Sunday, May 25, 2014

War Watch May 25 , 2015 -- Syria in focus .... Syria Government forces and Opposition forces agree on process to allow rebel forces to leave al- Waar ( Opposition held area near Homs ) ..... Iraq in focus - Bombers Strike in Northern Iraq, Anbar Clashes Continue: 146 Killed, 82 Wounded Across Iraq ......... Libya in focus - Libya Coup led by Renegade General continues offensive against not just Islamists but also the Government itself - claims mandate from protesters , civil war looming ( trash piling up National Oil company Head quits , Coup extends reach from Benghazi to Dernea )


Syria Rebels, Army Agree on Truce Near Key City

Syrian activists say rebel fighters and government forces have agreed to a truce in an opposition-held area near the central city of Homs.
A Syrian activist who uses the name Thaer Khalidiya and another who uses the name Abu Yasin al-Homsi said on Saturday that the truce will enable the two sides to negotiate an agreement for the rebels to leave al-Waar, an area across the Orontes River from Homs.
The two activists say the truce began on Friday.
In early May, an agreement that began with a truce ultimately allowed for the evacuation of hundreds of rebels from opposition-held parts of Old Homs.
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad are trying to seize rebel-held parts of major urban centers before June 3 presidential elections.


Bombers Strike in Northern Iraq, Anbar Clashes 

Continue: 146 Killed, 82 Wounded Across Iraq

by , May 24, 2014
At least 146 people were killed and 82 more were wounded across Iraq. Four of the fatalities were Iranians who were in Iraq working on a gas pipeline between the two counties.
In Anbar
Shelling in Falluja killed four people and wounded 19 more in several neighborhoods.
Iraqi security forces killed 85 militants.
policeman was wounded in a double bombing in Rutba.
A car bomb at a liquor store in Kirkuk killed 10 people and wounded 38 more.
A car bomb at a Sahwa member’s home in Baiji wounded his wife and two sons.
Gunmen killed a civilian in Zab.
In Baquba, gunmen killed a policeman on a bike. A bomb killed a civilian.
Gunmen in Suleiman Bek killed three policemen.
Two militants were killed at a Qayara checkpoint.
Five militants were killed in Baghdad suburbs.

Libya .......

The Guardian....

Libya's Maiteeq wins congress confidence vote after militia threats

Libya parliament approves PM's government a week after forces attacked congress to challenge assembly's legitimacy
Libya's Prime Minister Maiteeq
Ahmed Maiteeq, a businessman, will be Libya’s third premier since March after months of unrest. Photograph: Hani Amara/Reuters
Libya's new prime minister Ahmed Maiteeq won a vote of confidence from parliament on Sunday in defiance of a renegade former army general who has challenged the assembly's legitimacy.
Maiteeq, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood which is opposed by anti-Islamist forces in Libya, was initially elected two weeks ago after a chaotic parliamentary session that some lawmakers had rejected as illegal.
Lawmakers met again on Sunday under heavy security to vote to approve Maiteeq's government a week after militia forces loyal to former army general Khalifa Haftar attacked the congress to demand lawmakers hand over power.
"The congress has granted prime minister Ahmed Maiteeq its confidence. Out of 95 members, 83 voted in favour of his government," Abdulhamid Ismail Yarbu, an independent lawmaker told Reuters.
Another lawmaker confirmed the votes for Maiteeq, a businessman who will be Libya's third premier since March after months of unrest.
Libya's legislature is at the centre of a growing standoff between anti-Islamist forces claiming loyalty to Haftar, and the pro-Islamist parties and militias he has promised to purge from the North African country.
The EU's special envoy on Sundaycalled the crisis Libya's worst since the 2011 war ousted Muammar Gaddafi with the fragile government struggling to control brigades of former rebels and militias who are the country's main powerbrokers.
Three years after a Nato-backed revolt toppled Gaddafi, Libya still has no national army, no new constitution and its parliament is caught up in infighting.

