The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Laura King and Amro Hassan, Los Angeles Times

CAIRO — Libya’s Interior Ministry announced Wednesday it was throwing its support behind Khalifa Haftar, a former army general who last week launched an unauthorized armed offensive against Islamist militias and their political allies.

The tumult in the North African nation, previously a major oil producer, has shattered the country’s fragile political order, with heavily armed militias across the country lining up behind the Islamists, Haftar or the weak central government.

Diplomats and representatives of foreign businesses, including some major energy concerns, have been abandoning Tripoli amid the deepening chaos. U.S. Marines were standing by in Sicily in case a decision is made to evacuate the American Embassy, according to officials in Washington.

The Interior Ministry’s statement, reported by the official LANA news agency, marked the latest in a series of high-profile official defections from the central government, which has been trying to rein in Haftar and his forces. In the previous 24 hours, expressions of support for him had come from the head of Libya’s air force, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations and ousted Prime Minister Ali Zidan.

The impact of the ministry’s decision to abide by “the will of the people” and back Haftar was not immediately clear. The ministry theoretically commands all police and paramilitary troops, but individual police units sometimes strike alliances with local militia chieftains.

Haftar has demanded the disbanding of the Islamist-dominated parliament, and the government responded by setting elections for June 25. But it appeared that concession would not satisfy the renegade ex-general.

More fighting erupted early Wednesday in the vicinity of Tripoli, and Reuters news service reported at least two deaths. Haftar is based in the eastern city of Benghazi, where he launched his offensive, but over the weekend his forces brought the battle to Tripoli, brazenly storming the parliament building.

Haftar, a onetime loyalist of toppled strongman Moammar Gadhafi, returned to Libya in 2011 from the U.S., where he had been living, to take part in the uprising against him. He calls his forces the National Army, and has said he would be willing to become president if there was popular demand that he do so.

AFP Photo/Abdullah Doma
To stay updated with news across the world, sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

President Joe Biden

The price of gasoline is not Joe Biden's fault, nor did it break records. Adjusted for inflation, it was higher in 2008 when Republican George W. Bush was president. And that wasn't Bush's fault, either.

We don't have to like today's inflation, but that problem, too, is not Biden's doing. Republicans are nonetheless hot to pin the rap on him. Rising prices, mostly tied to oil, have numerous causes. There would be greater supply of oil and gas, they say, if Biden were more open to approving pipelines and more drilling on public land.

Keep reading... Show less
Youtube Screenshot

Heat deaths in the U.S. peak in July and August, and as that period kicks off, a new report from Public Citizen highlights heat as a major workplace safety issue. With basically every year breaking heat records thanks to climate change, this is only going to get worse without significant action to protect workers from injury and death.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration admits that government data on heat-related injury, illness, and death on the job are “likely vast underestimates.” Those vast underestimates are “about 3,400 workplace heat-related injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work per year from 2011 to 2020” and an average of 40 fatalities a year. Looking deeper, Public Citizen found, “An analysis of more than 11 million workers’ compensation injury reports in California from 2001 through 2018 found that working on days with hotter temperatures likely caused about 20,000 injuries and illnesses per year in that state, alone—an extraordinary 300 times the annual number injuries and illnesses that California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) attributes to heat.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}