News / Middle East

Renegade General Khalifa Haftar Launches Offensive in East Libya

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.
Reuters
A renegade Libyan general launched a fresh offensive on Sunday against Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi, sparking some of the worst fighting in weeks in which at least four people were killed and power supplies disrupted.
 
Libyan authorities are struggling to restore order across the vast desert nation ahead of a June 25 parliamentary election. The situation remains especially chaotic in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city and cradle of the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Moammer Gadhafi three years ago.
 
Retired general Khalifa Haftar has declared war against militants in Benghazi and several army units have joined him. The Tripoli government says he has no authority to act but its orders are routinely ignored in much of the country, especially the east, as rival militias and tribal groups vye for control.
 
Haftar's troops, backed by tanks and rocket launchers, attacked several suspected camps of Islamists in western areas of Benghazi on Sunday, forcing dozens of families to flee. War planes could also be heard circling above the city.
 
Benghazi and much of eastern Libya suffered power outages after rockets hit a power station near the city's airport, the state electricity firm said.
 
There has been speculation among analysts that Haftar has the support of neighboring Egypt and of Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates, which like the West is worried about Islamist militants exploiting the chaos in Libya.
 
Haftar told Saudi-owned Arabiya television that his forces were being supported by Libya's neighbors to help secure the country's borders, according to the channel's website. He did not elaborate and he later issued a denial of any such support.
 
Haftar slams Qatar, lauds Egypt

 
At a news conference held outside Benghazi, Haftar praised Egypt's new president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as the right man for the job. Egypt has cracked down hard on the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which Haftar on Sunday branded as an “international spy network”.
 
Haftar also accused Qatar of fueling Libya's chaos. “There is no doubt Qatar supports the militias in Libya,” he said.
 
Separately, he told Arabiya television Qatar was hampering the formation of a national army and police force in Libya.
 
Qatar has come under pressure from Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain over its backing for the Muslim Brotherhood. All three withdrew their ambassadors to Doha in March, causing an unprecedented public rift in the Gulf.
 
The latest fighting in Libya comes less than two weeks before a parliamentary election that ordinary citizens hope will bring an end to the chronic political infighting that has paralyzed decision-making since the last vote in summer 2012.
 
Western powers and Gulf countries fear that Islamists will turn Libya into a battlefield or transit point for fighters heading for conflict zones such as Egypt's Sinai, Syria or sub-Saharan countries like Mali.
 
The security fears are particularly acute for Benghazi, home to several oil firms and the focus of Haftar's campaign.
 
Haftar's spokesman Mohamed El-Hejazi said Haftar had warned the Islamists against shipping in arms via the commercial port of Derna, east of Benghazi. Derna is a focal point for Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group designated as terrorist by the United States, and other insurgents.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid