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Meeting of HoR in Libya suspended after fight with no vote on Libya Political Agreement

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- Both the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) in Tobruk and the rival General National Congress(GNC) have yet to vote on the latest draft of the UN-sponsored Libyan Political Agreement(LPA). + Add Image There were no announcements by the UN or major media outlets as to when either of the two rival governments would meet to discuss and vote on the LPA even though the new Special Envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, has been urging the two sides to sign the agreement since he took office over a week ago. Countries such as France have also been urging signing of the agreement to create a unified government to fight the Islamic State and no doubt to agree to foreign military intervention in exchange for aid and recognition. It is now clear Kobler exerted sufficient pressure on the two governments that they are again forced to go through a process neither government wants, and in the case of the HoR, could possibly cause a military coup. However, so far I have found only on…

New UN Libya envoy continues to demand rival governments sign on to Libya Political Agreement

The new UN Special Envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, is continuing to try to persuade the two rival Libyan governments to sign on to the final draft of the Libyan Political Agreement(LPA) presented by former envoy Bernardino Leon. + Add Image Neither of the two rival governments — the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) located in the east in Tobruk, nor the General National Congress(GNC) located in Tripoli in the west — have voted on or approved the Leon LPA. Leon left the United Nations Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL) under a cloud due to conflict of interest allegations. He took a $1,500 a day job in the UAE in June and also accepted direction from the UAE, according to leaked emails. Statements from both parliaments have rejected the deal. Since taking over from Leon just over a week ago, Kobler has done nothing but push both sides to sign on to the Leon draft. He had talks with representatives of both governments over last weekend. Neither side has given any in…

Internationally-recognized HoR Libyan government may try to sabotage Glencore oil deal

Before the rebellion against Gadaffi, Libya was pumping 1.6 million barrels of oil a day. Now, it is pumping about one quarter of that amount with new problems constantly popping up. + Add Image The National Oil Company and the Libyan Central Bank have been key institutions in retaining whatever unity there is in Libya. The National Oil Company deposits the money it receives for oil exports in the Libyan Central Bank and then distributes the funds to pay salaries and expenses for both rival governments. The internationally-recognized government the House of Representatives(HoR) is located in Tobruk while the rival government the General National Congress(GNC) is located in Tripoli. The UN Support MIssion in Libya(UNSMIL) has warned the rival governments several times not to endanger the neutrality of these key institutions and threatened possible sanctions against those who do so:In this regard, UNSMIL calls on the parties to safeguard the national institutions by refraining from taki…

Southern Libya Tuareg and Tebu tribes agree to ceasefire

After a conflict that has lasted over a year, the Tebu and Tuareg tribes that control territory in the south of Libya have signed a ceasefire. Much of the conflict has been in the southern city of Obari. + Add Image The deal was worked out with Qatar acting as mediator and was signed in Doha, Qatar on November 23. There will be an immediate ceasefire and thousands of people displaced during the conflict will be able to return. In July of this year, the battle between the two tribes reached into Sebha or Sabha, the largest city in the south, causing hundreds to flee their homes. An attempt to negotiate a truce in September failed due to violations of the ceasefire. More details are given at the usually pro-HoR Libya Herald. The Herald expresses scepticism about the present ceasefire as well. The Toubou or Tebu are a group of Berbers. They live primarily in northern Chad, but there are also significant numbers in southern Libya, and some also in Southern Sudan and Niger. The group were d…

John Kerry, US Secretary of State, visits UAE and promises joint action on Libya

United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, met on November 23 with United Arab Emirates(UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Kerry will visit Israel and Palestine as well. + Add Image Kerry will be discussing Syria and other crises in the Middle East. In the UAE he talked to the foreign minister about the situation in Libya. A new UN Special Envoy to Libya has just taken over from the former Special Envoy, Bernardino Leon. Leon worked for almost a year to draft a final Libya Political Agreement(LPA) and proposed names for a Government of National Accord. Neither the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) parliament based in Tobruk nor the rival General National Congress(GNC) have approved or even voted on the LPA. Leon left the UN position under a cloud as he was in a blatant conflict of interest situation. While acting as a supposedly impartial mediator between the two rival Libyan governments, Leon accepted last June a job in the UAE that paid ove…

Thousands more US marines to go to Guam

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A force of 4,800 U.S. Marines is to move to Guam to be ready for war and disasters in East Asia as part of Obama's pivot to Asia plan.
+ Add Image Guam was seized by the U.S. from Japan during the Second World War. An agreement was reached as far back as 2010 to build a $12 billion super naval base in Guam. As a result the Marines will land "on a sturdy-as-granite pier in a sheltered Pacific harbor newly rebuilt to carry wave after wave of tank-driving troops." In 2012 the U.S. agreed to withdraw 9,000 marines from Okinawa, where there have been numerous protests against the U.S. military presence. Recently, the governor of Okinawa ordered construction stopped on a new base. In response, the Japanese government is taking the case to court. About 4,000 of the Marines going to Guam will be from Okinawa.
Guam is a territory of the United States established by the Guam Organic Act of 1950, which set out the structure of the civilian government. The inhabitants were given U.S.…

New UN Libyan Envoy Martin Kobler meets with members of rival governments

Over the weekend, the new UN Special Envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, met first with representatives of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) in Tobruk and the General National Congress(GNC) in Tripoli. + Add Image Apparently there is an internationally accepted adjective to describe those who disagree with the deal and refuse to vote on it. Reuters for example claims:U.N.-sponsored talks to end the conflict between Libya's two rival governments and their armed factions have stalled since hardliners in both camps have resisted voting on the deal, which Western governments hope will lead to stability.Perhaps those who want to approve the deal are "wimps" who gave in to constant pressure from the UN and the international community together with threats of sanctions against those who oppose the agreement or the process. The "hardliners" could be "principled" members in each camp who did not sell out. The press is full of what appears…

