Sunday, March 23, 2014

Libya Updates March 23 -25 , 2014 -- Three Years After Gaddafi, Libya Is Imploding Into Chaos and Violence Its government has no real power; militias are ever more entrenched, and now the state itself is under threat ......

As of March 27 , 2014.....


Protestors threaten to close Ruwais power station; Tripoli power cuts possible.

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 26 March 2014:
Protestors from Hawamid and the neighbouring village of Takoot in the Jebel Nafusa are threatening to close the Ruwais power station because of what they claim is government neglect. Demonstrations started outside the gas-fired plant on Monday and the protestors say they will start a blockade next Monday if there is no response to their demands.
Closure of the power station would result in a replay of last December’s major power cuts in Tripoli.
“Hawamid’s people sought refuge in the Jebel Nafusa and Tunisia during the Libyan uprising of 2011 and as a result our homes were burnt down, our lands vandalised, our property stolen by Qaddafi’s brigades and associates” the head of Hawamid Local council, Al-Hadi Duo, told the Libya Herald.
“When the town was liberated on 28 July, 2011, people started moving back, but things are completely different in the town because of the theft and destruction. We sent made a hundreds of letters to the government asking it to re-build the town and give residents compensation for massive losses of property and possessions,,” he said. “But we’ve seen nothing so far.”
The protestors appear determined. “We had a very difficult times. We were forced to leave the town because of the brutal tyranny of Qaddafi’s brigades.  Burt we bore all for the sake of Libya,” one of the protestors at the power station, Fathi Al-Hamidi, told this paper. “Despite all that we’re have been ignored and neglected. The government hasn’t granted us any compensation for our immense losses.”
They had not protested at Ruwais before. “This our first time ever. We’re all very aware of the critical situation that the country is facing, but it seems all our efforts have got nowhere. So we will shut down Ruwais next week if the government doesn’t make a move.”

The Ruwais power station in Jebel Nafusa West of Libya is fired by gas supplied from the Mellitah Company’s Wafa field in the south west of the country. A recent blockade of the pipeline promoted warnings of a shutdown and power outages in Tripoli. However, it is now operating normally.




Kidnapped bank official freed

By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
Tripoli, 26 March 2104:
Thee head of the Central Bank of Libya’s media office, Essam Al-Oul, kidnapped on Monday has freed but not before being shot and tortured by his abductors. 
Having been grabbed at gunpoint by three gunmen in front of his home in Tripoli’s Salahadeen district, he was driven off, blindfolded, to an unknown location, he said.
“At first the kidnappers were talking about a ransom for my release. Then they demanded I say that some officials of the Central Bank of Libya were collaborating with members of the former regime.”
The kidnappers tried to force him to accuse certain Central Bank staff, whom they named, of being former regime associates, he said.
“When I refused, they started to torture, beat and strangled me. They even used electricity on me as part of the torture,” he explained.
He had been shot in the leg as part of his ordeal, he said.


Obari kidnappers demand ransom for bank manager

By Jamel Adel.
Tripoli, 26 March 2014:
Kidnappers are demanding LD 600,000 for the manager of the Obari branch of the Bank of North Africa, Mohamed Al-Salheen, who was kidnapped as he was on his way home from work on Monday.
“Mohamed was coming back home after a regular day’s work around 2.00 pm when a gang kidnapped him. In the evening, they called us and demanded LD 600,000 to set him free,” the manager’s brother, Ahmed Al-Salheen, told the Libya Herald.
The kidnappers “keep calling us, repeatedly asking for LD 600,000 to set him free”, Ahmed said today.
He said the family feels helpless. “We are doing everything possible for him to rejoin the family again,” he said, but they did not have the money, and no one was helping. “The authorities are not doing their proper job and the security situation does not help,” he added..
The culprits are believed to be local. “They have local accents”, he disclosed.
A security vacuum in the south has resulted not only in numerous communal clashes but also rising crime, with a number of bank robberies and kidnappings of bank employees in Obari, Murzuk and Sebha over the past six months.


