Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category

How is Europe going to stop ISIS in Libya?

March 28, 2016

ISIS is shifting to Libya (which is in chaos thanks to the European-led fiasco there), and another 800,000+ refugees can be expected to swamp Italy. And “Europe”, in the shape of the EU, is both unprepared and has no strategy to face that challenge when (not if) it comes.

The Russian intervention has succeeded not only in stopping ISIS advances but turning it into a clear retreat. The Russians have apparently a more determined – and more competent and effective – Syrian army on the ground than the US has with the Iraqi army.

Iraq Syria map

The next target for the Syrian army and Russia after retaking Palmyra could be Raqqa or possibly Deir al-Zour. The Iraqis and the US are making, comparatively, slow progress in retaking Mosul. But at least ISIS is not expanding territory in Iraq.

Once ISIS loses control of Raqqa and Mosul, its remaining territory in Syria and Iraq will be less than the critical mass it needs to sustain operations. Its oil earnings would also dwindle without the physical control of territory.

Just as the US support of opposition groups crippled Assad and allowed a vacuum for ISIS to fill, the European-led fiasco in Libya has only produced chaos with no clear group in authority. This has been exploited by ISIS. For some time now, ISIS has been preparing for shifting from its HQ in Raqqa and has been establishing a new HQ in Sirte (Surt) in Libya. ISIS has already established its version of Sharia rule in the area by carrying out executions and floggings in the town and in the surrounding areas all the way to Ajdabiya. Controlling the Gulf of Sirte would allow the development of new source of oil revenues to make up for the loss of revenues in Iraq and Syria.

Libya map

The US, Europe  and NATO are not doing much at this point in Libya to prevent ISIS from coming in. (There are reports of some special forces and snipers from the US and the UK operating in Libya but there is certainly no concerted effort to stop ISIS). The Russians do not have the same interest to intervene and so Libya is left wide open to ISIS by a bungling Europe. With the current chaos in Libya and the pressure it is facing in Iraq and Syria, I would not be surprised to see ISIS suddenly abandon Syria and expand in Libya. I suspect that the trigger could be the loss of Raqqa.

There are also reports that Boko Haram (which has allied itself with ISIS) is facing pressure from the Nigerian army and is also planning a shift northwards to Libya.

As ISIS expands territory in Libya (and perhaps also Boko Haram), a new wave of refugees into Europe can be expected. The French Defence Minister has estimated that this number could be another 800,000 people. There could be more if Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians and Somalis also start using the route through Libya to Italy. Italy could be swamped this autumn just as Greece has been in the last 6 months.

The Russians have no great objections to additional pressure on Europe. In any case, they would be disinclined to intervene in Libya. The US will not intervene (even though they backed the ill-conceived European adventure to remove Gaddafi). There is no European planning – let alone any strategy – for this scenario. I see no European initiative which can be as decisive in Libya as the Russians have been in Syria.

How is Europe going to stop ISIS in Libya?


 

LSE Professor leaves in advance of critical Saif al-Islam Gaddafi report

November 1, 2011

David HeldDavid Held, who is currently Graham Wallas professor of political science at the LSE, has announced that he is leaving in January to take up a post at Durham University.

But he is leaving one step ahead of the reports on Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s funding of research at the LSE. and one on charges of plagiarism in his PhD thesis.

According to the Guardian, Held said in a statement  “I will be taking up the positions of master of University College and chair of politics and international relations at the University of Durham from January. This move is being made for academic reasons and I look forward to the new avenues of research that this role will bring. I have many links to LSE which will be maintained in the years ahead.”

But Held who had very close links to

(more…)

End-game for Gadaffi no longer of his making

August 22, 2011

Update 2! Now even Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has appeared in Tripoli surrounded by his supporters and claiming that they are in control  and that his father is well. This could be a bitter end-game after the euphoria of yesterday.

Update! Mohammed Gaddafi – the older brother of Saif – has managed to escape from house arrest with the help of Gaddafi loyal troops!

He should have taken up the Chavez offer to move to Venezuela or have slunk away to his bolt-hole in Belarus. He should have used his friend Berlusconi’s travel agency to get away. Those options are no longer available to him. The earlier “negotiations” with French and EU contacts foundered on the riduculous demands made by his children.

Now it is reported that his youngest son Khamis has been killed.  In the last 2 days 2 or maybe 3 more of his sons have been captured by the rebels.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed that Saif al Islam and his older brother Mohammed have been detained.

CC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said: “It is very important to make clear there is an obligation to surrender Saif to the ICC in accordance with the Security Council resolution.”

Saif was reportedly captured in a western tourist village of Libya, while Mohammed surrendered to rebel forces and is under house arrest.

But Gaddafi himself  has not been seen in public since May. One of his last TV appearances was in mid-June when he was pictured playing chess with the World Chess Federation president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. He was heard on radio on Saturday saying that he was in Tripoli but this does not say much. Reports that he may be on his way to South Africa were denied by the Zuma government.  The BBC reports that he may no longer be in Tripoli:

One of the most persistent rumours is that he left Tripoli a while ago and may have gone to his birthplace of Sirte, on the western coast, or his ancestral home of Sabha in the south.

It is possible but unlikely that he has remained in his compound – with its bunker – in the Libyan capital. Fierce fighting is currently being reported around his Bab al-Azizia residence.

How the rebels will treat Gaddafi and his children will be quite telling about what we can expect in Libya. In 40 years of power as the “peoples leader” he has not built up any of the country’s institutions and “clan power” and clan politics may rule for some time.

What is Gaddafi’s connection to Norway? Galyna Kolotnytska has sought asylum there

May 6, 2011

It could be that some of Gaddafi’s wealth is hidden away in oil-rich Norway.

I have posted earlier about Galyna Koloynytska’s return to Ukraine from Libya. She remains loyal to Gaddafi and since she cannot have been politically oppressed in her home country, her sudden appearance in Norway suggests that some of his wealth is stashed here. I still have the opinion that Galyna Kolynytska has a pre-determined role in Gaddafi’s end-game and that she is still following this game plan.

Being very rich or having wealth hidden away in Norway should not – on the face of it – provide grounds for seeking asylum.

Expressen reports:

Gaddafi and Galyna: photo from Expressen

One of  Gaddafi’s private nurses, Galyna Kolotnytska has  sought asylum in Norway, reveals the Norwegian paper VG.

Galyna Kolotnytska had been  Gaddafi’s private nurse for eight years. She accompanied  him on all trips and is described as one of the people who are closest to him. Some time ago, she became world famous when she was mentioned as Mr Gaddafi’s  “buxom blonde” in the WikiLeaks documents that were leaked.

Now, say several sources that she has fled to Norway where she has sought asylum on Wednesday. The Ukrainian nurse was on Thursday night at an asylum reception centre in Oslo, the paper said after having been questioned earlier by Norwegian police.

In February this year, Kolotnytska left Libya and returned to her family in Ukraine.

Related: 

The end is nigh for Gaddafi: Galyna Kolotnytska has returned to Ukraine

Gaddafi & family activate Plan B to save themselves

Cracks appear in the Gaddafi façade

April 4, 2011

It was a only matter of time before the survival reflex started to kick in and start the propagation of cracks within the façade surrounding the Gaddafi family and clan. But replacing him with one of his sons would be a case of one step forward and two back.

As the NYT reports:

Saif al-Islam el-Gaddafi

At least two sons of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi are proposing a resolution to the Libyan conflict that would entail pushing their father aside to make way for a transition to a constitutional democracy under the direction of his son Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a diplomat and a Libyan official briefed on the plan said Sunday.

…. The proposal offers a new window into the dynamics of the Qaddafi family at a time when the colonel, who has seven sons, is relying heavily on them. Stripped of one of his closest confidantes by the defection of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa and isolated by decades of attempted coups and internal purges, he is leaning on his sons as trusted aides and military commanders.

The idea also touches on longstanding differences among his sons. While Seif and Saadi have leaned toward Western-style economic and political openings, Colonel Qaddafi’s sons Khamis and Mutuassim are considered hard-liners. Khamis leads a fearsome militia focused on repressing internal unrest.

Saif al-Islam el-Gaddafi is thought to have plagiarised his PhD thesis at the LSE but considering the former German Defence Minister’s plagiarism perhaps this is an acceptable level of ethics for European politicians!

Related: Gaddafi’s children are a motley – but dangerous – lot


Blood and oil in the sand: Is Gaddafi still getting the money from Libyan oil?

March 27, 2011

Apparently Libyan oil is still flowing while bombs are falling .

But who is getting the money for the oil?

And is oil the only reason why the West and Nato are supporting the rebels in Libya but not those opposing the oppresive regime in Bahrain?

Der Spiegel:

Are countries involved in the international operation in Libya hypocritical? That, it would seem, is the belief of German Development Minister Dirk Niebel, who criticized participants for continuing to draw oil from Libya. The comments show just how wide the gap between Berlin and its NATO allies has become. …

On Thursday evening,  Dirk Niebel  a member of Merkel’s junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), accused the United Nations-backed military alliance currently operating in Libya of hypocrisy. 

