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Posts tagged ‘Rebellious Land of Libya’

Merkel, Algerian officials discuss migration, Libya

September 17, 2018

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Monday during a one-day visit to the country to discuss migration and the situation in neighboring Libya.

Algeria’s official APS news agency reported the meeting happened in the presence Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and other government members. The discussions take on particular significance before April’s presidential election in Algeria. No candidate has yet emerged because everyone is waiting to learn whether Bouteflika, 81, partially paralyzed from a stroke and rarely seen in public, will seek a fifth term.

Bouteflika travelled to Switzerland earlier this month for medical check-ups. Algerian television channels showed images of Merkel and Bouteflika talking together. In a joint news conference, Merkel and Ouyahia said they agreed on a process to send about 700 Algerian migrants identified as illegally staying in Germany back to their country.

Ouyahia suggested that German airline Lufthansa should help with their transfer in addition to Air Algeria. Algerian authorities requested that no special flight is chartered, he said. “Algeria will take back its children staying irregularly in Germany,” he said.

Merkel said they also discussed the situation in neighboring Mali and Libya, without providing details. Before the talks, Merkel visited the hilltop memorial to “martyrs” who died in Algeria’s war of independence with France that ended in 1962.

Germany was Algeria’s fourth-largest commercial partner in 2017, with 200 German companies working in various sectors in the North African country. This was Merkel’s first visit to Algeria in a decade. Initially set for February 2017, it was postponed because Bouteflika was stricken with the flu.

Both countries also sought to deepen their economic cooperation. Mohamed Saidj, professor of political science in Algiers, told The Associated Press that Merkel’s meeting with Bouteflika provided the Algerian president an occasion to “show his adversaries that he keeps assuming normally the prerogatives of his office.”

Saidj stressed that Algeria has strong economic links with Germany especially in mechanical engineering, the auto industry, renewable energy, the chemical sector and pharmaceuticals.

Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya in new standoff

August 19, 2018

ROME (AP) — Italy’s firebrand interior minister threatened Sunday to return to Libya 177 migrants who have been aboard an Italian coast guard ship for days following another standoff with Malta. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded that other European countries take in the migrants after his Maltese counterpart, Michael Farrugia, insisted that the “only solution” is for the Diciotti ship to dock at the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The Diciotti, working under the EU’s Frontex Mediterranean rescue operation, has been off Lampedusa after rescuing the migrants Aug. 16. Italy asked Malta to take them in, but Malta refused, saying the migrant boat wasn’t in distress and that the migrants declined Maltese assistance, preferring to continue toward Italy.

In a tweet Sunday, Farrugia accused Italy of rescuing the migrants in Maltese waters “purely to prevent them from entering Italian waters.” Salvini, who has refused to allow aid groups to dock in Italy, shot back: “Or Europe decides to help Italy concretely, starting with the 180-odd migrants aboard the Diciotti, or we’ll be forced to do what will definitively stop the smugglers’ business: bring the people recovered at sea to a Libyan port,” the ANSA news agency quoted him as saying.

If carried out, Salvini’s threat could pose legal issues for Italy, since the Italian government has already been faulted by the European Court of Human Rights for using its own ships to return migrants to Libya. Italy has gotten around that 2012 court ruling by helping Libya’s coast guard better patrol its own coasts to bring migrants back.

Italy’s transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, demanded that Europe open its ports, and tweeted Sunday that Malta’s position was “worthy of sanction.” Malta has defended its actions as entirely consistent with international law.

Sirte urges its IDPs to return home

June 17, 2018

The Municipality of Sirte has called all the displaced people of the city in Libya and abroad to return to their city and open a new page.

On its Facebook page on Friday, the municipality said that it will coordinate with the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Displacement and Displaced People’s Affairs, and the Ministry of Interior to facilitate the return of the displaced people of the city.

The municipality hinted in its statement to the possibility of providing passports to the citizens of Sirte displaced abroad who do not have one, calling on them to take this opportunity in the Eid to come to terms and move forward.

Source: The Libya Observer.


Sudanese rebels are fighting alongside Dignity Operation in Libya’s Derna

June 17, 2018

Militants from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) headed by Minni Minnawi are fighting alongside Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the Libyan city of Derna, Sudanese news website Bajnews reported Saturday, confirming that a number of them were killed.

The news website quoted a cousin for one of the militants as saying that his relative was killed with other Sudanese rebels while fighting under Minnawi armed group to support Haftar’s forces in Derna.

The website added that the family of the killed militant is currently receiving condolences on his death in Darfur.

The Sudanese Government has accused the armed rebel movements of fighting in Libya in exchange for military equipment and money; however, the SLM movement denied these allegations and confirmed their presence on Sudanese territory.

Source: The Libya Observer.