Partial blockade on the Airport Road

Tripoli, 26 March 2014:
There are reports this morning that Tripoli’s Airport Road has been partially blockaded.
“There were burning tyres across the road on the way to the airport. They were letting cars drive through the smoke but most people turned back,” an airport employee told the Libya Herald. “I have never seen the Airport Road so quiet.”
The blockade was about halfway down the road, he said, near the Ministry of Interior. Near the blockade, there were armed men wearing balaclavas, bandanas and bullet-proof jackets sitting on sandbags piled on the wall. He added that it was unclear whether this was related to the blockade.
Some adjacent roads also appeared to have been blocked, he said.


Alitalia cancels Tripoli flights until 31 March

By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 26 March 2014:
Alitalia is the latest international airline to cancel flights to Tripoli.
“We decided to cancel flights yesterday because of security issues at the airport,” an Alitalia employee told the Libya Herald. “We plan to restart flights on 31 March.”
The Italian airline said that passengers affected by the cancellations could either rebook on flights after 31 March or could get their tickets refunded.
Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines also cancelled flights until the 31 March, following two security incidents at the airport on Friday and Sunday.
British Airways confirmed today that it has suspended flights until 27 March. “In effect, this means the next flight due to operate would be outbound on 30 March,” a spokesperson for BA said.


Major flour-smuggling operation busted

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 26 March 2014:
Security forces have seized 10 trucks carrying more 1,200 sacks of subsidized flour which they believe were going to be smuggled across the southern borders into Chad and Niger.
Troops from the Misratan-led Third Force linked to Libya Central Shield captured the haul at Sokna, west of Hun.
“Approximately 480 tons of flour were heading from Benghazi to Sebha in the south to be smuggled into neighbouring countries,” the spokesperson of the Third Force, Ala Al-Huwaik, told the Libya Herald.  Most of the drivers were from Ajdabiya, he said, and had counterfeit documentation with them.
“Libya goods are being massively smuggled out, which is doing a great damage to the national economy,” Al-Huwaik added, blaming the country’s open borders for enabling such smuggling.






As of March 25 , 2014 .......



Al-Thinni likely to be given another fortnight as PM by Congress


By Ahmed Elumami.
Benghazi, 25 March 2014:
Abdullah Al-Thinni is expected to be given another two weeks as interim prime minister by the General National Congress (GNC), Congress members have told the Libya Herald. The reason, they say, is that there is no consensus on anyone else.
“In my opinion, Congress will renew a two-week period given to the acting Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni,” Kufra Congressman Hamed Hattah said. “It was difficult enough to get 120 votes for the members to sack Zeidan. It will be equally difficult for the Congress to find  another120 votes to appoint another prime minister especially in this tough time”.
There is no a consensus on any of the 15 candidates, Hattah said.
None of the 15 has not yet officially by named by the Congress.
“I and other Congress members I know very well cannot find any among the candidates who would be the perfect figure for this critical period”, the Kufra congressman said.
A congresswoman, asking not to be named, agreed that Congress would almost certainly give Thini more two weeks to run the government today because members could not agree on a replacement to Ali Zeidan.
The lack of consensus on a new name for the premiership is thought likely to continue, which means that Al-Thinni will probably remain acting prime minister until Congress’ replacement is elected and meets, possibly in July.


Production stopped again at Fil field by action in Jebel Nafusa.


