Sunday, August 10, 2014

Libya Updates ( August 10 , 2014 ) -- In one word .... CHAOS

Libya Army Chief: No Control Over Govt-Funded Militias

Military Doesn't Even Know How Many Militias They're Funding

by Jason Ditz, August 11, 2014
Libyan Army Chief Jadallah Obeidi, in testimony to what remains of the nation’s parliament, conceded today that he has “no control” whatsoever over the various government-funded militias involved in the growing civil war, nor even any clue how many people are fighting.
Militias are chiefly the ones fighting on behalf of parliament’s continued rule, and against Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s ongoing coup attempt, which he is conducting both with his own self-proclaimed army and parts of the Libyan military.
The parliament is said to not be happy with Odeidi’s admission, and there are reports that he could soon be replaced, potentially by Gadhafi defector Saad Qatrani.
With the militias much stronger than the military itself, the Libyan Defense Ministry formed a “Shield Force” that subsidized the militias in 2012, aiming to get at least some loyalty among them, albeit not operational control. They’ve had mixed results, to say the least, though the militias remain parliament’s last real hope to remain in power.

    TRIPOLI: Heavy shelling resumed in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Sunday after three days of relative calm following more than a month of street fighting between rival armed factions battling for control of the city's airport.
    The North African OPEC oil producer is facing the worst violence since the 2011 war that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, with more than 200 people killed. Many Western embassies and international companies have evacuated staff members.
    Southern Tripoli was covered by black plumes of smoke, with artillery and rockets hitting areas around the international airport, where two rival brigades of ex-rebels have established front lines.
    There were no immediate reports of casualties from the new exchanges. But the health ministry said it cannot reach hospitals because of power failures and gasoline shortages in Tripoli.
    "We have been trying to gather information and details, but it is really hard to reach doctors," health ministry spokesman Ammar Mohammed said.
    United Nations delegation has been in Tripoli since Friday to try to broker a ceasefire between armed factions loyal to Islamist-allied Misrata brigades and their rivals allied to the western town of Zintan.
    An official from the delegation, who declined to be identified, said on Saturday that U.N. envoys were optimistic.
    "The mission has already met several key actors and is still fairly optimistic that a ceasefire can be obtained," the official said.
    "The delegation is very concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing crisis if a ceasefire is not achieved very quickly," he added.
    Libya's newly elected parliament has also called for an immediate ceasefire, but the main Islamist political party and its allies have opposed the fact that parliament has been meeting in the eastern town of Tobruk, which they described as unconstitutional.
    "We recognise the parliament, but we don't recognise its sessions in the town of Tobruk and all the decisions that come from there," Ahmed Hadil, a spokesman of the Central Shield brigades, one of the militias fighting to control the airport, told reporters on Saturday.
    Since the fall of Gaddafi, Libya's government has been unable to control rival militias of heavily armed former rebels, who once fought against Gaddafi but now refuse to disarm and count on semi-official support from ministries or politicians.
    Fighting since last month over the Tripoli airport involves two loose factions.
    On one side are Zintanis, including some former Gaddafi forces, who present themselves as a bastion against Islamist fundamentalists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Against them are brigades from the western port of Misrata, allied with Islamist political forces and other militias, who say they are fighting to clear out remnants of Gaddafi's army.
    In Benghazi, only sporadic gunfire has broken the calm that has prevailed since a coalition of fighters called the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council overran the main military base in the city 10 days ago.
    The Shura Council is an alliance between a group of former rebels and militants from Ansar al-Sharia, which Washington blames for killing its ambassador in 2012 and classifies as a terrorist organization.
    South Korea groups Hyundai and Doosan have suspended construction of a 1,400 megawatt Libyan power plant in the town of Sirte because of security concerns, the plant managing director and a town council spokesman said on Sunday.

    Al Jazeera.....

    Hundreds flee Tripoli as Libya fighting rages

    Heavy fighting between rival militias sends residents fleeing the capital to seek shelter in Misrata.

    Last updated: 09 Aug 2014 07:22
    Hundreds of people are trying to escape violence in Libya's capital as the worst bout of fighting since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi sweeps through the country.

    Heavy fighting has forced residents of Tripoli to convene on Misrata as rival militias battle for control of strategic areas. Holiday resorts have been turned into camps housing the fleeing families.
    Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports from neighbouring Tunisia.

