Libya is in turmoil, as was evident in the latest deadly blast in the city of Benghazi on May 13. As all hell breaks loose and armed militias run amok, Western diplomats are pulling out of a chaos they had helped create. Freeman discusses their pullout and further Mid-East strategy with RT.RT: British and American embassies are withdrawing some of their staff from Libya right now, so why the powers who actually helped to topple Colonel Gaddafi are feeling vulnerable in Tripoli?Lawrence Freeman: They created a monster that they can no longer control, and it’s turning against them in a way that was absolutely foreseeable. The fact hath the Tony Blair policy which Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy followed implementing – the overthrow of Gaddafi in August 2011 – created this condition which was understandable, anyone could’ve known what was going to happen. We worked directly with Al Qaeda militias all throughout Benghazi and other parts of Libya, so now it’s become ungovernable. So even the people who initiated the mess have to leave to protect themselves because nobody will protect them and the situation is completely out of control.RT: And who is behind the violence – one particular group, or are there various elements?LF: Well, there are various militias. The largest umbrella group is the Islamic Fighting Group, which – if not a part of – is completely one with Al Qaeda. This grouping was at war with Gaddafi and he was trying to defeat them. And we carried out the most idiotic policy, which was to work with these groups to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gadaffi. And this goes all the way back to the policy that Tony Blair had in 1999 for the Iraq war: “if we want to get rid of leaders, we’re going to have a regime change”. And this fellow, Blair, is probably the biggest criminal on the planet right now. And Obama – because he’s carried out these policies – is in deep, deep trouble in his own second term in the US.RT: What about the political situation in Libya? Is the current government incompetent or just simply unable to control the violence, and why isn’t it getting help from Western powers?LF: The government, really, has been removed. They passed this law that said that anybody in the last 30-40 years that had any role in the former Libyan government had to be removed. So, basically, we’ve created the closest thing yet to an Al Qaeda controlled state. And these fools in the West are now planning and thinking of doing the same thing in Syria. Except for military-political leadership from the United States, from people like former Defense Secretary Gates, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, we would be in war already in Syria, and it would look like Libya, except several orders of magnitude worse.RT: Of course some would say that those who kicked off the situation in Libya should go back and sort it out and get the country back on track. After all they were responsible. So is another intervention simply not realistic?LF: No. I don’t think there’s going to be another intervention. I think there are some people in the British circles who want to see uncontrollable states, who want to see people die, who want to see genocide. And this thing has already spread: the fall of Gaddafi was directly related to the toppling of northern Mali and the coup in Bamako. And there are articles and reports which I’ve known for months, that the Boko Haram have received weapons via Mali and others, from Gaddafi’s weapon caches. So we’re seeing the destabilization of the whole Sahel and North and West Africa, as well as Gaddafi. Whether you say it was done by ignorance or by intention. I say – both.RT: But why is it that you’re creating rogue states run by Islamic fundamentalists who are anti-Western, creating a hotbed of militia threatening the region and the rest of the world? Why the intention to create such chaos?LF: You have an alliance of British royal family, the Saudi royal family…and they would rather see chaos and destabilization as a way to maintain control than allow sovereign nation states to exercise their rights. They’ll have more power if there’s un-governability than if there are actually stable nations. And this is increasingly the sign of the times as this financial crisis is careening out of control, especially throughout the European sector. The transatlantic regions are in a state of such dire collapse that war and chaos are looking more and more like their alternative survival.RT: The oil company BP has decided to pull some of its staff out. Does this mean that international ambitions to exploit resources there are failing? Because, after all, many are claiming that oil was the reason for the Western intervention.LF: I never thought it was oil. I think oil plays a role, I think resources play a role. But from my standpoint, my own historical view of things, it’s much more the age-old imperialist, colonialist policy of having weak nation-states that are easy to manipulate and govern. …
Car bomb explodes outside Benghazi hospital in Libya 13/05/2013 16:45 CET
Bombs claim lives of two in Libya 19/08/2012 10:01 CET
US ambassador to Libya killed in attack 12/09/2012 12:03 CET
Explosions rock Turkish border town 11/05/2013 15:33 CET
Violence returns to Somalia as 19 are killed in… 14/04/2013 18:04 CET
A car bomb has exploded outside a hospital in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi.
Reports on the number killed vary between three to 15 people. Defence Ministry official Saleh al-Bargathi said that there were 17 wounded, and two children amongst the dead. One doctor said only one of the deceased was carried into the hospital still in one piece.
One restaurant was destroyed and nearby buildings were heavily damaged by the explosion.
So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Security remains an issue in post-Gaddafi Libya with a string of attacks across the country in recent weeks.
In April, a car bomb outside the French embassy in the capital, Tripoli, injured two guards.
BP has withdrawn a number of its employees as a precaution.
Militia withdrew on Sunday, ending a two-week long siege of ministries in the capital. They were hoping to pressure lawmakers into passing legislation banning anyone who held a senior post under former leader Muammar Gaddafi from the new government. Parliament bowed to the pressure. Justice Minister Salah Marghani denied any deal had been made with the gunmen.
More than 18 months after the uprising against Gaddafi, new leaders are struggling to impose authority in a country flooded with weapons.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
The US State Department said that it has “approved the ordered departure of non-emergency personnel from Libya.” It said that the US embassy in Tripoli would continue to remain “open and functioning.”A spokesman for the Foreign Office said that Britain’s embassy is temporarily withdrawing a small number of staff – most of which “work in support of government ministries which have been affected by recent developments.”Those “recent developments” refer to an increase in violence which was sparked after two ex-rebels besieged two ministries last month over a law that would ban officials who served under former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.Since then, gunmen have surrounded the Libyan foreign embassy and Benghazi has been the target of bomb attacks which left a police station damaged. Mark Almond, an international relations professor at Turkey’s Bilkent University, says the violence is largely to do with the country’s chaotic state, as well as a power struggle regarding who should control the country’s oil and gas industry.RT: The UK issued a warning to British nationals back in January, advising them to stay away from Benghazi. It’s now withdrawing its staff. Why are tensions on the rise now, as opposed to what was happening in January? What’s changed?Mark Almond: I think there has just been a constant level of trouble. Partly what we’re seeing are deep divisions between Libyan revolutionaries who Britain and other NATO countries supported. There’s a power struggle over who should control the Libyan state and particularly the country’s oil and gas resources.Effectively, there’s a battle between the roles of the young men who do the fighting and the older people – some of whom emigrated from Libya in the years of Gaddafi’s rule and some who changed sides from Gaddafi quite recently. And there’s a real struggle over who should be running the central government, the regional government, and whose finger should be in the oil and gas pie.RT: There was a recent car bomb attack on the French embassy, one American ambassador was killed. Militias are blocking access to embassies. What’s the international community doing to curb these incidents?MA: Well this is basically a dilemma they can’t really resolve. After all, by bombing Libya, they helped to create a situation where armed groups came to power and certainly have local domination. And there are of course groups that may be welcoming NATO bombers but are in fact quite serious anti-Western Muslim fundamentalist groups. So they don’t regard necessarily the continued presence of western embassies, the British, French, or American ones, as something that they’d like to see in a liberated – as they would see it – Libya.There’s also the problem that perhaps various promises were made to people who NATO needed at the time, who feel they’ve been cheated a bit. This is one of the suspicions about the fate of American Ambassador Chris Stevens – that he had been dealing with the armed groups, that he was probably also helping to facilitate support for Syrian rebels and somehow or another he got mixed up with the wrong crew.RT: It appears a lot of the violence has been focused on police stations and foreigners. Why is that?MA: Well of course insofar as any kind of law and order can be restored, you’d have to have some form of police. So those people who don’t like being put under control are very angry about that. And foreigners, too, are seen as being the people who are pushing particular Libyans into positions of power and influence, including in the oil and gas industry. Remember we’re talking about a country whose economy is overwhelmingly dependent upon export products so there’s an enormous amount of corruption and competition regarding who should get hold of those assets inside Libya and, I’m afraid, outside Libya.RT: Just two years ago, the UK lobbied for military intervention in Libya. Was that a good decision?MA: I think it was a terrible decision. I’m afraid if Colonel Gaddafi had suppressed the opposition in March 2011, possibly hundreds of people would have died. Perhaps as many as 30,000 have died since, and the country is in a deep state of disorder and uncertainty. Life for most Libyans is worse than it was under Colonel Gaddafi. And of course Gaddafi’s regime was supposed by the Western countries to be the bad regime. Anything must be better, we were told. But now we see that it’s not so clear. …
The Oxford-based expert believes that only stopping US military provocations will bring stability to the region.RT: What do you think about the warning of North Korea telling international embassies to evacuate their staff? It sounds pretty dire, doesn’t it?Dan Glazebrook: Their intention has been clear from the start of this crisis. North Korea’s whole intention is to show its willingness and preparedness to defend itself should war be launched upon it. Every year we have these massive provocations of joint US and South Korean war games exercises right at the borders of North Korea. This year the provocations were stepped up to actually simulate a nuclear missile attack on North Korea. B2 bombers were used for the first time along with B52s and F22 bombers. So there is a military provocation from the US. North Korea feels rightly threatened – they’ve seen what’s happened to Iraq, to Libya and so on. It feels threatened because it knows it was in the explicit hit-list of the American government some years ago. It needs to make very clear that it will not tolerate any kind of infringement of its sovereignty, any kind of attack, and this is all about to show that it’s willing to defend itself.RT: We’re receiving reports of an earthquake near North Korea – do you believe there could be any links with the country’s nuclear intentions?DG: Well, I think we should wait and see what happens, but of course constantly North Korea has this policy called the Army First policy, where it’s constantly trying to develop its nuclear and military resources to defend itself. Again, the lessons of Iraq and Libya are very clear – Saddam Hussein gave up his weapons program and we saw what happened to Iraq as a result, kind of [Muammar] Gaddafi gave up his weapons program and we saw what happened to Libya as a result. So they are constantly trying to upgrade their weapons in order to defend themselves. Of course, one of the reasons for this constant annual provocation, these war games exercises, is to keep tensions of the peninsular high to justify the massive US military presence – it’s one of the most militarized regions on the entire planet.RT: Is there anything Washington can do to prevent a full scale confrontation in case North Korea is determined to take it to the extreme?DG: Of course, they can stop launching these provocations, stop simulating nuclear strikes against North Korea on its border. The thing is that they would love to occupy North Korea, they would love to have troops right upon the border of China. What stops them every time is that they calculate their losses would be in the magnitude of tens and tens of thousands of soldiers. What they would dearly love then, the US and its allies, would be actually to get South Korea into a new Korean War in which South Korea took all the casualties. This is why the North is so determined to make it clear that if the US and its allies attempt to provoke some kind of inter-Korean conflict they will have to pay a heavy price for that. …
Negotiations between the opposition and the Syrian PresidentBashar Assad’s regime along with pressure from the internationalcommunity have so far failed to resolve the conflict peacefully. In February the Syrian government expressed its readiness tonegotiate “with anyone who wants dialogue”, including armedgroups. The opposition remains divided with rebel fighters refusingto talk until President Assad steps down and leaders of the armyand security forces are put on trial.Syria has been torn apart by violence with the UN estimatingmore than 70,000 people being killed and over 2 million internallydisplaced in the two-year uprising against the government of BasharAssad.The conflict has also caused immense economic damage alreadyestimated at US$80 billion, according to former deputy premier foreconomic affairs under President Bashar Assad, Abdullah Dardari.“Economics alone can fragment Syria if we go on like this,”Dardari told the Reuters.While Syria’s deficit is estimated to reach US$10 billion in2013, a jump from US$3 billion in 2012, SANA reported.Syria differs from other Arab Spring revolts, as Bashar Assad didnot step down within weeks, like the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.Nor did his regime fall within months, like Colonel Gaddafi’s inLibya.Syrian opposition has gone beyond just demonstration andclashes, making killing by both sides an everyday reality with eachblaming the other for the atrocities.Amnesty International has warned that Syrian rebels haveincreasingly resorted to torture and the summary execution ofsoldiers, suspected informants, pro-government militias andcaptured or kidnapped civilians.“[Rebel fighters] are summarily killing people with achilling sense of impunity, and the death toll continues to rise asmore towns and villages come under the control of armed oppositiongroups,” Amnesty said.In a separate report, Amnesty accused government forces oframping up indiscriminate air and artillery attacks on civilianpopulations in recent months.Others say the conflict is being fuelled from theoutside.“It is part of America’s and western strategy to destroySyria by Syrians and by Arabs and this they are doingsuccessfully”, International law professor Daoud Khairallahtold RT.Paris and London announced in March that they will call for anearly unscheduled EU meeting on the Syrian arms embargo, whichneeds to be renewed every three months, in order to lift the ban.The two nations want the next review to be held this month, ratherthan in May. If the EU does not end the embargo, the two nationsmay still arm the Syrian rebels, France hinted.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded that plans toarm the Syrian rebels would violate international law. Russia hasremained firm that any kind of foreign intervention will only makethe conflict worse.The EU imposed the arms embargo, and other sanctions, againstSyria in May 2011, following two months of conflict in thecountry.RT contributor Afshin Rattansi believes that the Westernstrategy will eventually backfire if they arm rebels in Syria. Andthat those who wanted to see the fall of the regime may witness thecountry’s fall instead.“It is sad that these countries [the UK and France] can thinkof arming these Islamists because the blowback will bephenomenal”, Rattansi said.The US expresses increasing concern when it comes to armingSyrian rebels, despite the fact that it recently announced that itwill provide the opposition forces with US$60 million in aid.Secretary of State John Kerry took a clear stance at the end ofFebruary stating that Washington will not provide weapons toopposition fighters fearing that the weapons may fall into thehands of Jihadists.However, there have been media reports of some countriesoffering military support to Syrian rebels.According to Reuters sources, Turkey is directing the rebel fightagainst Bashar Assad, after setting up a secret base on its borderwith Syria, with help from Qatar and Saudi Arabia who allegedlysupply weapons to anti-Assad fighters. Also, foreigninstructors are reportedly training Syrian rebels in modern warfarein Jordan. The military training focuses on the use of anti-tankweaponry, der Spiegel recently reported, citing what it said wereparticipants and organizers. American, British and Frenchinstructors are reportedly taking part.Diverse Syria, in piecesSyria is a predominantly a Sunni country, but it is also home toother Muslim denominations, among them the Alawites, an offshoot ofShia Islam, Christians and other religious minorities.For centuries Syria has been known for its many ethnic andreligious groups living in peace and harmony. Now some warn that itcan be used to destroy Syria.One of the significant blows to diversity in Syria was dealt torelations between the country’s Sunni majority and the rulingAlawite minority to which President Bashar Assad belongs.“Some of the opposition fighters are trying to make theconflict sectarian. But it is not about one sect fighting theother”, local journalist Abdullah Mawazini told RT.Hearing about sectarian intolerance is something new for Syria,argues researcher Gabriel Cablo.“We feel this pressure for months now – especially from Gulfcountries – trying to drag us to this perilous Shia-Sunni game.It’s a big threat because it tears society from theinside.”Palestinian refugees in Syria who found a new home there amidthe Israeli-Palestinian conflict were caught in the fighting, theircamps attacked. This drove a wedge between the two Arab peoples,previously on friendly terms.“They wanted to both weaken the regime and spread despairamong Palestinians. It’s clear – desperate and destabilized societyis a weak one”, says member of People’s Front for Liberation ofPalestine, Anwar Raja.Some 600,000 Palestinians currently live in Syria, according to thePalestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.The Kurdish population in Syria’s north-east were also affectedand the Kurdish-Syrian peaceful coexistence has beenthreatened. “Syrian Kurds want to be integrated into Syrian society, haverights and be respected. We’ve never been treated like that. But ofcourse when violence targets us – it cannot not affectrelations”, member of Syrian Kurdish Initiative Ismail IbrahimShaouish told RT.Many Kurds from Aleppo fled the hostilities by moving north, toKurd-populated areas that are relatively safe. Even those partsfeel the impact of the crisis, however: a village that used to behome to some 10,000 residents currently accommodates five timesthat number.Making things more complicated are the surrounding regional andneighboring states that flood Syrian borders with fighters, weaponsand extremist ideology, allowing for the presence of radicalIslamic groups including Al-Qaeda, working in Syria under thefaçade of the al-Nusra front, argues RT’s contributor DannyMakki.“Foreign radical fighters are what the Syrian governmentclearly fears the most, their presence; thought to number thousandsis encouraged by regional powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia,making it a state-on-state clash which is being waged on Syriansoil,” he said. …
CNN reports that 46-year-old Faraj al-Shibli (also spelledChalabi) is being held in Libya and is considered a suspect in theSeptember 11, 2012 assault on the United States consulate inBenghazi.Chris Stevens, an US ambassador, was among the four Americanskilled in the attack.One source speaking to CNN claims that al-Shibli has been incustody for the past two days after being apprehended during areturn trip from Pakistan. A second source has confirmed the storyto the news outlet.The Libyan government first singled in on al-Shibli when hisnamed was added to “wanted” lists administered by both the UnitedNations and Interpol. Today he remains on Interpol’s “WantedPersons” list, where he is sought in connection unspecified violentcrimes.Al-Shibli reportedly joined the militant anti-Gaddafi LibyanIslamist Fighting Group in the mid-1990s, and has long beenconsidered a suspect in the 1994 murder of Germancounterintelligence officer Silvan Becker and his wife in Sirte,Libya.According to earlier news reports, Osama bin Laden was alsoconsidered a suspect in the Becker murders, suggesting ties betweenthe possible Benghazi organizer and al-Qaeda.Barely one month after last year’s assault on the US consulate,Ahmed Abu Khattala of the Benghazi-based Ansar al-Sharia group gaveinterviews with western media in which he all but took credit forthe terrorist attack,”These reports say that no oneknows where I am and that I am hiding,” Khattala said toreporters with Reuters. “But hereI am in the open, sitting in a hotel with you. I’m even going topick up my sister’s kids from school soon.”On the record, Khattala said he was present during last year’sterrorist attack but did not mastermind it. …
An editor at the state-owned Lana network said the attackerslocked the other workers inside one office, torched thesurroundings and fled with the six hostages in a jeep to anundisclosed location. They later released five people, but keptJoumaa al-Usta, the wealthy owner, captiveOne of the anchors at the Alassema station where the attack tookplace, Mohammed al-Sharkassi, told another news network that he hadalso been accosted outside his workplace by “individuals whoidentified themselves as former rebels.” He told Libya al-Ahrartelevision that he would be freed if he left Tripoli immediately.He added that the rebels were angered by the channel’s editorialpolicies, giving no further details.Libya al-Ahrar says the attack occurred in the afternoon. Theassailants stormed the channel, entering through the windows. TheLana network added that the gunmen smashed equipment. Securityforces arrived at the scene promptly after the attack.The precise origin of the perpetrators is unknown, although aLana editor views the attack as a response to Alassema’s persistentcriticism of the rebels’ and as revenge for the channel’s coverageof the attack on the National General Congress earlier in the week,when a siege lasted for hours. The lawmakers were at work on a billto prevent officials from the Gaddafi era from holding politicalposts in future.The Alassema station has ties to Libya’s National Forces Coalition,who bested the Muslim Brotherhood in the legislative elections inJuly of last year. The liberal coalition’s head, Mahmoud Jibril –the country’s western-inclined ex-prime minister, masterminded the2011 coup that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.Since Gaddafi’s overthrow, media has flourished. But during thebloody revolution that lasted from February to October, pittingGaddafi loyalists against rebels and NATO forces, tens of thousandslost their lives and the economy of the oil-rich country was dealta huge blow. …