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Tribal gathering in Benghazi affirms support for Haftar

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Recent violences in the Oil Crescent against LNA (Libyan National Army) and Haftar’s forces from BDB (BengazhiDefence Brigade) have pushed a lot of tribes, especially from the East to sustain LNA. These tribes, have also condemned the common call of UK, US and France to stop hostilities, wich is “suspicious and inaceptable”. For Egypt, is annoyed of the fact that Haftar has refuted to meet his Tripolis’ counterpart last month. The BDB, for his own, argues that LNA has forced 300,000 peoples to flee Bengazhi three years ago.

LNA said to have 5,000 troops at Brega, in preparation for a second counterattack on the RasLanuf and Sidra

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The Libyan National Army is said to have massed 5,000 troops with tanks and artillery in the  Brega area in preparation for a second counterattack on the RasLanuf and Sidra export terminals lost to Benghazi Defence Brigades-led forces on Friday and Saturday. There are reports that armed forces commander-in-chief KhalifaHafter made a brief visit to Cairo today. It is not known whom he met. Air force commander SaqrGeroushi who is believed to have suffered a heart attack  yesterday is understood to have been flown to Cairo for treatment. The concentration of LNA units came as the air force continued air strikes against BDB positions in and around  RasLanuf and Sidra. Meanwhile eight solders are reported to have been killed in a battle at Al-Uqaylah, the small town to which the LNA retreated after being pushed out of the two oil ports.  Casualties among the BDB and their supporting forces are not known.  LNA spokesmen Colonel Ahmed Mismari maintained that casualties had been high and that the BDB had been commandeering ambulances to ferry their dead and wounded away to the west. Despite or perhaps because of the urgent call on men and equipment to the west, LNA commanders appeared to have stepped up their operation to take the last parts of the 12 Apartment complex in Ganfouda, a battle which has now lasted over five weeks.  It is claimed that an ammunition store was discovered today in one of the buildings.  At the same time there has been shelling of Sabri, the downtown Benghazi  militant stronghold which was also strafed by at least one helicopter gunship. UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler has  today warned that the escalating battle in the Oil Crescent could ignite a wider conflict.

Libya's civil war: Khalifa Haftar is winning. Russia senses an opportunity in Libya

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This reality has profound implications for the future of the country, partly Because of a dramatic new development – the entry of Russia into the diplomatic mix. The battle Began last week When militias based in central Libya drove 100 miles across the desert to attack Libya’s oil hub ports, Sidra and nearby RasLanuf. Those terminals link to the massive Oil Crescent, home to the bulk of Libya’s oil. Quite simply, who controls this Crescent controls Libya. For public consumption, the militias brand Themselves the Benghazi Defence Brigades, Extremists kicked out of Benghazi When most of the city was liberated by the Libya National Army (LNA) last year. In fact, they comprise various Al Qaeda elements, units from the Petroleum Facilities guard kicked out of the oil ports last year by the LNA, fighters from Misrata, and, according to Functional the LNA, mercenaries from Chad. But the attack did not go as planned. Yes, the militias got to the ports, but no, they did not get inside them. Both ports are defended by the LNA and rather than internships to full-on assault, the militias contented with Themselves Occupying deserted residential areas and workers’ accommodation outside the ports. That will test a major strategic weakness, Because the LNA is averse to bombing port infrastructure, but less worried about bombing empty accommodation blocks. An LNA counter attack is now going on, and it will crush the militias in the coming days, leaving the balance of power as it was – Which is to say, with Haftar.

City of Ajdabiya starts arming civilian residents, Defend Benghazi Brigades (DBB) launched a military operation

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The municipality of the eastern city of Ajdabiya called for arming the civilian residents from those who are capable of carrying weapons as the forces of Defend Benghazi Brigades had advanced deeper eastward. The mayor of the Ajdabiya municipality, Embarek Al-Minfi, is a pro-Haftar person. He was appointed by the military governor of the eastern region, Abdelraziq Al-Nathori, who sacked the elected mayor, Salem Jodran, as part of the militarization of eastern municipal councils that is adopted by the eastern officials under the rule of KhalifaHaftar’s Dignity Operation. Defend Benghazi Brigades (DBB) launched early on Friday a fresh military operation to facilitate the return of Benghazi IDPs to their city, according to Boshra News Agency, the news outlet of Benghazi Shura Council. The DBB forces took control of RasLanuf oil terminal and airport as well as Essidra oil terminal in central Libya, in addition to Ben Jawad and Nofaliya towns, in a surprise attack on Dignity Operation forces there.

Libya’s power balance tilts towards Haftar, Trump officials view it with suspicion

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America, until now the key backer of the GNA, has fallen away. The new administration of President Donald Trump has yet to give definitive comments on Libya, but is expected to designate Muslim Brotherhood, one of the key factions in the GNA, as a terrorist organisation. As such, that would rub out any US support for the GNA and leave it floundering, and both Al Sarraj and Haftar know it. Whereas the erstwhile administration of former US president Barack Obama viewed Muslim Brotherhood as a positive non-violent expression of Islamism, Trump officials view it with suspicion, accusing it of links with violent groups. Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has long made combatting Muslim Brotherhood his cause celebre. Yet, it is likely to suffer if the US designates it as a group supporting terrorism. Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, used his confirmation hearing last month to equate Brotherhood with Al Qaida: “The demise of IS [Daesh, or the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] would also allow us to devote our attention to other agents of radicalism like Al Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood and certain elements within Iran”.

Egypt-allied Haftar met Al-Sarraj in Cairo, as part of initiatives aimed at resolving Libya's crisis

A military leadership will never take hold of Libya” Belhaj told Middle East Eye. “Haftar has no chance at ruling this country at all and the coming days will attest to this”.Belhaj, who heads the al-Watan Party, is based in Tripoli where the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) has held power since December 2015. But the GNA’s authority faces huge challenges. Egypt-allied Haftar and the head of the Presidential Council of the GNA, Fayez Al-Sarraj, met in Cairo earlier this week as part of a series of Tunisian-Algerian-Egyptian initiatives aimed at resolving Libya’s crisis. Although Sarraj and Haftar refused to meet face-to-face, they agreed to honor a plan to create a joint committee to negotiate reconciliation and elections by February 2018, despite lingering tensions. The discussions revolved around forming a mini-government that would have a unified military council headed by Haftar in cooperation with military officers from all across Libya. The initiative reportedly gathered support from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, three countries that have over the past months been involved in mediation efforts focused on launching a Libya-Libya dialogue for national reconciliation. Despite the combined pressure from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt to resume peace talks, the political process is unlikely to move forward in the foreseeable future because on the one hand Haftar is convinced he doesn’t need a deal and the other side is very fragmented.

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