Libyan commander marching on capital dismisses negotiations

Smoke billows following a reported airstrike by forces loyal to retired Gen. Khalifa Haftar on Tajoura, south of Tripoli, on June 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 June 2019
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Libyan commander marching on capital dismisses negotiations

  • Khalifa Haftar vows that his fighters will get rid of ‘terrorist militias’

CAIRO: A Libyan commander, whose forces are fighting to take the country’s capital of Tripoli from militias allied with a UN-backed government based there, has dismissed an initiative by its prime minister for negotiations to end the crisis.

Instead, Khalifa Haftar vowed in comments to a news website on Wednesday that his fighters would press on with the weeks-long offensive until Tripoli is rid of what he described as “terrorist militias.”

“Our military operations will not stop” until Tripoli is taken, Haftar told almarsad.co.

“The situation is excellent and I call on the Libyans to ignore rumors about our withdrawal,” Haftar said in interviews with Libyan news websites The Address and The Observer published overnight Wednesday to Thursday.

The offensive to seize the capital “will not stop before all its objectives are reached,” he said.

The campaign by Haftar’s Liberation National Army has raised fears of another bout of violence after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. Since then, the country has sunk into chaos, with rival administrations in the east and the west, and an array of forces and militias allied with either side.

On Monday, the World Health Organization reported the latest casualty tolls for the fighting in and around Tripoli, saying 691 people have been killed so far, including 41 civilians, and 4,012 wounded, 135 of them civilians.

The head of the Tripoli-based government, Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, told a news conference on Sunday he is proposing a “Libyan forum,” aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The talks would draw up a roadmap for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held before the end of 2019, Al-Sarraj said. 

In his remarks to the news website, Haftar dismissed Al-Sarraj’s initiative and criticized him as an ineffective leader.

“Initiatives have no meaning unless they are brave and carry clear clauses that address the causes of the crisis and its very roots,” Haftar said.

Haftar has presented himself as someone able to restore stability. In recent years, his campaign against militants across Libya won him growing international support from world leaders who say they are concerned the North African country has turned into a haven for armed groups, and a major conduit for migrants bound for Europe.


Houthi radio celebrates Hezbollah fundraiser with ‘death to America, death to Israel’ video

Updated 2 min 5 sec ago
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Houthi radio celebrates Hezbollah fundraiser with ‘death to America, death to Israel’ video

  • The radio station claims that the campaign raised $295,000
  • The fundraising came after Hezbollah called on its supporters in March to donate money

DUBAI: A Houthi affiliated radio station released a video showing four men standing in front of wads of cash claimed to be for Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

In the video, which has been circulated on social media this week, the director-general of Houthi-affiliated radio station Sam FM, Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf, is seen leading a chant, praising a fundraising campaign for the Iran-backed Lebanese militia group, Hezbollah.

“From Yemen’s faith to Lebanon’s Resistance! God is great! Death to America! Death to Israel! Curses upon the Jews! Victory for Islam,” the men chant.

The Houthi Sam FM radio station held a fundraising campaign for Hezbollah called “Goodness of Yemen” between May 20 and June 30, 2019, during Ramadan.

The radio station claims that the campaign raised $295,000 (74,010,000 Yemeni rial).

The fundraising came after Hezbollah called on its supporters in March to donate money as it came under increasing pressure from sanctions intended to isolate it financially.

The United States, United Kingdom, member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Argentina deem Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Yemeni political analyst, Fatima Alasrar, wrote in May that the Houthis’ fundraising for Hezbollah is not surprising, as the militia’s ties to the group are “undeniable.”

Military support for the Houthis from Iran and Hezbollah “comes in different ways” and is “well documented,” Alasrar says, referencing a 2015 Financial Times article where two senior Hezbollah sources said that “hundreds of Lebanese and Iranian trainers and military advisers are in Yemen already.”

Meanwhile, a 2014 article by Reuters quoted a senior Iranian official saying that “the Quds Force, the external arm of the Revolutionary Guard, had a “few hundred” military personnel in Yemen who trained Houthi fighters.”