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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Tripoli’

Battle Ends Between ISIS-linked Fighters and Lebanese Army in Tripoli

Monday, October 27th, 2014

After two days of heavy gunfire, the streets are now silent in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city.

Lebanon’s army and Islamist fighters linked to Syrian rebels, the Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front), Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror groups have ceased fighting.

But not until after they had claimed the lives of 11 soldiers and eight civilians.

The two-day battle was the worst Syrian-linked violence in Lebanon since the summer, when Islamist fighters linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, and Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) invaded the Lebanese border town of Arsal.

The Syrian “rebels” – actually foreign terrorists, for the most part – took 20 Lebanese soldiers captive in that raid. Three have since been executed.

The mostly Sunni Muslim city has seen numerous battles – overflow from the civil war raging in Syria – over the past three-plus years.

Israel has seen overflow from that war as well, with some of the shelling and missile fire directed into the Golan Heights. Occasionally it becomes unclear who is firing what at whom; on those occasions, the IDF fires back at the source, and the silence on Israel’s northern border returns.

Due to the sectarian nature of the Middle East, Lebanon has had its share of instability. Sunni Muslims have for the most part lined up behind the Syrian rebels, who are themselves a divided group, some having broken away to become jihadists and others having remained moderate.

Shi’ite Lebanese have supported the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, along with the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Both are generously patronized by Iran. Russia has also been an eager participant, supporting Assad with weapons as well.

Since February, Lebanon has been a country without a president. That is when the term of former President Michel Suleiman expired – and none has been elected to take his place.

For now, the army has managed to clear nearly all the positions held by the Islamist gunmen, according to Sunni politician Samir Jisr, who spoke with international media. Almost. There are still a few positions left to clear around the city.

Lebanon Army and ISIS Battle it Out in Tripoli

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

At least 14 people have been killed in Tripoli, Lebanon, in multiple battles between the Lebanese Army and Islamic troops on Saturday, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star.

The dead include civilians, army, and ISIS-affiliated terrorists.

Libyan Parliament Attacked in Islamist Purge Attempt

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Ever since the 2011 ouster of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadaffi, competing factions have been engaged in efforts on the one hand to turn Libya into an Islamist stronghold, and on the other, to shepherd Libya towards democracy.

What started with high hopes for real democracy following decades of absolute dictatorship has now sputtered out into infighting, violence, political stagnation and economic downturn.

On Sunday, May 18, a military-style attack on the Libyan government’s General National Congress building was waged reportedly by retired Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, who has been attempting to eliminate control over sections of the state by Islamist terrorist groups such as Ansar al-Sharia.

Reuters is reporting an attack was waged on Friday in Benghazi to dampen Islamists control over the city, an assault that included military helicopters and was described by opponents as a coup attempt by Haftar. His followers call themselves the National Army. Friday’s attack left 75 dead and 140 wounded.

Lawmaker Omar Bushah told Reuters that gunmen stormed into the General National Congress building, raiding lawmakers’ offices and setting the building on fire.

There were local reports that seven lawmakers had been captured, but other reports denied anyone had been in the building when the assault began.

Following Friday’s assault, Libyan authorities imposed a “no-fly” zone over Benghazi. But the disorganized regular army is in no position to control the many independent, well-armed groups.

The removal of Gaddafi augered a new beginning for Libya, but the rebel groups formed to help with his ouster have been dissatisfied with their access to oil wealth and control.  At the same time, Islamist groups unleashed in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings are firmly devoted to creating a theocratic, hardline Islamist state.

Severe birth pains have accompanied Libya’s lurch towards democracy. It is now on its third prime minister since March, the parliament is unable to gain consensus and the new constitution is yet to be written.

Not only is Libya burdened by warring factions, easily toppled leaders and outright violence, but the oil-rich nation’s economic lifeline has been in free fall. Libya had been producing 1.4 million barrels of oil per day. It is now down to producing only 200,000 barrels per day.

US to Question Al Qaeda Suspect Terrorist on Ship in Mediterranean

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

American authorities said Monday they will question an Al Qaeda terrorist,  re-captured in Tripoli over the weekend, while he is on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea and without reading him his rights, making it impossible to use the information at a trial.

If the terrorist, Abu Anas al-Libi, reveals the same information after later hearing his rights when questioned again in the United States, the information can be used at his trial, NBC reported.

Interrogators from the CIA, the FBI and Navy officers aboard the USS San Antonio will question al-Libi to learn more about Al Qaeda activities both inside Libya and elsewhere.

Al-Libi has been in custody before for bombing attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Libya 15 years ago. Two other terrorists are at large for the attack, while eight others, including Osama bin Laden, have been killed. Nine are in custody and one has died while awaiting trial.

 

Al Qaeda Blames Hezbollah for Tripoli Blasts

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Al Qaeda North Africa issued a statement accusing Hezbollah of responsibility for the blast yesterday in Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, Kol Israel reported.

“We are convinced that the hands of the despicable organization supporting the president of Syria have done this loathsome deed,” said the Al Qaeda statement. The organization promised revenge against Hezbollah, in the name of the Sunnis.

At least 45 people were killed and about 500 others wounded in the two blasts that rocked the northern city of Tripoli. Reports say a car packed with an estimated 400 lbs. of explosives hit the al-Salam mosque.

According to An Nahar, the car used in the blast near al-Salam mosque was a Ford jeep rigged. Military experts are still identifying the car used in the second explosion, which targeted the Taqwa mosque in Tripoli.

A Reuters reporter at the scene said the blast left a huge crater and the floors of the mosque were covered in blood. A 160-foot stretch of the road was charred black and the twisted remains of cars littered the area.

“We were just bowing down to pray for the second time and the bomb went off. The air cleared, and I looked around me and saw bodies,” an eyewitness told Reuters.

Witnesses told the newspaper As Safir that they saw a person parking a Honda Civic near al-Salam mosque and leaving the car to take another, minutes before the blast took place.

The two explosions caused extensive material damage in the two areas.

Both blasts hit at the hour of weekly Muslim prayers, in a city where Sunni supporters of Syria’s rebels engage in frequent, often deadly, clashes with Alawites, who back President Bashar Assad regime.

The Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported that the preliminary investigation at al-Salam blast scene showed that the bomb contained TNT and nitrate.

According to the newspaper, the two booby-trapped cars were probably rigged with timers and were detonated from a distance while worshipers were engaged in their Friday prayers.

Security agencies weren’t able to thoroughly examine the scene of the second blast that took place near the Taqwa mosque due to the angry residents that prevented them from carrying out their tasks.

The state-run news agency reported that the death toll in the two explosions has reached 45 and that 160 are in critical condition.

It was the highest toll in an attack since Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, and it brought condemnation from Western powers, the United Nations and Syria.

Coming a week after a bombing in the Beirut bastion of Hezbollah, a close ally of President Bashar Assad, the Tripoli explosions are likely to help spread the Syrian civil war into Lebanon.

Lebanon’s president Michel Suleiman called on the people to stay united and to cooperate with the security bodies, and to report any suspicious activities that might threaten public safety.

The U.S. State Dept. issued the following statement following the blasts:

The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist bombings at the al-Taqwa and al-Danawi mosques in Tripoli, as we do all violence in Lebanon. We extend our deepest sympathies for those killed and concern for those wounded in today’s attack.

The United States urge all parties to exercise calm and restraint and to desist from actions that could contribute to an escalating cycle of retribution and violence. We reaffirm our firm commitment to a stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon and support the Lebanese government’s efforts to restore stability and security in the country.

Anti-Hezbollah Force Kills 4 Lebanese Soldiers in Coastal City

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

The Syrian civil war continued to spill over inside Lebanon Sunday when Hezbollah forces killed at least four Lebanese soldiers and two others after an attack on a military checkpoint near Sidon by Salafist anti-Hezbollah forces loyal to Sheikh Ahmed Assir.

Assir’s fighters used RPGs and set on fire at least one armored personnel carrier, according to the Beirut Daily Star.

