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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs