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Shopkeeper’s Monkey Pulls Off Girl’s Headscarf, Sparked Violence Between Rival Groups in Libya that Left 16 Dead

Sabha

The monkey pulled off one of the girls’ head scarf, leading men from the Awlad Suleiman tribe to retaliate by killing three people from the Gaddadfa tribe, as well as the monkey.

At least 16 people died and 50 were wounded in Libya in four days of clashes between rival factions in the southern city of Sabha, a health official said on Sunday.

“There was an escalation on the second and third days with the use of tanks, mortars and other heavy weapons. There are still sporadic clashes and life is completely shut down in the areas where there has been fighting.”

According to residents and local reports, the latest bout of violence erupted between two tribes after an incident in which a monkey that belonged to a shopkeeper from the Gaddadfa tribe attacked a group of schoolgirls who were passing by.

A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government aims his weapon as he takes up position inside a ruined house at the front line of fighting with Islamic State militants in Ghiza Bahriya district in Sirte, Libya November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

“There are women and children among the wounded and some foreigners from sub-Saharan African countries among those killed due to indiscriminate shelling.”

The monkey pulled off one of the girls’ head scarf, leading men from the Awlad Suleiman tribe to retaliate by killing three people from the Gaddadfa tribe as well as the monkey, according to a resident who spoke to Reuters.

City officials could not be reached to confirm the accounts.

“There was an escalation on the second and third days with the use of tanks, mortars and other heavy weapons,” the resident told Reuters by telephone, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the denigrating security situation. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘We Caved’: How Barack Obama’s Idealistic Rhetoric Collided With the Cold Realities of War and Dictatorship in the Middle East

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The persistent problem of how to deal with American-allied strongmen has long tripped up an inflexible president who boasts of his preference for ‘pragmatic solutions’ over moral purity but has been unable to find much of either in the Middle East.

Michael Crowley writes: On a late July day this past summer, a roar filled the sky over Cairo. It was the sound of Barack Obama’s capitulation to a dictator.

Eight new American fighter jets, freshly delivered from Washington, swooped low over the city, F-16s flying in formation. As they banked hard over the city’s center, they trailed plumes of red, white and black smoke—the colors of the Egyptian flag.

“The rhetoric got way ahead of the policymaking. It … raised expectations that everything was going to change.”

— Michael Posner, who served as Obama’s top State Department official for human rights and democracy in his first term

For Egypt’s brutally repressive president, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the spectacle was a triumph, symbolizing not only his militaristic power at home, but also his victory over an American president who had tried to punish him before surrendering to the cold realities of geopolitics.

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“He’s never quite melded his rhetoric with his policies.”

— Dennis Ross, who served as Obama’s top Middle East aide in his first term

Just two years earlier, Sisi had seized power in a military coup, toppling Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected successor to Hosni Mubarak, himself a strongman of 30 years pushed out in early 2011 by mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. In the summer of 2013, Sisi followed his coup with a brutal crackdown that would have done Saddam Hussein proud. His security forces arrested thousands of people, including much of his political opposition, and in one bloody day that summer, they gunned down some 1,000 pro-Morsi protesters (or more) who were staging peaceful sit-ins. The massacre was shocking even by the standards of Egypt’s long-dismal human rights record.

“It seems like we are swinging back to the idea that we must make a choice between supporting dictators or being safe.”

— Robert Ford, who was Obama’s ambassador to Syria before resigning in frustration over the president’s policy there

Obama was appalled. “We can’t return to business as usual,” he declared after the slaughter. “We have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and ideals.”

[Read the full text here, at POLITICO Magazine]

Several weeks later, Obama halted the planned delivery of U.S. military hardware to Cairo, including attack helicopters, Harpoon missiles and several F-16 fighter jets, as well as $260 million in cash transfers. He also cast doubt on the future of America’s $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt—a subsidy on which Cairo depends heavily, and much more than the United States sends to any country in the world aside from Israel.

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But a fierce internal debate soon broke out over whether and how to sanction Egypt further, a fight that many officials told me was one of the most agonizing of the Obama administration’s seven years, as the president’s most powerful advisers spent months engaged in what one called “trench warfare” against each other. It was an excruciating test of how to balance American values with its cold-blooded security interests in an age of terrorism. Some of Obama’s top White House aides, including his deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, and the celebrated human rights champion Samantha Power, now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, urged the president to link further military aid to clear progress by Sisi on human rights and democracy. But Secretary of State John Kerry, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Hagel’s successor, Ash Carter, argued for restoring the aid. Trying to punish Sisi would have little effect on his behavior, they said, while alienating a bulwark against Islamic radicalism in an imploding Middle East. “Egypt was one of the most significant policy divides between the White House and the State Department and the Department of Defense,” says Matthew Spence, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Rep ‘Baghdad Jim’ McDermott Retires 

Jim McDermott Retires – Seattle Times

[Also see – Before he reached out to the IRS, Rep. Jim McDermott reached out to Saddam Hussein – spectator.org]

[More – We don’t call him “Baghdad Jim” for nothing – Michelle Malkin]

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REWIND: March 26, 2008, Michelle Malkin writes:

Back in 2002, Stephen Hayes reported on how Baghdad Democrats David Bonior, Jim McDermott, and Mike Thompson took a trip to Iraq in the run up to the invasion and followed up with a report on how Saddam’s cash paid for the junkets.