By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 25 March 2015:
Production at the massive El Fil field west of Murzuk has come to a virtual stop, not because of action by local Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) unsatisfied with government policy and demanding better pay, as rumoured, but because of a valve on the pipeline network being turned off.
We stopped producing because the pressure in the system was increasing,” said Abdul Fattah Bani, head manager at the El Fil field. “That was because one of the pipelines was blocked somewhere up in the Jebel Nafusa”, he told the Libya Herald.
The stoppage was on Monday.
“El Fil told us about the pressure, asking us to find out where the problem was and which pipe was blocked,” a senior official at Mellitah Oil said.  “We’ve started to look to find out which valve [has been turned off] but we’ve not located it yet.”
The massive field west of Murzuk, run by Mellitah, a joint venture between the NOC and Italy’s Eni, is capable of producing 130,000 barrels a day.  According to officials at the field, however, production was running at 84,000 b/d before the latest stoppage.
Production has been disrupted at the field several times since the revolution. It restarted last September after a two-week closure because an armed group, reportedly from Zintan, closed a pipeline valve. It was earlier closed for several weeks as a result of a dispute with mainly Tebu workers over salaries and other benefits.
The field is still producing a small amount, Bani said, to power the nearby Sharara oil field.  
Refuting reports that the PFG were behind the stoppage, Hassan Kashiyani, the deputy commander of the guard at El Fil, said that everything was normal there as far as security was concerned.  ”We’re doing our job normally and have no problems.”


Emergency budget passed


By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 25 March 2014:
The General National Congress (GNC) today voted to grant the government an emergency budget of LD 2.5 billion to resolve problems, particularly security issues, that continue to hamper the development of the country.
Out of 76 Congress members, 65 voted to grant the government the funds at this morning’s GNC sitting. This emergency budget is effectively an advance payment from the 2014 budget which, as yet, has not been agreed upon by the GNC.
Sebha Congresswoman Nadi Rashied told the Libya Herald that the Congress members decided to give the government the emergency funds as a loan from the 2014 budget, which meant there was no need for a quorum to approve it as a law.
The funds will be spent in different areas, Rashied said. The government said it needed the money to work out several problems related to security issues in Benghazi, Derna, Sebha and Sirte. Money was also needed to help address problems within the Ministries of Defence and Interior as well as the eastern oil port crisis, she added.
Rashied said that the loan would be deducted from the government’s 2014 budget in instalments.
She added that giving the emergency funds to interim Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni was also intended to spur on members of Congress to choose a new prime minister as soon as possible.

British Airways and Lufthansa extend suspensions on Tripoli flights


By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 25 March 2014.
Carriers British Airways, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have extended their suspension of flights to Tripoli amid continued security concerns.
British Airways has now suspended its Tripoli flights until Friday.
“We are keeping the situation under review and recommend customers check ba.com for the latest flight information,” a spokesperson for BA told the Libya Herald. He added that, whilst the airline was sorry for any inconvenience caused, safety would always be its highest priority.
Lufthansa and Austrian have cancelled all flights until 31 March, although they cited “operational reasons” for the move.
“We will be in contact with all authorities involved in order to work on a fast resumption of our flights,” said a spokesperson for Lufthansa. He added that the airline would also be in touch with Libyan Airlines, with which the company has a code-sharing agreement, allowing them to operate additional flights.
The airlines cancelled flights after an incident on Friday when missiles were fired near the airport and caused damage to the runway and apron area. Another missile was reportedly fired in the vicinity of the airport on Sunday, renewing concerns about safety.






Central Bank official kidnapped in Tripoli



By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 24 March 2014:
The head of the Central Bank of Libya’s media office, Essam Al-Oul, has been kidnapped from in front of his home in Tripoli’s Salahadeen district near the old airport road.
According to his brother, three men arrived at around 3.30 pm in a BMW with tinted windows. One of them, whom the brother described as thin, short and with a beard, grabbed Al-Oul and bungled him into the car which then drove off.
There are no further details at present.

Strikes risk permanently damaging Libya’s oil 

and gas reserves warns Eni chief



By Michel Cousins.
Mellitah plant (Photo: Eni)
Mellitah plant (Photo: Eni)
Tripoli, 24 March 2014:
Strikers who have been forcing production at Libya’s oil and gas fields to stop, restart and stop again risk permanently damaging extraction, the head of the biggest foreign energy company in the country has said.
Such action could damage the geology of the fields, ENI’s Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni told the Libya Herald.
On a flying visit to Tripoli to meet with the interim Prime Minister, Abdullah Al-Thinni, he said that he and others in the oil industry were extremely worried about what had been happening.
Production in the Wafa, El Fil and Sharara fields in the south west of the country have been disrupted on several occasions either by local strikers’ blockades or elsewhere by activists with other agendas turning pipeline valves down or off.
Every time there was a protest for whatever reason, Scaroni said, whether over salaries or local tribes feeling excluded, it had increasingly translated into “let’s stop production of oil and gas”.
 “Opening and closing gas and oil fields is not like switching a light on and off. It risks damaging the geology of the field,” he stated. Oil and gas needed natural pressure to bring them to the surface. That could be damaged by constantly stopping and starting production. It was “putting at risk at risk future generations”, he said.
All Libya’s money comes from oil, he pointed out, and the off-on-off intervention threatened it. If the pressure was affected it would be much more costly to produce oil and gas.  Libya would suffer.
Those responsible were “shooting themselves in the foot – and their children in the foot,”   he said.
In any event, the need for security was paramount, he said, if the country’s oil and gas industry was to flourish and grow.
There had been plans for a new round of concession bids before the revolution, and Scaroni hoped it would happen relatively soon.  But “security is a precondition for a new round,” he stressed.  International oil companies would not invest hundreds of millions of dollars without security, when there was kidnapping and shooting. “In order to attract [foreign] companies you need public order.”
As far as it was concerned, Eni felt “relatively secure” at the moment, he said, but it was far from happy about the general situation.
As to its joint venture Mellitah operations with the National Oil Corporation, Eni was performing relatively well, Scaroni explained. The Wafa oilfield strike was over and gas was flowing for Libya’s domestic needs and through the 520-kilometre undersea Greenstream pipeline to Italy – 11 million cubic metres a day for the Libyan market, and 21 millon a day for export.
Mellitah could produce 300,000 barrels of oil a day equivalent, “if things went well”, he said. As it was, it was producing around 250,000 b/d – which meant that given the shutdown in the east because of the oil terminal blockades, it would producing most of Libya’s oil. It also produced all Libya’s gas, he pointed out.
The reason Eni was performing well, he said, was down to the fact that operations were mostly in the west of the country –unaffected by the terminal blockades – and that “we have lots of gas and we have by far the strongest [international] presence in Libya with 3,000 employees”. A further reason was that it had good relations with the people and tribes were it operated.
In relation to that, Eni was committed to investing in social development programmes, notably health, housing and water supply, to help those living where it was working, Scaroni said. “We want people in areas where we operate to feel the benefit of our presence.” It was a strategic objective everywhere Eni was in Africa, he stressed.
Social funding would see investment worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” in Libya and there were plans for an MOU on the subject. But nothing would be decided by Eni alone. It would be up to the government and the NOC to designate the projects.  
But again, it came back to security.  The programme would go ahead “as long as we can produce”.
It was an apposite statement in the circumstances. The strike at Wafa was over but the same day that Scaroni was in Tripoli, strikers at the massive El Fil field west of Murzuk again stopped production – increasing the risk to its geology.

Protests outside Military Intelligence offices at 

appointment of Salah Badi



By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 24 March:
The headquarters of the Libyan Military Intelligence was blockaded yesterday by staff protesting about the appointment of former General National Congress (GNC) member Salah Badi as its new head.
Officers and other staff members from the department complained at the decision to appoint Badi as the Director of Military Intelligence.
It appears that Badi, a former Air Force officer, was appointed in November last year, following his promotion to Colonel by order of GNC head, Nuri Abu Sahmain. However, the decision was not made public until very recently.
The entrances to the Tripoli headquarters was blockaded with sand bags, according to Bawabat Al-Wasat. They said they would prevent Badi from entering the building and one of the protesters said that Badi was not qualified to do the job.
Spokesman for the Military Intelligence Commission Abdul Basset Al-Shaari said that although the Commission had heard about Badi’s appointment, it had not been asked to vet him.


