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Posts tagged ‘Politics of Libya’

Report: US, Libyan Forces Capture Tunisian Militant Leader.


Image: Report: US, Libyan Forces Capture Tunisian Militant Leader

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisian state media said the head of the country’s Islamist militants had been captured in Libya by U.S. and Libyan forces on Monday, though his organization denied he had been detained.

The U.S. army also said it had not played any part in any move against Ansar al Sharia leader Saifallah Benahssine — the man accused of inciting an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia in 2012.

Any U.S. involvement in an operation on Libyan soil would be highly sensitive. Libyan Islamists were furious at what they saw as Washington’s interference after American forces captured a top al-Qaida suspect in Tripoli in October.

If confirmed, the capture of such a high-ranking Tunisian militant in Libya would also highlight close ties between Islamist groups in North Africa.

After the fall of Moammar Gadhafi two years ago, Libya has drawn foreign militants because its weak central government, uncontrolled southern areas and porous borders to sub Saharan Africa allow arms and fighters to flow to regional hot spots.

Western powers have pledged to help Libya control its frontiers and train its nascent armed forces to build up its capacity to control the country’s territory.

Tunisia’s TAP agency, citing a senior security source, said Benahssine, also known as Abu Iyadh, had been arrested in the coastal city of Misrata on Monday morning.

“An authorized security source told TAP that Saifallah Benahssine, known as Abu Iyadh, has been arrested in Libya on Monday morning,” TAP said. “The source said special American forces arrested Abu Iyadh and other members of his group, helped by Libyan forces.”

The U.S. military said it had played no part in any operation, and U.S. security officials told Reuters that U.S. intelligence agencies and their personnel also were not involved.

Some U.S. officials believed that Abu Iyad had indeed been captured, while others said that reports of his capture had not been confirmed and cannot be considered reliable.

Libya’s LANA state news agency also published the TAP report on the capture. But there was no comment from the Libyan government.

Misrata officials denied he had been captured in their city.

“Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia denies any information stating that its prince, the Tunisian Abu Iyadh, may God protect him, has been captured,” the group said on its Twitter account.

Ansar al-Sharia was one of the hardline jihadist groups to emerge after the Tunisia’s revolt against its autocratic leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali three years ago when long-oppressed Islamist ultra-conservatives rose in influence.

Militant violence has also increased there since the government began a crackdown on the group this year, declaring it an outlawed organization.© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Libyan Prime Minister Freed After Being Seized Over US Raid.


TRIPOLI, Libya — Former rebel gunmen freed Libya‘s prime minister on Thursday after holding him for several hours in reprisal for the capture by U.S. forces at the weekend of a Libyan al-Qaida suspect in Tripoli, officials said.

A Reuters journalist at the scene said protesters had opened fire at the building where Ali Zeidan was being held to demand that the group, which is affiliated with the government, free the premier.

“The prime minister has been released,” a government official said. A security source also said Zeidan was free.

Two years after a revolution ended Moammar Gadhafi‘s 42-year rule, Libya is in turmoil, with its vulnerable central government and nascent armed forces struggling to contain rival tribal militias and Islamist militants who control parts of the country.

The militia, which had been hired by the government to provide security in Tripoli, said it “arrested” Zeidan after Secretary of State John Kerry said Libya had a role in the weekend capture in the city of Abu Anas al-Liby.

“His arrest comes after . . . [Kerry] said the Libyan government was aware of the operation,” a spokesman for the group, known as the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, told Reuters.

Before his release, an official in the Interior Ministry anti-crime department told the state news agency that Zeidan, a former diplomat and exile opposition activist against Gadhafi, was being held there and was being treated well.

The Libyan government in a statement confirmed the premier was taken at dawn to “an unknown place for unknown reasons.”

The prime minister was taken from the Corinthia Hotel, where many diplomats and top government officials live. It is regarded as one of the most secure places in Tripoli.

The kidnapping, however brief, raised the stakes in the unruly OPEC nation, where the regional factions are also seeking control over its oil wealth, which provides Libya with the vast bulk of government revenues.

Brent oil prices rose on the news.

“Everybody is watching this. . . . We still haven’t seen any disruption to supply from Libya, so we don’t expect a spike in prices,” said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan.

A mix of striking workers, militias, and political activists have blocked Libya’s oilfields and ports for more than two months, according to Oil Minister Abdelbari Arusi, resulting in over $5 billion of lost revenues.

He said on Oct. 2 that oil exports could return to full capacity in days once the strikes ended.

Repsol and Eni, involved in western Libya, have seen output largely restored since fields reopened last month. But companies invested in eastern Libya are entering a third month of closures at several important export terminals.

Oil companies have become more wary of North Africa after an attack in January on the Amenas gas plant in neighboring Algeria, a top gas supplier to Europe and an oil-producing OPEC member.

UNKNOWN LOCATION

U.S. special forces on Saturday seized Nazih al-Ragye, known by his alias Abu Anas al-Liby — a Libyan suspected in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Liby is being held on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea.

After Zeidan was seized, the U.S. State Department said it was “in close touch with senior U.S. and Libyan officials on the ground.”

The Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries had been affiliated with the Interior Ministry which assigned them to provide security in the capital as part of a program to reintegrate former fighters.

Guards at the hotel said there were no shots fired or clashes during the incident.

