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Explosive new book claims CIA and Saudi Arabia conspired to keep 9/11 details secret

There remains a conspiracy of silence among high former U.S. and Saudi officials about the attacks.

The Duran

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Authored by Jeff Stein via NewsWeek.com:


It’s easier to bury uncomfortable facts than to confront them. So this September 11, the ceremonies marking the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., will simply honor the dead. In Manhattan, tourists and mourners will gather where the World Trade Center Towers once stood, lowering their heads in memory of the 2,606 who perished there. The services won’t reflect the view that the attacks might well have been prevented.

But for hundreds of families and a growing number of former FBI agents, the grief of another 9/11 ceremony will be laced with barely muted rage: There remains a conspiracy of silence among high former U.S. and Saudi officials about the attacks.

“It’s horrible. We still don’t know what happened,” said Ali Soufan, one of the lead FBI counterterrorism agents whom the CIA kept in the dark about the movements of the future Al-Qaeda hijackers. To Soufan and many other former national security officials, the unanswered questions about the events leading up to the September 11, 2001, attacks dwarf those about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, because “9/11 changed the whole world.” It not only led to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the fracturing of the Middle East and the global growth of Islamic militantism but also pushed the U.S. closer to being a virtual homeland-security police state.

“I am sad and depressed about it,” said Mark Rossini, one of two FBI agents assigned to the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, who says agency managers mysteriously blocked them from informing their headquarters about future Al-Qaeda plotters present in the United States in 2000 and again in the summer of 2001. “It is patently evident the attacks did not need to happen and there has been no justice,” he said.

The authors of a new book on 9/11 hope to refocus public attention on the cover-up. Thoroughly mining the multiple official investigations into the event, John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski find huge holes and contradictions in the official story that 9/11 was merely “a failure to connect the dots.”

Duffy, a left-leaning writer and environmental activist, and Nowosielski, a documentary filmmaker, have nowhere near the prominence of other journalists who have poked holes in the official story, in particular Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, the Pulitzer Prize–winning book that was turned into a gripping multi-part docudrama on Hulu earlier this year.

But Duffy and Nowosielski come to the story with a noteworthy credential: In 2009 they scored an astounding video interview with Richard Clarke, a White House counterterrorism adviser during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. In it, Clarke raged that top CIA officials, including director George Tenet, had withheld crucial information from him about Al-Qaeda’s plotting and movements, including the arrival in the U.S. of future hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. In The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror, the authors assemble a compelling case of a government-wide cover-up of Saudi complicity in the affair.

In 2002, Tenet swore to Congress that he wasn’t aware of the imminent threat because it came in a cable that wasn’t marked urgent—and “no one read it.” But his story was shredded five years later when Senators Ron Wyden and Kit Bond forced loose an executive summary of the CIA’s own internal investigation of 9/11, which stated that “some 50 to 60 individuals read one or more of the six Agency cables containing travel information related to these terrorists.”

Clarke went ballistic. Until then, he had trusted Tenet, a close colleague and friend, to tell the truth. In 2009, despairing at the lack of media traction on the astounding disclosure, he wrote a book about the duplicity, Your Government Failed You, which was largely ignored. So when Duffy and Nowosielski came calling, he welcomed them.

“I believed, for the longest time, that this was one or two low-level desk officers who got this [information about Hazmi and Mihdhar] and somehow didn’t realize the significance,” he told them. But “50—five oh—50 CIA officers knew this, and they included [Tenet and] all kinds of people who were regularly talking to me? Saying I’m pissed doesn’t begin to describe it.”

All these years later, it’s still unclear why the CIA would keep such crucial details about Al-Qaeda movements from the FBI. Clarke and other insiders suspect that the spy agency had a deeply compartmented plan in the works to recruit Hazmi, Mihdhar and perhaps other Al-Qaeda operatives as double agents. If the FBI discovered they were in California, the theory goes, it would have demanded their arrest. When the CIA’s recruitment ploy fizzled, Tenet and company hid the details from Clarke lest they be accused of “malfeasance and misfeasance,” he said.

It’s the only logical explanation for why the presence of Hazmi and Mihdhar was kept from him until after the attacks, Clarke said. “They told us everything—except this,” he says in the video.

Tenet and two of his counterterrorism deputies, Rich Blee and Cofer Black, issued a statement calling Clarke’s theory “reckless and profoundly wrong.” But now Clarke has company. Duffy and Nowosielski found other key former FBI counterterrorism agents and officials who have developed deep doubts about Tenet’s story. The only element they disagree on is which officials were responsible for the alleged subterfuge.

“I think if there were some conscious effort” not to tell the bureau what was going on, Dale Watson, a former FBI deputy chief of counterterrorism told them, “it was probably” carried out below Tenet, Blee and Black, by managers of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit.

But Pat D’Amuro, an even more senior former FBI counterterrorism official, told them, “There’s no doubt in my mind that [withholding the information] went up further in the agency” than those managers. “And why they didn’t send it over, to this day, I don’t know why.”

And then there’s the continuing mystery of Saudi complicity with the hijackers. Duffy and Nowosielski offer a tightly focused update on what’s been learned about Saudi support for Al-Qaeda in recent years. Back in 2004, the official 9/11 Commission said it found no evidence that the “Saudi government as an institution, or senior Saudi officials individually funded” Al-Qaeda.

A year later, the highly redacted CIA inspector general’s report cracked open another window, saying that some agency officers had “speculated” that “dissident sympathizers within the government” (i.e., religious extremists) may have supported bin Laden. Subsequent investigations have revealed that officials from the kingdom’s Islamic affairs ministry were actively helping the hijackers get settled in California.

Such information spurred several hundred families of the 9/11 attack victims to file suit against the Saudi government in federal court in New York last year, seeking unspecified monetary damages.

“Saudi intelligence has admitted that they knew who these two guys were,” Andrew Maloney, an attorney for families, told Newsweek last week. “They knew they were Al-Qaeda the day they arrived in Los Angeles. So any notion from the Saudi government saying, ‘Oh, we just help out all Saudis here’ is false. They knew. And the CIA knew.”

The kingdom has turned over some 6,800 pages of documents, “mostly in Arabic,” that Maloney’s team is in the process of translating. “There’s some interesting things in there,” he said, “and some clear gaps.” He said he’ll return to court in October to press for more documents.

He also wants to depose Saudi officials, particularly Fahad al-Thumairy, a former Los Angeles consular official and imam of a Culver City, California, mosque attended by the hijackers. In 2003, Thumairy was intercepted after he landed in Los Angeles on a flight from Germany and deported from the U.S. “because of suspected terrorist links.” But he still works for the government in Riyadh, Maloney said. “Can you believe that?”

In April, Maloney subpoenaed the FBI for documents on Thumairy and Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi spy in the U.S. who was also in contact with the hijackers. The bureau has not responded, so on September 11 he plans to file “a formal motion to compel the FBI” to produce the documents. His motion follows a sworn statement by Steven Moore, the FBI agent who headed the bureau’s investigation into the hijacking of the plane that flew into the Pentagon, charging the 9/11 Commission with misleading the public when it said it “had not found evidence” of Saudi assistance to Hazmi and Mihdhar.

“There was clearly evidence that Thumairy provided assistance to Hazmi and Mihdhar,” Moore wrote. And “based on the proof in our investigation,” he added, “Bayoumi himself was a clandestine agent and associated with radical extremists, including Thumairy.”

Moore’s statement was first reported by the Florida Bulldog, a Fort Lauderdale news site that has been investigating the hijackers’ contacts with flight schools. “To my knowledge,” Moore stated, “Thumairy has never been the subject of a genuine law enforcement interview conducted by the actual agents who investigated him.”

Maloney’s additional targets are other FBI, CIA, State Department and Treasury Department personnel and documents. “There are a lot of people, former agents—I won’t identify who or what agencies—who have talked to us,” he said, but others, especially in the CIA’s bin Laden unit, “will never talk to us or will only talk to us if they are given some kind of blanket immunity.”