“We haven’t received any papers to investigate him after his appointment as chief of Military Intelligence,” Shaari said. “When he was promoted to colonel, he also should have been investigated by the Commission but again we didn’t receive the relevant papers so we could not open the enquiry.”
Badi was elected as an independent to Congress in July 2012 and became a member of Wafa bloc. He resigned following the request by Misrata’s Local Council that all the city’s GNC representatives to do so following the Gharghour massacre in November 2013 in which some 40 people were killed and scores injured.

Tripoli airport targeted in second missile attack


By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 24 March 2014:
Another missile was fired at Tripoli International Airport yesterday afternoon, according to an Airport Authority official.
The report has been confirmed by aviation sources, who said the missile landed in an open space causing no damage.
The airport was closed on Friday after two missiles hit the runway and apron area. A number of airlines suspended services to Tripoli as a result. Tunisair since resumed flights but Lufthansa, Austrian and British Airways have not yet.
It is not known who is behind the attacks but there is speculation that the objective is to close the airport and force out the Zintanis who still largely control it, by making airlines transfer temporarily to Mitiga Airbase.

Sebha airport still closed


By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 24 March 2014:
Sebha Airport remains closed due to ongoing security issues and concerns that violence could still break out in the area.
“Sebha airport is still out of action since clashes started three months ago,” General Manager of Sebha airport Mohammed Owheda told the Libya Herald. “We demanded that an area of between 20 to 25 kilometres around the airport was secured so we could resume fights, but this still has not been achieved.”
Awheda added that it remained risky for the airport to resume flights, because of its location in an area that is considered disputed land between fighting tribes. “It remains subject to crossfire because there are military camps still in the vicinity of the airport,” he added.
“We are expecting a ministerial committee to visit Sebha in the next few days to look into how to can resume flights,” Awheda said. This delegation is expected to include Justice Minister Saleh Al-Marghany, Labour Minister Mohammed Soulim and Telecommunications Minister Anwar Abubaker Al-Faitouri.
Sebha airport was closed over three months ago after tribal clashes broke out in the town. During fighting, missiles fell in the area surrounding the airport, disrupting flights and eventually closing the airport.
The airport was meant to reopen once security issues had been resolved.
The closure has had a knock-on effect on other flights to the South. The nearest functioning airport to Sebha is Obari and all flights from Tripoli are fully-booked well in advance.






and .....




Three Years After Gaddafi, Libya Is Imploding Into Chaos and Violence


Its government has no real power; militias are ever more entrenched, and now the state itself is under threat