Now, the AP has a new report on the payments:

Federal prosecutors say Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion.

An indictment in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam’s regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary.

In exchange, Al-Hanooti allegedly received 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil. Read the rest of this entry »


Egypt Strikes Islamic State Targets in Libya

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Airstrikes follow release of video purportedly showing the beheadings of Egyptian Coptic Christians

Matt Bradley and Tamer El-Ghobashy report: Egypt’s air force struck multiple Islamic State targets near the eastern coastal city of Derna in Libya on Monday morning following the release of a video that purportedly showed the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians—a development that threatens to push Libya’s worsening internal conflict beyond the country’s borders.

A spokesman for Egypt’s military said Egyptian aircraft had targeted Islamic State training camps and weapons and ammunitions stores in a bombing raid around dawn. The planes returned to their bases in Egypt safely, the spokesman said in a post on his Facebook page.

“We assure that we will take revenge for Egyptian blood and that taking punishment against criminal killers is our right and duty.”

The announcement was accompanied by video footage that the spokesman said showed Egyptian fighter jets taking off at night in preparation for airstrikes on “ISIS in Libya,” according to text accompanying the video.

“We assure that we will take revenge for Egyptian blood and that taking punishment against criminal killers is our right and duty,” an announcer said in an official Egyptian military video posted on the same Facebook page.

“There will be more coordinated airstrikes in the future with Libya and Egypt operating side by side.”

Omar al Sinki, the minister of the interior in Libya’s Tobruk-based government, said Egypt’s air force had struck 7 targets in Derna early Monday. He added that the strikes had been coordinated with the anti-Islamist forces based in eastern Libya and that General Khalifa Haftar, the nominal leader of those forces, was in Cairo on Monday “coordinating” with Egypt’s armed forces and that the campaign would be sustained.

“There will be more coordinated airstrikes in the future with Libya and Egypt operating side by side,” he said

A spokesman for Egypt’s defense ministry declined to comment on Monday beyond what the military posted on Facebook, although a news conference was planned for later Monday.

Saqer al Joroushi, the commander of Libya’s air force, was quoted by Egyptian state media saying “at least 50” militants had been killed in the airstrikes, in addition to several being arrested. He said Egypt had conducted the strikes “with full respect to the sovereignty of Libya.” He also said Libya wouldn’t allow any ground operations by the Egyptian armed forces.

He separately told the Saudi Arabia-owned Al Arabiya television station that Libya’s own air forces had launched attacks on Islamic State targets in the coastal city of Sirte, a stronghold of those loyal to ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and nearby towns. However, a resident of Sirte said he had seen no evidence of an aerial attack on the city.

In a statement on its Facebook page, Libya Dawn, a more moderate Islamist group that controls the Libyan capital Tripoli, “deplored the violation of sovereignty” and said children had been killed in bombing of Derna. Read the rest of this entry »


Hillary Clinton: Slow-Walking The Perp Walk

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The tapes included candid conversations and allegations that Mrs. Clinton took the U.S. to war on false pretenses and was not listening to the advice of military commanders or career intelligence officers.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro and Kelly Riddell report: The chairman of a special House committee created to investigate the 2012 Benghazi tragedy on Monday instructed his staff to review secretly recorded tapes and intelligence reports that detail Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in advocating and executing the war in Libya, opening the door for a possible expansion of his probe.

Rep. Trey Gowdy’s decision to seek a review of the materials, first highlighted in a series of Washington Times stories last week, carries consequences for the 2016 election in which Mrs. Clinton is expected to seek the presidency. It could also move the committee to examine the strained relationship between the State Department and Pentagon, which sharply disagreed over the 2011 war in Libya and the response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi a year later.

The Times reported last week that U.S. intelligence did not support Mrs. Clinton’s story of an impending genocide in Libya that she used to sell the war against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The newspaper also unveiled secretly recorded tapes from Libya that showed that the Pentagon and Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich so distrusted her stewardship of the war that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime.

The tapes included candid conversations and allegations that Mrs. Clinton took the U.S. to war on false pretenses and was not listening to the advice of military commanders or career intelligence officers.