Assir has urged Sunni members of the army to desert. He said in his weekly sermon Friday, “The Army, especially Sunni personnel and officers, should not carry out any mission which harms their Sunni brothers in Lebanon and for which they would be held accountable on the Day of Judgment.”

Sunday’s battle took place after the arrest of one of Assir’s followers, a day after the sheikh agreed to a two-month truce in exchange for the release by police of three followers.

In Tripoli, south of Sidon, clashes have escalated between Sunni Muslim and pro-Syrian and Hezbollah fighters.

Pulling Out of Benghazi: These Colors Run Scared

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Remember the slogan “These colors don’t run,” captioning the American flag?

Neither does al Qaeda.

Why should they?  They’ve just won.  They have forced us out of Benghazi.  It did take multiple attacks over several months, and the gruesome torture and murder of our ambassador, to edge us out.  But the job is done now.  We’re running scared.

Instead of sticking with our commitment to a new Libya, one in which Americans have friendship and influence – one in which we can walk free, and so can Libyans – we have closed our post in Benghazi and drawn down our embassy staff in Tripoli to “essential” personnel only.  It will be of some interest to see how long it takes al Qaeda or other terrorist savages to attack us in Tripoli.

Congressman Darrell Issa revealed yesterday, in a letter to Hillary Clinton, that U.S. officials said they had asked earlier this year for more security protection at the U.S mission posts in Libya – and been denied.

This data point isn’t really a bombshell, so much as a confirmation of the theory that the Obama administration wanted to avoid putting too much obtrusive U.S. security into Libya.  Fans of Dinesh D’Souza’s theory about Obama and anti-colonialism would attribute such a determination to the theory’s implications (e.g., about the offensiveness of the “West” in the former-colonial world).  And for those who dislike the D’Souza theory, or at least consider it overreaching or irrelevant, the question is:  what theory about Obama and his advisors does explain the decision not to adequately protect a US diplomatic mission?  What could motivate a president and his staff to dismiss the security concerns expressed by the president’s own representatives in Libya?

It’s worth pointing out that Obama’s entire approach to Libya has guaranteed that the country will not unify quickly around a strong, America-friendly central government.  “Leading from behind” gave terrorists months to gather in war-torn Libya in 2011; refraining from wielding US influence has left them plenty of latitude on Libyan soil in 2012.  The Islamist terrorists have no reason to respect America or be wary of what we might do, because under Obama, we don’t do anything.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  We do encourage the arming of poorly vetted militant groups, as we have done in Libya and Syria.  Every now and then we make a Delphic pronouncement about a regional development – Egypt, Libya, Syria – taking care not to seem to have any particular outcome or alternative in mind.  However the American audience sees these activities, regional jihadists see them as signs of detachment, cynicism, and weakness.

In this context, a conscious policy of poor security at a diplomatic post appears more than self-effacing.  It is self-abnegating.  It’s like wearing a “Hit me!” sign.

We’ve had embassies hit before, embassies that weren’t necessarily wearing “Hit me!” signs.  The U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 come to mind, and of course the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979.  (Others will remember Saigon in 1975 as well.)  We didn’t withdraw from our posts in Kenya and Tanzania.  We showed determination, we rebuilt, we were back in force with even better security.

We did withdraw from Iran, with which we have not had diplomatic relations for 33 years.  In the wake of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983 – mounted by Hezbollah, the Iran-sponsored terror group – we pulled our Marines out of Lebanon.  This latter case is similar to the Benghazi withdrawal, because the U.S. Marines in Lebanon were assigned an unexecutable mission with rules of engagement that made them sitting ducks.  But it is also different from the current Libyan situation, in that there was no valid reason for us to have Marines in Lebanon in 1983, whereas sound policy in 2012 would indeed have the United States robustly and sustainably represented – diplomatically, and with good security – in Libya.

As we learned with Iran, losing an ally is likely to mean having to amp up our regional military posture.   We met the challenge of revolutionary Iran with a dramatic expansion of U.S. military presence in and around the Persian Gulf.  The military option is always more expensive, but our security demands it, now interlinked as it is with the dynamics of even distant regional situations.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/pulling-out-of-benghazi-these-colors-run-scared/2012/10/05/

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