The Libyan former prime minister Ali Zeidan fled last week after parliament voted him out of office. A North Korean-flagged oil tanker, the Morning Glory, illegally picked up a cargo of crude from rebels in the east of the country and sailed safely away, despite a government minister’s threat that the vessel would be “turned into a pile of metal” if it left port: the Libyan navy blamed rough weather for its failure to stop the ship. Militias based in Misrata, western Libya, notorious for their violence and independence, have launched an offensive against the eastern rebels in what could be the opening shots in a civil war between western and eastern Libya.
Without a central government with any real power, Libya is falling apart. And this is happening almost three years after 19 March 2011 when the French air force stopped Mu’ammer Gaddafi’s counter-offensive to crush the uprising in Benghazi. Months later, his burnt-out tanks still lay by the road to the city. With the United States keeping its involvement as low-profile as possible, Nato launched a war in which rebel militiamen played a secondary, supportive role and ended with the overthrow and killing of Gaddafi.
A striking feature of events in Libya in the past week is how little interest is being shown by leaders and countries which enthusiastically went to war in 2011 in the supposed interests of the Libyan people. President Obama has since spoken proudly of his role in preventing a “massacre” in Benghazi at that time. But when the militiamen, whose victory Nato had assured, opened fire on a demonstration against their presence in Tripoli in November last year, killing at least 42 protesters and firing at children with anti-aircraft machine guns, there was scarcely a squeak of protest from Washington, London or Paris.
Coincidentally, it was last week that Al-Jazeera broadcast the final episode in a three-year investigation of the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people in 1988. For years this was deemed to be Gaddafi’s greatest and certainly best-publicised crime, but the documentary proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of carrying out the bombing, was innocent. Iran, working through the Palestinian Front for The Liberation of Palestine – General Command, ordered the blowing up of Pan Am 103 in revenge for the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane by the US navy earlier in 1988.
Much of this had been strongly suspected for years. The new evidence comes primarily from Abolghasem Mesbahi, an Iranian intelligence officer who later defected and confirmed the Iranian link. The US Defense Intelligence Agency had long ago reached the same conclusion. The documentary emphasises the sheer number of important politicians and senior officials over the years who must have looked at intelligence reports revealing the truth about Lockerbie, but still happily lied about it.
It is an old journalistic saying that if you want to find out government policy, imagine the worst thing they can do and then assume they are doing it. Such cynicism is not deserved in all cases, but it does seem to be a sure guide to western policy towards Libya. This is not to defend Gaddafi, a maverick dictator who inflicted his puerile personality cult on his people, though he was never as bloodthirsty as Saddam Hussein or Hafez al-Assad.
But the Nato powers that overthrew him – and by some accounts gave the orders to kill him – did not do so because he was a tyrannical ruler. It was rather because he pursued a quirkily nationalist policy backed by a great deal of money which was at odds with western policies in the Middle East. It is absurd to imagine that if the real objective of the war was to replace Gaddafi with a secular democracy that the West’s regional allies in the conflict should be theocratic absolute monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. This is equally true of Western and Saudi intervention in Syria which has the supposed intention of replacing President Bashar al-Assad with a freely elected government that will establish the rule of law.
Libya is imploding. Its oil exports have fallen from 1.4 million barrels a day in 2011 to 235,000 barrels a day. Militias hold 8,000 people in prisons, many of whom say they have been tortured. Some 40,000 people from the town of Tawergha south of Misrata were driven from their homes which have been destroyed. “The longer Libyan authorities tolerate the militias acting with impunity, the more entrenched they become, and the less willing to step down” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Putting off repeated deadlines to disarm and disband militias only prolongs the havoc they are creating throughout the country.”
Unfortunately, the militias are getting stronger not weaker. Libya is a land of regional, tribal, ethnic warlords who are often simply well-armed racketeers exploiting their power and the absence of an adequate police force. Nobody is safe: the head of Libya’s military police was assassinated in Benghazi in October while Libya’s first post-Gaddafi prosecutor general was shot dead in Derna on 8 February. Sometimes the motive for the killing is obscure, such as the murder last week of an Indian doctor, also in Derna, which may lead to an exodus of 1,600 Indian doctors who have come to Libya since 2011 and on whom its health system depends.
Western and regional governments share responsibility for much that has happened in Libya, but so too should the media. The Libyan uprising was reported as a simple-minded clash between good and evil. Gaddafi and his regime were demonised and his opponents treated with a naïve lack of scepticism and enquiry. The foreign media have dealt with the subsequent collapse of the Libyan state since 2011 mostly by ignoring it, though politicians have stopped referring to Libya as an exemplar of successful foreign intervention.
Can anything positive be learnt from the Libyan experience which might be useful in establishing states that are an improvement on those ruled by Gaddafi, Assad and the like? An important point is that demands for civil, political and economic rights – which were at the centre of the Arab Spring uprisings – mean nothing without a nation state to guarantee them; otherwise national loyalties are submerged by sectarian, regional and ethnic hatreds.
This should be obvious, but few of those supporting the Arab uprisings, for reasons other than self-interest, seem to have taken it on board. “Freedom under the rule of law is almost unknown outside nation-states,” writes the journalist and MEP Daniel Hannan in a succinct analysis of why the Arab Spring failed. “Constitutional liberty requires a measure of patriotism, meaning a readiness to accept your countrymen’s disagreeable decisions, to abide by election results when you lose.”
Even this level of commitment may not be enough, but without it only force can hold the state together. The escape of Morning Glory, the ousting of Ali Zeidan and the triumph of the militias all go to show that the Libyan state has so far neither the popular support nor military power to preserve itself.