    Tripoli residents caught in violent clashes

    Hundreds have fled Libya's capital, as fighting between rival militias has cut electricity, fuel, and water supplies.

    Last updated: 09 Aug 2014 11:01

    Many civilians have been injured in the fighting in Libya and hospitals are struggling to treat them [Reuters]
    Tripoli, Libya - The air is thick in the Libyan capital, four weeks into a battle between rival militias that has shaken the city with the ferocious sounds of missiles and rockets, fired indiscriminately into built-up areas.
    In one of the few cafes still open in Tripoli, three young men sit in an open-air terrace; usually filled by the aroma of fresh coffee, it is now overwhelmed by the stench of smoke. One man asks the group if this is where they saw the country going after the 2011 uprising the toppled long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power; the answer is a resounding no.
    Just over 15km away, the fire at Tripoli's main fuel storage site is still burning. The site was hit in the fighting between rival armed groups one week ago as they battled for control of Tripoli's airport. Meanwhile, the airport road, a motorway linking Tripoli's international airport to the city, has been a frontline for militias from Zintan, which control the airport and the road, and rival Islamist militias from Misrata and Tripoli, which control the city.

    On Wednesday, Libya's newly elected House of Representatives issued a decree calling for a ceasefire, and called on all parties to conduct talks under the supervision of the United Nations. The call went unanswered, however, and the fighting continued.
    Both groups have used missiles, rockets, and tank shells in the fighting. Many of the rounds have missed their targets and hit civilian farms and homes. On Wednesday, a missile hit a flat in Janzour, a district in west Tripoli, killing 18 Sudanese nationals.
    The fighting has resulted in hundreds of deaths, according to reports released by Libya's health ministry, among them civilians caught in the fighting. The exact number of civilian casualties is unavailable.
    "They can go to the desert and kill each other there, just stay away from us," said Marwan, a shopkeeper in Janzour. "A missile landed in my farm yesterday, I was lucky. What if it had hit the house?"

    RELATED: Libya - Who will win the power struggle?

    So far, more than 6,000 Libyans have fled the country, according to the Tunisian foreign minister, with many from Tripoli escaping the violence to neighbouring Tunisia.
    But with the main airport closed due to the fighting, the only operating airport in the city is Metiga, a smaller landing strip that is currently being held by an Islamist armed group known as the Preventative Security Force. Demand for flights is high; tickets are only available at the airport itself, and queues of up to 12 hours are common.
    Hundreds flee Tripoli as Libya fighting rages
    The alternative is a dangerous two-hour trip to the Tunisian border by car, with a wait of up to 18 hours at the crossing due to the large number of people attempting to make the journey. The border between Libya and Tunisia has been unstable, and has not remained open consistently; on July 31, the border was closed after Egyptian workers fleeing Libya tried to storm into Tunisia.
    Those who chose to leave also risk having their homes looted. One family in Gaser Ben Ghashir, a district of the capital where Misrata militias are based, left a note on their front door, saying: "There's nothing in here worth taking, so please just leave it alone."
    Frequent electricity cuts are also plaguing the city. "Electricity is a pleasant surprise these days," said Ibrahim Elmayet, a resident of Tripoli who said power cuts sometimes last for up to 11 hours.
    The power cuts may also lead to a water supply shortage in central Tripoli, where reserves are slowly declining as electricity is needed to work the pumps that feed water to the city's two million residents.
    People have waited for three days at petrol stations to get fuel, sometimes going home empty-handed. "I pulled up to fill my car, waited two days and went home as I arrived, with no petrol," said Abdul Wareth, a 21-year-old medical student at Tripoli University.
    There's nothing harder than turning down a patient who needs admission... We can only hope and pray for better days to come.
    - Amal al-Hasari, a doctor at Tripoli's central hospital
    "We need petrol to get supplies for the house," he added, explaining that with food prices rapidly rising, and empty shelves in many shops, people must now drive to get supplies elsewhere.
    The rival militias have set up checkpoints to the west and south of the city, making it difficult to get around, even if fuel is available.

