Tag Archives: Islamism

Egypt president says parliament elections to be held in 2015

88

Egypt’s president says the country’s delayed parliamentary elections will take place before the end of 2015.

In an interview with El Mundo newspaper published Wednesday, a day before his official visit to Spain, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says: “I give my word – they will be held before the end of the year.”

The parliamentary vote initially was set to take place in phases beginning on March 22. It is the final phase in a transition period following the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by the military, led by el-Sissi at the time. He says the vote was delayed because of constitutional appeals.

Egypt has not had an elected legislature since 2012, when the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that parliament’s lower chamber was not constitutionally elected.

Advertisements

Report: Egypt Preparing Large Assault Against ISIS in Libya Despite Opposition From Obama

President Abdel Fatah al Sisi,

President Abdel Fatah al Sisi,

Egypt is getting ready to launch a large air and ground attack against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in eastern Libya DebkaFile reports, quoting military and intelligence sources.

The Obama administration is reportedly opposed to the operation.

“Egypt is massing large-scale ground and air forces in the Western Desert along the Libyan border, in preparation for a military campaign to capture eastern Libya — Cyrenaica — from the Islamist State of Syria and Iraq — ISIS — occupation,” reports DebkaFile.

“The substantial naval and marine forces assembling at Egypt’s Mediterranean ports indicate the possible launching of the offensive by dropping Egyptian marines on the Libyan coast around Derna (pop: 100,000), which ISIS has made its provincial capital,” it added. “They may be accompanied by simultaneous landings of paratroops from the air.”

Some officials have warned that ISIS may use Libya to launch attacks against Europe.

The DebkaFile report notes that the Obama administration is against a direct invasion of Libya by Egypt, but would support Cairo taking action through local Libyan militias.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi was not convinced by CIA Director John Brennan who related Obama’s position on April 19.

“President El-Sisi was not surprised to hear from the CIA director that the Obama administration objects to a direct Egyptian invasion of Libya, but would not oppose Cairo acting through local Libyan militias,” said DebkaFile.

“Brennan leaned hard on the Egyptian president to follow Washington’s line, but El-Sisi refused,” it added later.

President El-Sisi did tell the CIA director that he does not plan to keep the Egyptian army in Libya. He is planning to pull his troops out after the jihadists are defeated. Ultimately, El-Sisi said he would hand power back to the elected Libyan government.

ISIS’ presence in eastern Libya and Sinai poses an unacceptable threat to El-Sisi’s country, noted the report.

“He has been warned in a number of intelligence reports that the Islamic State’s terrorists have already penetrated some Egyptian towns and even infiltrated certain army units,” it said.

ISIS is reportedly beefing up its presence in eastern Libya with reinforcements from Syria and Iraq to counter Egypt’s planned assault.

“From Syria, they are traveling by air or sea through the Mediterranean; from Iraq, through the Sinai Peninsula, whence oil and drug rings smuggle them across the Suez Canal and Egypt,” said DebkaFile.

Libya has been engulfed in unrest since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and executed in 2011 with the support of the Obama administration. Various tribes, militias, and political groups are competing for power in Libya.

The country has been split by two warring factions. One is led by the elected government operating out of Tobruk and the other by militias in Tripoli.

The Obama administration and other Western nations have been reluctant to intervene.

Egypt, without the support of the U.S., launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya after the jihadist group beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians.

Egypt’s Mubarak calls on Egyptians to stand behind Sisi

 former president Hosni Mubarak

former president Hosni Mubarak

Egyptian citizens should stand behind their leader Abdel Fatah al Sisi, President Hosni Mubarak said Sunday during a rare phone interview on private television channel Sada El-Balad.

“The sons of the armed forces, with President [Abdel Fatah] al-Sisi at the forefront today, know exactly the meaning of national sovereignty and the sacredness of national territory,” Mubarak said.

“We [Egyptians] should trust our army’s capabilities and stand behind it,” especially in this “difficult, complex stage,” Mubarak added.

Mubarak also stressed the importance of maintaining ties with “Egypt’s friends.”

During the interview, which coincided with the commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of the liberation of Sinai, the former president spoke about the withdrawal of Israel from the tiny peninsula in 1982.

Mubarak, was interviewed by TV host Ahmed Moussa.

In November 2014, Mubarak was cleared of charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising.

FRANCE – Terrorisme : l’impossible protection de toutes les cibles potentielles

Avec l’arrestation, dimanche, d’un homme soupçonné d’avoir préparé des attentats contre des églises, le champ des cibles potentielles d’attaques jihadistes a été multiplié par 14. Est-il possible de toutes les protéger ?

Protéger toutes les églises de France, quand bien même le gouvernement le souhaiterait, est mission impossible. Bruno Duvic, l’animateur de la matinale de France Inter, ne s’est pas privé de le dire au Premier ministre, jeudi 23 avril. “Manuel Valls, le langage de vérité, c’est de dire qu’on ne peut pas mettre une patrouille de police devant tous les bâtiments potentiellement visés. On ne peut pas mettre une patrouille de police à la fois devant toutes les synagogues de France, devant toutes les églises, les musées, les grands médias, ça n’est pas possible, surtout dans un contexte où les policiers de Vigipirate sont déjà à flux tendu voire davantage.”

Le Premier ministre était venu faire la promotion du dispositif antiterroriste déjà renforcé en janvier. Face à lui, Bruno Duvic, n’en démord pas : le projet d’attentat déjoué dimanche 19 avril, qui devait initialement viser une église, complique singulièrement la tâche de protection des forces de l’ordre. On dénombre en effet près de 45 000 églises et cathédrales en France. Soit 13 fois plus que les 2 449 lieux de culte musulmans (selon le ministère de l’Intérieur en 2012), 300 synagogues et 717 écoles juives réunis, qui forment autant de lieux “sensibles” aujourd’hui protégés par les forces de l’ordre après les attaques, notamment, de Mohamed Merah, des frères Kouachi et d’Amédy Coulibaly.

“Pas plus d’hommes ?”, assène Duvic à son invité. “Il y a déjà beaucoup d’hommes et de femmes mobilisés sur le terrain”, répond prudemment le Premier ministre. Et d’ajouter : “Mais il faut aussi ne pas céder à la peur tout en maintenant de la vigilance.” La marge de manœuvre de Manuel Valls est de toute façon limitée : s’il venait au gouvernement l’idée de protéger les églises et les mosquées comme il le fait avec les écoles juives, par exemple, aux abords desquelles le ministre de l’Intérieur Bernard Cazeneuve avait annoncé le déploiement de 4 700 policiers et gendarmes le 12 janvier, cela nécessiterait près de 290 000 hommes.

Or, tous policiers nationaux (143 535 selon un rapport de la Cour des comptes publié en 2013), gendarmes (96 900 selon le même rapport) et policiers municipaux (près de 20 000 selon un décompte du ministère de l’Intérieur) confondus ne représentent que 260 000 agents. Mission impossible, donc, même s’ils se voyaient tous assigner cette mission.

Ne pas céder à la panique

Inquiet, le syndicat policier Alliance (droite) a d’ailleurs diffusé un communiqué pour avertir l’exécutif. Conscient de la “nécessité de renforcer le dispositif”, son secrétaire national pour l’Île-de-France Fabien Van Hemelryck, contacté par France 24, souligne que “l’effectif policier n’est pas extensible à l’infini”. Il demande “la fin des gardes statiques, à remplacer par des patrouilles dynamiques. Cela permettrait d’accroître notre zone de vigilance”, explique-t-il. “Si on avait tous été postés devant des portes dimanche, on n’aurait pas arrêté le suspect”, estime le syndicaliste.

L’Église catholique, de son côté, ne veut pas céder à la panique. “Nous ne souhaitons pas que la protection des lieux de culte catholiques soit renforcée”, confie Vincent Neymon, directeur de la communication de la Conférence épiscopale. “Cet événement isolé n’est pas révélateur d’un complot généralisé dirigé contre l’Église catholique. En outre, 178 églises et cathédrales sont déjà protégées.” Parmi les dizaines de lieux de culte catholiques concernés, la cathédrale Notre-Dame, le Sacré Cœur… Autant d’endroits très touristiques, très fréquentés, aussi importants pour leur valeur religieuse que patrimoniale. Pour Vincent Neymon, ce n’est pas tant l’Église qui est visée mais l’ “Occident”, à travers elle. Raison de plus pour laisser “dégonfler le ballon d’angoisse qui s’est créé”.

147 killed in attack on Kenyan university dormitories by al-Shabab

Militants stormed dormitories at Garissa University, killing at least 147 people and taking others as hostages

NAIROBI — Masked al-Shabab militants stormed dormitories at a university in northeastern Kenya early Thursday, killing at least 147 people in the worst terror attack on Kenyan soil in nearly two decades, officials said.

More than 500 students were rescued after the Islamist militants, heavily armed and strapped with explosives, attacked the campus of Garissa University College around 5:30 a.m. local time, shooting some young people and taking others hostage. At least 79 people were injured, according to Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Center.

A government spokesman said the siege ended after 15 hours, with four gunmen from the Somali group having been killed.

“The gunmen are dead. There were four; they are all dead,” said Abdulkadir Sugow, spokesman for the Garissa governor. However, he could not confirm how they were killed.

“The fire exchange has now stopped,” Sugow said. “The next step is to reconcile, and to analyze the way forward.” Security forces have yet to enter the university compound, he continued. “Nothing can be ascertained fully,” he said.

A Kenyan soldier takes cover as shots are fired in front of Garissa University in Garissa town, northeast of the capital Nairobi

Outside the university, in the city of Garissa about 90 miles from the Somali border, confusion and tension dominated. Scores of students remained unaccounted for; many had jumped through a fence to escape the campus.

The gunmen had been holed up in the compound with an unconfirmed number of hostages. When they were shot by police, they exploded “like bombs,” said Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary, Joseph Nkaissery.

Ogutu Vquee, a student at the university, was sleeping in his dormitory when the gunmen arrived. He said there was indiscriminate shooting of both Muslims and non-Muslims, though there were reports that Muslims had been separated from Christians, who were targeted. “When they attacked us, most of us were asleep, so we were woken by the gunshots,” he said. “I am totally in fear and confusion.”

Rosalind Mugambi said she fled her dormitory in a panic, dodging gunfire. While she had been able to run across the sandy ground into a surrounding field, some of her friends had fallen. “We saw some blood stains, and they were shot,” she said.

A 19-year-old student from Nairobi, who asked not to be named, said that he transferred from Garissa University College to Nairobi after threats of an al-Shabab attack circulated in December. “Everybody had to go home because there was a lot of tension. Shabab was saying they were going to attack the school in one week’s time, so we went home. It was rumors, but we had to vacate.”

He said the students left in mid-December, missing the end-of-semester exams. “I transferred because of the tension.”

He said he was horrified to learn of the attack Thursday morning. “I was so frightened. People see normality and they think maybe al-Shabab will take two years [to strike]. I never ignored the threat.”

Paramedics help a student injured during the attack by Al-Shabaab extremists.

Paramedics help a student injured during the attack by Al-Shabaab extremists.

The massacre is the worst terror attack in Kenya since the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, which killed 224. An attack on an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013 left 67 dead and renewed fears that al-Shabab could wage significant operations from its strongholds in neighboring Somalia.

Since the 2013 attack, the U.S. military has maintained a campaign of targeted drone strikes against the leaders of the al-Qaeda-affiliated group. Last month, one such strike killed Adnan Garaar, thought to be behind the mall attack and several others in the region.

An al-Shabab spokesman told Agence France-Presse that the gunmen had been holding Christian hostages. “When our men arrived, they released some of the people, the Muslims, and it is they that alerted the government. We are holding the others hostage,” Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage told AFP by telephone.

Al-Shabab considers Kenya an enemy in part because the country sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the group. Kenyan troops remain stationed there as part of an African Union mission.

The recent attack comes 18 months after four al-Shabab gunmen killed shoppers at the Westgate mall.

U.S. drone strikes had recently appeared to be weakening the group, which has also lost territory within Somalia. American troops have been training African Union soldiers to defeat al-Shabab terrorists. Western sanctions are also thought to have struck a blow to its finances.

Last year, President Barack Obama pointed to the U.S. strategy in Somalia as an example of a successful counterterrorism campaign.

He called it a “strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the frontlines.”

But Thursday’s attack proved that al-Shabab still has the capacity to strike soft targets in the region, and with deadly effect.

The country’s border with Somalia is vast and largely unguarded. Attacks on many targets, particularly in rural Kenya, are incredibly difficult to prevent. The Garissa campus had little protection, despite recent security alerts at Kenyan universities.

Kenya is a key U.S. ally in the region, a product of its role in combating terrorism as well as its growing economy and prominence in East African geopolitics.

“The United States stands with the people of Kenya, who will not be intimidated by such cowardly attacks,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

Last week, al-Shabab militants seized control of a Mogadishu hotel, killing at least 20 people, including Somalia’s ambassador to Switzerland.

Students at Garissa reported seeing notices warning of a possible attack on the campus. “As it was April 1, we just thought that it was fooling,” one student said. Several universities in Kenya reportedly had made students aware of a potential security threat by distributing posters around campuses.

Garissa University College, which opened in 2011, according to its Web site, is the first and only public university in Kenya’s arid and marginalized north.

“This is a moment for everyone throughout the country to be vigilant as we continue to confront and defeat our enemies,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

Related articles

Libya’s new parliament calls for unity as rival militias clash

Smoke filled the sky over Tripoli on Sunday after rockets fired by one of Libya’s militias struck a tank in the main fuel depot.

Smoke filled the sky over Tripoli on Sunday after rockets fired by one of Libya’s militias struck a tank in the main fuel depot.

(Reuters) – Libya’s new parliament appealed for national unity at its first formal session on Monday as rival armed factions battled for dominance of a country struggling to hold itself together three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Hours before parliament met in the eastern city of Tobruk, heavy artillery and rocket fire bombarded southern and western Tripoli, where Islamist-leaning Misrata brigades have fought for three weeks with rival militias allied with the town of Zintan.

Lawmakers gathered in a heavily guarded hotel in Tobruk because three weeks of fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi had made Libya’s two main cities unsafe for the parliamentary session.

Western nations, which have mostly pulled their diplomats out of the North African country due to the fighting, hope that the new assembly can nudge the warring factions toward a ceasefire and negotiations to end a political deadlock.

Elected in June, the House of Representatives replaces the General National Congress (GNC) after a vote which, analysts said, eroded the political dominance that Islamist factions linked to the Muslim Brotherhood had in the legislature.

In a sign of Libya’s deepening polarization, the Islamist former GNC president and a group of current and ex-GNC lawmakers rejected the Tobruk session as unconstitutional, setting the stage for more political infighting.

“A swift transition from the GNC to the new parliament is vital because the country is in turmoil,” Azzedine al-Awami, the former deputy GNC chief, said at the first session.

“We hope all Libyans stand together to put our country’s best interests first.”

Justice Minister Saleh al-Marghani, standing in for the prime minister, who was attending a summit of African and U.S. leaders in Washington urged lawmakers to form a unity government.

Out of 188 elected lawmakers, 158 were sworn in during the session in Tobruk. They then elected Aguila Saleh Iissa as the House’s president. Saleh is seen as a jurist and had occupied many judicial positions during the time of Gaddafi.

DIVISIONS

The United States, Britain, France, Italy and Germany quickly issued a joint call for parties to accept a ceasefire and a dialogue supported by the United Nations, and to recognize the authority of the parliament’s elected representatives.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, meeting with Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni during the summit in Washington, said it was a “critical time” for Libya.

“Libya’s challenges can really only be solved by Libyans themselves, but we are committed to stand by them as they engage in the difficult work of doing so,” Kerry said.

He said the United States was committed to returning diplomats to its embassy in Tripoli “as soon as the security situation allows.”

But, underscoring the divisions over the legitimacy of the new assembly, in Tripoli outgoing GNC President Nouri Abusahmain, an Islamist leader, rejected the Tobruk meeting because of the way it had been held and the location of the session.

It was not immediately clear how much support his statement would generate or its impact on armed factions allied with the Islamist political leadership. Most Islamist-leaning lawmakers and ex-GNC members had stayed away from Tobruk.

More than 200 people have been killed in the recent fighting in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi. Clashes have closed off most international flights, damaged Tripoli’s main airport and sent foreign diplomats and workers fleeing abroad.

The battle for the airport is part of a wider political struggle between two loose factions of ex-rebels and their political allies who once fought together against Gaddafi, but whose rivalries exploded over the spoils of postwar Libya.

On one side are the Zintan brigades – based in the city some 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Tripoli – with their anti-Islamist Qaaqaa and Al-Sawaiq fighters, including some ex-Gaddafi forces, and political allies who say they are a bulwark against Islamist extremists taking over Libya.

Against them are fighters loyal to the western port of Misrata who are allied with the Islamist Justice and Construction party, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, who say they are fighting to purge ex-Gaddafi elements.

OIL OUTPUT DROPS

In a worrying development for Libya’s budget, the country’s lifeline oil production has slipped to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd)from 500,000 bpd a week ago, the National Oil Corp said on Monday, without explaining why output had fallen.

Even the previous figure is well below the 1.4 million bpd Libya produced a year ago, before strikes and blockades cut output and exports from the OPEC state.

Britain was closing its embassy operations on Monday, one of the last foreign governments to pull out its diplomatic staff, following the evacuation of the United States and the United Nations after the fighting erupted in Tripoli.

A Royal Navy ship on Sunday evacuated more than 100 British citizens, Libyan families and some foreign nationals. Some diplomats crossed by road into neighboring Tunisia.

With its national army still in formation, Libya’s fragile government has long struggled against the power of the militias, which have skirmished in parts of the capital since 2011.

Many of the militia brigades are on the government payroll, approved by competing factions in ministries and the parliament, but are often more loyal to commanders, political allies or regions than to the Libyan state.

The General National Congress was stormed numerous times by different militia brigades trying to pressure lawmakers on political decisions or to demand that it dissolve.

Most of Tripoli has stayed largely calm, with fighting mainly restricted to the de facto front lines in the south and parts of the west of the city. Fuel prices have soared on the black market as fighting has caused shortages.

In Benghazi, an alliance of Islamist fighters and ex-rebels have joined together to battle Libyan armed forces, seizing a special forces military base last week and pushing the army outside the city.

Those Islamists, from the Ansar al-Sharia group, are branded a terrorist organization by Washington and have been blamed for a 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans died.

Benghazi women’s rights activist Salwa Bughagis murdered

Salwa Bughaigis voting in today’s elections (Photo: her Facebook page)

Benghazi women’s rights activist and lawyer Salwa Bughagis was murdered this evening by five gunmen who broke into her home in the city’s Hawari district and shot her in the head.

She was rushed to Benghazi Medical Centre but died shortly afterwards. She is also said to have stabbed several times.

A gardener was also said to have been shot in the attack; he is recovering. Her husband, Essam Al-Ghariani, is missing, presumed kidnapped.

She had earlier returned home after voting in today’s elections and put pictures on her Facebook page of herself casting her vote today. She was then on Al-Nabaa TV for a few minutes at around 6pm speaking about clashes in the city which she said she could see from her house between security forces and an Islamist brigade. She urged people to go out and vote

The killing has shocked Benghazi where she and her sister Iman were prominent supporters and activists in the revolution from its very beginning. However, her support for women’s rights made her a vocal opponent of not only Islamic extremists but also of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Grand Mufti. She was against the hijab, insisting it was not Islamic, and would not even wear a headscarf.

She had received a number of death threats which she ignored but after a reported attempt to kill her son earlier this year went abroad with the entire family. Nonetheless, she said at the time that nothing would stop her speaking out about women’s rights.

It is not known who killed her, but militant Islamists are being blamed. She had just returned to Libya with her husband to vote in the elections. It is thought that her TV appearance may have alerted her killers to the fact that she was back in Benghazi.

Présidentielle égyptienne : Al-Sissi officiellement élu avec 96,91% des voix

5689

L’ancien chef de l’armée égyptienne, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, a officiellement remporté l’élection présidentielle avec 96,91 % des voix, selon les chiffres de la commission électorale.

Les chiffres sont désormais officiels. Sans surprise, la Commission électorale égyptienne a confirmé, mardi 3 juin, l’écrasante victoire d’Abdel Fattah al-Sissi à l’élection présidentielle du 28 mai dernier. L’ancien chef de l’armée a récolté 96,91 % des suffrages,

Le maréchal  a recueilli 23 780 104 suffrages contre 757 511 pour son unique rival, le leader de la gauche Hamdine Sabahi.

Le taux de participation, qui était la seule inconnue de ce scrutin, est proche de 47 % des 54 millions d’inscrits.

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

At least 20 killed, dozens wounded in clashes in Libya’s Benghazi: medics

General Khalifa Haftar (C) holds a news conference in Abyar, a small town to the east of Benghazi.

General Khalifa Haftar (C) holds a news conference in Abyar, a small town to the east of Benghazi.

(Reuters) – At least 20 people were killed and almost 70 wounded when the Libyan army and forces of a renegade general fought Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi on Monday, medical sources said.

Combat helicopters belonging to forces loyal to former army general Khalifa Haftar – who wants to purge the North African state of Islamist militants he says a weak government has failed to control – supported the army in the worst fighting in months.

At least 20 people were killed and 67 wounded in Benghazi alone, hospital doctors said. Some 18 wounded were reported in al-Marj, a town east of Benghazi, where fighting also broke out, medical sources said.

Libya is in protracted turmoil three years after the NATO-backed war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, with Islamist, anti-Islamist, regional and political factions locked in conflict.

The Ansar al-Sharia militant group attacked a camp on Monday belonging to army special forces, residents there said. Haftar’s forces joined the battle taking place in residential areas with frightened families staying indoors. Schools and universities were closed.

Special army troops were also seen moving reinforcements to the area of fighting in the west of Libya’s second-largest city.

Haftar started a campaign to battle Islamists two weeks ago. Since then, public life has come almost to a standstill in the city, home to several oil companies. Its airport is closed.

On Sunday, a warplane belonging to Haftar bombed a university faculty while trying to attack a nearby Islamist camp. Two people were wounded.

The government, rival militia brigades and political factions rejected Haftar’s offensive against militants as an attempted coup after his forces also stormed parliament a week ago.

Ansar al-Sharia, listed as a terrorist group by Washington, warned the United States last week against interfering in Libya’s crisis and accused Washington of backing Haftar.

Gaddafi’s one-man rule, followed by three years of unrest, have left Libya with few functioning institutions and no real national army to impose authority on the competing militias and brigades of former rebels who have become power-brokers.

The acting prime minister, Abdullah Al-Thinni, refused on Wednesday to hand over power to a newly elected premier. The OPEC oil producer now has two prime ministers and a parliament deadlocked by splits between factions.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Libya evacuation decision ‘minute by minute,’ U.S. official says

767588

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — The U.S. military has doubled the number of aircraft standing by in Italy if needed to evacuate Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, CNN has learned.

A decision to evacuate as violence in the Libyan capital grows is “minute by minute, hour by hour,” a defense official told CNN on Monday.

Fierce fighting swept across the city Sunday after armed men stormed the country’s interim Parliament. Sporadic bursts of gunfire and blasts could still be heard on the outskirts of the capital Monday evening.

The violence appeared to be some of the worst since the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

In a move that could further inflame an already tense situation, the speaker of the interim parliament, Nuri Abu Sahmain, who is backed by Islamist forces, ordered troops known as the “Central Libya Shield Forces” to deploy to the capital Monday, the Libyan state news agency LANA reported.

The forces, mostly from the city of Misrata, east of Tripoli, are considered to be among the most powerful Islamist-affiliated militias. They have had long-running rivalries with the heavily armed Zintan militias when both groups were based in the capital.

Meanwhile, the Saudi ambassador to Libya announced that his country’s embassy and consulate in Tripoli closed Monday because of the violence, and the staff has left Tripoli, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. The sites will reopen when the situation stabilizes, Ambassador Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Ali said, according to the report.

Turkey took similar measures, shutting down its consulate in Benghazi, Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu news agency reported.

U.S. aircraft arrive in Italy

Four additional U.S. V-22 Osprey aircraft “arrived overnight” at the naval base in Sigonella, Italy, to join four V-22s and 200 Marines that had been moved there last week, a U.S. defense source said.

The V-22 Ospreys, which can take off and land vertically with at least two dozen passengers, are ready to be in the air on six hours notice, the official said. The additional aircraft should give the military the capability to evacuate more than 200 people from the embassy.

The aircraft and Marines are part of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response team, stationed in Moron, Spain. The force was formed after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012 to provide closer standby military capability in a crisis.

4 killed, dozens more injured in violence

At least four people were killed and 90 injured Sunday in Tripoli, according to the Health Ministry.

Fighters armed with heavy weapons moved in on the General National Congress as Sunday’s session was adjourned. The attackers stormed the building as members were evacuated. Fighting then spread to other parts of the city.

Libya’s main political forces have been slowly dividing along Islamist and liberal lines.

The more liberal parties, backed by the heavily armed militias from the western mountain city of Zintan, have accused the Islamists of hijacking power and controlling the government and parliament.

The GNC attack involved the al-Qaaqaa brigade, a Zintan militia based in Tripoli, which said in a statement that it had “heeded the call of the homeland to save it from the abusing politicians.”

Libya’s political process has stalled as a result of infighting among the Islamist and liberal forces in the GNC, and elections for a new parliament to replace it have not yet taken place. Many Libyans view the GNC as having lost legitimacy.

Enhanced by Zemanta