North Africa
libya

Libya: new fighting between rival governments

Heavy fighting broke out in Libya’s capital city of Tripoli, killing at least 32 people and raising concerns of a return to all-out war. Civilians were reportedly among those killed and injured in the clashes between forces loyal to Libya’s two rival governments: a Tripoli-based Government of National Unity headed by Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, and a House of Representatives based in the eastern city of Tobruk that chose its own prime minister for the country, Fathi Bashagha, in February. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
libya

UN releases evidence of mass graves in Libya

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) released a report containing evidence of mass graves in the Libyan city of Tarhuna, southeast of Tripoli. The report estimates there could be as many as 100 undiscovered mass graves in the city. It claims that the al-Kaniyat militia, in power in Tarhuna from 2016 to 2020, is responsible for mass killings there. The militia is alleged to have used brutal torture methods on residents including women, children, the infirm, and the disabled. UNSMIL calls on Libyan authorities to “[e]stablish a Special Tribunal for Tarhuna to prosecute international crimes” and “[c]ontinue searching for the missing and for remaining mass graves…” (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
libya

Russian mercenaries accused in Libya atrocities

A report to the Security Council by a panel of UN human rights experts finds that foreign fighters and private military companies are responsible for grave abuses in Libya—especially naming Russia’s Wagner Group. The report was classified “confidential,” but a copy was leaked to the Associated Press. It finds that both Turkish-backed militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) and the Wagner Group, apparently contracted by eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, have employed mercenaries who were veterans of the war in Syria. GNA-aligned militias are implicated in abuses of migrants, who have been “regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture.” The Wager Group is accused of planting unmarked anti-personnel mines on the southern periphery of Tripoli, when the city was besieged by Haftar’s forces from April 2019 to October 2020. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Africa
Sahel

Sahel: deadly violence in mining sector

At least two were killed as security forces attacked protesting gold miners at Burkina Faso’s western HoundĂ© commune. The protesters were demanding release of 12 of their comrades who had been arrested a week earlier, when informal miners angered by government moves to expel their camps overran and ransacked the facilities of HoundĂ© Gold Operation, a subsidiary of UK-based multinational Endeavour Mining. In far greater violence, fighting between rival groups of informal gold miners in the remote north of Chad left an estimated 200 dead. The clashes at Kouri Bougoudi, in the Tibesti mountains on the Libyan border, apparently pitted ethnic Arabs against members of the Tama community. (Map: Wikivoyage)

North Africa
libya

ICC reveals Libya investigation strategy

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim AA Khan revealed a new strategy for the ongoing investigation into the situation in Libya to the UN Security Council. The ICC investigation focuses on accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Libya since the outbreak of the revolution against Moammar Qaddafi’s government in February 2011. The investigation also covers three unexecuted arrest warrants issued by the ICC. The ICC began its investigation in March 2011. Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute. Therefore, the ICC derives its jurisdiction for this investigation from a unanimous reference by the Security Council in Resolution 1970. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
libya

Libya’s two prime ministers

Libya’s eastern-based parliament chose a new prime minister for the country, former interior minister Fathi Bashagha. The only problem… Libya already has an interim prime minister: Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, chosen by a UN-led process to head the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. Dbeibah was supposed to guide the fractured country through presidential elections in December, but they were postponed after contestation over the rules governing the process. Dbeibah had promised not to run for president but put his hat in the ring anyway, with the rules apparently mandating that he step down as prime minister three months before the polls—which he did not do. The Tobruk-based parliament says the deadline means Dbeibah’s time is up, but he says he won’t hand over power until elections take place. He reportedly survived an assassination attempt shortly before the parliament’s move to replace him. None of this bodes well for Libyans’ long quest for a united country. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

North Africa
libya protest

Migrant protest camp broken up in Libya

More than 600 asylum-seekers and migrants were detained when Libyan security forces cleared a protest encampment in front of an aid center run by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, in the capital city of Tripoli. The protesters—who were asking for protection, and evacuation from Libya—had been camped out since last October, when Libyan security forces violently rounded up more than 5,000 asylum-seekers and migrants, forcing them into notoriously grim detention centers. Before the raid on the protest camp, UNHCR permanently closed the center in Tripoli, leaving thousands without humanitarian assistance. The Norwegian Refugee Council said the most recent arrests were the “culmination of a disastrous situation,” and MĂ©decins Sans Frontières called on the EU to “stop supporting…an unending system of detention, abuse, and violence in Libya.” The EU backs the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepted more than 32,000 asylum-seekers and migrants at sea last year, returning them to detention centers. (Photo: Kaka Fur via InfoMigrants)

North Africa
libya

Libya: unrest as elections postponed

Several Libyan parliamentary candidates are calling for nationwide protests over the cancellation of the country’s long-awaited presidential election. The electoral commission has proposed putting off the polls for a month, citing lack of preparedness amid bureaucratic chaos. But the postponement threatens the country’s fragile peace deal. Clashes broke out last week in the southern city of Sabha between local security forces and fighters loyal to eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, who has announced his candidacy for president. Another presidential hopeful is Saif al-Islam Qaddafi—who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed during the revolution that overthrew his father 10 years ago. Also running is current interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. All three have faced challenges to their right to run, and Human Rights Watch has expressed concern over whether the elections can be free and fair given the atmosphere of insecurity and repression. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Watching the Shadows
killer robot

UN chief calls for action against autonomous weapons

UN Secretary General AntĂłnio Guterres called upon member states to devise “an ambitious plan…to establish restrictions on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons” ahead of the Sixth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). A coalition of over 65 CCW states has endorsed a proposed ban on lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS). But some member states, including the US and Russia, oppose the ban. States such as the US, Israel, India and France are believed to oppose the ban owing to their heavy investments into the development of AI for military use. (Photo: Future of Life Institute)

Planet Watch
Aleppo

Podcast: R2P in the 21st Century

In Episode 101 of the CounterVortex podcast, we present the audio from a panel at the Ninth International Herbert Marcuse Society Conference, held in October at Arizona State University in Tempe. The panel, “The Responsibility to Protect in the Twenty-First Century,” features two presentations. Javier Sethness speaks on “Realism, Egalitarianism, and Internationalism,” providing a theoretical and historical framework, including a discussion of Herbert Marcuse‘s work with US intelligence in World War II. Bill Weinberg, speaking from New York, follows with “For Solidarity; Against Dictators and Campism,” discussing contemporary examples, including Syria, Libya, Burma and Taiwan. A third presentation was to have been offered by Anner G. in Ethiopia, on “The Responsibility to Protect in Tigray,” but she was unable to join. The work of her group, Horn Anarchists, is discussed in Weinberg’s presentation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Destruction of Aleppo, via 7ee6an)

North Africa
libya

Crimes against humanity in Libya?

At least six people were killed and dozens more wounded by guards who opened fire at asylum seekers and migrants attempting to escape en masse from an overcrowded detention center in Tripoli. This came after Libyan authorities rounded up and detained at least 5,000 asylum seekers and migrants in the capital. Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council said it believes “crimes against humanity” have been committed in Libya’s detention centers. So far this year, more than 26,000 migrants and asylum seekers have been intercepted by the EU-backed Libyan Coast Guard and returned to the centers, where they face a well-documented cycle of abuse. Despite human rights concerns, the EU executive body, the European Commission, is preparing to deliver new patrol boats to the Libyan Coast Guard. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)