Saturday, December 20, 2014

Clashes in Libya continue with no peace talks in sight

Abdullah al-Thinni
Libyan Dawn border guards at the Ras Jadir crossing into Tunisia are reported to have fled across the border into Tunisia after being attacked by forces of the Libyan National Army. The LNA and General Haftar's militia are now merged.
The head of the LNA air force, Sagr Geroushi, said that the LNA is in control of the crossing. The border is reported to have been closed by the Tunisians while the clashes are ongoing. However, video supposedly shot early yesterday showed that the Libyan post was deserted but people were walking by unchallenged by anyone.

Two Egyptian workers were reported killed near the border during clashes. A Tunisian official also claimed that the LNA had captured a checkpoint that was 10 kilometers east of the border on the coastal road. Several casualties were reported and some fighters were said to have surrendered to the LNA. According to the Libya Herald there were a number of air raids:Libya Dawlia TV is also reporting LNA air raids this morning between Zultan and south of Sabratha. There are reports too of air strikes near Ras Jedir and Zuwara as well as of LNA Zintani forces taking full control of Zultan and of nearby Abu Khammash.If true, it would mean that the LNA Zintani units have now achieved their strategic objective of blocking of the main coastal road between Tunisia and the capital.

 The LNA Zintani units are no doubt the Zintani brigades militia now re-branded as with the the rest of CIA-linked General Haftar's militia as part of the Libyan National Army. The LNA may be getting planes from Egypt as the Libyan air force was mostly destroyed by western bombing during the overthrow of Gadaffi so that coalition planes would have safe access to the skies over Libya. In the east of the country the large Es Sider oil port was still not operating as it and other ports in the area were under siege by anti-government militia.

 The Daily Mail reports that the two largest export terminals are now closed because of the conflict. The disruption in production was unable to halt the fall in oil prices for long. Meanwhile, the Sahel Sahara States, comprised of 28 African states, gave support for even more Egyptian intervention according to Chadian president Idriss Deby : " Deby said the Community of the Sahel-Sahara States, a grouping of 28 African states, urged the Egyptian President to take further measures to help stabilize Libya." Egypt's attempts so far have been to support General Haftar's operations against Islamists and other anti-government forces.

 While Deby talks about dialogue, the internationally recognized Tobruk government has given Haftar the green light to retake Benghazi and Tripoli. He is obviously operating on several other fronts as well. The government is busy bombing its own people who are rebelling just as Gadaffi did. However, Egypt and now many other countries are quietly changing the narrative so that the civil war becomes part of the global war on terror. Stabilizing the country is coming to mean the defeat of the anti-government militias.

 UN envoy Bernadino Leon tried to have talks between the two competing government representatives last week but these were then postponed until this week. The Tobruk government gives no sign of ceasing battle and the Tripoli government is replying in kind. However the Tripoli government has long sought dialogue and repeated its desire for talks just recently as shown on the appended video. The UN has yet to announce any talks for this week. The Tobruk government claims there can be dialogue only when the " Islamists" surrender. At this point there is no sign of that and so dialogue seems unlikely if not impossible.

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