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Libya ‘is not complete chaos … yet’

July 28th, 2014
03:37 PM ET

By Mick Krever and Ken Olshansky, CNN

As chaos rocks Libya, the EU envoy to that country expressed cautious optimism that the unrest could be alleviated.

“The only reason for hope at the moment is that it’s not complete chaos. At least it’s not complete chaos yet,” Bernardino Leon told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.

Libya is caught in the throes of what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calls "free-wheeling militia violence” – a war between heavily armed militias who swear no allegiance to any central authority, even though most are on the government payroll.

The firefight at Tripoli’s main international airport has spread to Libya’s largest refinery; a fire there threatens to engulf 6.6 million liters of fuel.

Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli evacuated at dawn Saturday. The U.N has already pulled out and other countries are following suit.

Gorani asked Leon, “Is Libya a failed state?”

“To answer this we should wonder first of all whether Libya has ever been a state,” he said.

“It is important to remember that it is not only about combat in Tripoli, but there are also combats in the east.”

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Filed under:  Latest Episode • Libya

‘A mosaic’ of militias wreak havoc in Libya

July 23rd, 2014
03:23 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Libya is being gripped by the worst violence since the fall of Colonel Gadhafi in 2011.

Rival militia groups are taking over large swathes of the country, fighting for power, territory and oil wealth, and successive weak governments have been unable to disarm them.

In Tripoli, two different militant groups are firing rockets and mortars at each other as they try to take control of the city's airport. Civilians are also being caught up in the fighting, with hospitals now warning they are running out of drugs.

Last week the country's foreign minister went to the U.S. to plea for international help.

But Chris Stephen, a journalist for the Guardian newspaper, says the international community does not seem eager to help.

“The feed you get from diplomats is that there are so many sides, like a sort of mosaic,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. “Three years ago with the rebels against Gadhafi, so it was – for NATO it was easier to know who to bomb.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

'Sowfa Tabqa Huna' – She shall remain here

'Sowfa Tabqa Huna' – She shall remain here
June 30th, 2014
10:00 AM ET

By Lina and Rima Bugaighis

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lina and Rima Bugaighis are sisters, and nieces of Libyan activist Salwa Bugaighis, who was assassinated in her own Beghazi home last Wednesday.

“Dam el shohada ma yimsheesh haba” – the blood of the martyrs will not go in vain. Never did these words resonate as deeply as they do today.

Salwa Bugaighis was assassinated in the confines of her own home in Benghazi on the evening of Wednesday June 25th 2014. She was a lawyer and a political and human rights activist. To Libyans, Salwa embodied the change the country yearned for. She was bold, courageous, and determined. She was also a mother, a wife, a daughter and a sister. And to us, she was our aunt.

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Filed under:  Libya

Rogue Libyan general: Salvation or menace?

May 23rd, 2014
07:15 AM ET

It's called “operation dignity.” It started as a rogue campaign by a former Libyan general to purge the chaotic country of extremist Islamist militias – and the government that is said to support them.

Now, an array of Libyan military, tribal and political leaders have jumped on General Khalifa Haftar's bandwagon, even though he's played all sides.

As one said, “The dilemma is that no-one trusts him but everyone likes what he's doing. We want the Islamists out.”

So could General Haftar and his "Operation Dignity" be just what the doctor ordered? Or could he drag Libya back into a military dictatorship, much like General Abdel Fatah El-Sisi in neighboring Egypt?

“I have decided to face this threat and those who are against the Libyan people, and we hope that the Libyan tribes and the civic institutions in Libya do support us,” General Haftar told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Thursday on the phone from the eastern city of Benghazi.

“I want for Libya to be together, and I did not come out only to provide security for Libya. And I want for the Libyan society to be safe and secure. Personally, I do not want political power. But I want the safety and security of my country and my people.”

Click above to watch Amanpour’s interview with General Haftar.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

West should have put boots on the ground in Libya, says former prime minister

March 25th, 2014
05:15 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Western countries exercised “bad judgement” in failing to put troops on the ground during the Libyan revolution, Former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Tuesday.

“There was bad judgement on [the] part of the West for not putting too many troops on the ground,” Zeidan said through an interpreter.

Amanpour clarified whether he believed that, in retrospect, he wished that the West had “put boots on the ground, forces to maintain security.”