Libya Herald.....


British Airways suspends Libya flights until 25 March


By Tom Westcott.
British Airways has suspended Libya flights after an attack this morning on the airport (Photo: Tom Westcott)
The suspension follows an incident this morning, which damaged the runway at Tripoli International Airport (Photo: Tom Westcott)
Tripoli, 21 March 2014:
British Airways has suspended flights to and from Tripoli until 25 March, the airline has announced.
“We are keeping the situation under review and recommend customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information before travelling to the airport,” BA said in a statement on its website.
The move is understood to be in reaction to an incident this morning at Tripoli International Airport, where missiles were fired in the vicinity of the airport, leaving two holes at the end of the runway.
An airport maintenance team was immediately sent to the scene to start repairing the damaged runway, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport said.
The airport reopened this afternoon, using the old north-south runway. This apparently ceased to be used because the flightpath went directly over a farm owned by Muammar Qaddafi.


Lufthansa and Austrian flights suspended until at least Tuesday


By Tom Westcott.
Austrian Airlines at Tripoli International Airport
Austrian Airlines at Tripoli International Airport
Tripoli, 22 March 2014:
Flights operated by Lufthansa and Austrian Airways to and from Tripoli International Airport will be suspended until at least Tuesday, a Lufthansa spokesperson has said.
Flights over the weekend were cancelled after an missile attack  on Friday damaged the runway at Tripoli International Airport.
“We will wait until Monday and then take a decision when we will take up flights again,” the spokesperson told the Libya Herald.
Austrian said due to “the confusing situation” at Tripoli airport, it had cancelled its Sunday and Monday flights.
Most airlines recommenced flights either yesterday or today, although British Airways has suspended flights until Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tranport has said that repairs to the main east-west runway are being carried out and that it would be back in service later today.


Tripoli rocket attack remains a mystery


By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
Tripoli, 22 March 2014:
The C-5 rocket which exploded last night at the Intelligence headquarters near the capital’s Airport Road is believed by the fire department to have been launched from army weapons depot across the road.
There are, however, no clues as to who the culprits might be.
The rocket landed in an open space in front of the building in an area used as a training ground and causing miminal damage.
The buildings used by intelligence previously served as a Qaddafi ideological training centre and camp for children.


Former Chief of Staff arrested – then released


By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
Tripoli, 22 March 2014:
The former acting Chief of Staff, Major-General Salem Al-Gnaidy, was arrested today, accused of talking to the media and attending illegal political gatherings, both without authorisation.
Gnaidy was Chief of Staff from early June last year, when Major-General Yousef Mangoush resigneduntil Major-General Abdulsalam Jadallah Al-Obeidi was appointed in August. Prior to his appointment, he was deputy Chief of Staff.
A relative of Gnaidy has been quoted as saying that forces from the Ministry of Defence stormed his house in Zawia, shooting at it, and then took him and his eldest son away.
The arrest promoted angry protests in Zawia, forcing the authorities to make alternative arrangements to move to Tripoli the crew of the oil tanker Morning Glory which arrived in Zawia today.
Gnaidy was released this evening. 
Earlier, a military police official  said that Gnaidy was being questioned at a military police facility and that there were several charges against him, including speaking to the media without prior permission from the Ministry of Defence and attacking members of the General National Congress and the Libyan government. These were criminal offences, he said.
Yesterday, Air Force Brigadier-General Ahmed Habib Al-Mismari, was sacked over his public backing for controversial Major-General Khalifa Hafter and is being similarly investigated along with the former commander of Benina Airbase, Saad Faraj Al-Warfali, by the Military Prosecutor for talking to the media and illegal political activities.