Powerful rival brigades of former rebel fighters often make demands on the weak state, with each loosely allied with competing Islamist and anti-Islamist political forces squaring off for control.

Libya Herald....

Beleagued GNC meets to vote on 

budget and Maetig government

Libya Herald staff.
Congress was called to meet in the King's Palace in Tripoli (Photo: Aimen Eljali)
Congress was called to meet in the King’s Palace in Tripoli (Photo: Aimen Eljali)
Tripoli, 25 May 2014:
Congress has today been attempting to approve the cabinet proposed by Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Maetig, and vote on the 2014 budget.
“The main two terms of the meeting today were to grant confidence to the newly-appointed prime minister Ahmed Omar Maetig’s new cabinet, then to vote on the budget because the government cannot work without the budget,” a GNC source told the Libya Herald.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that 96 members needed to attend for the session to be able to legally hold a vote. This number failed to turn up to this morning’s heavily-guarded GNC session but members are now said to be trying to push through a vote this evening.
Some members left after waiting for several hours. Congressman Taher Makni said he arrived at 12 noon at the KIng’s palace, where the session was taking place, and left after three hours when he felt it was clear a quorum could not be reached.  ”We waited almost there hours until we realised  that the session couldn’t be done today” he told this newspaper.
More congress members reportedly arrived throughout the afternoon. Jalu GNC member Said Al-Khati said at 6pm today that they were close to reaching a quorum. The members who had remained were “determined to hold the sitting and pass a vote on the government and the budget,” he added.
According to GNC sources, Congress members received a text message saying: “The meeting is at 11 am and maybe it is the final meeting. Your attendance is important to complete our duties and emphasise the peaceful transfer of power.”

Rogue Libyan General Welcomes Protesters' Backing

A renegade general leading a military offensive against Islamists and their allied militias dominating Libya's political scene on Saturday welcomed street rallies in support of his campaign, saying the demonstrations have given him a "mandate" to fight terrorism.
Gen. Khalifa Hifter's remarks came a day after thousands took to the streets in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, the restive eastern city of Benghazi and other cities waving Libyan flags and chanting his name.
"People of Libya, you have given your orders. There is no going back on accepting the mandate and facing up to the challenge," Hifter said in a statement broadcast on Libya's Alahrar TV.
Since launching his campaign eight days ago, Hifter has said he wants to crush Islamist militias backed by Libya's Islamist-dominated parliament, and impose stability after three years of chaos following the ouster and death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the 2011 civil war.
Hifter has described his offensive as a battle against terrorism. In Saturday's broadcast, Hifter said his forces will not return to their barracks until terrorism is defeated, and called on Libyans to keep up their support for his campaign.
Since Gadhafi's ouster and slaying, Libya has been plagued by a weak central government, lawlessness and out-of control militias that have challenged a weak police and army.
Hifter's spokesman, Mohammed Hegazi, called on troops who have not yet joined the campaign dubbed "Operation Dignity" to do so within 48 hours or "face penalties." He did not elaborate.
In a statement, the U.N. secretary-general's spokesman said Ban Ki-moon is "deeply concerned" by the developments in Libya and called for all parties to resume dialogue. "Armed confrontation risks negating the sacrifices made by the Libyan people during their struggle for freedom and human dignity, particularly at this juncture in the political transition process," the statement said.
Also Saturday, a military jet — apparently flown by a pilot who joined Hifter's forces — soared over the eastern city of Darna, known as a stronghold of an extremist militia.
The plane did not attack, said a militiaman on the ground, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk to media.
Hifter's base remains in Benghazi, where he first started his campaign and where militants have attacked and killed government officials, security members and alleged Gadhafi loyalists.
The city is now divided between Hifter's forces and the powerful militias. A volley of missiles fired during an exchange between the two sides hit a residential area late on Friday, wounding a man and his wife, hospital official Fadia al-Barghathi said.
Al-Barghathi also said moderate cleric Saleh Aharaka was killed late Friday with several bullets to the chest and head. Aharaka was a known critic of radical groups.
Later Saturday, a spokesman for Hifter's troops — dubbed the National Libyan Army — warned the parliament against trying to convene again, insisting the chamber has been disbanded.
"Any attempt to meet or convene the parliament anywhere will be considered a legitimate target," said Jamal Habeel, the NLA spokesman.
Last week, fighters allied with Hifter stormed and ransacked the parliament building in Tripoli, and declared the house disbanded.
Days later, some Islamist lawmakers met at an alternative location but failed to approve a new government. The assembly was to meet again on Sunday.

