UN experts say Libya airstrike likely tied to Haftar allies

A migrant picks up clothes from among rubble at a detention center for mainly African migrants that was hit by an air strike in the Tajoura suburb of the Libyan capital of Tripoli on July 3, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 November 2019

UN experts say Libya airstrike likely tied to Haftar allies

  • The July 3 night attack on the detention center in Tajoura near Tripoli killed more than 50 people and injured over 130 others
  • Libya became a major crossing point for migrants to Europe after the overthrow and death of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011

UNITED NATIONS: UN experts say it is “highly probable” that a deadly airstrike on a migrant detention center in Libya was carried out by a fighter jet operated by a government supporting Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive in April seeking to capture the capital, Tripoli.
The panel of experts said in a report to the UN Security Council that it “reserves identification of this member state until further physical evidence or imagery emerges to increase attribution confidence levels.”
The July 3 night attack on the detention center in Tajoura near Tripoli killed more than 50 people and injured over 130 others. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has said the attack could amount to a war crime.
The panel, which monitors sanctions against Libya, said it “continues to investigate the circumstances of the airstrikes.”
The report’s summary and findings on the Tajoura attack were seen late Friday by The Associated Press.
Migrants and asylum seekers “remain vulnerable not only to the effects of the conflict, but to abuse” in government detention centers, including “degrading living conditions, repeated extortion, sexual and other exploitation, and torture,” the report said.
Libya became a major crossing point for migrants to Europe after the overthrow and death of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, when the North African nation was thrown into chaos, armed militias proliferated and central authority collapsed.
The country was divided, with a weak UN-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Haftar, a former Libyan army general. Each side is backed by an array of militias and armed groups fighting over resources and territory.
Haftar launched the surprise military offensive on April 4 aimed at Tripoli, with support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Russia. But he has faced stiff resistance from fighters aligned with the UN-recognized government, which is aided by Turkey and Qatar.
The attack on Tajoura was one of the deadliest since the conflict began.
The panel said it has “independent evidence from a reliable confidential source that an unknown number of Mirage 2000-9” fighter jets were using the Al-Khadim air base in eastern Libya and the Jufra base in the north-central part of the country at the time of the Tajoura attack.
Haftar’s forces don’t possess such sophisticated aircraft, the panel said.
It said the Mirage 2000-9 can operate at night and deliver precision-guided munitions and missiles.
“Therefore, the panel finds it highly probable that the airstrike was conducted using PGM (precision-guided munitions) at night by a modern FGA (fighter ground attack) aircraft owned and operated by a member state, acting in support of the HAF (Haftar armed forces),” the report said.
While no country has been named, the UAE has a fleet of Mirage 2000-9 fighter jets, which are produced by France’s Dassault Aviation. In November 2017, the UAE armed forces announced plans to upgrade the fleet.
As for Haftar’s offensive, the UN experts said it has stalled reforms and sparked a new phase of instability in Libya.
The experts also said both sides in the conflict have received weapons and military equipment, technical support and “non-Libyan fighters” in violation of a UN arms embargo.
“Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied weapons, with little effort to disguise the source,” the report said. “The panel also identified the presence of Chadian and Sudanese armed groups in support of forces affiliated” to both sides.
But, the panel added, “in reality the impact of the foreign armed groups to outcomes in the conflict was limited.”
“Neither side has the military capability to effectively decide the outcome to their advantage,” the report said. “Consequently, fatalities among armed groups and civilians remain low.”
The Security Council’s 15-member committee monitoring sanctions against Libya is expected to discuss the report at the end of the month, and diplomats said in may be publicly released in December.


Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

A Palestinian man facing Israeli soldiers waves a national flag during a protest against Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, near the town of Tulkarm on June 5, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 06 June 2020

Palestinians, Arabs ‘must learn lessons of Naksa’

  • Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause

AMMAN: Leading Palestinian and Arab figures have used the 53rd anniversary of Naksa — the displacement and occupation of Arab territories that followed Israel’s victory in the 1967 war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan — to highlight political mistakes made during and after the conflict.

Adnan Abu-Odeh, political adviser to Jordan's King Hussein and King Abdullah II, told Arab News that Arab countries and the Palestinian leadership had failed to understand the goals of Zionism.

“Governments that participated in the war were naive, expecting a repeat of the 1956 Sinai invasion when the US ordered an Israeli withdrawal. This was followed by the mistaken belief that we could liberate the land using guerrilla warfare," he said.

Anees Sweidan, director-general of foreign relations in the PLO, told Arab News that the Palestinian cause is undergoing a complicated phase where political opportunities are limited.

“The US bias towards Israel and absence of unity has put the Palestinian movement in a difficult situation. It is harder to generate external support and the financial crunch is causing much suffering despite the fact that we have made important accomplishments in the UN and Europe.”

Abdalqader Husseini, chairperson of the Faisal Husseini Foundation, said that the opportunities the anniversary offers should not be ignored.

“We need to realize that this is an illegal occupation that continues to dig deeper and escalate every day to the degree that the international community has lost interest and world conscience has become numb to Israeli practices. We in Jerusalem have not normalized with the occupiers and we have not accepted the new situation as an inescapable reality that we must accept.”

Jordanian MP Kais Zayadin said that the biggest mistake Arab countries made was to trust that the occupying state would make peace and reach a lasting solution to the Palestinian cause.

“We went to Madrid with hope, the Palestinian leadership went to Oslo with optimism that they could reach a phased solution that would lead to statehood. As we remember this Naksa, we must revisit the path that has allowed the occupying entity to steal our land and cause havoc to our people without any deterrence from the international community," he said.

They (Palestinian youth) personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of PASSIA thinktank

Nibal Thawabteh, director of the Bir Zeit University’s Media Development Center, said the biggest mistake since 1967 was focusing on politics and avoiding community development.

"We don’t have a strong sense of citizenship, some have become accustomed to religious Islam. We need to work more on the citizenship.”

Ahmad Awad, director of the Amman-based Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, said there is a lack of acknowledgment of the reasons behind the Arab loss.

“Political, economic and cultural factors caused our loss, and we feel that most Arab countries have not learned this lesson. Instead of learning, we are going backwards, failing to defend their existential rights, shifting to isolationism as well as cultural and economic regression in our region."

Instead of looking backward, some Palestinians wanted to look forward.

Mahdi Abdulhadi, head of the PASSIA thinktank in Jerusalem, said that Palestinian youth who never felt the shock of the 1967 defeat but have seen the exposure of Arab regimes in the face of the "deal of the century" will prevail.

“They personify the meaning of steadfastness for dignity, and they have the will to protect our heritage, our identity, and our holy places.”

Lily Habash, a Exeter University political science graduate, told Arab News that things look different on the ground.

“The world is changing and Israel uses geopolitical and regional changes to its advantage,” she said.

Dangers today encourage despair but Palestinians will be steadfast in the long term, she added.

“Some say we need a savior to get us out of this dilemma but I believe we need to trust in ourselves and work on all fronts.”