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The 5th anniversary (11 September) of ‘Benghazi’ and over 7 years of Libyan turmoil

For America, Libya is a live issue mostly for the enduring controversy of Benghazi. Five years after the fact, key questions remain unanswered.

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The fifth anniversary of the killing of America’s Libya ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi on 11th September shows his murder and the chaos around it was a portent of things to come. Five years on, some of the same forces that stormed the US consulate in Benghazi killing him and three staffers have brought mayhem to the capital.

His killers came from the same militias the international community supported in the revolution in the year before his death that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Many of those militias were what they said they were: regular citizens who grabbed weapons and took to the streets to battle the regime. But others, including Ansar al Sharia, his murders, were bent on replacing one dictatorship with another – this time with their own leaders at the helm.

Ansar al Sharia and fellow Islamist militias went from strength to strength in Benghazi following Steven’s murder, ousting regular security forces in Benghazi and indulging in a wave of killings of civil activists, politicians and security personnel – an attempt to ‘gut’ Libya’s second city of leaders of all kinds.

That attempt failed bloodily when then Gen. Khalifa Haftar formed the Libya National Army and took the battle to the militias, pounding them out of Benghazi in a four-year battle that ended last year with thousands dead and the city centre in ruins.

But cadres from those same militias live on in Tripoli. Overtly Islamist agendas have often been subsumed into simple gangsterism, with four key militia groups dividing the city between them and forcing the weak United Nations created and supported Government of National Accord (GNA) to pay them lavish state funds.

The recent nine days of fighting in the capital, with the death of at least 65 people, many innocent civilians, came after a militia in the southern town of Tarhuna attacked the city: The militia, naming itself Seventh Brigade, wants a share of the payola lavished on the Big Four militias. The UN scrambled together a truce last week, but only at the expense of allowing ‘7 brigade’ to keep its gains in the southern suburbs, and with it a slice of the city’s population, its businesses and wealth.

Ordinary Libyans recoiled in horror from the Tripoli blood letting: Social media is alive with Libyans declaring they wish the old Gaddafi regime was back – not out of any love for him, but because today’s chaos is far worse than life under the dictator.

But chaos is what they have: The GNA has almost no support in the populace, kept alive only by support from the UN and ‘International Community’. Even militia chiefs have only partial control of their fighters, many of who are young men who were boys in 2011; they make up the bulk of the militias and many are hooked on a cocktail of opiates, use of which is exploding in the Libyan capital.

The GNA has wilted under pressure, basic services are breaking down: The militia truce has been followed by power cuts and water cuts, bread lines and currency shortages, with ordinary citizens reduced to taking water from wells and street drains. Independent media based inside Libya scarcely exists as journalists often face threats from armed groups or officials who do not tolerate critical coverage.

Worse, the so called ‘international community’ is split. Donald Trump has, wisely, announced that Libya has no strategic interest for the United States and America is adopting a low profile and his preference to support Italy’s strategy.

For America, Libya is a live issue mostly for the enduring controversy of Benghazi. Five years after the fact, and despite the trials of two Libyans accused of involvement in the killings, key questions remain unanswered.

Many doubt claims by former CIA chief John Brennan that his contractors were not forbidden from speaking about what happened to investigators.

Half a dozen congressional inquiries, and the two trials, have failed to explain just why the attackers overran the consulate that fateful night, or whether the US could have acted on warnings to move staff to safety prior to the attack.

On a point of detail, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, a former Army Ranger and private security contractor who was part of the CIA team that fought back during the September 2012 Benghazi terror attack, chose last month to remind us of the role of the former CIA Director, John Brennan accusing him of putting his “politics” before those in the field.

“He is lucky the security clearance is all he is getting away with,” Paronto told Fox News in an interview in August.

Paronto blasted Brennan after Brennan tweeted his disturbance at having his clearance pulled by President Donald Trump sighting his “principles” had been offended.

Paronto and his colleagues were even given by Brennan, non-disclosure agreements to sign during the memorial to their dead comrades, Ty Woods and Glenn Doherty, an unseemly incredibly offensive act on its own.

This, of course, was to try not to have the men speak out and rebut the story being pushed by the Obama administration, to shut them up. In fact John Brennan categorically denied that the CIA had discouraged the contractors from speaking out. A lie.

When the Benghazi survivors couldn’t take anymore mendacity they spoke out, resulting in their security clearances being pulled. What irony!

So with America out of the game and Britain consumed with Brexit, the two leading foreign powers are France and Italy, and they are split. Both are at daggers drawn: France backs Haftar, seeing him as the only force capable of defeating the militias, and wants elections for December to end Libya’s chaos. Italy counters that Libya’s chaos is too chaotic for elections, urging a postponement, and accusing France of being part responsible for the mess.

