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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid