News / Middle East

Rogue Libyan General Resumes Airstrikes Near Benghazi

Rogue General Resumes Airstrikes as Chaos Grips Libyai
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 29, 2014 8:34 PM
A rogue army general in Libya has resumed airstrikes against Islamist militias in the east of the country. Western officials have voiced fears the violence could degenerate into civil war as rival factions fight for power, three years after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
VIDEO: Forces loyal to Gadhafi-era general Khalifa Hiftar have been fighting Islamist militants in the region for months, and Western officials are voicing fears the factional violence could degenerate into civil war. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Henry Ridgwell
Witnesses say warplanes launched at least two missile strikes on Jihadist bases Thursday near the eastern city of Benghazi.

The strikes are latest in a series of assaults led by rogue Libyan army general Khalifa Hiftar, whose so-called National Libyan Army has been fighting militants in the region for months.

Forces loyal to the former general carried out two airstrikes on the February 17 Martyrs Brigade compound west of Benghazi on Wednesday. No casualties were reported, but witnesses say there was structural damage to the facilities housing the brigade, which is made up of former Islamist ex-rebels and one of the largest militant groups in Benghazi.

In a statement last week, Hiftar claimed he was leading Libya's army to restore stability of the nation's political life and security three years after the ouster and death of Moammar Gadhafi.

But according to Libya analyst Jason Pack of Cambridge University, who is president of libya-analysis.com, Hiftar does not lead any national army.

"What Khalifa Hiftar calls a national army is yet another militia which he has branded or named the national army," Pack said.

But Hiftar has succeeded, Pack said, in reaching out to an anti-Islamist segment of the Libyan population, and the support is growing. In recent days street demonstrations have broken out in Tripoli and Benghazi in support of General Hiftar.

"This stand is for the country, for saving what is left of the country's dignity, and also supporting the army and police so they can eliminate criminals and outlaws," Sheikh Mohamed Lamin, who was among the supporters, said. 

Earlier this month, forces loyal to Hiftar carried out a rocket attack on Libya's Islamist-dominated parliament, which Hiftar accuses of supporting Jihadist militias.

Western officials have voiced fears the violence could degenerate into civil war as rival factions fight for power.

Pack says several pro- and anti-Islamist, tribal and regional factions are currently vying for national influence.

"There was more unity when their goal was to overthrow Gadhafi," he said. "The further that has receded into memory, the different factions have begun expressing their own agendas."

Hiftar, who served under Gadhafi before defecting to the United States in the 1980s, has denied widespread claims he was trained by the CIA.

"Libyans remember both his CIA connections and his Gadhafi connections, and when he tried to insert himself into the rebel leadership in 2011 when the uprising began, he was never taken seriously," said Pack. "He is a man who wants to hold power so much that he is playing whatever circumstance exists to his benefit."

A new cabinet was sworn in this week, despite an opposition boycott and legal challenges. New Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeg vowed to prevent Libya from fragmenting, saying new ministers would strive in every way to fight terrorism, and fight to build the institutions of the police and army.

The United States has urged all its citizens to leave Libya immediately. In a speech Wednesday, President Barack Obama pledged to help the country build a functioning security force and border patrol.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ifeanyichukwu R. from: Nigeria
May 30, 2014 2:31 AM
U.S. has nothing to offer in Libya than to make the situation worse again; because they planted this ugly trend in Libya.

by: Ifeanyichukwu R. from: Nigeria
May 30, 2014 2:31 AM
U.S. has nothing to offer in Libya than to make the situation worse again; because they planted this ugly trend in Libya.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs