News / Africa

Libya Condemns Rogue General's Attack on Parliament

  • Smoke rises over the parliament area after troops of rogue Gen. Khalifa Haftar targeted Islamist lawmakers and officials at the parliament, in Tripoli, Libya, May 18, 2014.
  • Armed men aim their weapons as smoke rises in the background near the General National Congress, in Tripoli, May 18, 2014. 
  • Forces loyal to rogue Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar attacked Tripoli's parliament Sunday, May 18, expanding his eastern offensive against Islamists into the heart of the country's capital, Tripoli, Libya, May 18, 2014.
     
  • Vehicles with heavy artillery of the Tripoli joint security forces move closer to the parliament building after troops of Gen. Khalifa Haftar targeted Islamist lawmakers in parliament, Tripoli, May 18, 2014.
  • Heavily armed gunmen stormed into Libya's parliament on Sunday, May 18 after attacking the building with anti-aircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, witnesses and residents said, Tripoli, May 18, 2014.
     
Renegade Libyan General 'Suspends' Parliament
VOA News
Libya's army chief ordered the deployment of Islamist-led militias to the capital Tripoli on Monday in response to the storming of parliament by forces loyal to a renegade ex-general. The move paves the way for a possible showdown between rival militia fighters.

Meanwhile, the revolt against Islamists who dominate Libyan politics threatened to spiral into an outright battle for power after an elite army unit, the Special Forces, joined the uprising Monday.

The commander of the Special Forces has announced his support for retired General Khalifa Haftar and his National Libyan Army.  His forces have been fighting militants for months in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city.

Forces apparently loyal to former Army Chief of Staff Khalifa Haftar said they suspended parliament Sunday after earlier leading a military assault against lawmakers, directly challenging the legitimacy of the country's weak central government three years after the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gadhafi.

Libya's interim government condemned the attack on parliament and largely ignored the declaration by the general's group.
 
Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar addresses a press conference in Benghazi, Libya, May 17, 2014.Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar addresses a press conference in Benghazi, Libya, May 17, 2014.
x
Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar addresses a press conference in Benghazi, Libya, May 17, 2014.
Libyan Gen. Khalifa Haftar addresses a press conference in Benghazi, Libya, May 17, 2014.

For hours after the attack on Sunday, fighting took place around the road to Tripoli's airport and its southern outskirts between Haftar’s forces and Islamist militiamen.

By Monday morning, the gunfire died down and a tentative calm returned to the city. Each side claimed to have the support of the Libyan people, VOA's Edward Yeranian reported from Cairo, and demanded the other back down.

The revolt by Haftar threatens to detonate the long volatile divisions among the multiple militias that dominate Libya amid the weakness of the central government and military.

Haftar said he aims to crush Islamists he accuses of seizing control of the country and he appears to have the support of some militias from the eastern half of the country and the western Zintan region.

In the other camp, parliament chief Nouri Abu Sahmein - an Islamist-leaning politician - ordered a powerful umbrella group of mainly Islamist militias known as “Libya's Central Shield'' to mobilize on Monday to defend against Haftar's forces. The umbrella group is dominated by a militia from Libya's third largest city, Misrata.

Further raising the potential for chaos, one of Libya's many al-Qaida-inspired extremist groups on Monday vowed to fight Haftar's forces, AP reported.

Also on Monday, Libya's outgoing government demanded that parliament suspend its work until the next general election after an impending vote on the 2014 budget, and
re-run the controversial election of a new premier, a cabinet statement said, according to Reuters.

The cabinet of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni submitted its proposal to parliament as a solution to Libya's political chaos and violence, the statement said.

Attack creates more chaos

The confrontations over the weekend further deepens the chaos Libya has endured since 2011. With militias running rampant, the central government has little power, and the army and police remain shattered since the civil war that ousted Gadhafi.

Parliament is divided between Islamist parties - which hold a majority - and their opponents, each of which are backed by rival militias.

The legal mandate for Libya's parliament ran out several months ago and caretaker Thani's government resigned several weeks ago.
 
General National Council building, Tripoli, LibyaGeneral National Council building, Tripoli, Libya
x
General National Council building, Tripoli, Libya
General National Council building, Tripoli, Libya

Thani's successor, businessman Ahmed Maitiq, who is supported by Islamist parties including the Muslim Brotherhood, has been unable to form a government and opponents dispute his legitimacy, the VOA reported.

Haftar, a former rebel in the fight against Gadhafi, appears to be trying to harness widespread public frustration with the government's impotence, vowing to get rid of extremists and impose an effective authority.

On Sunday, militiamen loyal to him stormed the parliament building in Tripoli, ransacking the building. Two people were reportedly killed and more than 50 wounded.

Haftar sent his fighters into Benghazi last Friday against Islamist militants based there. Authorities said at least 70 people were killed, according to AP.

Video obtained by Reuters showed armed gunmen from Haftar's brigade engaged in the firefight in Benghazi. Gunshots could be heard and a car is seen burning.

Worried by the threat of more fighting, both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia closed their embassies in Tripoli on Monday. Turkey closed its consulate in Benghazi and evacuated its employees to a local airport. Algeria withdrew its ambassador last week.

Algeria also closed off land borders with Libya over security concerns on Monday, Reuters reported.

The European Union said Monday it is "deeply concerned" by developments in Libya after armed groups attacked parliament in Tripoli and an air base in the east.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton said the EU was concerned about the "continuing deterioration," the French news agency AFP reported.

"The EU renews its commitment to support the Libyan people ... and calls on all parties to build consensus so as to ensure a transition to a stable democracy," spokesman Michael Mann said.

EU member states, especially former colonial power Italy and its southern neighbors, are also worried by a sharp increase in the influx of refugees from Libya this year, in part due to the deteriorating security situation in the country.

Government struggles

Elsewhere Monday, a Libyan air force base in the eastern city of Tobruk announced that it had decided to join forces with Haftar, Reuters reported.

“The Torbuk air force base will join ... the army under the command of General Khalifa Qassim Haftar,'' said the statement posted on social media websites. Staff at the air base confirmed its authenticity, Reuters reported.
 
Libya also extended the closure of the airport in the main eastern city of Benghazi until May 25 because of the unrest, the airport director said. It was attacked overnight with Grad rockets.

Since the toppling of Gadhafi in 2011, successive Libyan governments have struggled to impose order as heavily armed former rebels have carved out their own fiefdoms.

Militia brigades in armored trucks mounted with anti-aircraft canons have often stormed parliament, occupied ministries and even kidnapped the prime minister last year in a show of military muscle to make political demands.

But Sunday's attack on parliament was the most serious violence in the capital for months, and appeared to expand Haftar's campaign against hardline Islamists, who emerged as a force in North Africa since the Arab Spring revolts of 2011.

VOA’s Edward Yeranian in Cairo contributed to this report. Some information was provided by AP, Reuters and AFP.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: KWoldegeorgise from: Alexandria,VA
May 20, 2014 1:58 AM
There is no justification whether in the name of God or Allah the people of the world should perish by gun or chemicals. The World needs new leaders who encourage peace dialogue and better distribution of peace and wealth. Religion should lead to peace not to the end of peace. let us bring sense to life !

by: meanbill from: USA
May 19, 2014 6:09 PM
General haftar is the "front man" for the CIA Libyan militias, and they are now joined by the British and French spy agencies Libyan militias, and their black-ops and mercenaries, in a final push to seize the Libyan government by force? --
US and NATO special forces are waiting in Cyprus to seize the Libyan oil and gas depots, to replace the Russian oil and gas they may lose because of Ukraine? -- The meeting ended with a table pounding shout, (NATO will finally win a war, against the 6.2 million Libyans .. God Wills It)....

by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
May 19, 2014 2:12 PM
General Khalifa Haftar -- a new but logical Gaddafi who may eventually rule Arab North Africa as an eventually powerful Empire, no matter what the Persian Gulf oil monarchies, Nato, Israel, and Black African nations want and prefer? Probably. Once the oil fields are under his control and producing the capacity, cash and the military purchasing power will let him become the Libyan Empire's emperor. When that happens, Persia -- iran -- will be promoted and supported as the only real power in the region, other than but not necessarily Israel which may align with him, able to contain the yet to be crowned Emperor Haftar.

by: meanbill from: USA
May 19, 2014 11:30 AM
MY OPINION? -- General Haftar is a CIA and US government (bought and paid for) trained, supported and supplied Libyan militia leader, who's now joined by the British and French trained Libyan militias, to seize the Libyan government by force.. ---
General Haftar will then ask for NATO help in seizing the Libyan oil and gas companies from the 6.2 million Libyans, for the Haftar controlled Libyan government.. -- (BUT?) -- the Libyan oil and gas is to be controlled by the EU and NATO countries... -- (If my opinion isn't true, we'll soon know, won't we?)

by: spiris333 from: US
May 19, 2014 11:30 AM
It probably was a U-Tube video again.

by: BKR from: Sweden
May 19, 2014 9:40 AM
This General is not Libyan he is Zionist , he can't represent Libyan nation.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
May 19, 2014 1:05 PM
The discussion will not ended .whether The Libyan General is Zionist which I do not know what you mean or he is CIA agent. believe it or not it is another civil in middle East . The real reason is the barbaric behavior .they enjoy fighting to kill each other in the name of Allah. Sooner or later ,the whole Islamic world will turn out by war, disease and poverty. the west should not interfere because it will not work .they love war
In Response

by: bryan from: usa
May 19, 2014 12:46 PM
Better Haftar than Muslim Brotherhood terrorists.

by: Max Asios from: Sydney
May 19, 2014 7:25 AM
Haftar...? Why is the CIA using such an obvious pawn? Any civi can see the direct line leading back to US command - don't we have more low key people in our pocket or uncovered agents that could be used - or has it become policy to do this stuff out in clear view in the public domain?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs