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article imageOp-Ed: Egyptian planes reportedly bomb Islamists in Benghazi

By Ken Hanly     Oct 16, 2014 in World
Benghazi - According to some reports, Egyptian warplanes are bombing Islamist positions in the eastern city of Benghazi that is under the control of an umbrella group of Islamist militias. CIA-linked General Haftar sill controls the airport on the outskirts.
Egyptian warplanes bombed Islamist militia positions in Benghazi as part of an operation to oust Islamists who have now had control of the city for months according to this source. The source also claims the Egyptian army supported the assault by retired general Khalifa Haftar. The support probably is just from the section of the army that is loyal to Haftar. Haftar is a retired general. He calls his militia the new Libyan Army. The article claims that Egypt was leading the operation. The action will in time also involve Libyan ground troops trained by Egyptian forces.
Twelve people were reported killed and 10 others injured. Haftar's forces claim to have captured the headquarters of the "February 17 Martyrs Brigade" after a battle lasting several hours. Haftar said on Tuesday that he was ready to "liberate the city." The ongoing battle between Haftar and Islamist militias started with Operation Dignity on May 16th of this year, when Haftar attacked two Islamist militia bases in Benghzai. His allies from the Zintan brigades subsequently attacked the elected parliament, burned it, and kidnapped a number of Islamist legislators and officials. However, since then counter-attacks by mostly Islamist militia have driven Haftar and his allies the Zintan brigades out of Tripoli, and the Libyan Special Forces out of Benghazi. There were a number of mysterious night bombing raids by unidentified aircraft during the Islamist takeover of Tripoli. The rebels and at first the US identified the planes as being from the UAE but using Egypt as a base. Both countries deny this and the US later took back its accusation. The US said at the time it had not been notified of the operation. This seems unlikely.
A meeting in Madrid called on foreign nations not to intervene in the conflict: Libya's struggling elected government and representatives of 15 neighbouring nations have unanimously rejected the idea of military intervention as a way to restore stability in the oil-rich North African nation, which some say is on the brink of civil war. It seems clear that Egypt is intervening on the side of Haftar. Egypt is anxious to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamists in Libya. The US, at least in private, will applaud attacks on groups such as Ansar al Shariah in Benghazi who are alleged to have been behind the US embassy attack that killed the US ambassador. So far the US appears to be studiously ignoring events in Libya as much as possible. They do not want to call attention to the fact that Haftar could very well be their CIA operative in Libya.
According to Al-Arabiya Haftar's forces have taken over a major military camp of the Ansar al-Shariah group. The same source reports that Egypt has denied that its air force has taken part in the attacks. The head of Libya's air force, Saqr al-Jaroushi claimed: “Egypt and its leadership respect Libya’s airspace and its borders and never breached it.”
One source also claimed that the operation had been requested by the internationally recognized administration in Tobruk. However, this is the group that has been demanding that the militias stop fighting. Haftar and his allies are militia fighting with the Islamist militia. Now this report claims that Haftar's Operation Dignity is a campaign of the Libyan army and sanctioned by the government. The former government had termed Operation Dignity a coup attempt and ordered the arrest of Haftar.
The UN is running around trying to get political representatives from the Tobruk government and Islamists who have boycotted the parliament to talk to each and come up with a political solution. Neither the Islamist militias nor Haftar's forces are paying any attention. Haftar seems to have the Tobruk government under his control. It appears they have dignified Operation Dignity with their stamp of approval. After all, they do not want the luxury hotel and Greek ferry where they carry on their business attacked, and burned, and some of them kidnapped as happened to the last parliament.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz also reported on Egyptian involvement in the attacks. The paper claims that two Egyptian officials told the Associated Press that the aircraft were part of an Egyptian-led operation against the Islamists in Benghazi. Tareq al-Jorushi a member of the Libyan House of Representatives in Tobruk confirmed that they were Egyptian planes but flown by Libyan pilots.
Even though Haftar still does not control Tripoli or Benghazi he has come a long way since he first declared on TV that he had suspended parliament the General National Congress, the government, and the Constitutional Declaration. At the time, the Defence Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni said that there was a warrant out for Haftar's arrest on the ground of plotting a coup d'etat. Haftar was never arrested but was not able to suspend the parliament or take over Tripoli either. Al-Thinni is now the prime minister of the Tobruk government. No doubt he is just about ready to arrest Haftar. In the near future, you can expect the term "renegade" to quietly disappear from most journalistic accounts that talk about the renegade general Haftar.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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