“It is notable that exactly those countries which are blithely dropping bombs in Libya are still drawing oil from Libya,” he said.

Niebel also said that Germany was “not consulted” by France prior to the start of the campaign in Libya and added that European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton’s coordination of the EU position on Libya had been “suboptimal.”

Niebel’s comments came on the heels of a demand by Merkel, made during the ongoing European Union summit in Brussels, for a complete oil embargo against Libya. The international community, she said, “must clearly show that we will not do business with anyone who wages war against his own people.” …..

And the implied accusation that oil interests are one motivation behind the Libya mission is not likely to be well received in Western capitals. …

Meanwhile, on Thursday, an agreement was reached among NATO member states that the trans-Atlantic alliance would take control of the no-fly zone over Libya.

Towns, tribes and oil fields of Libya.

Gaddafi & family activate Plan B to save themselves

March 25, 2011

That Gaddafi and family are not the kind to die heroically fighting to the last breath for some matter of principle is fairly clear. That their private aircraft were flitting around the world a few weeks ago secretly shifting and hiding their assets is an educated presumption. It seems increasingly likely that a “Plan B” for survival anda re-grouping is being put into effect as the “no-fly zone” and sanctions and the world-wide freezing of Libyan assets takes effect.

Belarus – not Venezuela – maybe Gaddafi’s bolt-hole

Map indicating location of Belarus and Libya

Belarus and Libya: image Wikipedia

My reading is that the family have already prepared their bolt hole most probably in Belarus and that Venezuela and Cuba are not viable. Kazakhstan and Tajikistan are remotely possible. I would not be surprised if the sudden flight of his nurse Galyna Kolotnytska back to Ukraine at the end of February was executed as part of Plan B. But the problem for Gaddafi and his family is now to arrange a “safe passage” to wherever the bolt-hole has been prepared.

Reuters reports:

Members of Muammar Gaddafi’s entourage are putting out feelers to seek a ceasefire or safe passage from Libya.

Roger Tamraz, a Middle Eastern businessman with long experience conducting deals with the Libyan regime said Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar’s eldest son, and Abdullah Senoussi, the Libyan leader’s brother-in-law, were the most prominent Gaddafi entourage members involved in seeking ways to end the fighting. A U.S. national security official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. government agencies were aware that Saif al-Islam and Senoussi had been involved in making peace overtures.

“It’s clear that some of Gaddafi’s family members always have a plan B up their sleeve. That doesn’t mean they’ll leave and certain Gaddafis are probably going to stick with their crazy dad no matter what happens,” the U.S. official said.

In an interview on Tuesday with a U.S. television network, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was aware that people close to Gaddafi had been trying to make contact.

“I’m not aware that he personally has reached out, but I do know that people allegedly on his behalf have been reaching out,” Clinton told ABC America’s Diane Sawyer.

“This is what we hear from so many sources…Today, yesterday, the day before. Some of it…is theater, some of it is kind of, shall we say, game-playing…But some of it, we think, is exploring, ‘what are my options, where could I go, what could I do.’ And we would encourage that,” Clinton said.

The U.S. national security official added: “It’s not at all surprising that members of the Gaddafi regime might be looking for ways out of this mess.” …..

Tamraz told Reuters that some of the most aggressive efforts by members of Gaddafi’s entourage to start dialogue were being channeled through Austria. A European government financial investigator said that Libya was believed to have extensive wealth and investments in Austria.

Tamraz said that he believed Saif al-Islam, Senoussi and other members of the Gaddafi entourage were proposing a ceasefire between government forces, rebels and the anti-Gaddafi Western alliance, or plans which would enable members of the Libyan leader’s entourage to go into exile peacefully.


Gaddafi bombs Misrata while France tries to hurry into military action

March 18, 2011

From Swedish television:

France could  launch a military action against Libya within hours after the UN had authorized operation said French government spokesman Francois Baroin today, Friday. “The attack will come quickly,” he told radio station RTL.

Meanwhile Reuters reports that Gaddafi’s forces are bombing Misrata.

Norway will participate in any international military action against Muammar Kadaffi in Libya, said Defense Minister Grete Faremo to VG online. “We will contribute to the operation. But it is too early to say exactly in what way”. One possibility is that Norway will send F-16 fighters. “But we will also be launching a major humanitarian operation with transport aircraft”.

China said on Friday that it was concerned about the UN resolution to impose a flight ban over Libya, although the country chose not to use its veto to block it. “We oppose the use of military force in international relationships, and have serious reservations about elements of the resolution, “said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.

Ten countries late on Thursday voted for the resolution while Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India abstained. The resolution calls for  “all necessary measures” to protect civilians against Gadaffi, but no foreign soldiers will be sent to Libya.

Opinion is divided on how soon the United States military mobilization can begin. French diplomats said that along with Britain they could have a military response force ready on Friday, writes Reuters. But representatives of the military in Washington are hesitant. The senior general in the United States, Norton Schwartz, said on Thursday that it may take up to one week until the operation is in progress.

 

Gaddafi sets his sights on Benghazi

March 17, 2011

While the situation in Japan captures the world’s attention, Gaddafi’s troops are ready to attack Benghazi. All the talk about no-fly zones by European countries and NATO have not led to anything – yet. Reuters reports:

Libyan government soldiers battled rebels on the road to the insurgent stronghold of Benghazi on Thursday as the United States raised the possibility of air strikes to stop Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

The army told people to leave opposition-held locations and arms dumps. But its advance on Benghazi — and the prospect of a decisive battle in the insurrection — was hampered by clashes around Ajbadiyah, a strategic town on the coastal highway.

Slow-paced international efforts to halt the bloodshed moved up a gear when the United States, previously cool on the idea of a foreign military intervention, said the U.N. Security Council should consider actions beyond a no-fly zone over Libya.

 

Gaddafi gains ground while protests spread to Saudi Arabia

March 11, 2011
Location of Benghazi within Libya.

Image via Wikipedia

The Gaddafi end-game gets murkier as he uses air power, regular troops and heavy artillery to retake towns controlled by the demonstrators. Zawaiyah and Ras Lanuf have been ruthlessly bombarded into submission. In the process many (at least 1000) Libyans have been killed by other Libyans. In the meantime NATO, the European Union, and the UN are dithering about the introduction of a no-fly zone across Libyan air space. It is conceivable that with no other forces coming into play Gaddafi could even try to retake Benghazi. In any event without US support such a no-fly zone would be difficult to implement. Any UN Security Council resolutions will be watered down since Russia and China have a fundamental aversion to the support of any group challenging authoritarian rule.

Gulf Arab states said the Gaddafi regime was illegitimate, and urged contact to be made with the rebels while President Barack Obama’s top intelligence adviser James Clapper predicted government forces would defeat the rebels.

Gaddafi has to go but the end-game for him and his family could be a long drawn-out affair. While France has recognised the rebel National Libyan Council as the legitimate government, other countries concerned that may well have to deal with Gaddafi for some time yet have not had the courage to follow suit. Berlusconi will see to it that any European consensus will be hard to come by.

But these hot and humid winds of change in North Africa and the Middle East represent a fundamental shift of political climate and are unlikely to be stopped. What is commonly known as the Sirocco is called Chom (hot) or arifi (thirsty) in North Africa and Simoom in Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and the desert of Arabia. In Libya it is called the Ghibli, in Egypt it is the Khamsin  and it is the Sharavin in Israel.

File:Persian Gulf Arab States english.PNG

map via Wikipedia

And the winds are now blowing towards the House of Saud. Yesterday (Thursday)

Saudi security forces fired on scores of protesters in the city of Qatif, according to two witnesses and an activist.

The protests took place one day ahead of a planned “Day of Rage” in the Middle Eastern country.

Defying a Saudi government ban on all kinds of public demonstrations, more than 100 people in the predominantly Shiite city in eastern Saudi Arabia urged authorities to release Shiite prisoners, the witnesses and activist said.

At some point, the witnesses said Saudi security forces shot to disperse the crowd. It was unknown if the forces fired rubber bullets or live ammunition. Those injured were taken to Qatif Central Hospital for treatment, the activist and witnesses said.

The Jerusalem Post writes:

The time after Friday prayers has proved to be crucial in popular uprisings that have brought down Tunisian and Egyptian rulers who once seemed invulnerable.

Gulf leaders are struggling to hold back an Internet-era generation of Arabs who appear less inclined to accept arguments appealing to religion and tradition to explain why ordinary citizens should be shut out of decision-making.

Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Gulf, is home to Islam’s holiest sites – and is a long-time US ally that has ensured oil supplies for the West. More than 32,000 people have backed a Facebook call to hold two demonstrations in the country, the first of them Friday.

Riyadh has tried to counter the call with promises of money and other measures – including a pro-government Facebook page “against the revolution” with 23,000 supporters.

The protest movements hit populous Yemen a month ago, and spread to the Gulf states, where dynasties secured their rule in colonial times.

Bahrain – an island state, whose rulers look to Riyadh for support – has been the most vulnerable so far. This week, hardline Shi’ite groups formed an alliance to ditch the monarchy and turn Bahrain into a republic.


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