Getting access to them, he said, would probably require an executive order from President Donald Trump—an unlikely outcome given his administration’s strong backing for the Saudi monarchy.

There may be public support for Maloney’s endeavors. A 2016 poll found a slight majority of Americans (54.3 percent) believe that the government is hiding something about the 9/11 attacks. Then again, a considerable number of 9/11 “truthers” embrace conspiracy theories positing that the attacks were “an inside job” by the Bush administration and/or Israel and abetted by explosives planted in one of the World Trade Center towers.

But they are right about Saudi resistance to fully disclosing its relations with the hijackers. Last year, agents of the monarchy were discovered surreptitiously funding a PR effort to derail a congressional bill permitting a 9/11 families group to sue the kingdom for damages. Last September, the family group filed a 17-page complaint with the Justice Department.

Terry Strada, a leader of the group 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, will mourn again this year, but not at the site where the towers once stood and her husband died. She plans to attend “a private service” at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling, New Jersey, which she said has “a beautiful and solemn space” dedicated to all who died in the 9/11 attacks.

But she is also full of fury at the government’s refusal to release all it knows about the run-up to the attacks. “It’s very sad that we’re still being kept in the dark about it. It’s frustrating. It angers me,” she told Newsweek. “It’s a slap in the face. They think they’re above the law and don’t have to respond to the families—and the world. It’s disgusting.”

But Strada evinces even more disdain for the Saudis. Responding to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s August 20 message “wishing Muslims around the world a blessed Eid al-Adha,” she tweeted, “Seriously???”

Strada added, “The Saudis promote & finance the most virulent hatred toward Americans than any other nation. Murdered 3,000 on Sept 11.” The “9/11 families,” she wrote, “will #NEVERFORGET. #FreeTheTruth”

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect subtitle for John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski’s new book, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror.

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Lena Jones
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Lena Jones

An article about 9/11 written by a jew who only mentions israel ONCE and in the context of ‘wacky conspiracy theorists’?! LOL! This article is cheaper than toilet paper and deserves to be seen and believed only by stinking assholes.

BobValdez
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BobValdez

Seriously, IF the KSA WAS responsible for “9/11”, why isn’t the desert country a sheet of radioactive glass? Why not? Because the KSA was NOT responsible, nor were KSA citizens for “9/11”. The false flag “attack” on the World Trade Centre was done by Mossad in cahoots with the US govt, to get the “Patriot Act” into “law”, and start the destruction of the Middle East for Isra-hell.

mlnw
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mlnw

The CIA also shut down the Military’s Able Danger Program. The multifaceted cover-up indicates something more than malfeasance, it suggests complicity – or more – in ensuring that the 9/11 attacks would take place and be blamed on Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, and provide a pretext, thin as it was, to invade Afghanistan and Iraq as a prelude to atomizing the Middle East. If anyone thinks these Saudi terrorists could by themselves have brought down the WTC towers and a wing of the Pentagon building, they are drinking KOOL-AID. This required high level, albeit compartmentalized ‘need to know’… Read more »

Herbert Dorsey
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Herbert Dorsey

The Muslim “hijackers” were merely the outermost layer of the onion of secrecy in the 9/11 attacks. They were totally unnecessary to carry out the attacks as all the planes involved were remotely piloted by Global Hawk radio control. These “hijackers” served the primary purpose of diverting attention away from the real culprits and to place blame on Osama bin Laden. The real culprits were “deep cover” elements within the intelligence agencies and militaries of Israel, the U.S. the U.K., Germany, France and Saudi Arabia, working in collusion. Osama bin Laden was a CIA asset since the 1980s when he… Read more »

Guy
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Guy

They can obfuscate the facts of the event all they want , make fake movies and books ,but the fact remains ,because of all the proper dots being connected ,it was a Mossad /CIA operation with US government complicity to boot .It will take a very brave president of the US to blow this wide open .The big question is ,does Trump fit in those shoes or is he just a court jester .And another question ,can the American public and the sheeple of the Western world accept the truth ?

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Major Syrian Army Assault On Southeast Idlib As Sochi Deal Unravels

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months. 

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Via Zerohedge


The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.

This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.

The Al-Masdar source said the primary targets for the Syrian Army were the trenches and military posts for Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in the towns of Al-Taman’ah, Khuwayn, Babulin, Haish, Jarjanaz, Um Jalal, and Mashirfah Shmaliyah. In retaliation for the Syrian Army assault, the jihadist rebels began shelling the government towns of Ma’an, Um Hariteen, and ‘Atshan.

Damascus has been critical of the Sochi deal from the start as it’s criticized Turkey’s role in the Russian-brokered ceasefire plan, especially as a proposed ‘de-militarized’ zone has failed due to jihadist insurgents still holding around 70% of the planned buffer area which they were supposed to withdraw from by mid-October. Sporadic clashes have rocked the “buffer zone” since.

Russia itself recently acknowledged the on the ground failure of the Sochi agreement even as parties officially cling to it. During a Thursday press briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova admitted the following:

We have to state that the real disengagement in Idlib has not been achieved despite Turkey’s continuing efforts to live up to its commitments under the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of September 17.

This followed Russia also recently condemning  “sporadic clashes” and “provocations” by the jihadist group HTS (the main al-Qaeda presence) in Idlib.

Likely due to Moscow seeing the writing on the wall that all-out fighting and a full assault by government forces on Idlib will soon resume, Russian naval forces continued a show of force in the Mediterranean this week.

Russian military and naval officials announced Friday that its warships held extensive anti-submarine warfare drills in the Mediterranean. Specifically the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen conducted the exercise in tandem with deck-based helicopters near Syrian coastal waters.

Notably, according to TASS, the warships central to the drill are “armed with eight launchers of Kalibr-NK cruise missiles that are capable of striking surface, coastal and underwater targets at a distance of up to 2,600 km.”

Since September when what was gearing up to be a major Syrian-Russian assault on Idlib was called off through the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement, possibly in avoidance of the stated threat that American forces would intervene in defense of the al-Qaeda insurgent held province (also claiming to have intelligence of an impending government “chemical attack”), the war has largely taken a back-burner in the media and public consciousness.

But as sporadic fighting between jihadists and Syrian government forces is reignited and fast turning into major offensive operations by government forces, the war could once again be thrust back into the media spotlight as ground zero for a great power confrontation between Moscow and Washington.

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Trump Quietly Orders Elimination of Assange

The destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government.

Eric Zuesse

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On June 28th, the Washington Examiner headlined “Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange” and reported that “Vice President Mike Pence discussed the asylum status of Julian Assange during a meeting with Ecuador’s leader on Thursday, following pressure from Senate Democrats who have voiced concerns over the country’s protection of the WikiLeaks founder.” Pence had been given this assignment by U.S. President Donald Trump. The following day, the Examiner bannered “Mike Pence raises Julian Assange case with Ecuadorean president, White House confirms” and reported that the White House had told the newspaper, “They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

On August 24th, a court-filing by Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia, stated: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure [than sealing the case, hiding it from the public] is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged. … This motion and the proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” That filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. On November 15th, he posted an excerpt of it on Twitter, just hours after the Wall Street Journal had reported on the same day that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange. However, now that we know “the fact that Assange has been charged” and that the U.S. Government is simply waiting “until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter,” it is clear and public that the arrangements which were secretly made between Trump’s agent Pence and the current President of Ecuador are expected to deliver Assange into U.S. custody for criminal prosecution, if Assange doesn’t die at the Ecuadorean Embassy first.