Al-Arabiya television channel quoted Libya’s justice minister as saying that Zeidan had been “kidnapped” and showed what it said were video stills of Zeidan frowning and wearing a gray shirt undone at the collar surrounded by several men in civilian clothes pressing closely around him.

Zeidan said on Tuesday Libyans accused of crimes should be tried at home, but that the raid to capture Liby would not harm U.S. ties – trying preserve relations with a major ally without provoking a backlash from Islamist militants.

But the raid angered militant groups, including one blamed for the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012, who called for revenge attacks on strategic targets including gas export pipelines, planes and ships, as well as for the kidnappings of Americans in the capital.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

SAfrica Investigates Libyan Claims of Gadhafi’s $1B Loot.


JOHANNESBURG — South Africa‘s Treasury is looking into Libyan assertions that slain leader Moammar Gadhafi and his family stashed money and other assets in the country, a spokesman said on Sunday.

“There was a group that approached Treasury claiming to represent the Libyan government and we are in the process of verifying their claims about assets that are in South Africa,” Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan‘s spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said.

The Sunday Times newspaper said Libyan investigators had met Gordhan and President Jacob Zuma to discuss locating and repatriating more than $1 billion in cash, gold and diamonds said to have been brought into South Africa by the family of Gadhafi, who was ousted and killed during a revolt in 2011,

The Gadhafi assets were held by four banks and security companies in South Africa, the Sunday Times said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Libya’s parliament votes to remove PM from post.


TRIPOLILibya (AP) — Libya’s parliament ousted the country’s new prime minister in a no-confidence vote on Sunday, the latest blow to hopes that political factions could agree on agovernment charged with restoring stability after last year’s civil war.

Mustafa Abushagur was the first prime minister to be elected after the 2011 overthrow of dictatorMoammar Gadhafi. He represented an offshoot of the country’s oldest anti-Gadhafi opposition movement, and was considered a compromise candidate acceptable to both liberals and Islamists.

But his proposed Cabinet was struck down by a legislature representing dozens of divided tribes, towns, and regions across the country, many of whom feel they are owed the spoils of victory over Gadhafi. He was forced to withdraw his first ministerial line-up under pressure and his second attempt to submit one resulted in his ouster.

In a short statement on Libya al-Wataniya TV after the vote, Abushagur said he respected the decision made by the General National Congress as part of Libya’s democracy but warned of instability if it takes too long to elect his replacement.

“There should be quickness in the election of the prime minister and formation of the government so the country does not slip into a vacuum,” he said.

He had 25 days from his Sep. 12 appointment by parliament to form a Cabinet and win the legislature’s approval, but that deadline expired on Sunday. The Congress voted 125 to 44 in favor of removing him as prime minister, with 17 abstaining from voting. He had just put forth 10 names for key ministerial posts Sunday when the no-confidence vote was held.

Until a replacement can be elected by the parliament, management of Libya’s government is in the hands of the legislature.

The Congress will have to vote on a new prime minister in the coming weeks. The incoming leader will be responsible for rebuilding Libya’s army and police force and removing major pockets of support for the former regime.

On Sunday, around 1,000 people protested in the capital Tripoli outside the congressional headquarters to demand that militias operating alongside the army end a partial siege of the town of Bani Walid, considered a major stronghold of former regime loyalists. They called for a peaceful solution to the standoff that has already sent families fleeing from the town in anticipation of a strike.

Perhaps the single greatest challenge facing any new Libyan leader is the proliferation of ex-rebel militias. One radical Islamist group has been linked to the attack last month on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi that killed the American ambassador and three others.

There has been a widespread popular backlash against militias since that attack, and the Libyan government has taken advantage of it to try to put some armed groups under the authority of military officers. But some militias have resisted any attempt to fully control them or disarm them.

Any prime minister who wants to impose his authority on the militias will need broad national support for his government — but such support is hard to get.

Some parliamentarians argued that Abushagur’s Cabinet list was not diverse enough and involved too many unknown individuals for key posts. His first proposed Cabinet makeup was also criticized for including too many names from the previous interim government, which was seen by some Libyans as weak and corrupt.

After 40 years of Gadhafi’s divide-and-rule tactics and the 2011 war, Libya’s towns, tribes and regions are highly polarized. Many feel entitled to high government positions because of their losses in the war against Gadhafi, and are wary of any power wielded by their rivals.

In an indication of the charged atmosphere, Abushagur withdrew the initial line-up for government after the parliamentary chamber was stormed on Thursday by protesters from the city of Zawiya — one of several cities that took the brunt of Gadhafi’s attacks during the war — demanding representation. Lawmakers left the General National Congress floor, saying they would not vote under pressure.

Before the vote of no-confidence, Abushagur said he was aiming to create a government of national unity that did not appoint ministers according to “quotas.”

“The government I proposed is not perfect and was marred by some mistakes, so I changed it for the purpose of national unity,” he said.

Independent lawmaker Nizar Kawan, who is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, said the Islamist group’s party and a liberal coalition led by former rebel prime minister Mahmoud Jibril had been holding talks about replacing Abushagur with an independent figure who has no political background. The candidate would then be tasked with forming a government that is run by well-known professionals and is politically balanced and geographically representative.

Abushagur had taught engineering at the University of Alabama for about 17 years before leaving in 2002. He was active in the opposition abroad against Gadhafi prior to last year’s uprising.

According to Libya’s transition plan, after the formation of a government a new constitution is to be written and voted upon in a national referendum.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By ESAM MOHAMED | Associated Press

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