Palestinian poet sentenced to death for apostasy by Saudi court

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A Saudi court sentenced Asharaf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet, to death for abandoning his Muslim faith, a form of apostasy punishable by death in Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries who implement Sharia law. + Add Image Human Rights Watch researcher Adam Coogle reported on the sentence. Fayadh was first detained by the Saudi religious police in 2013 and rearrested and tried in the early part of 2014. At first a court sentenced him to four years in prison and 800 lashes, but after the sentence was appealed, another court sentenced him to death just three days ago. The Saudi judicial system is based upon Sharia law with the judges being clerics from the Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam. In the groups' interpretation of Sharia law, religious crimes such as blasphemy and apostasy are punishable by death. This is an interpretation held by many Islamic scholars but not all. The issue is discussed at some length in the Wikipedia entry on apostasy in Islam. Other countries including Y…

New UN Special Envoy to Libya flies to Tobruk for talks

- The new UN Special Envoy to Libya, German diplomat Martin Kobler, has flown to Libya for three days of talks to try and restart the UN-brokered Libya dialogue process. As theLibya Herald notes,in a statement Kobler issued on the day he took over from his predecessor Bernardino Leon, he said ".. he would be meeting the various members of the Dialogue and the proposed presidency council as well as other Libyan key players to discuss what he called a “small number of outstanding issues”." According to theHerald,the "outstanding issues" are the names announced by Leon for posts in the proposed Government of National Reconciliation. According to the Herald:  A significant section of the House of Representatives, mainly from the east of the country, have said that they will not accept some of the names and that the presidency council must consist of five members as originally suggested, not the nine in Leon’s final proposal.As I noted in a previous article it seems quit…

John Kerry claims it will take a much shorter period to "neutralize" the Islamic State than it did for Al Qaeda

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters the United States would be able to "neutralize" the Islamic State or Daesh much more quickly than it was able to do so with Al-Qaeda. + Add Image Kerry told reporters:"We began our fight against al-Qaida in 2001 and it took us quite a few years before we were able to eliminate Osama bin Laden and the top leadership and neutralize them as an effective force. We hope to do Daesh much faster than that and we think we have an ability to do that,"Al-Qaeda hardly seems neutralized. Al-Qaeda-linked groups are still quite active in many parts of the world including AQAP or Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that has advanced considerably in Yemen since the Saudi-led mission against the Houthi. The Al-Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front in Syria is one of the key rebel groups fighting against the Assad regime and also Daesh. Wikipedia outlines the development of Daesh, ISIS, ISIL, or Islamic State(IS) from an Al-Qaeda-linked group in I…

Peter William Bodde confirmed by US Senate as US ambassador to Libya

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The United States Senate has confirmed Obama's choice as US Ambassador to Libya, Peter William Bodde. He will work out of Tunis, the capital of neighboring Tunisia. + Add Image The U.S. embassy in Tripoli has been closed for security reasons for some time. In September 2012, an attack in Benghazi, where the U.S. had a consular office, killed then-Ambassador Chris Stevens along with four other Americans. The attack was believed to be by the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia. For security reasons, U.S. diplomatic work is done from Tunis. There was no U.S. ambassador to Libya after the killing of Stevens until Deborah Jones was appointed in May of 2013. Bodde had been serving as ambassador to Nepal since 2012, but before that he had been assistant chief of mission at the US Embassy in Baghdad. The vote in the Senate approved Bodde by a vote of 95 for to 0 against. Bodde was nominated by Obama back in July. In other Libya news, a Libyan-American group has filed a complaint against…

US Secretary of State optimistic about Syria ceasefire

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John Kerry, US secretary of state, has given a positive assessment of efforts to negotiate a ceasefire between rebels aiming to overthrow Assad and his forces. Kerry claimed a ceasefire could be just weeks away. + Add Image Kerry claimed an agreement Saturday in Vienna for a ceasefire and talks between the Assad government and opposition groups would aid the international campaign against the Islamic State, a campaign made more urgent by the Paris attacks. The agreement in Vienna sets the date for a ceasefire much further in the future: The US, Russia, Britain, France, Iran and Saudi Arabia signed a statement supporting a 1 January deadline for the start of talks between the Syrian government and opposition, with the aim of agreeing a ceasefire by 14 May.There was no agreement on the status of Assad himself. Nevertheless Kerry said of the Vienna agreement:“That’s a gigantic step. If we can get that done, that opens up the aperture for a whole bunch of things. We’re weeks away conceiv…

New UN Special Envoy to Libya plans to restart dialogue talks

This is the first day--November 18-- on the job for veteran German diplomat Martin Kobler as Special Envoy from the UN to Libya. Kobler takes over from Bernardino Leon, who leaves under a cloud. + Add Image Leon accepted a high-paying job in the UAE back in June while he was acting as a mediator in charge of dialogue talks between the two rival LIbyan governments. One government is the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) located in Tobruk, and the other is the General National Congress(GNC) located in the west of Libya in the capital Tripoli. The UAE strongly favours the HoR government and the commander of its armed forces, Khalifa Haftar. Emails leaked to the Guardian show Leon took directions from and communicated with officials from the UAE. Leon said he intended to weaken and discredit the GNC and increase the power of the HoR. Neither Leon nor the UN have admitted there was any conflict of interest. Leon was able to end up with a Libya Political Agreement(LPA)…