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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs