Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category

Violence in Libya Not Caused By Video

Monday, October 29th, 2012

There have been recent  claims that the violence in Libya that resulted in the death of Chris Stevens was not caused by an offensive, American-made video, but rather by terrorism linked to al-Qaeda.  Libyan President Mohamed al-Magarief made the statement that the attacks on the United States Embassy were not spontaneous reactions to the anti-Muhammad video produced in the U.S., but were actually planned attacks by al-Qaeda.

On the date of the attacks, several people saw members of Ansar al-Shariah in the area of the attacks, carrying rocket-propelled grenades.  Ansar al-Shariah is said to have close ties with al-Qaeda, which is one of the reasons the Libyan government is now blaming the attacks on terrorism.  The attacks were also carried out using heavy weaponry including RPGs.  President al-Magarief said that this is a clear sign that the attacks were executed by ”experienced masterminds”.

In another more controversial piece of evidence, Ansar al-Shariah claimed responsibility for the attacks on Facebook after they happened.  A day after this claim, they denied responsibility.  The United States, and particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken the position that a claim on Facebook calls for further investigation before the U.S. fully commits to a new position, but many are criticizing the U.S. Government and particularly President Obama, stating that he wrongly blamed the video for the attacks, not condemning the fact that it was caused by terrorism.

There is also much controversy because, according to CNN, the Obama Administration knew that the attacks could have been caused by terrorism very quickly after they were carried out, and still said nothing about that.  CNN and The Wall Street Journal both try to emphasize the idea that Obama made several speeches about condemning the video that insults Islam and Muhammad, but did not mention “terror”, only “violence”.  He has recently changed this stance by removing a part of his speech that claims that al-Qaeda is on the run.

It is interesting that the article from Aljazeera is more than a month old, but the articles from U.S. sources are much more recent; it just goes to show that the U.S. is a bit late in the game in sorting out what really happened in these attacks.

QUESTIONS:  How might this information alter the course of the upcoming U.S. elections?  Both of the U.S. articles seem biased against Obama; are they a true indicator of how America really feels about this issue?  Are Facebook and heavy weaponry sufficient evidence to blame this on terrorism?  Should this change the punishment of the creators of the hurtful anti-Muhammad video? (the man who made the video was arrested in California for violating his parole)

Sources: CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Aljazeera

Libya Appoints Army Officials to Head Two Islamist Militias

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The Libyan government, in efforts to control armed factions, has appointed two army officers to lead two of the most powerful Islamist militias. Due to the violent and deadly protests on the US embassy on September 11th, the country has been feeling pressure to control the militias, one of which, Ansar al-Shariah has been suspected of being behind the attack.

Libya’s president, Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf, ordered all militias to dissolve or come under a joint operation command to coordinate between the militia and the country’s army in an effort to deflect anger after the attacks.

Many of these militias were counted on to help secure the country after the killing of longtime leader Muammer Gaddafi and all the turmoil that caused.

A spokesman from Libya’s joint chiefs of staff announced that the chiefs of the Rafallah al-Sahanti Brigade and the February 17 Brigade would be replaced with army commanders. This move follows Mohammed Magarief’s apology to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for the attack in Benghazi. He pledged to her that the government would bring the perpetrators to justice.

Is this the right move or will taking away the power that miltias hold bring more up rise from them?



Post-Revolutionary Libya is in Trouble

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Libya’s woes include tribalism, local rule by militias, and extremism on the part of incessant revolutionaries who want to completely dismantle the old order and start from the ground up.

Nicolas Pelham, “Is Libya Cracking Up?,” The New York Review of Books, June 21, 2012, 66-69


Libya lifts ban on religious parties as voters register

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

On April 24, Libya’s National Transitional Council announced a ban on parties organized along religious, regional, tribal, and ethnic lines. The NTC has recently lifted the ban on religious parties and is allowing them to take part in elections this June. Voters will be electing members of a new General National Congress. Registrations centers opened on May 1, and voters have two weeks to register. It has been said that this electoral law was created to preserve “national unity.” Islamists will now be allowed to campaign for the upcoming elections. These will be the first elections held in Libya for decades.


Libya’s Ex-Minister Found Dead

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

     The body of Libya’s former Oil Minister, Shukri Ghanem, has been found in the Danube River, Austrian police say. A passer-by reported seeing the body floating under a bridge near a popular recreation ground in Vienna. According to polices, he apparently left his home early on Sunday. A spokesman said there were no signs of violence to Mr. Ghanem’s body.

     Shukri Ghanem, 69, worked as a consultant for a Vienna-based company and also served as Libya’s prime minister from 2003 to 2006 and then as oil minister until 2011. Police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said when Mr. Ghanem was found, he was dressed but had no personal identification documents on him, excluding the one naming the company he was working for. An employee of the company had identified him, the spokesman said.

     Mr. Hahslinger said: “There would be no signs of violence if someone pushed him in. But it’s also possible that he became ill and fell into the water.”

     A post-mortem examination has been ordered for the coming days.


Libya bans religious political parties

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Libya is set to hold elections in June. These polls are important because they  will be the first since last year’s overthrow of  Muammar Gaddaf. Now this is not the only point of interest surrounding them, recently Libyan authorities have decided to ban the formation of any political party that is based on religious principles. This law was passed on Tuesday The National Transitional Council said that this law was passed to keep “national unity”. He also said that this makes it so “Parties are not allowed to be based on religion or ethnicity or tribe”

At the moment it is unclear of how this law will affect the already existing parties such as The Muslim Brotherhood. “The party is Libya’s most organized political group and was expected to emerge as an influential player in the country where Islamists, like all dissidents, were harshly suppressed for 42 years.” The upcoming elections had given them a chance to rise up, but this law may push them back in the dark. At the moment the meaning of banning religious parties is still unclear so people are unsure how this will develop. “This kind of clause is only useful in countries where there exists many religions, not in Libya where most people are religious Muslims,” Mohammed Sawan told Reuters.This is a change that could bring up controversy and lead to protest.

What is the drive behind this new law and will it last? Will this help control and stabilize the country or spur protests? Finally, should this affect the preexisting organizations or only those yet to be formed?


Conflict in Libya continues

Monday, April 16th, 2012

After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, fighting has continued between many different armed militia groups that make up portions of the original rebel force and has run largely unchecked.  In January,  A group from Misrata tried to free prisoners trapped inside and came into contact with another group from Tripoli.  A gunfight soon broke out leaving 4 dead and possibly more than 5 more wounded.  “It is yet another sign of the continuing security threat posed by the disparate militias comprising former rebels, says the BBC’s Mark Lowen in Tripoli.”  Despite the government’s efforts to break down these groups, they still wield significant power.  In March, conflict in Libya’s fourth largest city, Sabha, left over 50 dead.  Fed up with the militia fighting, a group of 300 people marched in Benghazi requesting for the militias to lay down their weapons for the new government.

As fighting continues in Libya, do you think a larger outside peacekeeping force (ie. NATO or UN) should step in to help put down these different rebel groups


See the stories here



Chicago Tribune (linked from Reuters)

Timbuktu Falls to Islamist Rebels

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Tuareg fighters returned home to Mali  in January from fighting as mercenaries on behalf of Libya’s former ruler Muammar al-Qaddafi and joined a rebellion.

Story at the AP (Associated Press)

UPDATE — April 4, 2012 — Background piece from Reuters

Arab Spring Interactive Timeline

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

As I was reading in preparation for class this week, I came across this really cool timeline of the Arab Spring.  For people who have a few extra minutes and want more information on the revolutions and aftermath in the Middle East, this is a really helpful website.  What I like is that it gives both quick snippets about the events, but also provides a link to an article on what happened.  Its put out by the Guardian, so all the links are to its own content, but it’s still helpful.


Continuing Violence in Post-Gaddafi Libya

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Up til Monday, November 14, clashes between tribal factions of the recently victorious Libyan revolution have left as many as 13 dead near the coastal city of Zawiya. Following the October death of Libya’s ex-dictator Muammar Gaddafi, these factions, made up of opposing local tribes, each began vying for control of the previously pro-Gaddafi military camp located on the outskirts of the city. The bloodiness of the conflict has Libyan’s fearing for the safety of their interim government if incidents of unrest continue, however, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, leader of the NTC, has assured his people that a resolution will be reached within the week.

Do you think that this conflict will remain an isolated incident or will Libya see others like it down it’s path to stability?

If more conflicts continue to occur, what effect will they have on the creation of Libya’s new government?