“Chairman Gowdy and the committee are aware of the details reported by The Washington Times, and we are reviewing them as part of the committee’s inquiry into Benghazi,” Benghazi Committee spokesman Jamal Ware announced Monday.

The emergence of the tapes and a new line of inquiry immediately had repercussions, especially on the political front where the 2016 president race has heated up.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a 2016 GOP hopeful who has been intensely critical of Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the 2011 Libya intervention, said the stories demonstrate she is not the right person to lead the country or the nation’s military.

“Hillary’s judgment has to be questioned – her eagerness for war in Libya should preclude her from being considered the next Commander in Chief,” said Sen. Paul, who opposed the Libyan intervention at the onset. Read the rest of this entry »


Gunmen at Libyan Luxury Hotel Take Hostages; 3 Guards Dead

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Gunmen stormed a luxury Libyan hotel popular with foreigners Tuesday, killing at least three guards and taking hostages, a security official said.

Essam Al-Naas, a spokesman for a Tripoli security agency, said a standoff continued Tuesday afternoon at the Corinthia Hotel, which sits along the Mediterranean Sea.

A hotel staffer said five masked attackers wearing bulletproof vests stormed the hotel after security at the gates tried to stop them. He said they entered the hotel and fired randomly at the staff in the lobby.

The staffer said the gunmen fired in his direction when he opened his door to look out. He said he joined the rest of the staff and foreign guests fleeing out the hotel’s back doors into the parking lot.

When they got there, he said a car bomb exploded in the parking lot, only a hundred meters (yards) away. He said this came after a protection force entered the lobby and opened fire on the attackers. He said two guards were immediately killed. The staffer spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution…(read more)

Car Bomb Explodes Outside Luxury Hotel in Libya’s Tripoli

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — A Libyan security official says a car bomb exploded outside a luxurious hotel in the capital Tripoli.

The official says the bomb exploded outside the Corinthia hotel early Tuesday morning, rocking Tripoli’s old city.

The official provided no further information. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: China Plans for North Korean Regime Collapse Leaked

Documents drawn up by planners from China’s People’s Liberation Army that were leaked to Japanese media include proposals for detaining key North Korean leaders and the creation of refugee camps on the Chinese side of the frontier in the event of an outbreak of civil unrest in the secretive state.

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Photo: Getty

“What we have learned from the collapse of other dictatorships – the Soviet Union, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya – is that the more totalitarian the regime, the harder and faster they fall”

— Jun Okumura, a visiting scholar at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs

For The TelegraphJulian Ryall reports: China has drawn up detailed contingency plans for the collapse of the North Korean government, suggesting that Beijing has little faith in the longevity of Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Beijing’s lack of faith in rule of Kim Jong-un exposed in contingency plans to detain key North Korean leaders, set up border refugee camps and respond to “foreign forces”

Any senior North Korean military or political leaders who could be the target of either rival factions or another “military power,” thought to be a reference to the United States, should be given protection, the documents state.

The report calls for stepping up monitoring of China’s 879-mile border with North Korea.

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

According to Kyodo News, the Chinese report says key North Korean leaders should be detained in special camps where they can be monitored, but also prevented from directing further military operations or taking part in actions that could be damaging to China’s national interest. Read the rest of this entry »


Armed Men Steal $54 Million in Cash in Libya

A rebel fighter loyal to Libya's interim government kicks a football as a battle rages nearby in Sirte October 12, 2011. Anis Mili / Reuters

A rebel fighter loyal to Libya’s interim government kicks a football as a battle rages nearby in Sirte. Anis Mili-Reuters

Thieves hit central bank van in daring raid

 reports:  Ten heavily armed men reportedly made off with approximately $54m in several currencies after executing a high-stakes heist near the Libyan city of Sirte on Monday.

The bandits attacked a van as it was transporting the money from the airport to a central bank branch in Sirte. The van was reportedly escorted by one security vehicle; however, the accompanying guards were unable to fend off the heavily armed thieves.  According to the AFP, robbers hit two banks in Sirte in July and stole approximately $400,000.

Following the collapse of the Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship in 2011, the weak central government has failed to rein in the myriad armed militias active across the country. Earlier this month, a former rebel group briefly kidnapped interim Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in the increasingly lawless state.

[Al Jazeera]  TIME.com


Gunmen attack Russia’s Libyan embassy in Tripoli

Russia's Libyan embassy in Tripoli (photo by Leonid Gonchar / wikipedia.org)

Russia’s Libyan embassy in Tripoli (photo by Leonid Gonchar / wikipedia.org)

The Russian embassy in Tripoli, Libya, has come under fire and there were attempts to get into Russia’s diplomatic compound, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“There has been an incident in Tripoli tonight, in which there was shelling and attempts to enter the territory of the Russian Embassy in this country,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich told RT. Read the rest of this entry »