On November 3rd (which, of course, preceded the disclosures on November 15th), Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Ann Hawkins, described in detail what has happened to her son since the time of Pence’s meeting with Ecuador’s President. She said:

He is, right now, alone, sick, in pain, silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact, and being tortured in the heart of London. … He has been detained nearly eight years, without trial, without charge. For the past six years, the UK Government has refused his requests to exit for basic health needs, … [even for] vitamin D. … As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. … A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes. … They will stop at nothing. … When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador, a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He said that because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally…   to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave. … The extradition warrant is held in secret, four prosecutors but no defense, and no judge, … without a prima-facie case. [Under the U.S. system, the result nonetheless can be] indefinite detention without trial. Julian could be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum security prison, or face the death penalty,” for “espionage,” in such secret proceedings.

Her phrase, “because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high” refers to the worry that this new President of Ecuador has, of his cooperating with the U.S. regime’s demands and thereby basically ceding sovereignty to those foreigners (the rulers of the U.S.), regarding the Ecuadorian citizen, Assange.

This conservative new President of Ecuador, who has replaced the progressive President who had granted Assange protection, is obviously doing all that he can to comply with U.S. President Trump and the U.S. Congress’s demand for Assange either to die soon inside the Embassy or else be transferred to the U.S. and basically just disappear, at Guantanamo or elsewhere. Ecuador’s President wants to do this in such a way that Ecuador’s voters won’t blame him for it, and that he’ll thus be able to be re-elected. This is the type of deal he apparently has reached with Trump’s agent, Pence. It’s all secret, but the evidence on this much of what was secretly agreed-to seems clear. There are likely other details of the agreement that cannot, as yet, be conclusively inferred from the subsequent events, but this much can.

Basically, Trump has arranged for Assange to be eliminated either by illness that’s imposed by his Ecuadorean agent, or else by Assange’s own suicide resulting from that “torture,” or else by America’s own criminal-justice system. If this elimination happens inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, then that would be optimal for America’s President and Congress; but, if it instead happens on U.S. soil, then that would be optimal for Ecuador’s President. Apparently, America’s President thinks that his subjects, the American people, will become sufficiently hostile toward Assange so that even if Assange disappears or is executed inside the United States, this President will be able to retain his supporters. Trump, of course, needs his supporters, but this is a gamble that he has now clearly taken. This much is clear, even though the rest of the secret agreement that was reached between Pence and Ecuador’s President is not.

Scooter Libby, who had arranged for the smearing of Valerie Plame who had tried to prevent the illegal and deceit-based 2003 invasion of Iraq, was sentenced to 30 months but never spent even a day in prison, and U.S. President Trump finally went so far as to grant him a complete pardon, on 13 April 2018. (The carefully researched docudrama “Fair Game” covered well the Plame-incident.) Libby had overseen the career-destruction of a courageous CIA agent, Plame, who had done the right thing and gotten fired for it; and Trump pardoned Libby, thus retroactively endorsing the lie-based invasion of Iraq in 2003. By contrast, Trump is determined to get Julian Assange killed or otherwise eliminated, and even Democrats in Congress are pushing for him to get that done. The new President of Ecuador is doing their bidding. Without pressure from the U.S. Government, Assange would already be a free man. Thus, either Assange will die (be murdered) soon inside the Embassy, or else he will disappear and be smeared in the press under U.S. control. And, of course, this is being done in such a way that no one will be prosecuted for the murder or false-imprisonment. Trump had promised to “clean the swamp,” but as soon as he was elected, he abandoned that pretense; and, as President, he has been bipartisan on that matter, to hide the crimes of the bipartisan U.S. Government, and he is remarkably similar in policy to his immediate predecessors, whom he had severely criticized while he was running for the Presidency.

In any event, the destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government; and, just like in Khashoggi’s case, the nation’s ruler controls the prosecutors and can therefore do whatever he chooses to do that the rest of the nation’s aristocracy consider to be acceptable.

