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Tarhuna, Mass Graves, and Libya’s Internationalized Civil War

Jalel Harchaoui

July 30, 2020


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Last month, forces aligned with Libya’s internationally recognized government made a gruesome discovery within the vicinity of Tarhuna, some 50 miles southeast of the capital, Tripoli. As many as 230 corpses were dug up from unmarked sites or found buried in bulldozed pits behind villas. A handful had been thrown in a well. Several dozen more piled up in a hospital morgue. Many of these bodies were bound and showed evidence of torture. Not all of them were captured fighters: Some of them were civilians, including women and children as young as three.

While much international commentary has rightly focused on the human-rights implications of the Tarhuna atrocities and calls for accountability, the mass graves are illustrative of some of Libya’s least-discussed factional dynamics. The town had long been under the control of the Kaniyat, a brutal militia that aligned with eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar in April 2019 amid his high-profile attack on the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli. For more than a year, thanks to the Kaniyat’s iron fist, Tarhuna served as Haftar’s bridgehead in western Libya. The Government of National Accord’s takeover of the town on June 5 was a devastating blow to the rebel commander’s ambitions. But the Kaniyat’s barbaric style of governance has implications much broader than mere battlefield intrigues. The situation in Tarhuna reveals the dangerous absurdity and consequences of imposing a simplistic narrative on Libya’s complex local politics.

I began researching this issue while in Tripoli, Misrata, and other localities nearby last summer. At the time, roads from the littoral into Tarhuna were still open, but the war made it too hazardous to try and visit. I still managed to discuss the town’s politics and recent past with an array of Libyans, pro- and anti-Haftar alike, both from Tarhuna and otherwise.

The sinuous and violent rise of the Kaniyat over the last decade has received little attention. Now that their legacy is in the news, their story must be faced. Its forbidding complexity embodies an important truth about Libya’s nine-year conflict: It cannot and should not be summarized. The country’s violence has no overall thrust. It is mercurial and often obeys ultra-local dynamics.

Tarhuna and other cities surrounding Tripoli. (Map by Jalel Harchaoui)
Tarhuna, a modest rural municipality with a population of 40,000, was known during the Muammar Qadhafi era for producing military officers for the government’s security apparatus. For that reason, a large proportion of its inhabitants came out the political losers of the 2011 uprising that toppled Qadhafi. Tarhuna hosts more than 60 tribes, though allegiances are not wholly determined by tribal lineation, but also by political beliefs, money, and opportunism. Cohesion is felt more strongly within a family or a small clan. In some cases, even that has its limits.

Haftar has roots in Tarhuna through his father’s side. After he returned from exile to Benghazi in mid-March 2011 and helped topple his old boss, Tarhuna was one of the few places in western Libya where Haftar found support. That hospitality faded in June 2012, when Tarhuna’s security chief Col. Abu Ajila al-Habshi, a friend of Haftar’s, was abducted. Several of the Tarhuna natives I interviewed, suspect that a combination of Tripoli and Misrata militias disappeared him. Civilian revolutionaries saw Habshi, like many other army officers who had fought Qadhafi in 2011, as a threat.

Kani Brothers Give Rise to the ‘Kaniyat’
Habshi’s kidnapping also rendered Tarhuna more susceptible to the rise of informal armed groups of militiamen with no professional training. The first such groups to assert themselves in Tarhuna were the Na’aaja clan, the town’s most fervent proponents of the 2011 revolution. A group dominated by Na’aaja individuals assassinated a young Tarhuni called Ali al-Kani in a grisly manner. This was revenge: Amidst the anarchy of 2011, Ali al-Kani and his brothers had killed a dozen members of the Na’aaja clan. They simply took advantage of the greater conflict to settle old scores, a Tarhuna native told me. Of the seven Kani brothers, only Ali had revolted against Qadhafi in 2011, albeit belatedly. Following the regime’s fall, the Kani family became renowned for its criminal activities, not its military strength. But after Ali’s 2012 murder, his surviving brothers responded by exterminating entire Na’aaja families, demolishing their homes, and chasing many others out of town. The massive reprisals kicked off the slow transformation of the “Kaniyat” into the local power to be reckoned with.

In those years, the main fault-line tearing Libyans apart was between those who sought to preserve chunks of the old order and those committed to upturning every bit of it. In contrast to the large cities of Tripolitania, a majority of Tarhuna’s population remained loyal to Qadhafi’s memory. That characteristic made the community a danger to Tripolitania’s new elites. Yet, driven by calculation, not ideological sympathy, the Kaniyat cultivated a rapport with the most virulently anti-Qadhafi actors, including tough political Islamists and Misrata’s hardline revolutionaries. Misrata is a powerful merchant city of 350,000 located east of Tripoli. The Kaniyat attracted the support of those revisionist currents by marketing themselves as the only brigade ruthless enough to “contain” their town and its surroundings.

As a new civil war erupted in May 2014, the Kani brothers threw their lot against Haftar’s Operation Karama, which sought to defeat all Islamists in Benghazi and overthrow the rump government in Tripoli. The Kanis instead pledged allegiance to the Fajr Libya coalition forged by Misratan and Islamist factions. Within that context, the Kani brothers intensified their ferocious war on the Na’aaja clan. In March 2015, they murdered several members of Habshi’s family, including the former security chief’s daughter, blaming them for favoring Haftar’s camp.

Other than such moves, designed to entrench their supremacy locally, the brigade did little in the way of fighting alongside the Misratans in Tripoli. The Fajr-versus-Karama conflict cooled off in the spring of 2015. By year’s end, the Kaniyat had absorbed the local military and police, morphing into a mini-army of about 4,000 men in control of the Tarhuna area. Although ambivalent and Machiavellian, the militia remained close to anti-Haftar elements. For instance, in May 2017, when militias native to Tripoli expelled anti-Haftar figure and former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group commander Khaled al-Sharif, his affinity with the Kani brothers enabled him to find refuge in Tarhuna before escaping to Turkey via Misrata.

The Militia’s Moneymakers
Their fearsome reputation, along with the occasional execution of entire families, enabled the Kani brothers to impose security and quiet. That turned them into social leaders of sorts, with almost a sense of economic accountability toward the populous Tarhuna area’s communities at large. The Kaniyat generated revenue streams independently from the state and declared their own local “ministries.” In territories they controlled — which briefly even included Garabulli (a segment of the shoreline between Misrata and Tripoli) — they collected taxes from factories, catering companies, and cleaning services. The militia was involved in garbage collection and owned several clinics and businesses in the Nawahi al-Arbae area between Tarhuna and southern Tripoli. They also raised funds by collecting traffic fines. But the Kani empire’s core income was derived by levying a tax on all human and fuel smuggling traversing its territories.

Yet Mohammed al-Kani, the leader of the family, deemed these revenues insufficient. Moreover, from 2015 to 2019, all revolutionary factions across Tripolitania became weaker, sidelined by more centrist and pragmatic currents. In 2017, the Kani family funded and ran a counter-smuggling unit, using the Central Security Forces of the GNA’s Interior Ministry as a front. Although paradoxical coming from an armed group profiting from smuggling, many such actors in northwest Libya, including the Kaniyat, adopted an anti-crime narrative specifically to gain socio-political legitimacy. The Kaniyat even invoked religious rhetoric borrowed from purist Salafism.

Notwithstanding that change of tactic, Tarhuna grew more isolated politically and its economic prospects deteriorated. The Tripoli government saw no upside in favoring the pastoral town other than conceding a few meaningless pleasantries to it, such as the hollow promise to build an international airport there. During that same period, Tripoli’s own militias such as the Tripoli Revolutionaries Battalion and the Radaa Force acquired more sway and wealth. The ever-widening economic chasm between the capital and several cities in its vicinity (including Tarhuna) caused armed groups from the periphery to contemplate attacking the capital.



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A Flawed Attack on Tripoli
Solidarity — or the illusion of it — amongst outlying communities against the capital deepened in May 2018, when the Kaniyat signed a peace deal with both Misrata and its old enemy, the mountain city of Zintan. Three months later, feeling the pinch of their economic travails, the Kaniyat acted upon the temptation to attack. The resulting assault was dubbed “the letter-of-credit war” in reference to a banking embezzlement technique popular amongst central-Tripoli militias. The latter were so corrupt, the Kaniyat’s narrative went, that only violence could ameliorate the problem.

A successful incursion would have enabled the Kani family to dislodge militia leader Abd al-Ghani “Ghniwa” al-Kikli from his southern Tripoli turf and take ownership of his illicit money schemes. But the endeavor failed to elicit the anticipated support from Zintan or Misrata, other than the participation of hardliner Salah Badi and his Sumud Battalion. Several other more moderate militias from Misrata came near Tripoli’s eastern flank but stopped short from joining the attack.

The Misratans ended up converting their military threat into political influence: Fathi Bashagha became the new minister of the interior in October 2018. A Libyan air force pilot turned businessman, Bashagha portrayed himself as a rebel in 2011 by acting as a liaison with Western special operations forces during the siege of his home city Misrata. Belying his reputation as a leading Misrata moderate, he was among the hawks who pushed for the Fajr war effort of July 2014, meant to expel Haftar’s Zintani allies from the capital. Bashagha then broke from his city’s more hardline elements. His critics allege this was simple political opportunism. In late spring 2015, Bashagha helped bring about a withdrawal of Misrata’s brigades from the edges of a large air base in western Libya controlled by Haftar’s allies. The conciliatory gesture ushered in a long period during which Misrata’s moderates stuck to a more accommodating stance toward the U.N. peace process that led to the formation of the Government of National Accord in 2016.

In 2018, much to the chagrin of the Kaniyat, Bashagha and other Misrata moderates stayed out of the war. The four-week assault by the Kaniyat and Salah Badi on Tripoli’s militias, after causing more than 100 deaths, yielded a resounding defeat for the actors that initiated it. The Kani family lost its access to the coast and other valuable territories. Unlike Misrata’s Badi, the brothers avoided international sanctions by signing the U.N.-backed ceasefire agreement. The Government of National Accord promised Tarhuna several dozen million dinars, which it never paid out. Calm returned, but no genuine peace emerged between the Kaniyat and Tripoli: This agreement couldn’t last long.

Haftar, who’d already sketched out a rapprochement with tribal leaders of Tarhuna, refrained from criticizing the Kaniyat during the month-long battle. The marshal recognized the potency of the Kaniyat’s “struggle against corruption” narrative. This, along with the tactic of attacking Tripoli from the south via the International Airport, was a key source of inspiration for the Emirati-backed Haftar..

In January 2019, the Kaniyat moved on the International Airport again. The main forces that repelled them belonged to Usama al-Juwaili, an anti-Haftar leader from Zintan. Juwaili managed to convince Hamzah Ashwia, the head of a Zintani unit called Battalion 19 on Tarhuna’s side months earlier, to switch and join him. Ashwia’s inside knowledge of the Kaniyat’s tactics would later prove key.

Haftar Makes a Deal with the Kaniyat
The Tripoli militias blamed the latest airport attack on Bashagha, accusing the newly appointed interior minister of appeasing the Kaniyat. The internecine bickering encouraged the capital’s numerous enemies. Tripoli was so divided, it appeared easy to conquer. For years, Haftar’s top goal has been to overthrow the Tripoli government and rule over Libya. As for Tarhuna’s Mohammed al-Kani, he was impatient for recognition and prestige, desperate for cash, bitter towards both Tripoli’s and Misrata’s forces, and determined to restore his honor. Haftar turned the Kani brothers into a military ally by giving them money and weapons. The Kaniyat adopted a brand-new name — the 9th Brigade. Pro-Haftar media outlets would soon refer to the 9th Brigade as a regular component of the Libyan National Army, not a mere “Haftar proxy.

Haftar struck a similar deal in the city of Gharyan, 40 miles southwest of Tarhuna. Using money and promises, he rallied Adel Da’ab, a militia leader known for his human-smuggling activities. In 2014, Da’ab was allied with Haftar’s foes, but by 2017 felt neglected by them. The Libyan National Army now had access to two strategic territories: Gharyan and Tarhuna. Haftar’s men snuck into these territories and used them as a launchpad for their march into Tripoli’s southern outskirts on April 4, 2019. Three days later, the Kaniyat joined Haftar’s war effort in southern Tripoli. As weeks went by, the Kaniyat’s contribution became more substantial. The overall lack of progress was worrisome: The takeover of the capital was not supposed to last more than a few days. Using unguided rockets, Tarhuna’s militia participated in the Libyan National Army’s shelling of Mitiga Airport, Suq al-Jumaa and other suburbs, indiscriminate operations that killed hundreds of civilians.

When Haftar lost the city of Gharyan to the Government of National Accord in June 2019, Tarhuna became even more central to Haftar’s pursuit of his war against the Tripoli-based government. Amid the headlong rush, Mohammed al-Kani now began killing potential dissidents and their families at the slightest suspicion of disloyalty. After all, few of his advisers, administrators, and right-hand men were true Haftar believers. Gharyan had fallen to the Tripoli government partly thanks to the activism of some of its own habitants. The Kanis dreaded a similar scenario in Tarhuna.

Mohammed al-Kani’s younger brother Mohsen, dedicated to military matters, tended to disregard Haftar’s day-to-day instructions, while receiving logistical support from the marshal. Meanwhile, Misrata’s moderates offered large sums of money in return for a non-aggression pact, to no avail. On Sept. 13, 2019, Mohsen was killed along with other key armed leaders of Tarhuna. The pro-GNA militia the Radaa Force claimed responsibility for the slayings, but the Libyan National Army may have been behind them.

The territory controlled by various Libyan factions before June 5. (Al Jazeera/Liveuamap)

The Kaniyat and Haftar Lose Tarhuna
Mohammed and his brother Abd al-Rahman, both of whom had been sojourning abroad, returned home to guarantee their community’s continued participation in Haftar’s campaign. Haftar was now benefiting from the combat assistance of the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked mercenary group. In response to Mohsen’s death, the Kanis executed dozens of prisoners. But inside and outside the municipality, the ranks of Tarhuna natives challenging the Kanis kept growing. That, combined with GNA’s support, gave rise to periodic ground incursion attempts on the town’s edges. The attacks became significant in February 2020. By then, Turkey had begun bringing into Tripolitania a significant number of Syrian fighters as mercenaries to bolster the Government of National Accord’s forces. The subsequent month, the latter shuttered a key road from the littoral into Tarhuna. Backed by a relentless campaign of Turkish drone strikes, which on a few occasions killed innocent civilians, the GNA coalition diminished Haftar’s ability to send supplies into Tarhuna, whether by land or by air. During those months, the Kani brothers felt squeezed even more, a sentiment that intensified their hallmark tendency to eliminate anyone who looked like they could converse with the enemy.



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Mohammed was hellbent on pursuing the war on Tripoli as long as possible, and so was the notoriously prideful Haftar. In that regard, the Kanis’ habit of eliminating suspected dissidents along with their families, came in handy: Whatever measures they felt were necessary to conserve their territory and keep the offensive going, it made no difference to the Libyan National Army and its foreign benefactors. Thousands of mercenaries and private military contractors from Russia, Sudan, and elsewhere assisting the Libyan National Army leaned on Tarhuna as their rear area. So did armed units loyal to Muammar Qadhafi’s ideology from Wershefana, a town to the west of the capital, and elsewhere.

On May 18, 2020, Haftar lost al-Wattiyah, a large air base near the Tunisian border. A momentary entente between Ankara and the Kremlin soon followed, during which Russian mercenaries withdrew from northwestern Libya. Hundreds of Wagner personnel left Tarhuna in broad daylight, dealing Haftar’s war effort a fatal blow. When, in the final days of May, overpowered Libyan National Army units began fleeing Tripolitania, the Kaniyat opened fire to prevent them from leaving the front line. On June 5, when resistance against the Turkish-backed coalition’s attacks became a physical impossibility, the Kaniyat retreated from Tripoli and, along with their families, fled their hometown. Upon entering Tarhuna, Government of National Accord forces and the Tarhuna exiles aligned with them looted stores, burned buildings and carried out revenge killings against perceived Kaniyat accomplices. These actions by the Government of National Accord and its allies also constitute potential war crimes, a fact which pro-Haftar diplomats and lobbyists are already using to deflect attention from the mass graves containing the victims of Haftar’s allies.

Members of the Kaniyat and their families are now scattered. Thousands are in Ajdabiya, Benghazi and other areas in Libya’s east. Some Kaniyat fighters have mobilized as backup as part of the Libyan National Army’s resistance effort against the Government of National Accord near Sirte. Many in the Haftar camp now repudiate and reject the Kaniyat, but they will not investigate, let alone arrest them.

This brief history reveals a conflict that has little in common with mainstream depictions of Libya. It shows, for instance, that partition wouldn’t solve anything. Yet it is always in the interest of both the foreign meddlers and the Libyan elites closely allied with them to portray the Libyan crisis as one simple binary antagonism or another: Cyrenaica versus Tripolitania; security versus Islamism; integrity versus corruption; neglected periphery versus urban privilege; etc. None of these shortcuts are viable. Libya’s complex and ultra-local disputes warrant a far greater level of granularity.

The serial murdering of innocents by the Kaniyat since 2011 undermines yet another tenacious myth: that of a Libya made of monolithic city-states and tribes neatly united behind one political stance. This was precisely the illusion Haftar wanted to promote by orchestrating February 19’s national conference in Tarhuna, less than four months before his coalition collapsed there. The communications effort, which had necessitated logistical prowess amid the raging war, was meant to project the troubled town as the nerve center of Arab and tribal legitimacy in Libya. The implicit message was that only Haftar’s coalition, headquartered in eastern Libya, is a safe, natural fit when it comes to governing the “true” population of Libya. Last month’s discoveries belie all of this. For many years before 2019, it was the Libyan National Army’s designated enemies, the Islamists and revolutionaries, who aided and abetted the Kaniyat as they instituted their rule-by-murder model. But starting in early 2019, Haftar endorsed the same approach for the purposes of a larger war, which resulted in an acceleration of the abuses in Tarhuna.

Not only that, Haftar’s involvement also introduced a foreign dimension that didn’t exist in Tarhuna before 2019. Once the Libyan National Army embraced the Kaniyat, the crimes on the local population served a specific geopolitical utility, not a merely parochial one. Several foreign states backing Haftar’s war, such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Russia, and France, now had an incentive to see the marshal and the Kaniyat hold it at any cost. Civilian killings, which picked up after April 2019, just happened to be one of the tools to control a territory deemed vital to a wide military operation. The United Arab Emirates, France, and Egypt often tout the Libyan National Army as a champion in the fight against extremism. Even the White House did in April 2019. But in Tarhuna, if not other places, those states — whether knowingly or unwittingly — invoked the war on terror as a way to conceal extremist practices and help perpetuate them for more than a year.

Libya’s tragedy is far from over and foreign meddlers, including Turkey and Egypt, may grow even more brazen. The discovery of the mass graves in Tarhuna is an opportunity for Western and other publics to question the dangerous manner in which their governments play rhetorical games and obfuscate, only to allow outside interference to continue in Libya — even when that involves the routine murder of innocents less than 400 kilometers from the European Union.

Jalel Harchaoui is a research fellow in the Conflict Research Unit of the Clingendael Institute based in The Hague. His work focuses on Libya — in particular, the country’s security landscape and political economy.


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Erdogan is the biggest threat to regional and international security

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As rumours swirl of Yemenis fighting in Libya, mercenaries enlist to join the war

Yemen’s Popular Resistance in Taiz has been training new recruits, who suspect they are being sent to the Libyan conflict to help the GNA

MEE correspondent

Published date: 31 July 2020 11:00 UTC | Last update: 13 hours 37 mins ago

For days, rumours have been circulating that Yemeni mercenaries have left their own conflict for the one in Libya, joining an ever-growing international presence in the war-torn North African country.

Whether the rumours are true or not is difficult to establish, though four months ago one Yemeni militia, the Popular Resistance, began a recruitment drive, promising Yemenis military training but not disclosing the front they would be sent to.

Either way, for struggling Yemeni mercenaries looking to earn a decent wage amid war, economic collapse and the coronavirus pandemic, the location of the fight is neither here nor there.

New Popular Resistance recruits tell Middle East Eye they're happy to fight in someone else’s war - for the right price.

Rumours in the media
The Popular Resistance is a militia linked to Yemen's Islah party, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate that has good relations with both Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Turkey.
Part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi movement, the party and the militia have enemies within the alliance battling on behalf of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi's government - particularly groups allied with the United Arab Emirates, which is a major backer of eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar.

Recent reports by anti-Islah media in Yemen have accused the party of sending Yemenis to Turkey under the guise of receiving medical treatment, then transporting them to Libya. Turkey has sent arms, drones, advisers and Syrian mercenaries to Libya in support of Haftar's enemy, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Criminals-turned-Saudi mercenaries terrorise Yemen's Taiz province
Read More »

Some news websites said military and intelligence sources have revealed that 200 mercenaries from Yemen have arrived in Libya to fight on behalf of the Tripoli-based GNA.
Other news reports said three Yemenis fighters were caught by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), and named the detainees.

Islah has a good relationship with Turkey, where many of its leaders are currently based after fleeing Yemen via Saudi Arabia in 2015. Pro-Islah TV channels are also based in Turkey.

Neither Islah nor Hadi's government have commented on the news about Yemeni mercenaries in Libya, and there has been no official confirmation that the party has sent fighters from Taiz and Marib provinces to Turkey.

Hundreds of wounded pro-Islah fighters have travelled in the last four years to receive medical treatment in Turkey. Media reports have alleged that some have claimed to be wounded, but were in fact mercenaries on their way to Libya.

Recruitment in schools
The founder of the Popular Resistance in Taiz, Sheikh Hamoud al-Mikhlafi, an Islahi, left Yemen in 2016 and has been based in Turkey since.

His commanders on the ground in Taiz have in recent weeks been recruiting fighters left, right and centre, promising wealth but not revealing their destination. Schools across the southwestern province have been left empty by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Popular Resistance has commandeered them, turning them into training camps for new recruits.

The teen warlord who runs Yemen's second city with fear
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Yemeni mercenaries have long fought the Houthis on the border with Saudi Arabia, but though the money was good many have abandoned the fight and returned home disillusioned by the fierce battles and dirty politics.

Prior to his latest recruitment efforts, Mikhlafi called on returnees from the battles on the Saudi border to join his camps in the outskirts of Taiz and thousands signed up. Others struggling to get by away from the fighting have also been tempted.

“My shop went bankrupt and I don’t have any other source of income, so joining the fighting is the only choice for me,” said Walid, 38, an owner of a mobile accessories shop in Taiz city.

“Many of my friends joined the battles with Saudi Arabia but I didn’t like that because Saudi Arabia has been destroying Yemen.”

Walid told Middle East Eye he trusts Mikhlafi "as he himself was a fighter and works for the interest of Taiz’s residents".

“I closed my shop and joined the training for one month.”

Desperate for income, Walid said he is willing to fight anywhere with the Popular Resistance for money.

“The fighters on the internal fronts receive only 57,000 Yemeni rials ($76) per month, so I would not be happy to join them,” he said.

“There is information that some of us will go to fight in Libya, and that’s the best choice for me.”

Walid said news they will be sent to Libya is being spread among the recruits, and they had been promised $2,500 per month once in North Africa.
'There is information that some of us will go to fight in Libya and that’s the best choice for me'
-Walid, Popular Resistance recruit
“Almost all recruits in the school hope to travel to Libya but it seems that we won’t be as we have been waiting for around four months,” he added.

“We’re back home now and receive a salary, but we don’t know where we are going to fight.”

Walid said none of his fellow fighters have travelled to Turkey, and he hasn’t heard of anyone who had already participated in the fighting in Libya.

“Even wounded fighters couldn’t travel to Turkey in the past four months because of the coronavirus restrictions,” he said.

“I hope we can leave this country and earn some money that would help us to save our future.”

Turkish intervention
Meanwhile, there have been reports about a supposed covert Turkish presence in Yemen, with activities concentrated in Shabwa, Taiz and Socotra. Some Islah members have also called on Turkey to intervene to rid Yemen of the Saudi-led coalition.

Anees Mansour, former media adviser to the Yemeni embassy in Riyadh, has appeared in more than one video urging Turkey to intervene in Yemen.

“Yemen needs a Turkish intervention,” Mansour said in one of the videos, accusing the Saudi-led coalition of destroying his country.

Mansour also praised the Turkish-backed forces in Libya, who succeeded in pushing back Haftar’s yearlong offensive on Tripoli, saying that the entire Arab world was happy for their victory.

Libya conflict: Turkey is looking for a 'third way' in Sirte
Read More »

Like many other Islah leaders based in Turkey, Mansour supported the coalition when it intervened in Yemen in 2015 and fled to Saudi Arabia at the time. But today they are calling for a new intervention.

Abdulghani, a member of the Islah party based in Marib, said that while he was proud of Turkey and its achievements in Libya, he was against its involvement in Yemen.

“All Muslims should be proud of Turkey and [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan as he represents Islam in its best form, but we don’t need any more interventions in Yemen,” Abdulghani told MEE.

“We are suffering from Saudi, Emirati and Iranian interventions in Yemen, so we need to liberate it from all countries.”

He stressed that Mansour and other Islah members were only voicing their own opinions and that they didn't represent the party.

Abdulghani has also heard news about Yemeni fighters in Libya, but he did not believe it, saying that it was propaganda against Islah.

“It is true that some wounded fighters left Yemen to receive medical treatment in Turkey, but I don’t believe they joined the fighting in Libya,” he said.

“Yemen has enough fronts and Islah is not stupid enough to send fighters to Libya, seeing that this would create anger in Yemen against the party.”

Left with no choice
The severe economic fallout of the war, including high unemployment, has forced people to join the battles on a multitude of front lines, as it is the only available source of income for many.
'The majority of fighters don’t care about who controls Yemen and they only fight to earn money to provide for their families'
-Nehad Abdul-Jabbar, social expert
“[Becoming a] mercenary is a good choice for Yemenis, and it is a main source of income for many, so we see some fighting with Saudi Arabia, others with the United Arab Emirates, and we may see them fighting with any other country,” Nehad Abdul-Jabbar, a social expert, told MEE.

Abdul-Jabbar believes that the deterioration of the situation in Yemen has led needy people to join the fighting for the sake of money.

“The majority of fighters don’t care about who controls Yemen and they only fight to earn money to provide for their families,” she added.

“For these people, they can stop fighting as soon as they get a job.”

An estimated 80 percent of the population - 24 million people - require some form of humanitarian aid, including 14.3 million who are in acute need, according to UNOCHA.

“Unfortunately, money has become the fuel of the war, so this conflict will continue until the economic situation of Yemenis is better,” Abdul-Jabbar said.


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Egypt sends troops to Idlib as Egypt-Turkey tensions over Libya escalate - AA

  • Jul 30 2020 05:52 Gmt+3
  • Last Updated On: Jul 31 2020 11:05 Gmt+3

Egypt has sent soldiers to Syria’s northwestern Aleppo province, near Idlib, in coordination with Iran, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday, citing military sources.
Some 150 Egyptian soldiers with light weapons have arrived in Aleppo’s rural areas, and some have been deployed in the city of Saraqib to the south of Idlib, it said.
#BREAKING 150 Egyptian troops entered Syria via Hama Military Airport, later deployed in western countryside of Aleppo, southern Idlib, say sources
— ANADOLU AGENCY (ENG) (@anadoluagency) July 30, 2020
“If this is true, it means that Egypt has started military stockpiling in Idlib,” security expert Metin Gürcan said in a tweet. “As tensions with Egypt in Libya escalate, the conflict gets closer to our border.”
İdlib : Yerel kaynaklar İdlib güneyine 150 Mısır Askerinin geldiğini iddia ediyor. Şayet doğru ise Mısır İdlib’te askeri yığınaklanmaya başladı demektir. Mısır Libya’da yaşanan gerilim arttıkça çatışmayı sınırımıza taşıyor.
— METIN GURCAN (@Metin4020) July 30, 2020
Turkey increased the number of observation points in the rebel-held province to 38, following the death of more than 30 soldiers in a Russia-backed Syrian government offensive in February. Since then, it has deployed air defence systems in Idlib as it continued to increase its military presence in the province.

Egypt and Turkey are backing opposing sides in the ongoing conflict in Libya, with Egypt on the side of Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army, along with France, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Turkey supports Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord, recognized by the United Nations, and the military officers, weapons and ammunitions it has sent has helped Sarraj turn the tide in his favour.

Egyptian and Turkish intelligence services have intensified their activities in Libya, as Cairo says it is aware of the smallest details in Libya, and Ankara likening its efforts in the country to counter-insurgency measures in the Ottoman Empire.


On TB every waking moment
Posted for fair use.....

Ottoman redux
Turkey is wielding influence all over the Arab world

Its muscle-flexing worries many
Middle East & Africa
Aug 1st 2020 edition

Aug 1st 2020
AZAZ HAS experienced quite the turnaround. The city in northern Syria was once controlled by Islamic State (IS), which continued to terrorise it even after leaving in 2014. That is when other jihadists and rebels swooped in. Today, though, Turkey is calling the shots. It keeps the lights on and supplies the local shops. The list of Turkish projects under construction ranges from schools and universities to hospitals and roads. “The infrastructure is better than before the revolution,” says an architect who is building new housing as part of another Turkish project.

Turkey is expanding its footprint across the Arab world, using force more than diplomacy. In the past year it has occupied north-eastern Syria, punched deep into Iraq and intervened in Libya's civil war. Its military spending has increased by nearly half since 2016.....(rest behind registration wall, HC)


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Posted for fair use.....

Egypt sends troops to Idlib as Egypt-Turkey tensions over Libya escalate - AA

  • Jul 30 2020 05:52 Gmt+3
  • Last Updated On: Jul 31 2020 11:05 Gmt+3

Egypt has sent soldiers to Syria’s northwestern Aleppo province, near Idlib, in coordination with Iran, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday, citing military sources.
Some 150 Egyptian soldiers with light weapons have arrived in Aleppo’s rural areas, and some have been deployed in the city of Saraqib to the south of Idlib, it said.

“If this is true, it means that Egypt has started military stockpiling in Idlib,” security expert Metin Gürcan said in a tweet. “As tensions with Egypt in Libya escalate, the conflict gets closer to our border.”

Turkey increased the number of observation points in the rebel-held province to 38, following the death of more than 30 soldiers in a Russia-backed Syrian government offensive in February. Since then, it has deployed air defence systems in Idlib as it continued to increase its military presence in the province.

Egypt and Turkey are backing opposing sides in the ongoing conflict in Libya, with Egypt on the side of Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army, along with France, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Turkey supports Fayez al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord, recognized by the United Nations, and the military officers, weapons and ammunitions it has sent has helped Sarraj turn the tide in his favour.

Egyptian and Turkish intelligence services have intensified their activities in Libya, as Cairo says it is aware of the smallest details in Libya, and Ankara likening its efforts in the country to counter-insurgency measures in the Ottoman Empire.
that is just crazy


Has No Life - Lives on TB
AUGUST 1, 2020 / 4:31 AM / UPDATED 16 HOURS AGO
UAE official tells Turkey to stop meddling in Arab affairs over Libya


DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs said on Saturday that Turkey should stop interfering in Arab affairs, criticising comments on Libya made by Turkey’s defence minister.
Turkish media had reported the Turkish minister making remarks critical of the UAE’s actions over Libya.
The UAE, alongside Egypt and Russia, backs eastern Libya commander Khalifa Haftar, whose fighters have been battling the forces of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. Turkey has stepped up support for the Tripoli government.
“Relations are not managed by threats and there is no place for colonialist delusions in this day and age,” Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter


Has No Life - Lives on TB
UAE becomes first Arab nation to open a nuclear power plant
The new nuclear facility is the first of several prospective Middle East nuclear plants.
The new nuclear facility is the first of several prospective Middle East nuclear plants.PHOTO: AFP/BARAKAH NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

DUBAI (NYTIMES) - The United Arab Emirates became the first Arab country to open a nuclear power plant Saturday (Aug 1), raising concerns about the long-term consequences of introducing more nuclear programmes to the Middle East.
Two other countries in the region - Israel and Iran - already have nuclear capabilities. Israel has an unacknowledged nuclear weapons arsenal and Iran has a controversial uranium enrichment programme that it insists is solely for peaceful purposes.
The UAE, a tiny nation that has become a regional heavyweight and international business centre, said it built the plant to decrease its reliance on the oil that has powered and enriched the country and its Gulf neighbours for decades.


passin' thru

The Cavell Group


Libya: Some possible suspicions around this fire as no official cause confirmed yet. Misrata used for a few VIP type flights and flying Contract Fighters in on passenger aircraft via Turkey. Aircraft in and out most days. No airstrikes/shelling reported. But arson or IED?

Libya: Misrata still operational after tonight’s fire as another (now mostly daily) Libyan Wings Passenger A319 approaches from Istanbul. Flights are mostly moving Contracted Fighters (Mercenaries) Special Advisers, etc.


Veteran Member

250 German navy soldiers join EU mission to enforce Libya arms embargo
August 04, 2020 18:01 ARAB NEWS

CAIRO: A German navy frigate carrying 250 soldiers headed to the Mediterranean on Tuesday to join an EU mission aimed at enforcing a UN arms embargo on Libya.

The frigate left from the port of Wilhelmshaven to start a five-month mission tasked with preventing the flow of weapons into war-torn Libya.

The EU mission Operation Irini, launched in May, was hampered by escalating fighting across the country, which saw Turkey intervene in recent months.

The mission aims to enforce the embargo, collect data on Libya’s illegal oil exports as well as its migrant smuggling crisis.
The crew members are set to return on Dec. 20, DPA, an international German news agency reported. They may not land until the mentioned date due to coronavirus fears, the report added.

Turkey has been accused of exacerbating the war in Libya, providing drones, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help Libya’s government based in the capital, Tripoli.

That administration, which is backed by an array of militias, has been fighting the forces of commander Khalifa Haftar, who is loyal to a rival administration in the east of the country.

Libya has been torn by violence since long-time ruler Muammar Qaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.


Veteran Member

Haftar: We will not accept a second Turkish invasion of Libya

August 4, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Published in: Africa, Europe & Russia, Libya, News, Turkey

Retired Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar attacked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and accused him of leading a colonial project based on pillaging, murder and hunger.

In a speech published on Facebook yesterday, Haftar said: “We do not accept a backward Turk to rule us again, we do not like to see a Turk walking on his feet in front of our heroes.”

Haftar stressed during his speech, in which he sought to raise the morale of his fighters after the defeats they suffered in the west of the country, that they should not show mercy with those he described as the aggressors “because they do not deserve mercy”.

Haftar said in another speech on Saturday that Turks stayed in Libya for 300 years, during which Libyans suffered from killing and looting, adding that Libyans will not do accept colonialism again.

Haftar said that his forces included a large number of fighters from the Salafi movement, describing them as patriots, and urging them to resist what he described as a new Turkish invasion of Libya.

Last Sunday, Turkish President Erdogan confirmed that the information and operational support provided by the Turkish intelligence service in Libya has changed the rules of the game and contributed to stopping the progress of Haftar’s forces, according to Al Jazeera.

Erdogan threatened, at the beginning of the year, that he would teach Haftar and his allies “the lesson they deserve” if he resumed his attacks against the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.


passin' thru



Update Libya: Columns of fighters loyal to Libya’s United Nations-backed government, advised by Turkish military officers, are poised west of Sirte on the Mediterranean Sea coast, ready for battle. -WSJ


In and around the city, about 2,000 Russian military contractors with armored vehicles and Syrian militiamen have moved into position to shore up the defenses of the LNA. -WSJ