French soldiers killed in Libya


This 20 July 2016 video is called Three French soldiers die in Libya helicopter crash.

From Al Jazeera today:

France confirms three soldiers killed in Libya

French President Francois Hollande confirms three officers killed while on an intelligence mission in Libya.

Three French soldiers have been killed in Libya, officials have said, also confirming for the first time that members of France’s special forces are engaged in operations in the North African country.

French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday the three soldiers had been killed in a helicopter crash during an intelligence-gathering operation.

“At this moment we are carrying out dangerous intelligence operations [in Libya],” Hollande said in a speech.

France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement that he regretted “the loss of three French officers who died while on mission in Libya” – but gave no further information as to where or how the troops were killed.

Earlier on Wednesday, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll provided the first official confirmation that members of the French special forces were operating in Libya, which has been in turmoil since 2011 following the uprising that led to the removal and killing of Muammar Gaddafi.

“Special forces are there, of course, to help and to make sure France is present everywhere in the struggle against terrorists,” Le Foll said.

French special forces, in conjunction with Britain and the US, have been advising forces loyal to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, which have been battling opponents in Benghazi for more than two years, the Reuters news agency reported.

Libyan military officials would not comment on a report that the French nationals were in a helicopter that crashed near Benghazi on Sunday. Officials said at the time that four people had died in the crash, all of them Libyan.

A group called the Benghazi Defence Brigades claimed to have shot down the aircraft.

France and Britain led the push in 2011 for the NATO-led air campaign that helped topple Gaddafi’s regime. Both countries were later accused of not doing enough to support Libya after [this] military intervention.

Libya has been split between rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes.

Libya: Leaked tapes suggest West supports Haftar. Air traffic recordings indicate General Haftar receives Western support despite his opposition to [United Nations-backed unity] Tripoli government: here.

From the BBC today:

The oil-rich country once had one of the highest standards of living in Africa with free healthcare and free education, but five years on from the uprising it is facing a financial crisis.

Refugee tragedies continue off Libya


Hand of drowned refugee, Reuters photo

Dutch NOS TV reports today that the dead bodies of drowned refugees keep washing up on the beach of Zuwara in Libya. The first dead bodies there had been found on Thursday. By now, 148 drowned people have been found.

What a contrast to when I was at a beach in Libya in 2006, and found only cuttlefish cuttlebones and bivalve seashells.

According to Wikipedia, Zuwara is ‘famous for its beautiful beaches and abundant seafood’. …

Report: Over 130 Migrant Bodies Wash Ashore In Libya. About three-quarters of the migrants were women and there were at least five children.
06/05/2016 09:11 am ET: here.

Another NOS TV report today says that ‘the Libyan government’ will not accept refugees sent back by European countries. The report is about the government of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, one of three governments in Libya (not counting the internationally not recognized ‘Islamic state’ of ISIS). Fayez Sarraj says there won’t be a deal with the European Union like the European Union made with the Turkish government about refoulement of refugees.

From the NOS report (translated):

German media reported earlier that the EU speaks with Libya about setting up camps for refugees in Libya itself.

This refers to, eg, a 29 April 2016 report in German weekly Der Spiegel, called (translated):

Planned Deal: EU mulls having migrant prisons in Libya

So, apparently, as prisons are for criminals, it now seems to be a crime to flee the bloody ‘humanitarian’ wars of NATO.

Birds in Libya, new book


This 2014 video is about the birds of Libya.

From BirdLife:

New book release from Libya brings joy to ornithologists

By Obaka Torto, 29 May 2016

Bird conservation and identification in Libya has reached a new milestone with the release of a new guide titled ‘Birds of Libya’. This book is an annotated checklist of the 350 bird species recorded in Libya.

There is information on the geography and climate, a comprehensive list of all the recorded bird species of wild origin, a biogeographical analysis of the breeding species and the place of Libya in the Mediterranean and Palearctic–Afrotropical migration systems. The annotated checklist also provides data on the species’ status, phenology, distribution, habitat, nesting and the origin of migrants and winter visitors.

In recent times, Libya has progressed in the field of bird conservation. One of the major challenges to bird conservation in Libya is the use of weapons for hunting throughout the year, especially during the migration period. Efforts are being made by NGOs such as the Libyan Society for Birds (LSB), to save birds and decrease hunting of migratory birds.

Libyan citizens are just as passionate about nature as those in other countries, and the compilation of this book proves the future is bright for biodiversity in Libya. Birds of Libya/Oiseaux de Libye is translated in both English and French, and is the result of cooperation between ornithologists from Libya, France, Germany and Tunisia.

Birds of Libya is available at:

This report sounds optimistic, and I hope there are enough reasons for that.

However, my guess is that in present Libya birds, birdwatchers and other people all have to be careful not to be killed by the bombs of NATO (which plans to re-start its 2011 war, more blood for more oil, to stop refugees fleeing its wars); the bombs of the Egyptian air force, or of rival air forces. Or the bullets of ISIS and other paramilitary gangs and rival governments fighting each other and killing mostly civilians.

I was in Libya in April 2006. I still think fondly of the little terns flying over Benghazi harbour. And the little egret walking in shallow water off Tripoli. The swift nests in the old city of Tripoli. The goldfinches in the bushes of the eastern mountains. The common bulbul at the archaeological site. The little owl and Senegal turtle dove, next to each other on a fence at another archaeological site, Ptolemais. The migrating woodchat shrikes on telephone wires (and, unfortunately, one dead on the ground). The crested larks along the roads. The stuffed long-legged buzzard at the entrance of the natural history part of the national museum in Tripoli. The exhibit on white stork migration a bit further.

I hope the people of Libya will be able to enjoy all that and much more, without fear of being killed in anyone’s ‘humanitarian‘ or ‘holy’ wars.

Over 700 refugees drown in Mediterranean


This video says about itself:

25 May 2016

More refugees are trying to reach Europe from Libya in dangerous and overcrowded boats. On Wednesday, the Italian navy said it rescued 550 people from one boat that started tipping over as the operation began. At least five people drowned.

Al Jazeera’s Caroline Malone explains.

By Laura Tiernan:

Over 700 refugees drown in Mediterranean shipwrecks

30 May 2016

More than 700 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea since Wednesday attempting to reach Europe from Libya. It is the single deadliest week for refugee drownings this year, according to the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR.

Three shipwrecks in just three days account for most of the week’s enormous death toll. Other agencies, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have estimated more than 900 deaths. “We will never know exact numbers,” MSF tweeted on Sunday, “Around 900 people may have died in the Central Mediterranean in the last week alone. Europe, this is unbearable.”

Carlotta Sami, a spokesperson for the UNHCR, has confirmed an estimated 100 people are missing after an unseaworthy vessel capsized on Wednesday. Horrifying images of the boat tipping over, with hundreds of terrified asylum seekers thrown into the sea, were captured on video by the Italian Navy.

Sami told the Associated Press that another 550 people are feared dead after another boat carrying refugees capsized the next day. The vessel reportedly left the Libyan port of Sabratha on Wednesday, with 670 refugees on board.

A third shipwreck occurred on Friday, during which 135 people were rescued and at least 45 bodies were recovered—taking the overall death toll to 700. But refugees who survived the incident say many more are missing.

The shipwrecks account for the largest loss of life in the Mediterranean since April 2015, when a single boat capsized killing 800 people trapped inside.

The death of hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean is not only a tragedy, it is a crime. The governments in the US, Germany, Greece, Italy and other European countries, as well as the European Union, bear principal responsibility.

The numbers of asylum seekers fleeing to Europe in unseaworthy vessels is increasing due to vicious anti-migrant controls that have blocked routes to Europe via the Balkans. This includes the deal reached in March with Turkey creating a “Fortress Europe,” aimed at cutting off lifelines to those fleeing wars conducted by the European powers and the United States that have devastated entire countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

As a result, according to Italian authorities, the number of refugees rescued this week reached 13,000. On Saturday alone, a flotilla of ships saved 668 people from boats off the southern coast. Last week, over 4,000 migrants were rescued at sea in just one day.

The UNHCR’s update provided new information about Thursday’s deadliest sinking. Initial reports only took into account the missing and dead from a smaller, powered boat. Sami told AFP that the refugees rescued from the smaller vessel said the boat that sank did not have an engine and was being towed by another equally packed smuggling boat before it capsized.

AFP reports that Italian police corroborated the UN account, based on their own interviews with survivors, though the numbers cited do not precisely tally. According to survivors, the boat “started taking on water after about eight hours of navigation.” An attempt to bail it out “with a line of migrants passing a few five-litre bailing cans” failed:

“At that point, the commander of the first smuggler’s boat ordered the tow rope to be cut to the sinking boat. The migrants on the top deck jumped into the sea, while those below deck, estimated at 300, sank with the ship, police said. Of those who jumped into the sea, just 90 were rescued.”

Giovanna Di Benedetto, a spokeswoman for Save the Children, said, “There were many women and children on board. We collected testimony from several of those rescued from both boats. They all say they saw the same thing.”

The Independent reports a Libyan naval spokesman, Col. Ayoub Gassim, saying its own coastguard had rescued 766 refugees in two operations that took place on Thursday. They were found in two groups: 550 near the western coast city of Sabratha and another 216 off the coastal city of Zwara. Gassim said two boats were also found empty in the area between the two Libyan cities, and only four bodies had been retrieved. The death toll is unknown.

There are sinister and unanswered questions over the role of the military in the tragic events of the past week.

As part of “Operation Sophia,” a massive military mobilisation involving fourteen European countries has been underway for the past year. Warships, submarines, aircraft, helicopter gunships and drones have been deployed by European powers, including Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Britain, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden. The headquarters of the mission is located at a military airport in Rome.

According to media reports over the weekend, military aircraft first saw the vessel (which subsequently sank on Thursday) in trouble around 35 nautical miles off the coast of Libya. Yet little was done in response. EU officials said a second helicopter “arrived on the scene Thursday and threw lifejackets into the water.”

The purpose of Operation Sophia is to strengthen “Fortress Europe” to ward off refugees, while preparing a new military intervention in North Africa under the guise of fighting the ‘causes’ of refugee crisis.

On Friday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron once again confirmed this analysis. Speaking at the G7 summit, he praised the EU-Turkey agreement to deport asylum seekers from Greece. He declared, “In the eastern Mediterranean, on average nearly 2,000 people arrived this way per day before the EU-Turkey deal was signed. Since then, it’s fewer than 100. It’s still a fragile agreement—but returning people works. Now we need to do the same with the central Mediterranean route.”

Cameron also declared that the European powers “are working to agree a plan to boost the capability of the Libyan coastguard.” Then he announced: “Once a detailed plan has been agreed with the Libyan authorities, the UK will send a UK training team to assist in its implementation. And once the relevant permissions and UN Security Council Resolution are in place, I will deploy a naval warship to the south central Mediterranean to combat arms trafficking in the region.”

Drowned Baby Picture Captures Week Of Tragedy In Mediterranean: here.

British illegal wars in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya


This video from Britain says about itself:

No Military Intervention in Libya – Lindsey German | Stop the War protest 12 March 2011

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Britain is at war in Libya and nobody thought to tell us

British SAS troops may be fighting in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Libya – but Parliament hasn’t been told about any of these deployments, let alone been given the chance to debate them

Rori Donaghy

28 May 2016

Last week, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon tried to put to bed questions about whether Britain is planning to deploy the Army to Libya, where, just 200 miles from Europe, Isis has flourished amid a permanent state of chaos after the 2011 Nato-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Fallon said Britain is not planning a “combat role” for British troops in Libya; if the army were to be deployed in Libya, Parliament would discuss it first.

But just two days after his comments the Times reported that British Special Air Service troops are already in Libya and were seen earlier in May …

I first revealed in March that SAS troops were operating in Libya. What is still not clear is who exactly Britain is fighting alongside in a country that doesn’t have an effective government or army.

… However, the Government is not allowing the British public to know anything about where it is deploying British troops in the Middle East, and what they are doing in our name.

Over the past year there have been reports of SAS forces operating in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Libya – as well as advising allies in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Parliament hasn’t been informed about any of these deployments, let alone been given the opportunity to debate them and to decide if this military strategy is in the best interests of the British people.

The idea of collective responsibility in our democracy works only when we know what is being done in our name. As British citizens, we cannot be responsible for wars that our Government won’t tell us about. But we can certainly feel their consequences.

The Foreign Office website is already filled with warnings in its travel advice section, which include the information that British citizens are a target for terrorist groups across the world.

One of the reasons British people are targeted abroad is because of our Army’s visible presence in other countries. And now, without our knowledge, British soldiers are being deployed in numerous countries across the Middle East.

… As Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, recently told me, the Government cannot keep SAS operations secret for ever.

Blunt said SAS operations require a veil of secrecy if they are to be effective – and he is correct – but he argued that, when those operations form part of a wider military strategy, that military strategy should be scrutinised and overseen by Parliament.

Going to war is one of the most important decisions a country can take. The British people deserve to know where our Government is sending our troops, what the danger is, and what it is they hope to achieve by sending them into battle on our behalf.

It’s time for a parliamentary debate about Britain’s secret wars in the Middle East.

Rori Donaghy is a news editor for Middle East Eye. He founded the Emirates Centre for Human Rights, an independent organisation that focuses on human rights abuse in the United Arab Emirates.

United States permanently at war: here.

No, the intervention in Libya wasn’t a success. Shadi Hamid’s claims that the Western war in Libya went well ignore significant evidence of disaster: here.

Obama blames Britain’s Cameron for disastrous Libyan war


This video from England says about itself:

Libya: Stop the War Coaliton protest at Downing Street 19.04.2011

As Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama escalated the attack on Libya to a regime-change war, Stop the War Coalition joined with CND and War on Want to protest at Downing Street, London, calling on the British government to end its bombing campaign. Video by Anupam Pradhan and Keith Halstead.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

United States: Obama slams Cameron’s Libyan fiasco

Friday 11th March 2016

BARACK OBAMA took a rare swipe at David Cameron yesterday, blaming the Prime Minister for turning Libya into a “shit show”.

The US president placed the blame for the fallout of 2011’s bombardment of Libya, during its civil war, squarely at Mr Cameron’s doorstep.

A rattled Mr Obama even went as far as to admit the military action, which led to Colonel Muammar Gadaffi’s downfall, “didn’t work.”

He accused Mr Cameron of becoming “distracted” after giving the green light to air strikes and that now the country is a “mess” because it’s become an Isis haven.

Mr Obama said [this] in the candid interview for US magazine The Atlantic, in which he argues he placed too much faith in Britain’s PM and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr Cameron’s spokeswoman says the PM does “share” Mr Obama’s assessment that there are real challenges in Libya.

Barack Obama says David Cameron allowed Libya to become a ‘s*** show’. Unprecedented attack by serving US President: here.

Blaming Cameron and Sarkozy for the bloodbath in Libya is correct. However, President Obama might have extended the criticism to the ‘hawks’ in his own State Department (paradoxically, in this case not the Pentagon), like Samantha Power and Hillary Clinton.

US President Barack Obama has said the biggest mistake of his presidency was the lack of planning for the aftermath of the fall of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, with the country spiraling into chaos and grappling with violent extremists: here.

Die Zeit campaigns for military intervention in Libya: here.

The US and NATO are considering another round of military attacks against Libya, US President Barack Obama told media outside the White House on Monday: here.

Teams of United States Special Operations commandos have been active in Libya since last year, the Washington Post reported Thursday, citing statements from unnamed US military officers: here.

PROSTITUTES AND FINANCIAL INCOMPETENCE Inside the allegations in the trial between Libya’s sovereign-wealth fund and Goldman Sachs. [WSJ]

Somali woman athlete, drowned off Libya


This video is called Samia Yusuf Omar @ 2008 Beijing Olympics.

By Michal Boncza in Britain:

Dream graphically denied

Tuesday 8th March 2016

An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar
by Reinhard Kleist
(SelfMadeHero, £14.99)

IN APRIL 2012 news broke that Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar, who had made history four years earlier at the Beijing games, had drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe.

In Beijing she came last in the first round heat in the 200 metres but won a rousing standing ovation. Attired in casual leggings and a baggy T-shirt, her slight body and long stride became a symbol of extraordinary determination and courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

But, most importantly, they were also a dismal reflection on the haves and have-nots of international athletics and, by implication, its entire governance.

Back in Somalia, with scant official support and facing harassment and intimidation by al-Shabaab fundamentalist thugs, she took the futile advice of looking to train in Ethiopia and later Djibouti. That set her on a migratory path to Libya with the hope of making it to Europe in time to train for the London Olympics.

Travelling overland with similarly desperate souls, all victims of ruthless, money-grubbing and abusive people-traffickers, she was thrust with them into unseaworthy vessels at gun-point. They were pushed out to sea to fend for themselves.

Reinhard Kleist, author of the memorable graphic biography Castro reviewed glowingly in the Morning Star, is — as this book shows — at the peak of his creative endeavour. This visual narrative that immortalises Omar is rendered with breathtaking vigour and passion. The draughtsmanship is masterly, with every brush stroke eloquently descriptive and invoking admiration, pity and often revulsion.

Kleist knows better than most how pictures are worth thousands of words and the story of the runner has the urgency of her dash to make it in time for the dream of a second Olympics.

But his words are equally weighted and to the point when evoking human aspiration and solidarity or even the vilest inhumanity.

At a time when the French authorities have decided to investigate the shenanigans within the Olympics movement and thousands will be forced into rickety boats off Libyan and Turkish coasts, Kleist holds an uncompromising and unsentimental mirror to the West’s ugly face.

Compulsory reading for every secondary-school pupil, anywhere.

Western powers prepare military operations in Libya: here.