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article imageGeneral Haftar launches new attacks on Islamist militias in Libya

By Ken Hanly     Jun 16, 2014 in World
Benghazi - The CIA-linked rebel Retired General Khalifa Haftar is continuing his Operation Dignity ostensibly designed to rid Libya of jihadist militias but which also involved an attack on the Libyan parliament.
General Khalifa Haftar has launched a new offensive against Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi. Reuters reports up to 12 people killed. Many residents in areas where there were clashes fled their homes to stay with relatives or friends in other parts of Benghazi.The fighting has also disrupted power supplies when a rocket hit a power station:
"The clashes in Benghazi have caused a big lack of power in the east of Libya," said Lutfi Ghuma, spokesman for Libya's state electricity company. "The circuits ... of the Benghazi North Power Station have been damaged because of the shelling, causing power cuts in most of the eastern cities of Libya and some other western areas."
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 25. In many areas the security situation may make voting problematic. Turkey has temporarily pulled out its diplomatic staff from Benghazi. The UN has urged Libya to hold the elections:UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged Libya to stick to its plan to hold parliamentary elections on June 25 and defended the United Nations’ goal of organizing a meeting to promote reconciliation among the North African country’s competing factions. “The secretary general continues to follow closely the situation in Libya and stresses the importance of the peaceful and timely holding of elections on 25 June,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. “He also commends UNSMIL’s (UN Support Mission in Libya) work in the areas of good offices and facilitation of dialogue, which it carries out with impartiality and openness to all national parties concerned".
Originally the Libyan government claimed Haftar had no authority for his actions and that he was attempting a coup. However, recently the Constitutional Court declared that the election of Ahmed Maiteeq an opponent of Haftar as new prime minister was illegal and that the caretaker prime minister Al Thani is still in power. Al Thani appears to give at least tacit support for Haftar's actions and he had talks with his military supporters in Benghazi together with some of his cabinet. Maiteeq accepted the decision of the court so there is just one government now.
The Libyan state news agency LANA reported 12 killed and 16 wounded in clashes. Hospital workers told Reuters that at least five soldiers and three civilians were killed and 18 wounded. Some analysts speculate that Haftar has the support of Egypt and of the UAE who are worried about Islamist militants in Libya. However a main target of Haftar is also the Muslim Brotherhood which is why Haftar has praised Egyptian president and former army chief al-SIsi as the right man for the job. Haftar said that the Muslim Brotherhood was an international spy network. He also accused Qatar of supporting Libyan militias. Qatar's support of the Muslim Brotherhood has prompted Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain all to withdraw their ambassadors.
More about Khalifa Hifter, Operation Dignity, islamist militias, Khalifa Haftar
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