Exclusive: Hifter forces carrying out reconnaissance missions over Derna

By Noora Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 25 May 2014:
Members of Khalifa Hifter’s self-declared Libyan National Army have been carrying out air reconnaissance missions over the eastern town of Derna, trying to root out extremist Islamist elements.
Spokesman for Hifter’s Libyan National Army, Mohammed Hijazi, told the Libya Herald in an exclusive interview that the special missions over Derna were to observe suspected Islamist leaders and activities.
Hijazi said Hifter’s forces, which he referred to as the Libyan Army, were zoning in on extremists in Derna. He said that a number of Algerian and Tunisian Al-Qaeda figures had “taken the town hostage,” adding: “God willing they will be arrested soon.”
Hijazi also warned Islamists not to attempt to smuggle weapons into the town through its port which he said was also being watched.
Derna residents confirmed that low-flying planes have been seen regularly over the town since Friday night.
Derna has become increasingly troubled since the revolution and is now regarded as a haven for Islamist extremists. There have been regular assassinations of security officials in the locale and others have been threatened.
The town was unable to hold elections for the Constitutional Drafting Assembly because of threats and attacks on polling stations and the failure of the government to secure these showed how the town has become a virtual no-go area for state forces.
Sources close to the Local Council say they feel completely abandoned by the government.
Local people say that the dire security situation is made worse by disagreements between Islamist factions within the town. Ansar Al-Sharia, the Council for Islamic Youth in Derna and a group called Tawheed (or Unity) have recently been engaged in a power struggle for control of the town which has terrorised residents.

Trash mountains pile up in Benghazi

By Moutaz Ahmed.
A pile of garbage burn in Benghazi (Photo: Moataz Ahmed)
A pile of rubbish burns in Benghazi (Photo: Moutaz Ahmed)
Benghazi, 24 May 2014:
Killings and fighting between the forces of retired general Khalifa Hafter and Ansar A-Sharia and 17 February Brigade are not the only issues people in Benghazi have to worry about. There is an environmental disaster beckoning.
Huge piles of rubbish continue to grow in Benghazi following a garbage collectors’ strike. The sheer volume of refuse now poses a health risk as the temperature increases in the already beleaguered eastern city.
Chairman of the Board of Directors for Public Services in Benghazi Salem Shoui told the Libya Herald that rubbish collectors began striking in May over delayed pay, better facilities at headquarters and the provision of health insurance. He said many of the public services company’s  5,400 employees had not received their salaries for at least three months.
Others at the cleaning subsidiary have received no money for half a year, he added.
Shoui said the workers had experienced a great deal of suffering over the delays and needed to provide for their families. He said government officials in Tripoli had, in a number of meetings, promised to free up the necessary funds for the payment of salaries but these had been empty words.
Shoui said their actions had been “criminal “and added that now he did not know where to turn.
The massive piles of rubbish are starting to have an effect far beyond just their noxious stench. The garbage is attracting animals and mosquitoes. It is causing traffic jams where it blocking the roads. More than this, as a breeding ground for illnesses, the elderly and the young are put particularly at risk by the trash.
Residents have taken to burning the rubbish in their efforts to reduce it. However, they are unaware of the health implications even this may have as they breath in the fumes.

Security situation believed to be a factor as head of NOC resigns

By Callum Paton.
Tripoli, 24 May 2014:
The National Oil Company (NOC) has announced the resignation of its Chairman, Nuri Barwin, replacing him with his deputy Mustafa Abdullah Sonallah . . .