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Showing posts from April, 2016

Rival eastern oil company in Libya tries to ship oil illegally

The Al-Thinni government of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) is planning to export 650,000 barrels of crude that were pumped from the Messia and Sarir oil fields at Hariga port in Tobruk.
According to Omran al-Zwaiof the Arabian Gulf Oil Co. tanker Distya Ameya is due to sail on April 25 to Malta. The cargo was sold to DSA Consultancy FZC, a company that is based in the United Arab Emirtates (UAE) according Nagi Elmagrabi, who heads the breakaway National Oil Company in the east. The internationally recognized National Oil Company is based in Tripoli and is cooperating with the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA). International traders such as Glencore deal with it. Three of the main oil ports in the east are guarded by the Petroleum Forces Guard led by Ibrahim Jodhran. He supports the GNA and would export through the Tripoli-based NOC. He does not control the Hariga port however. General Haftar the commander in chief of the Libyan National Army of the Al-Th…

Libyan General Haftar receives large shipment of vehicles and ammunition

Authorities said to be loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) have received a large shipment of vehicles, armored vehicles and ammunition according to security sources at Tobruk port.
According to the Libya Observer, sources said the shipment was aboard a Saudi steamship and came from countries that are Haftar allies, and that also support his Operation Dignity against Islamists including those that were allies with the former Salvation government and General National Council (GNC). The shipment was said to have been taken to a supply camp in southern Tobruk. The UN Security Council unanimously approved in March a resolution extending the arms embargo on Libya originally imposed back in 2011. The embargo appears to be regularly broken with no penalties. As well as arms coming to Libya in this manner, no doubt others come with the Special Forces from several countries such as the UK, US, France, Italy and Jordan who are already operating i…

GNA State Council takes over headquarters and offices of rival General National Assembly

Abdulrahman Sewehli, president of the State Council of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA), has taken over control of the Rixos Hotel complex including the conference hall used by the General National Congress (GNC).
He also took control of buildings across the street that were used as accommodation and offfices by the president of the GNC, Nuri Abusahmain. The takeover shows the power of the GNC and the associated Salvation Government has been reduced to almost nothing. The State Councilhad metin Tripoli in early April, declaring itself the GNC. After passing a resolution in support of the GNA and amending the constitutional declaration of 2011, it dissolved the GNC supposedly and then met as the State Council. Sewehli was elected president. The president of the GNC was not present. The actual GNC met later at its headquarters and denounced the rival meeting. However, it appears that the GNC might as well have been actually dissolved since it appears to have no power …

Haftar planes continue to attack Derna after Islamic State retreats

After the Islamic State retreated from the outskirts of Derna, warplanes of Khalifa Haftar's air force are still carrying out strikes on the city.
The Libya Observer reports that three have been killed and others injured as the planes hit civilian targets according to a source within the city. Two airstrikes were conducted on Saturday, one hitting a brick factory and a second the southern entrance to the city. On Friday warplanes carried out a total of eight airstrikes on different locations occupied by revolutionaries. Derna is ruled by the Shura Council of Derna Jihadists.The group is largely responsible for driving the Islamic State out of Derna although the LNA did engage against the IS before they retreated. Pro-LNA and Haftar sources, often repeated by mainstream media, attribute the success to the LNA. There is no mention of the fact that the revolutionaries drove out IS from most of the city ages ago. The problem for western media is that the Council includes members asso…

US lawmakers angry that information on how much surveillance data on Americans is collected not being released

A group of lawmakers from both parties are unhappy that they are being asked to reauthorize two key surveillance programs without the Obama executive branch answering how much data is being gathered on innocent Americans.
The two programs authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, arePRISMandUpstream. Prism is described byWikipediaas follows: PRISM is a clandestine[1] surveillance program under which the United States National Security Agency (NSA) collects internet communications from at least nine major US internet companies.[2][3][4] Since 2001 the United States government has increased its scope for such surveillance, and so this program was launched in 2007. The major companies include Facebook, Yahoo, and Skype. Upstream collection involves four different surveillance programs: In a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order from October 3, 2011, it's said that the Upstream collection accounts for approximately 9% of the total number of …

UN's Martin Kobler praises the work of the Constitutional Drafting Committee in Libya

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Martin Kobler has issued a press release welcoming the progress made on the latest draft constitution agreed upon in a meeting in Bayda on April 19.
The Constitution Drafting Assembly(CDA) met in Bayda after previous meetings in Oman. Koblersaid: “I applaud the diligent effort, courage and commitment of all members of the Constitution Drafting Assembly in trying to forge agreement on a draft constitution that can serve as the basis moving Libya beyond the transition period, and building a new modern Libyan state, anchored in the principles of democracy and separation of powers, rule of law, and respect for human rights, including equality for all, and guaranteeing the rights of women and all components of the Libyan national identity." He encouraged all the members of the Assembly, including those not participating in the meetings over the last few months, to work together to uphold "the higher national interest of Libya.&q…

Obama says that the U.S. will be in Iraq for a long haul

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At a press conference during his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will continue its presence in Iraq over the longer term. He cited the country's political instability as showing that the U.S. needs to remain involved.
The U.S. has been increasing its military involvement in Iraq for some time, with 200 more troops sent recently.The number of U.S. troops in Iraq is now more than the cap imposed by the Iraqi government. The political situation in Iraq is chaotic. Prime Minister Hader Abadi has been trying to have a reform cabinet of technocrats approved. The Shia mullah Moqtada al-Sadr has led huge demonstrations demanding reform. There have been fist-fights on the floor of the parliament. The speaker was sacked. The parliament has been suspended until further notice. In an attempt to force the parliament to act quickly, Obama said that increased funding for Iraq would be based on the ability of the government to get a cabinet in place. Obama said he was …

New battery can be charged more than 200,000 times with no loss of power

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Researchers at the University of California Irvine have developed a nanowire-based battery material that can recharged several hundred thousand times without breakdown or loss of energy.
Nanotechnologyis described as follows: Nanotechnology ("nanotech") is manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale.The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology[1][2] referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology.The field may result in many new materials that can be used in such new areas as nanomedicine, nanoelectronics, as well as energy production, and consumer products. Some analysts worry about the toxicity of new nanomaterials and their possible effects on the environment. A nanometer is a metric measure, one billionth of a meter. A nanowire is thousands of times thinner than a human hair. It is highly conductive of …

Alleged majority of HoR meet and issue a statement supporting the GNA but with conditions

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The Libya Herald reports that a majority of the members of the HoR met in a hotel separately from the regular HoR meeting rooms. In a statement the group said it supports the UN-brokered Government of National Accord. + Add ImageHowever, it also said it wants Article 8 deleted. Actually as I have pointed out there are two articles numbered 8. One is in the main text of the Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, on December 17. The other is in the additional provisions. The text of the Skhirat agreement is available in Engllshhere.I have talked about the two sections many times including here.TheLibya Herald reports the HoR members as wanting section 8 in the additional provisions deleted:  However, they also said they wanted the controversial Article No. 8 of the LPA’s additional provisions to be deleted. Under it, the Presidency Council is supposed to appoint or reappoint heads of major military, security and civilian posts within 20 days of the LPA being signed. Many …

U.S. bill to allow Saudis to be sued meets resistance

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The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act introduced in the U.S. Senate would allow the possibility of lawsuits against any foreign nations found to be involved in funding a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Thetext of the actexplicitly mentioned the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The bill appears to target Saudi Arabia in particular, a feature that has angered the Saudis. Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Jubeir is said to have told the U.S. administration that if the bill was passed, Saudi Arabia would immediately sell $750 billion in US treasuries. This could cause interest rates to spike, damaging the US dollar and the U.S.economy. Almost immediately, the White House was threatening to veto the bill and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina a co-sponsor of the bi-partisan bill put a hold on the bill saying that it could come back to bite us. The president arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday April 20 for a meeting with King Salman and officials. The State Department and the Whi…

Septuagenarian able to disrupt meetings of the Libyan House of Representatives

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Locals talk of Faraj Al-Obaidi, in his seventies, as the unelected member of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. He can roam at will in the parliament halls without any restrictions.
Al-Obaidi claims that the Dar Al-Salam Hotel, which is used as the meeting place for the HoR, is his, since it was built on his land. Al-Obaidi is known as one of the senior elders in the eastern area of Libya known as Cyrenaica. He appears able to disrupt meetings at any time, but members welcome him because of his influence and followers in Tobruk. Al-Obaidi is a strong supporter of General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA). He has often interfered in meetings as can be seen on this video, from November 2015. This was a debate on signing the draft of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) which would eventually be signed on December 17th as the Skhirat agreement. The HoR did not sign it. Faraj threatened to gun down MP's if they signed the agreement. Other Tobruk elder…

Islamic State forces driven from their positions on the outskirts of city of Derna

Quite different accounts are emerging of recent fighting on the outskirts of Derna. According to the Libya Observer, fighters from the Shura Council drove the Islamic State fighters out of their base in the nearby Fatayah mountains.
Media reports claim the militants retreated under heavy fire from the fighters with many being killed. TheShura forces were hunting down any remaining Islamic State fighters in the area. The Senior commander of the Derna Shura Council forces, Mohammed Dango claimed that the entire Fatayah region was under their full control. Derna has long been under the control of the council with the Islamic State still on the outskirts and nearby mountain areas. There is no mention of the Libyan National Army (LNA) that was also attacking the Islamic State in the area. The Libya Herald gives a quite different account. It reports that the LNA has finally cleared the Islamic State out of the Derna area. Abdulkarim Sabra, spokesperson for the LNA Operations Room covering t…

United States to send more troops to Iraq

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- The United States is to send more troops to Iraq. The troops will be put closer to the front lines of the battle against the Islamic State.
Most of the troops will serve as advisers for Iraqi forces who are advancing towards Mosul, the main city in Iraq still held by the Islamic State. In an interview with CBS news U.S. president Barack Obama said: "As we see the Iraqis willing to fight and gaining ground, let's make sure that we are providing them more support, My expectation is that by the end of the year, we will have created the conditions whereby Mosul will eventually fall." Earlier, Obama had been saying that Mosul would fall this year. The advisers will be accompanying Iraqi units of about 2,500 troops moving closer to the front lines of the battle for Mosul. Until now the advisers have been with larger units far behind the lines The move could leave U.S. advisers more vulnerable to enemy mortar and artillery fire. Without mentioning the increased danger of casu…

Libyan Air Force chief criticizes Defence-Minister designate of Government of National Accord

The chief of the Libyan Air Force, Saqir Al-Jroushi, claims that the Defence Minister-designate of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) could be arrested after visiting foreigners in Tunisia without permission of his commander-in-chief.
Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi, is the Defence Minister-designate. Although he is involved with Haftar's Operation Dignity designed to rid Libya of Islamists including those who supported the rival General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli, he is not liked by General Khalifa Haftar, the commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA). BothHaftar and Al-Jroushi were named to be subject to EU sanctions last July but there was no action taken even though both reject the GNA. At the same time, Abdulrahman Suweihli, a Misrata businessman, was also to be sanctioned. Now, he heads the State Council, but since he supports the GNA now he need not worry about sanctions. Apparently, Haftar and Al-Jroushi need not worry either since they have too m…

U.S. may change plans about cutting troop strength in Afghanistan

Commander of the US forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson claims there is a shift in the relationship of the Taliban to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He claims this is complicating anti-terrorism efforts.
Nicholson claims the closer relationship has developed since the death of the former Taliban leader Mohammad Omar, who was replaced by Mullah Akhtar Mansour. Nicholson says that Mansour cultivated the closer relationship as a means of winning support in a leadership battle. This development could influence plans to cut US troops in Afghanistan. The presence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has all along been the reason for U.S. and NATO forces to go into Afghanistan in the first place even though for some while the numbers of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan were not large. A perceived resurgence of the group could be a justification for the U.S. not cutting their forces or even increasing them even though the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan is supposedly ended. Nicholson said: "You see a mor…

Pastafarianism wedding takes place in New Zealand

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The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster otherwise known as Pastafarianism.
The FSM was first described in a letter by Bobby Henderson in 2005 written to protest the decisionof the Kansas State Board of Education to allow the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school classes:  In that letter, Henderson satirized creationism by professing his belief that whenever a scientist carbon-dates an object, a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs is there "changing the results with His Noodly Appendage." Henderson argued that his beliefs were just as valid as intelligent design, and called for equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution.[11] After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public sch…