Libya-led national dialogue and strongly encouraged further steps in this regard.

"The Council underlines the importance of a single, inclusive national dialogue that can forge consensus on the priorities for securing a transition to democracy and help ensure that all views in Libya are properly taken into account."