[pjw] NEWS: US Military Pulls Out of Libyan Capital as Rival Militias Battle (NY Times 4/7)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sun Apr 7 18:35:53 EDT 2019

Peace and Justice Works supporters
It is VERY interesting to me that both this story and a version of it I 
heard on the radio refer to the "ouster of Qaddafi," (here the NYT uses 
that term twice) with out mentioning that the US bombed the living 
daylights out of the country, leading to chaos, people literally tearing 
Qaddafi limb from limb, and wreaking the havoc that has been Libya's 
essential civil war in the 8 years since.

Anyway, here's the news for today from yet another country suffering the 
aftermath of US military policy.
--dan h
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

U.S. Military Pulls Out of Libyan Capital as Rival Militias Battle
    By [12]David D. Kirkpatrick
      * April 7, 2019

    The United States military evacuated its small contingent of troops
    from the Libyan capital on Sunday as rival militias raced to stop the
    forces [13]of an aspiring strongman, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, from taking
    control of the city.

    Forces under the command of General Hifter [14]made a surprise advance
    on the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli, on Thursday, setting up a
    battle with a coalition of armed factions from the region around the
    city ? the grand prize in a chaotic eight-year fight for control after
    the ouster of the dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi during the Arab Spring

    Tripoli is the northern African country?s financial hub, receiving the
    income [15]from sales of Libyan oil, housing the central bank and
    paying the salaries of soldiers and other public employees across the

    By Sunday morning, both sides had begun attacking from the air, using
    the small and primitive air forces at their command, but the exact
    targets and extent of the damage could not be immediately determined.

    The United States State Department, which previously joined a call by
    several countries for restraint from both sides, shifted on Sunday to
    urging General Hifter to pull back.

    ?The United States opposes the military offensive? by his forces ?and
    urges the immediate halt to all military operations against Tripoli,
    and return to status quo positions,? the State Department said in a
    statement attributed to a senior official.

    General Hifter, 75, already has at least loose control over most of
    eastern Libya, as well as important parts of the southern desert. His
    forces? advance on Tripoli this past week has now put him in striking
    distance of fulfilling a five-year-old vow to reunite Libya under his

    Some analysts, however, say that he has extended his supply lines so
    far that without a quick victory, he could be forced into a
    humiliating retreat.

    General Hifter?s forces appeared to have maintained control of the
    defunct international airport since Friday evening, putting them
    within 17 miles of the Mediterranean coast and Tripoli?s central

    Residents of Tripoli said that the two sides had spent the days
    mobilizing and deploying their forces, with a more pitched battle
    expected on Sunday. By afternoon, residents reported that the
    coalition of Tripoli-area militias was fighting to drive General
    Hifter?s forces out of the town of Aziziya, about 20 miles southwest
    of Tripoli.

    The United Nations mission in Libya called on Sunday for a
    humanitarian truce for two hours later in the day to evacuate the
    wounded from Aziziya, the area around the airport and another

    By night, General Hifter?s forces appeared to have advanced slightly
    on one front while falling back slightly on another. About 20 people
    had died and about 25 others were wounded, according to tallies by the
    Libyan Red Crescent.

    Representatives of the United Nations mission in Libya said on Sunday
    that it remained active in Libya and had not evacuated. But the United
    State military personnel left by boat on Sunday morning, according to
    a resident who provided photographs of the ship as it departed.

    The United States military?s Africa Command said in a statement that
    its mission in Libya had included providing support to diplomatic
    efforts, as well as ?counterterrorism activities.?

    ?The security realities on the ground in Libya are growing
    increasingly complex and unpredictable,? Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser of
    the Marine Corps, the head of United States Africa Command, said in
    the statement. ?Even with an adjustment of the force, we will continue
    to remain agile in support of existing U.S. strategy.?

    Libya collapsed into a patchwork of city-states after the ouster of
    Colonel Qaddafi. Each city established its own militia and multiple
    militias competed for control of the two largest cities, Tripoli in
    the west and Benghazi in the east. In Tripoli, some of the dominant
    militias have also profited from extortion, migrant trafficking and
    other illegal activities, according to residents and United Nations

    General Hifter, a former officer in Colonel Qaddafi?s army, once
    sought to lead a coup against him and then lived in Virginia as a
    C.I.A. client. He returned during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi
    in 2011, and from a base in eastern Libya, he has received extensive
    backing from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, both of which have
    sought to restore some version of the old authoritarian order as a way
    to stabilize the country.

    In more recent years, France has provided military assistance in the
    hope that General Hifter could help stop the free flow of migrants and
    extremists through the Sahara to the south, and Russia has helped him
    print currency in order to restore liquidity to the economy in areas
    under his control.

    The United States has publicly backed the attempts of the United
    Nations to set up an alternative government in Tripoli that may unify
    the warring factions. But [16]without any significant military force
    of its own in the country, the United Nations-backed government has
    remained dependent on local militias for security. And General Hifter
    has not shown any willingness to submit to civilian authority.

    The advance of his forces toward Tripoli has brought together a new
    coalition to stop him, including several militias based in the city,
    as well as powerful brigades from the cities of Misrata, on the coast,
    and Zintan, in the mountains to the west.

    Analysts say that the next phase of the battle may turn on the
    question of whether that coalition holds together or any of its
    components break ranks to strike an accommodation with General Hifter.

    The United States military has sought to remain neutral between the
    United Nations? so-called Government of National Accord, or G.N.A., on
    one hand, and General Hifter?s forces, which he calls the Libyan
    National Army, or L.N.A., on the other.

    ?We don?t want to get in front of the diplomatic effort, and we want
    to maintain our neutrality,? General Waldhauser explained in remarks
    to the news media at a security conference in Munich in February,
    ?because it?s very, very important that we don?t, all of a sudden,
    back one side that turns the other way.?

    The Libyan militias ?change allegiances quite regularly,? General
    Waldhauser continued. ?And so our U.S. position has always been and
    continues to be to support the G.N.A. But at the same time, you know,
    Hifter and the L.N.A. are a factor there, and whatever solution comes
    to pass is going to involve the L.N.A. and Hifter.?

    To prepare for all possibilities, General Waldhauser said, ?we support
    the G.N.A. but we have lines of communications open with others,?
    including General Hifter.

    On Sunday, the State Department said that ?the administration at the
    highest levels has made clear its deep concern about fighting near

    It added: ?All involved parties should urgently de-escalate the
    situation, which is endangering civilians and undermining prospects
    for a better future for all Libyans.?

    Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Suliman Ali
    Zway from Berlin.

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