“Any means to have security will be accepted in Libya,” he said. If Libya wants stability, “we should have forces that are part of the United Nations, regional or Middle Eastern troops, or countries that have relations or connections in Libya – and if this takes place under the international community, under the United Nations, it will be accepted.”

Three years after Moammar Gadhafi was forced from office and killed, control of Libya is largely in the grip of militias.

Zeidan himself was forced from office by a parliamentary vote earlier this month and fled the country.

He insists that he is still the prime minister.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

Gadhafi son improperly extradited to Libya, former lawyer says

March 6th, 2014
05:37 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The extradition of Saadi Gadhafi, son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, back to Libya from Niger may not have been proper, suggested a lawyer who has formerly represented him.

“I’m not even sure that he was extradited,” Nick Kaufman told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, from Jerusalem.

“Extradition suggests that this was a legal process where Saadi Gadhafi was accorded a lawyer, a court hearing, and…it’s not even clear to me that that even took place.”

Saadi Gadhafi fled Libya more than two years ago, after his father’s death in the uprising that ousted him from power.

He had been living in Niger ever since.

“I’m quite surprised at the authorities in Niger,” Kaufman said. “They know who I am. They know that I was formerly representing Saadi. They know how to contact me.”

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Filed under:  Latest Episode • Libya

Meet the 32-year-old militiaman holding Libya’s oil hostage

January 14th, 2014
03:46 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A 32-year-old Libyan militia leader, sitting since July on billions of dollars of oil in the eastern part of the country, was defiant in an exclusive interview Tuesday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“This government has allowed Libya to become one of the most corrupted five states in the world,” Ibrahim Jadran said through an interpreter. “The government is not able to defend itself.”

Perhaps no single person better illustrates the post-war woes of Libya than Jadran.

In 2012, he was entrusted by the government to guard Libya's crucial eastern oil ports.

But last July he went rogue, seizing the ports – blocking oil exports – and demanding more autonomy and shared revenues for his eastern region, which he calls by its ancient Roman name, Cyrenaica.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

Does U.S. now favor commando raids over air strikes?

October 7th, 2013
04:04 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The U.S. operations this weekend in Somalia and Libya are putting a spotlight once again on American military tactics around the world, and incursions into other countries.

The fact that both operations used commandos on the ground, instead of drone strikes, which have so proliferated under U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, may be indicative of a recent trend.

“There’s been a strong desire to increase the number of captures and increase the amount of intelligence that we can glean from these operatives,” Former U.S. Counter Terrorism Coordinator Daniel Benjamin told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

Benjamin is director of Dartmouth's John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding.

Abu Anas al Libi, a man wanted for his connection to the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, was capture by U.S. forces in Tripoli, Libya.

“There’s a lot to learn from this man,” Benjamin said, “and there’s the additional fact that the Untied States never lets these cases die, and it’s very important to show that we’re going to follow them to their conclusion and that justice will be done.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya • Somalia

Libya is not failing, PM Zeidan tells Amanpour

September 26th, 2013
02:48 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

“Libya is not a failing state,” Prime Minister Ali Zeidan emphatically told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Thursday. “The state of Libya doesn't exist yet.”

“We are trying to create a state, and we are not ashamed of that,” he said. “The outside world believes that Libya is failing, but Libya was destroyed by Gaddafi for forty two years and was destroyed by a full year of civil war. And that's why we are trying to rebuild it.”

He said that the idea that democracy can be built “within a month” is “an illusion.”

The most-current crisis in Libya involves the militias that have run rampant since the revolution.

Militias in the east of the country are demanding more autonomy from the central government, and have severely constrained Libya’s oil output, which is central to its export revenue.

Prime Minister Zeidan denied reports that his government had tried to pay off the militias to get their cooperation, a charge he vigorously denied, calling such a move “immoral” and “inappropriate.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya

Benghazi point man explains why he wasn’t at hearing

May 8th, 2013
05:13 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Congressional hearings Wednesday on the September 11, 2012 Benghazi, Libya attacks were missing a key player in the affair.

Thomas Pickering, former ambassador and a top State Department official, is the author of the after-action report on the attack, which left four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.

The chairman of the House committee overseeing the hearing, Congressman Darrell Issa, said Pickering had refused to attend.

Pickering called Issa’s statement “colossally misinformed,” in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.  FULL POST


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Libya
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