Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Libya updates March 19 , 2014 -- UN imposes sanctions on vessels involved in illegal oil exports .... Former Interior Ministry Undersecretary kidnapped ...... Air Force chief says he is still in post ...... Thinni holds first cabinet meeting in Ghat ..... Sebha camp handover claimed – and disputed


Oil tanker being escorted back by 25 US personnel and a warship

Tripoli, 20 March 2014:
There are 25 American personnel on board the oil tanker Morning Glory, which is sailing back to Libya under escort of a US warship.
The American sailors are supervising transit and performing security, navigation and communication tasks, a Pentagon spokesperson said.
“The three Libyans who had taken control of the Morning Glory remain now under US control aboard the Morning Glory,” he added.
The 21-person crew are also still on board the vessel. It is not known what will happen to the six Pakistanis – including the Captain – six Indians, three Sri Lankans, two Syrians, two Sudanese and two Eritreans, upon arrival.
An arrest warrant was issued for them by the Attorney General, but some sources said at the time that the crew had been forced to stay in Sidra port by armed men. The Captain’s wife told Reuters that her husband and the crew were held hostage and forced at gunpoint to load oil.
The vessel, which left Libya last week carrying an illicit shipment of crude loaded, is being escorted back by the USS Stout, a guided missile destroyer.
A source in the oil industry said the vessel was expected to dock at a Libyan port on Saturday. It is not known which port it will go to first, but it is expected to unload the stolen crude at Zawia.


TV channel targeted

By Libya Herald staff.
Benghazi, 20 March 2014:
Two vehicles belonging to the independent Libya TV channel were blown up this evening in a car park at the Tourist Village near Gar Younis in Benghazi. No one was hurt in the explosion and, apart from the vehicles, one of which was completed destroyed, there was no damage.  The reason for the attack is unknown.
Over the pst year there has been a steady spate of attacks on TV stations and reporters from various quarters. Last month , the Tripoli headquarters of Alaseema TV  (“Capital TV”) was attacked twice in the space on one week.
Meanwhile in Benghazi today, Turkey sent an air ambulance to pick up five of the military students injured in Monday’s car bomb attack. The plane was sent, according to Turkish diplomatic sources, at the request of the Libyan authorities.
Yesterday, a soldier was shot and killed at a checkpoint in Hawari district.  Balal Abdulgader Al-Nimar died immediately. His colleague, Ibrahim Abdullah Bufanara was injured and is now undergoing treatment in hospital.
Also last night, an unknown group threw bombs at Sabri police station.  No one was hurt and there was no damage.








UN imposes sanctions on vessels involved in 

illegal oil exports



Tripoli, 19 March 2014:
The UN Security Council today voted unanimously to adopt a resolution condemning attempts to illicitly export oil from Libya and imposing sanctions on any vessels attempting to do so.
The move came after the tanker Morning Glory successfully loaded a shipment of crude oil from Sidra oil export terminal, which has been under the control of a group of federalists operating under Ibrahim Jadhran since August last year. The tanker escaped a naval blockade to sail into international waters but, while moored off Cyprus, was apprehended by a US vessel.
The Libyan authorities have been asked to inform the Security Council committee, which already oversees the arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze imposed by resolution 1970, of any vessels suspected of involvement in illegal oil exports.
Any such reported vessels would be designated “for some or all measures authorised in the resolution on a case-by-case basis for a period of 90 days,” the UN said. These could include prohibiting port entry and restricting nationals from making financial transactions with vessels carrying Libyan crude.
The country under which any such vessel was sailing would also be obliged to take necessary steps: “To direct the vessel not to load, transport or discharge such crude oil from Libya,” the UN said.
However, North Korea’s attempts to issue such instructions to the Morning Glory, including a plea made by the North Korean ambassador in Tripoli, did not prevent the loading of a reported 234,000 barrels of oil onto the tanker. At the time, sources said that the crew had been forced to load the oil by armed men.
North Korea then announced that the ship was in breach of contract, and removed its right to sail under the flag, rendering it a “state-less vessel.”
Under the resolution, UN member states will also be authorised to inspect suspect vessels designated by the committee and take suitable action to return illicitly-obtained oil to Libya.
The resolution was put forward by the US, a member of Tripoli’s diplomatic community told the Libya Herald.



Former Interior Ministry Undersecretary 

kidnapped



By Libya Herald Staff.
Tripoli, 19 March 2014:
The former Undersecretary at the Interior Ministry, Al-Bahlul Al-Said, was reported abducted this evening in Tripoli according to a Security Directorate official. He said that two vehicles forced Al-Said to stop his car. Gunmen then seized him and drove off. 
There is confusion as to where the incident took place.  The Security Directorate official said the Airport Road.  However, another reports say Tajoura.

Air Force chief says he is still in post



By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 19 March 2014:
Reports that the Air Force Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Ahmed Habib Al-Mismari, has been dismissed from his post are untrue, he insists. Speaking to the Libya Herald today, Mismari also denied social media reports that Benghazi’s Benina Airbase was now under the control of the controversial Major General Khalifa Hafter. Saad Al-Warfali remained the base commander, he said.
Mismari did admit, nonetheless, that he and Warfali were under investigation by the military prosecutor for giving information to the media and meeting with Hafter The investigation had been requested by the Chief of Staff, Major General Jadallah Al-Obeidi.
However, a miltary police source told this newspaper today that Obeidi had approved Mismari’s sacking and that all that was awaited was the signature of the acting Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni in his continuing capacity as Defence Minister as soon as he returned from Ghat. 
Hafter, who remains a top army officer, has called for the removal of the General National Congress and the government and their replacement by a military council and went as far as announcing on TV on 14 February that it was going to happen. Although the government then ordered his arrest, it did not happen and he has since been campaigning in favour of his so-called “initiative”, mainly in the east of the country where there is substantial disillusionment with what is seen as a Tripoli-centric government.
He was at Benina Airbase with Mismari and Warfali on Monday to meet with a number of officers about the so-called initiative. A statement afterwards said that those there had approved Hafter’s 14 February initiative, that the armed forces had to be rebuilt, and that Hafter must be appointed Chief of Staff.

Thinni holds first cabinet meeting in Ghat



By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 19 March 2104:
Acting Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni has held his first meeting of the Council of Minister in the deep south west oasis town on Ghat. It represents a major break in style with the practice of former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
Following their deliberations, ministers met with local officials to discuss a raft of issues.
“After their meeting, the cabinet met with Ghat’s elders, local council and tribal figures and listened to complaints,” Al-Auwaiynat regional district in Ghat, Rajab Abdussalam Alzayani said.
“We also spoke with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Abdulaziz about the possibility of opening a new Algerian consulate in Ghat. He promised us he would discuss it with this Algerian counterpart” Alzayani told the Libya Herald.
There have been concerns in Ghat about the nearby porous border with Algeria, and the lack of security in the area.
The move may go someway to reassure Libyans living far from the capital who have complained that the post-revolution governments remain as Tripoli-centric as the Qaddafi regime, and equally divorced from local issues.


Sebha camp handover claimed – and disputed



By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 19 March 2014:
The Misrata-led Central Libya Shield forces says that it and Brigade No. 166, also from Misrata, now control Sebha’s historic castle and the nearby Qatiba Faris camp, previously in the hands of Brigade No. 6.
The latter brigade, until last month the main national army unit in the town, is largely made up of members of the Awlad Sulaiman tribe.
Sebha was engulfed in deadly communal clashes between the Awlad Suleiman and members of the Tebu community in January in which over a hundred people were killed. This then enabled Qaddafi loyalists to gain a foothold at the nearby Tamerhint Airbase.
In response, Misratan and Zintani units were deployed last month to enforce peace.  
“We officially took in charge of the 6th brigade camp yesterday after its members agreed to withdraw” the spokesperson of the Shield forces, Ala Al-Huwaik, told the Libya Herald last night. “The historic castle was also handed over to us and brigade 166. We are officially now control.”
The transfer followed lengthy negotiations mediated by local elders to “make sure that all combatants hand over their strongholds to neutral forces”, he said.
However, the Tebu had still not handed over the the checkpoint on Sebha – Murzuk road they controlled.
They must comply, Huwaik insisted.
Disputing the handover claim, a Tebu source in Sebha claimed that not all the camp had been vacated. He told this paper that a missile had been fired from it at the town’s Nassiriya district, home to many members of the Tebu community.  Four had been injured and transferred to hospital in Murzuk for treatment.