    RELATED: Tunisia closes door on Libya's displaced

    Hospitals and clinics in Tripoli have been hit hard by the shortages, and doctors are warning that they can't provide basic services. "There's nothing harder than turning down a patient who needs admission," said Amal al-Hasari, a doctor at Tripoli's central hospital. "On Sunday, only one doctor was in the accident and emergency wing of the hospital."
    She said the lack of fuel and risk of being caught up in the fighting is preventing doctors and nurses from getting to work.
    Locals have tried their best to keep the capital's health services running. On Tuesday, a man came to the hospital, asked Hasari if she was a doctor, and then gave her some petrol, she recalled. He also gave her his number and said she could call him whenever she or any other doctor needed fuel to get to work.
    "We are running out of oxygen masks and antibiotics," Hasari said, adding that with no airports operating to full capacity, no one knows when supplies will be restocked. "We can only hope and pray for better days to come."

    Libya Herald....

    Benghazi port to close – traffic moved to Tobruk to counter arms trafficking

    By Sami Zaptia.
    Tripoli, 9 August 2014:
    In what seems like an expansion of the current pro-Islamists anti-Islamists fighting and divide in eastern Libya, the official spokesperson for the Dignity operation led by retired General Hafter, Mohamed Hijazi, said that Benghazi port will be closed as of today.
    Hijazi said that all port traffic will be diverted to the port of Tobruk, which is as it happens where the House of Representatives (HoR) happens to be convening currently. The Dignity operation is pro the HoR and its convening in Tobruk.
    The reasoning for this, Hijazi explained, was to counter the trafficking of arms and ammunition into the port of Benghazi arriving from both Misrata and Derna in aid of what he called “extremists”.
    Moreover, Hijazi warned that any sea traffic to and from Derna and Misrata, and to Benghazi would be fired at.

    Staff quit Libya Ahrar TV accusing it of anti-Parliament bias

    By Noora Ibrahim.
    Benghazi, 9 August 2014:
    TV presenter Nabil Al-Haj of Libya Ahrar TV has resigned, accusing the new administration of the Qatar-based station of bias and twisting the news.
    He resigned yesterday shortly after the station had covered yesterday’s anti-House of Representatives protests in Misrata. In a statement on his Facebook page, he condemned the lack of integrity at the channel which, he said, had managed to cover that demonstration but not, “for technical reasons”,  pro-House of Representative demonstrations in Tripoli and Benghazi.
    Along with him, Tripoli-based reporter Sirine Amari and news presenter Mohamed Zeidan also resigned because of the station’s reported lack of impartiality.
    Thanking his viewers for their support over the years, Haj said he was returning to his native Tobruk, currently the seat of the new parliament. He added that he had started to announce his resignation live on TV, but was cut off.
    Another staffer, presenter Ghalia Zakuk broadcaster resigned today, bringing the number of those who have now left the station in recent weeks to 16. They include: Khadija Al-Amami, head of the Benghazi bureau, who resigned last month; news presenter Fatin Alami who quit last week; and Mohamed Al-Shabah who resigned earlier this week in protest that the station had not aired any of the decisions of by the new House of Representatives.
    Founded in March 201 by a number of Libyan businessmen, its CEO was until recently Mahmoud Shammam. It is now said to be controlled by Ali Salabi, one of the most prominent members of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood.

    CBL to deliver cash using Ilyushin military transport plane and helicopters

    By Sami Zaptia.
    Tripoli, 9 August 2014:
    The Central Bank of Libya's (CBL) Crises Team held an urgent meeting last Thursday with bank managers to discuss the acute crises regarding the lack of banking services being offered during Libya's current crises.

    CBL suspends electronic cheque clearing system for one week due to fraud

    By Sami Zaptia.
    Tripoli, 5 August 2014:
    The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) has suspended the electronic cheque clearing system (ACH) for one . . .

    Another water cut for Tripoli

    By Sami Zaptia.
    Tripoli, 9 August 2014:
    Another water shortage has hit most areas of the beleaguered city of Tripoli today, to add to its other woes over the last four weeks.
    The Ministry of Water Resources reported yesterday that this latest water shortage was caused by power cuts to the Hasauna field water wells as well as power cuts to the pumping station in Tarhuna, of the Man-made River.
    The Ministry of Water Resources said that it hoped water would return by Sunday.
    It will be recalled that since the fighting broke out between two main groups of militias in Tripoli three weeks ago, the city has suffered from chronic power cuts, internet cuts, a lack of mobile phone coverage, petrol and cooking gas as well as bread shortages.
    The fuel shortage has meant that Tripoli resembles a ghost town as 90 percent of its inhabitants have been unable to use their cars to get to work.
    The fighting between militias has destroyed the airport and most of the fleet of planes there belonging to the two main Libyan carriers.