The assault against truth isn’t only against Assange, but it is instead also closing down many of the best, most courageous, independent news sites, such as washingtonsblog. However, in Assange’s case, the penalty for having a firm commitment to truth has been especially excruciating and will almost certainly end in his premature death. This is simply the reality. Because of the system under which we live, a 100% commitment to truth is now a clear pathway to oblivion. Assange is experiencing this reality to the fullest. That’s what’s happening here.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Libya’s Peace Process Dies in Palermo

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet to sort out their differences.

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Authored by Richard Galustian for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:


“Resounding flop” was the verdict of Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi on this week’s Libya peace conference held in Palermo. He’s not wrong. The conference hosted by Italy’s new government achieved the remarkable feat of making Libya’s tensions worse, not better. Acrimony broke out between the parties, and Turkey’s delegation walked out, its vice president Fuat Oktay accusing unnamed States of trying to “hijack the process.”

Some sources in Palermo suggested, yet to be verified, that the US thought the Conference was not too bad: a joke if true.

Moreover the mystery we might ask is what “process” is there to hijack? Because the truth is, the peace plan the conference was supporting is already dead.

That plan was the brainchild of the United Nations, launched more than a year ago with the aim of ending Libya’s split between warring Eastern and Western governments with elections in December.

Even before the first delegates set foot in the pleasant Sicilian city of Palermo this week, the UN admitted the election date of December 10 they had decided to scrap.

The eastern government, led by the parliament in Tobruk, had made moves in the summer to organize a referendum on a new constitution which would govern the elections. But no referendum was held, and most Libyans agree it would be pointless because Tripoli, home to a third of the country’s population, is under the iron grip of multiple warring militias who have the firepower to defy any new elected government. Hours after the delegates left Palermo, those militias began a new bout of fighting in the Tripoli suburbs.

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end of the talks was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet in a grand conference to sort out their differences – and this after four years of civil war. To say that chances of this are slim is an understatement.

Dominating the Palermo talks, and indeed Libya’s political landscape, was and is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, the country’s most powerful formation. In four years, the LNA has secured Libya’s key oil fields and Benghazi, its second city, ridding most of the east Libya of Islamist militias.

Haftar met reluctantly negotiators in Palermo, but insisted he was not part of the talks process. The Italian government press office said Haftar was not having dinner with the other participants nor joining them for talks. Haftar specifically opposed the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood champion, Qatar, at the event along with Turkey.

Haftar clearly only attended because he had a few days before visiting Moscow – which sent to Sicily Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – and because also of Egyptian President Sisi’s presence along with his allies.

Possibly Haftar was simply fed up. Twice in the past two years he has attended previous peace talks, hosted each time in Paris, giving the nod to declarations that Libya’s militias would dissolve. Yet the militias remain as strong as ever in Tripoli.

Haftar is detested by the militias and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) but supported by a large segment of the population – 68 percent, according to an opinion poll by America’s USAID. His popularity is based on a single policy – his demand that security be in the hands of regular police and military, not the militias.

Not everyone is happy, certainly not Turkey, which is backing Islamist, MB and Misratan forces in western Libya who detest Haftar. Yet Turkey’s greatest statesman, the great Kamal Ataturk, was a champion of secularism: After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War One Turkey faced the prospect of utter disintegration, and it was Attaturk who rose to the challenge, defending the country’s borders, while ordering that the mullahs, while responsible for spiritual welfare, have no political power.

Political Islam is not popular in Libya either. Libya is a Muslim country, its people know their faith, and most want government to be decided through the ballot box.

The problem for Libya is what happens next with the peace process broken. Haftar has in the past threatened to move on Tripoli and rid the militias by force if they refuse to dissolve, and it may come to that – a fierce escalation of the civil war.

The second possibility is that Libya will split. The east is, thanks to the LNA, militarily secure. It also controls two thirds of the country’s oil and operates as a separate entity, down to it banknotes, which are printed in Russia while the Tripoli government’s are printed in Britain. A formal split would be an economic boon for the lightly populated east, but a disaster for Tripolitania, its population losing most of the oil, its only source of export income.

Yet with the failure of peace talks, and no sign of Tripoli militias dissolving, military escalation or breakup seem more likely than ever.

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