Fighting in Libyan capital delays flights

Khalifa Haftar, Libya's eastern-based commander, salutes as he participates in a security conference in Benghazi recently. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2017

Fighting in Libyan capital delays flights

TRIPOLI: Civilian flights were suspended for several hours at the Libyan capital’s Mitiga airport on Monday evening and Tuesday morning as rival armed groups clashed nearby, a spokesman said.
Sporadic shooting could be heard early on Tuesday near Mitiga, a military air base near the center of Tripoli that has also hosted civilian flights since the international airport was largely destroyed by fighting in 2014.
The airport had reopened by midday. “The flights were suspended but the airport is working normally now,” said Mitiga spokesman Khaled Abukhrais.
The clashes began when the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), a group that controls Mitiga and operates as an anti-crime unit aligned with the UN-backed government, conducted raids in the nearby neighborhood of Ghrarat.
Rada spokesman Ahmed bin Salem said the group targeted in the raids had tried to attack the airport area after a “wanted drug dealer” had been killed when he fired on a Rada patrol.
“The area of Ghrarat is now under the control of our forces and it’s being treated as military zone so we can clear any resistance,” Bin Salem said.
One member of Rada had been killed and two wounded, and there were several casualties among their opponents, he said.
Tripoli is controlled by various armed groups that have built local power bases since Libya’s 2011 revolution.
There have been fewer heavy confrontations in the capital since groups linked to a previous, self-declared government were pushed out of the city earlier this year, but armed skirmishes, kidnapping and other criminal activity are still common.


Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

Updated 15 min 27 sec ago

Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

  • Appeal of militant groups such as the Al Qaidam Daesh, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban are in decline, poll suggests
  • The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai

DUBAI: Militant groups in the Arab world face a gradual decline and most Arabs oppose the use of religion for political gain, a new survey suggests.

The appeal of extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and the Taliban is likely to fade over the next 10 years, researchers found.

The survey indicates that most Arabs view corruption as the main problem in their home country and the leading cause of conflict in the Arab world.

 

Daesh (Islamic State) fighters march in Raqqa, Syria, at the height of their power in 2014. (AP file photo)

Researchers also found overwhelming approval for developments in female empowerment such as Saudi women driving, and most Arabs expect further progress in their own countries in the next 10 years.

The survey’s findings on political Islam were “good news” for the region, said political science professor Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla. The Middle East had had enough of extremism and Arabs realized that political groups based on religion were “taking them nowhere,” Abdulla told Arab News.

“Indeed, we have seen the ugly face of it during the four to five years of Daesh’s control of large areas in Syria and Iraq. So it is natural to see there is a decline in the popularity of these parties. But much more important are the predictions that support for religious parties, whether moderate or extremist, is in sharp decline.

Opinion

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“People are becoming aware that there has been some kind of abuse and overuse of people’s emotions for political gains by these religious movements. The foremost is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is going through its worst moment.”

The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai. The 12th annual event will explore events and trends expected over the next 10 years, with 18 key speakers including former ministers, government officials, industry experts, international strategists, writers and media professionals. 

 

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