Attack shuts major Libyan oil ports, slashing production

JUNE 14, 2018

BENGHAZI, Libya/LONDON (Reuters) – The major Libyan oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider were closed and evacuated on Thursday after armed brigades opposed to the powerful eastern commander Khalifa Haftar stormed them, causing a production loss of 240,000 barrels per day (bpd).

At least one storage tank at Ras Lanuf terminal was set alight following the early morning attack, an engineer told Reuters. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared force majeure on loadings from both terminals.

The clashes between forces loyal to Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) and rival armed groups continued throughout the day south of Ras Lanuf, where the LNA was targeting its opponents with air strikes, local sources said.

Military sources said the LNA had withdrawn from both ports.

The LNA took control of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf along with other oil ports in Libya’s oil crescent in 2016, allowing them to reopen after a long blockade and significantly lifting Libya’s oil production.

More than half the storage tanks at both terminals were badly damaged in previous fighting and have yet to be repaired, though there have been regular loadings from Es Sider.

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) said it had evacuated all staff from the two terminals “as a precautionary measure.” The immediate production loss was around 240,000 bpd and the entry of a tanker due at Es Sider on Thursday was postponed, it said.

NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said the output loss was expected to rise to 400,000 bpd if the shutdown continued, calling it a “national disaster” for oil-dependent Libya.

A military source said the three-pronged attack was launched by the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB), a group that has previously tried to take the oil crescent and advance on Benghazi, which has been fully controlled by Haftar since late last year.

The NOC blamed Ibrahim Jathran, who headed an armed group that blockaded oil crescent terminals for three years before being forced out by the LNA, and who appeared in a video posted on social media on Thursday announcing the start of a campaign.

“We announce the preparation of our ground forces and supporting forces in the oil region, and our objective is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years,” he said, standing in a camouflage jacket in an unidentified desert area.

“The past two years have been catastrophic for people in the oil crescent because of the presence of the system of injustice which is the other face of terrorism and extremism.”


The NOC says Jathran’s previous blockades cost Libya tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue. He is sought by judicial authorities in Tripoli for the blockades and attempts to export oil independently.

Repeated previous attempts by the LNA’s opponents to retake the oil crescent have failed, and it is unclear how much military and local, tribal support Jathran or BDB forces currently have.

However, the LNA, which is the dominant force in eastern Libya and rejects an internationally recognized government in the capital, Tripoli, stirred some resentment with arrests when it moved into the oil crescent in 2016, and has recently been stretched thin.

Since last month it has been waging a campaign to take control of Derna, the last city in the east to elude its control.

France, which hosted an international summit last month to set a roadmap for elections in Libya, said it “condemned with the utmost firmness the offensive conducted today by extremist elements in the oil crescent”.

Thursday’s clashes were not affecting any oilfields, the military source said. The LNA had at least five men killed and around six wounded, he said.

A local resident said he had heard the sound of heavy clashes and air strikes at dawn and had seen a large fire at the Ras Lanuf tank farm.

Crude exports from Ras Lanuf stood at 110,000 bpd in May, while exports from Es Sider were around 300,000 bpd, according to oil analytics company Vortexa.

The Minerva Lisa oil tanker, which was due to arrive at Es Sider to load a crude cargo on Thursday, was advised to stay outside the port, a source familiar with the matter said.

The tanker, chartered by trader Petraco, was seen turning away from the port on Thursday morning without loading, according to Reuters ship tracking.

A second tanker, the Seascout, is expected to arrive at the port on June 18.

Libya’s oil production recovered last year to just over 1 million bpd and has been mostly stable, though it remains vulnerable to shutdowns and blockades at oil facilities.

National output is still well under the more than 1.6 million bpd Libya was producing before a 2011 uprising led to political fragmentation and armed conflict.

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli, Ahmad Ghaddar, Aidan Lewis and John Irish; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Mark Potter, David Evans and Diane Craft

Source: Reuters.


Italian minister emboldened by Libya visit, migration curbs

June 25, 2018

ROME (AP) — Italy’s populist interior minister returned from a quick trip to Libya on Monday expressing confidence in his decision to close Italian ports to migrants while pressuring the rest of Europe to help the North African country secure its borders.

Matteo Salvini chose the Libyan capital of Tripoli for his first official visit abroad to hammer home his commitment to suppressing the mass migration that has fueled anti-migrant sentiment across Europe and brought his xenophobic League party to power.

Salvini called for United Nations-backed and European Union-funded centers to screen asylum applicants in nations that border Libya — primarily Chad, Niger and Sudan — but not in Libya itself or Italy.

He also vowed to help Libyan authorities assert control of their territorial waters to prevent Europe-bound migrants from departing and to keep migrant aid groups based in Europe out of the way. “This is the point of absolute convergence with Libya: Block the business of clandestine migration,” Salvini told reporters in Rome after he returned home.

Libya was plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that ousted and led to the slaying of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country now is split between rival governments — one, backed by the United Nations, based in Tripoli, the other in the country’s east — and each is supported by an array of militias.

It also has become a common jumping off point for migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean Sea to escape poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East. Other spots in North Africa also have become alternative points of departure for boats attempting to navigate the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain.

Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service reported that it rescued more than 600 people Monday, for a total of 1,400 in three days. Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska plans to travel to Morocco on Thursday to discuss the influx.

Libya’s coast guard rescued some 1,000 migrants on Sunday, including dozens of women and children. Ahmed Maiteeg, the deputy prime minister of the U.N.-backed Libyan government, said during a news conference with Salvini that all of them received humanitarian and medical aid and were taken to a naval base in Tripoli and a refugee camp in the town of Khoms.

Salvini praised the Libyans for their “excellent work” and vowed to halt European aid groups with rescue ships in the Mediterranean. The Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms complained that Italy refused its offer Sunday to help bring to safety the people who ended up with the Libyan coast guard.

Amnesty International condemned the Italian government for handing over responsibility for the mission to Libya, alleging the migrants would be tortured anew in Libyan detention centers. Salvini denied migrants were being tortured, branding reports of widespread human rights violations in Libyan centers as “lies and rhetoric.” He said he toured a new U.N.-run facility due to open next month and that it had the same amenities as an Italian migrant holding center.

Italy is committed, he said, to “blocking the full-on invasion of those associations that would like to substitute the government and authorities, and in fact help illegal migrant traffickers.” Salvini has accused private aid groups of operating as sea taxi services for Libya-based smugglers and closed Italy’s ports to their ships, including one from the German aid group Mission Lifeline that has been stuck off Malta since Thursday with 234 migrants aboard.

The Italian minister challenged France — a loud critic of his anti-migrant policies — to open its port in Marseille to the Mission Lifeline ship, saying: “There’s a boat full of migrants in Maltese waters that’s waiting to be welcomed.”

Late Monday, another ship with migrant passengers — the Danish-flagged container ship Alexander Maersk — was given permission to dock and disembark in Sicily after four days at sea. The International Chamber of Shipping, an industry trade association, has voiced concern about Italy’s crackdown on non-governmental organizations, The chamber says the move will put a greater burden on commercial merchant ships to carry out rescues and ultimately affect trade.

Libya’s Maiteeg announced Monday that a migration and security conference will be held in Tripoli in September. Salvini readily endorsed the program. He promised to return before then to hand over new equipment for Libya’s coast guard and said a technical committee would soon be meeting on Libya’s southern border to assess the creation of asylum-screening “hotspots” to prevent migrants from entering Libya in the first place.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged EU member states to contribute to an Africa trust fund to finance the screening centers, mirroring a 2015 deal that was designed to encourage Turkey to stop refugees setting out for the Greek islands.

Salvini said he thought a reasonable funding target for the African hotspots would be 6 billion euros ($7 billion, around double the cost of the Turkey deal. Before Italy’s new coalition government was installed on June 1, Italy already worked to bolster the Libyan coast guard’s ability to patrol its coasts and to bring back migrants who launched from its shores.

Human rights organizations have criticized the practice, alleging that migrants are abused in Libya and the North African country hardly constitutes a “safe” port of call, as called for by international law.

Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

Libya’s Haftar visits Egypt ahead of planned attack on Derna

February 12, 2018

The Commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, has been on a visit to Egypt over the last couple of days as part of as what has been referred to as “joint coordination between Egypt and the army leadership in the fight against terrorism”.

According to an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Haftar arrived in Cairo late on Wednesday and held a series of meetings with senior Egyptian officials to discuss the political and military developments in Libya, pointing out that the talks touched on the issue of coordination in the fight against terrorist groups.

“There is coordination at the highest level between the Libyan National Army and the Egyptian authorities in this regard,” he said.

In the meantime, an official source said that “the National Army is in the process of large-scale military operation in the next few days to begin the liberation of the city of Derna,” which is the main stronghold of terrorist groups in eastern Libya, and added that “preparations [for the operation] are nearing completion”.

Haftar’s eastern-based LNA, one of a number of factions that have vied for power in Libya since a 2011 uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule, is waging a military campaign against a coalition of militants and ex-rebels known as the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC) that controls Derna.

Attention has shifted to the coastal city after Haftar announced victory in a three-year military campaign against a similar coalition in Benghazi, 350 kilometers to the west, in July last year.

In May, the city was also a target of Egyptian air strikes. Egypt said it was responding to an attack against Coptic Christians on its territory, though that attack was claimed by Daesh.

Haftar, a figure many believe is seeking national power in Libya, has enjoyed strong backing from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, as well as the United Arab Emirates.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


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