Category: Libya


An investigation just released from The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick paints the best picture yet of what led to the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya last year that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Kirkpatick concludes the explanation is not black and white. Benghazi was not completely spontaneous, but not completely planned either — a clash of anger and opportunity that boiled over and got out of hand.

Questions have swirled since news broke the consulate was under attack on September 11, 2012. Originally we were told it was a spontaneous assault over a Youtube video, then that it was planned anti-U.S. terrorist attack. On the Sunday talk shows, Susan Rice, then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said American intelligence officials told her the attack started over “Innocence of Muslims,” an anti-Muslim short movie trailer that appeared on Youtube, and it cost her Secretary of State. The video explanation was quickly abandoned for a loved-by-Republicans conspiracy theory that says the attack was a carefully planned Al Qaeda plot to celebrate the anniversary of September 11th. [Read the full article]

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Kenya’s women fight for justice as rapists are sentenced to cut the grass | The Guardian

Funerals can be lengthy affairs in western Kenya, and Liz, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, was out late at a wake for her grandfather that had stretched into the evening. She was on her way home when she recognised some familiar and unfriendly faces in the darkness. She knew instantly that the six men in front of her meant her harm. A tall girl, she tried to run. When they caught up with her, she tried to fight. Her attackers, thought to be aged between 16 and 20, began by punching and kicking her. After she was hurt too badly to resist, they took it in turns to rape her. The problem was that the teenager would not submit quietly: she kept screaming.

When they had finished with the girl, they dragged her to a deep pit-latrine nearby and threw her inside. But despite her horrendous injuries and a fall of nearly 12ft (3.6m), Liz managed to find the earthen steps used by the workers who dug the latrine to get out. As she pulled her broken body up the steps, villagers who had heard her cries found her. [Read the full article]

Rebels retreat as Congo army captures eastern strongholds | Chicago Tribune

RUTSHURU, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo said on Monday they had abandoned a key military base and retreated into the bush but vowed to continue their fight despite four days of defeats by the Congolese army.

The victories by government forces backed by a new U.N. intervention brigade have boosted a belief that the army, which is notoriously undisciplined and under-supplied, could finally quell a 20-month insurgency by so-called M-23 rebels which has displaced tens of thousands of people in the mineral-rich area. [Read the full article]

Abyei referendum enters second day | Al Jazeera

Residents of the oil-rich Abyei region claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan have continued to cast their ballots in an unofficial referendum to decide which country they belong to.

The voting began on Sunday with neither Sudan nor South Sudan endorsing it, and only one of two tribes that inhabit the disputed district, the Ngok Dinka, took part.

The Arab Misseriya, who have close ties with Sudan, boycotted saying they would not recognise the result, expected on October 31. [Read the full article]

Al-Shabaab rebuilds forces in Somalia as African Union campaign stalls | The Guardian

A Kenyan soldier clambers up to his sentry post and stares out across vast plains of bush, acacia trees and red dust. The savanna is peaceful now, but he knows that when darkness falls the enemy will return, typically a band of 15-20 men armed with AK-47 rifles. “Every night they are in front of us,” the soldier says. “They shoot and go. They run away.”

Along the front line, the Kenyans have piled clusters of green sandbags to provide cover. Behind them, a military base is protected by high walls crowned with razor wire. About 1,200 troops from Kenya and Sierra Leone are garrisoned in this desolate Somali hinterland. On an average day, green, heavy armoured vehicles set off to patrol the crucial port city of Kismayo, running the gauntlet of roadside bombs, a deadly tactic imported from Afghanistan and Iraq. In punishing heat, soldiers can be seen rolling a surveillance drone across the tarmac of the Italian-built airport. [Read the full article]

Libya: Militias, politicians meld in an explosive mix | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Libya marked two years since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi last week, but instead of the freedom and development Libyans had hoped for, the country has fallen deeper into anarchy. Rival Islamist and Western-backed factions are melding with the country’s dizzying array of militias, turning political feuds into armed conflict.

Militias that include Islamic extremists are lining up with Islamist politicians in parliament, who have been trying to remove Western-backed Prime Minister Ali Zidan and bring stricter Islamic rule. Other armed groups support Mr. Zidan’s non-Islamist allies. The result is a fractured system where political rivalries have the potential to erupt into civil war. [Read the full article]

United States Capitol

 

WASHINGTON — Two of the Justice Department’s key witnesses in last year’s terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, were summoned to Capitol Hill this month and grilled for hours in separate legal depositions.

Responding to congressional subpoenas, the State Department security agents were asked how the Libyan terrorists stormed the mission and set parts of it on fire, how they were armed and how they killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, sources with knowledge of the matter said. The agents also were asked about security breakdowns and whether the administration reacted appropriately to the Sept. 11, 2012, assault.

How those highly guarded and secret interviews came about was part of an increasingly bitter dispute between two branches of the federal government. [Read the full article]

 

Flag-map of Libya

Walking through the dim, narrow mud-brick corridor that serves as an entrance to Qasr al-Hajj — an 800-year-old fortified granary, a castle-like structure unique to the Berber community of Libya’s Nafusa Mountains — one encounters a curious sight nestled among a number of traditional farm implements: A recently discovered large earthenware jar. After local revolutionaries found it concealed in one of the castle’s storage rooms in 2012, they cracked it open and uncovered golden heads of wheat that were harvested in the fall of 1968, roughly a year before Muammar Qadhafi and his Free Officers took power. The plump wheat grains remained unspoiled during the intervening years; after all of this time, they are still ready to be ground into flour and baked into bread.

Our guide, Ali al-Haji, a Berber man who helped protect Qasr al-Hajj from potential looters during the 2011 revolution and who continues to serve as the site’s custodian, seemed to think that Libya holds the same potential as the forgotten wheat. A year after the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, he dismissed concerns that Libya was experiencing a descent into violence or anarchy. “If there were half as many guns or released convicts on the streets of Cairo or Damascus, as we have in Libya, think of the chaos!” Our experience roughly mirrored al-Haji’s sanguine assessments of Libyans’ self-control and its fundamentally strong social and tribal system. Over the course of our journey southwestward from Tripoli into the mountains, we traveled hundreds of miles on main and local roads, were stuck in myriad traffic jams and never once saw armed men, militia vehicles, or spontaneous militia checkpoints. The checkpoints and the public display of artillery, which had characterized Tripoli and its environs in late 2011 and 2012, have simply disappeared. (But so have the police cars of the pre-revolutionary era.) [Read the full article]

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