Italy’s defence and interior ministers blame the chaos partly on the 2011 NATO intervention, in which France led the field, while the prestigious Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera writes:

“Without the slightest hint of chauvinism one can say that by supporting General Haftar’s ambitions for power, Emmanuel Macron has resolved to bring to completion the operation begun with Nicolas Sarkozy’s initial intervention seven years ago. At our expense. And at the expense of the formal legality of the GNA government of Prime Minister Al Serraj, who, with our support and that of the international community, remains our only diplomatic success in the region to date.”

Rome supports Haftar’s rival, the GNA, which is cooperating in stopping migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean, but this comes with its own problems: “Any false step by Rome, dictated by the imprudence of the moment, would immediately be exploited by the French president,” says Italian newspaper Corriere del Ticino. “If Rome doesn’t want to further weaken its position on the Libyan chessboard (on the pretext of doing something about the insecurity of the refugee routes) the only path is rationality and diplomacy.”

What neither Rome nor Paris can come up with is a strategy to combat the all powerful Tripoli militias who are bleeding the country of its lifeblood: Italy evacuated non-essential staff from its embassy during the recent militia battles and the anarchy was underlined on Monday (Sept 10) when a yet to be named militia stormed Tripoli’s National Oil Corporation. While militias rule the capital, the chaos and suffering will go on.

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The DEVIL that opened the Floodgates of Mass illegal migration to Europe causing pain & suffering for millions & immeasurable wealth & joy for her cabal.

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“The Honorable”…………LMAO.

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There is another Sept. 11 anniversary: 1973…when the Allende government in Chile was toppled by the US/Pinochet.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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Saudi Arabia trying to squirm free of Khashoggi murder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 2.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s possible admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi…accidentally, while they were torturing the man inside the consulate in Istanbul.

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Via Zerohedge

Even before the publication of last night’s Saudi trial balloon hinting that the kingdom would soon acknowledge that the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi – the insider-turned dissident journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and never walked back out – was the result of a “botched” kidnapping attempt carried out by “rogue killers” (despite reports that the US intelligence community knew that Khashoggi was being “targeted”), two realities had become increasingly clear. One: That the Saudis would avoid responsibility for the killing by pinning it on some unfortunate underling, and two: that there would be few, if any, lasting diplomatic repercussions.

And as more media organizations confirmed reports about Saudi’s plans to spin Khashoggi’s murder as a botched interrogation (we can only imagine what was said in that room to justify the use of such extreme violence), CNN calculated the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh for approximately 15 minutes early Tuesday, following his 12-hour-plus flight to the kingdom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia lasted no more than 15 minutes, CNN estimates based on the time the top US diplomat’s motorcade arrived at the royal court and departed.

The motorcade arrived at the royal court at 11:42 a.m. (4:42 a.m. ET) and left 26 minutes later. There is a fair distance to walk from where the motorcade dropped Pompeo off to where he met the king.

While Trump said on Monday that Pompeo would travel to Turkey “if necessary”, the Saudi’s decision to “come clean” about Khashoggi’s death pretty much rendered Pompeo’s fact-finding mission unnecessary.More important are developments in Turkey, where the joint Saudi-Turkish “investigation” is turning its attention toward the home of the Saudi consul, where a black diplomatic van that departed the Saudi consulate just under two hours after Khashoggi entered was captured on camera disappearing into a garage. Some speculate that this is where the killers finished disposing of Khashoggi’s body. This comes after a “nine-hour” search of the Saudi consulate building that, according to leaks published in Al-Jazeera, turned up “evidence of tampering” by the Saudis. On Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister clarified that Saudi had yet to admit its role in Khashoggi’s disappearance and probable death.

Turkish investigators will carry out a search of the Saudi Consul General’s residence on Tuesday as the probe into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

CCTV footage released to the media from the day the Washington Post writer vanished show movement of vehicles from the consulate building to the Consul General’s residence nearby.

As speculation mounts that the incident could unseat the increasingly authoritarian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (who has already marginalized or incapacitated nearly every threat to his rule), it’s looking more likely that neither the US nor the rest of the Western world will do much to punish the world’s most important oil exporter, which can “weaponize” the oil market seemingly on a whim.

Any punishment for this flagrant violation of human rights will need to come, therefore, from the private sector, which, according to Bloomberg, could sabotage MbS’s grand Vision 2030 plan, which aims to remake the Saudi economy via a flood of foreign direct investment:

The economic strategy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS, is to make investment the main engine of economic growth instead of government spending, but the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could frustrate these ambitions. Foreign direct investment, a key part of the plan to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s economy, declined sharply in 2017 and is unlikely to return to previous levels, leaving the government’s target for 2020 beyond reach, according to analysis by Bloomberg Economics. Increased policy uncertainty and, after the Khashoggi incident, the risk of reputational damage to foreign companies working in Saudi Arabia won’t help.

 

 

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