Friday, August 01, 2014

Benghazi Bites The Dust?- Declared An Islamic Emirate

The fall of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi spawned the rise of the Salafist jihadi militant group Ansar al-Sharia. Those same Islamists responsible for the murder of  U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and several other Americans during the 2012 Benghazi attack, have been battling to take over Benghazi ever since, and have finally succeeded.  At least that's what they claim. As of late Wednesday, Benghazi is now an "Islamic emirate", says Mohammed al-Zahawi, Ansar al-Sharia's spokesperson.

Not so, says Khalifa Haftar.
"..Khalifa Haftar, a retired, renegade former army general who earlier this year launched a self-declared campaign to clear the city of Islamist militants, denied the group’s claims.

“The national Libyan army is in control of Benghazi and only withdrew from certain positions for tactical reasons,” Haftar told Al Arabiya News Channel.

“The claim that Benghazi is under the control of militias is a lie,” he said.

So, did Benghazi bite the dust and fall to Ansar al-Sharia?  Hard to tell, at this point, but I'm sure in the coming days it will become clearer who actually controls the city.  We know there have been some recent major battles in Benghazi, attacks on the airport prompting an evacuation of American personnel from the city, and news that an army base was taken over by Islamists and militiamen, so I'm thinking it's more likely that Ansar al-Sharia accomplished its goal. For now. And if they have, expect more bloodshed.

More here.

The rising tide of Islamism does not bode well for that region.

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