Oil tanker docked at Zawia, those on board being transferred to Tripoli for questioning


Tripoli, 22 March 2014:
The oil tanker Morning Glory has docked at Zawia and the three Libyans and 21 crew that were on board the vessel are now being transferred to Tripoli.
The crew, consisting of six Pakistanis, including the Captain, six Indians, three Sri Lankans, two Syrians, two Sudanese and two Eritreans, are being taken to Tripoli by boat, a source close to the government told the Libya Herald.
The journey was being made by sea, he said, because some difficulties were anticipated if they tried to travel by road. This is thought to be because of protests in Zawia earlier today following the arrest of former Chief of Staff Major-General Salem Al-Gnaidy.
They would be met in the capital by Libyan authorities and embassy staff, he added.
Once in Tripoli, the Attorney General would take control of the investigation into the illegal loading and export of the oil from Sidra port, the source said. It was expected that both the Libyans and the crew would be questioned, he said.
Sidra is one of three eastern oil export terminals that have been blockaded by federalists operating under the control of Ibrahim Jadhran since August last year.
Responding to calls from the governments of Libya and Cyprus, as well as from the Captain, who reported that armed men were on board the Morning Glory and the crew were in danger, US military personnel took control of the oil tanker on Monday.
This afternoon, in international waters off the coast of Libya, the US returned the vessel to the control of the Libyan government.


Jadhran suffers setback in Ajdabiya


By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 22 March 2014:
Oil blockader Ibrahim Jadhran has suffered his second major setback in a week. Despite threats and clashes, in which a number of men were injured, his forces have failed to dislodge troops sent yesterday to a military base in his home base of Ajdabiya to challenge him. 
Earlier this week, the Morning Glory oil tanker which had illegally filled up with oil at Sirdra terminal, was captured by the US navy and escorted back to Libya. It arrived at Zawia today.
Yesterday, the Beida-based Ali Hassan Al-Jabber Brigade headed by Colonel Mohamed Bughafir and the largely Zwai Jazeera Martyr Brigade (Battalion No. 121) moved to Ajdabiya and took over the Hanyia military base in the town. 
“They went following a decision made by the commander of Petroleum Facilities Guard, Idriss Bukhamada, who ordered Colonel Mohamed Bughafir from Beida to replace Jadhran,” a source in the Jazeera Brigade told the Libya Herald.
According to the source, the move infuriated Jadhran – all the more so, apparently, because Bughafir is not from the Magharba tribe.  
He demanded Bugahfir withdraw by 9 pm last night but leave all his weapons and equipment behind. Bughafir refused, reportedly saying that he would stay put unless ordered by the Chief of Staff. Jedhran then demanded he leave by 11pm.
At that point the head of the Magharba tribe, Salah al-Ataiwish, reportedly mediated, asking Bughafir to leave and promising that no one would touch the base and that the two brigades could take their weapons with them.
This Abu Ghafir accepted. But as they were pulling out, the two are said to have come under attack from Jadhran’s forces who did not accept that they leave with their weapons and equipment.  It was during the fighting that as many as 15 men from both sides were reported injured and nine captured, five by Bughafir’s forces, four by Jadhran’s. 
During a ceasefire then mediated by Ataiwish and the Ajdabiya Red Crescent, further troops arrived from Beida to support of Bughafir with the result that he decided to return to the Hanyia base.
Intermittent shooting has since continued throughout the day, but no further casualties have been reported. 
The Chief of Staff has warned armed groups in Ajdabiya against approaching the two brigades because are part of the Libyan army.
The Jazeera Brigade source added that whatever the discussions between Jadhran and elders from several Libyan towns, the two units would remain at the Hanyia base.