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Long forgotten in Western mainstream media, Libya has suddenly come back into headlines as a small civil war is erupting within areas under control of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.
Scores of people have been killed and wounded amidst intensifying clashes in the Libyan capital as rival factions vie for control of the city.
Notably, the clashes have involved the shelling of residential areas in southern sections of Tripoli, street-to-street fighting, and tanks in the streets, reminiscent of the 2011 war which eventually led to a NATO air campaign and forcible removal and assassination of Libya’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Al-Jazeera reports Monday’s escalating violence which began over the weekend, and which has resulted in a declared state of emergency being throughout the capital:
At least four people have been killed and seven others wounded in clashes that broke out between rival armed groups in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, as they attempt to take control of the city.
The health ministry declared a state of emergency on Monday, according to local media, after the Sunday evening clashes continued to escalate.
The fighting erupted between local militias and al-Kani tribal fighters from Tarhouna, southeast of Tripoli, who are sending reinforcements to the country’s north.
Local and international reports confirm that both sides of the fighting are loyal to the UN and internationally backed GNA.
By the end of the day, the Associated Press reported at least 27 people wounded, according the Libyan Health Ministry.
And further according to the AP: The United Nations Support Mission in Libya has voiced concerns over “the use of indiscriminate fire and heavy weapons in densely populated residential areas.”
Footage of ongoing clashes in Tripoli published by The Libyan Observer on Monday:
The English language UK-based Libyan Express described the scene of Monday’s fighting based on eyewitnesses:
Heavy weapons, including artillery, have been used in the fighting, according to witnesses. Residential areas have been hit by what seems to be random shelling and several families have had to evacuate their homes.
Roads were blocked, while tanks and armoured vehicles were seen at several places across the city.
Since the NATO-backed overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has remained split between rival parliaments and governments in the east and west, with militias and tribes lining up behind each, resulting in fierce periodic clashes.
A factory in Wadi Al-Rabee hit. Civilian homes hit. More civilian casualties reported during ongoing clashes in #Tripoli. Heavy shootings can still be heard in Ainzara area #Libya pic.twitter.com/d7yszlunUX
— Nadia Ramadan (@NadiaR_LY) August 27, 2018
Perhaps the most significant of these warring militias is Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which controls much of eastern Libya.
Haftar is reportedly poised to make a move on Libya’s vital “oil crescent region” while bolstering his forces with Chadian mercenaries, according to local reports.
ISIS also maintains a scattered presence in various parts of the country, claiming responsibility for a deadly attack on a security checkpoint as recently as this weekend in the western part of the country. Six soldiers loyal to the GNA were reportedly killed in that attack.
Meanwhile the GNA is trying to bring its own factions to heel after days of violence increasingly impacting densely populated residential areas, yet seems helpless to act.
“We warn these gangs and outlawed groups that have terrorised civilians and residents; there is no space for such lawlessness and chaos,” the GNA’s Presidential Council said in a statement. “We have given orders to the interior ministry to counter these attacks,” the statement said.
Though the recently “liberated” Libya has remained conflict-prone after NATO and US forces promised an “Arab Spring”-style “blossoming of democracy” — things have clearly only gone from worse to worse as the capital now inches toward full blown civil war.
Welcome to the “new” Libya… where the US and UN recognized government is at war with itself.
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Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) dropped a late-night bombshell on Monday suggesting there’s evidence that the FBI and DOJ rigged their own FISA spy warrants by leaking information to the press, then using the resultant articles to obtain court authorization to surveil targets.
“We’ve learned NEW information suggesting our suspicions are true: FBI/DOJ have previously leaked info to the press, and then used those same press stories as a separate source to justify FISA’s,” tweeted Meadows.
We’ve learned NEW information suggesting our suspicions are true: FBI/DOJ have previously leaked info to the press, and then used those same press stories as a separate source to justify FISA’s
Unreal. Tomorrow’s Bruce Ohr interview is even more critical. Did he ever do this?
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) August 28, 2018
Until now, we’ve known that the creator of the so-called Steele Dossier, former UK spy Christopher Steele, leaked information directly to Yahoo! News journalist Michael Isikoff – whose article became a supporting piece of evidence in the FBI’s FISA warrant application and subsequent renewals for Trump adviser Carter Page.
So while we’ve known that Steele seeded Isikoff with information from his dubious dossier, and that the FBI then used both Steele’s dossier and Isikoff’s Steele-inspired article to game the FISA system, Rep. Mark Meadows now says that the FBI/DOJ directly leaked information to the press, which they then used for the same type of FISA scheme.
Strong evidence was discovered in January suggesting that former FBI employee Lisa Page leaked privileged information to Devlin Barrett, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and now with the Washington Post. Whether any of Barrett’s reporting was subsequently used to obtain a FISA warrant is unknown.
Meanwhile, Rep. Meadows’s Monday night tweet comes hours before twice-demoted DOJ employee Bruce Ohr is set to give closed-door testimony to the House Oversight Committee. Ohr was caught lying about his involvement with opposition research firm Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson – who employed Steele. Ohr’s CIA-linked wife, Nellie, was also employed by Fusion as part of the firm’s anti-Trump efforts, and had ongoing communications with the ex-UK spy, Christopher Steele as well.
– Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for the firm hired by the Clinton campaign to write the dossier
– Bruce Ohr gave the dossier to the FBI
– The FBI then used the same dossier to spy on the Trump campaign
When he comes to Congress tomorrow, Bruce Ohr has explaining to do
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) August 27, 2018
Based on new emails recently turned over to Congressional investigators, Ohr was revealed to have been feeding information to the FBI from Steele, long after the FBI had officially cut Steele off for inappropriate leaks to the press.
“Conspiracy theorists” ? We have emails showing Bruce Ohr and Chris Steele, Clinton-paid dossier author, were frequently communicating. Ohr was getting info from Steele long after the FBI claimed Steele was formally ‘terminated’ as a source. They had 60+ contacts. https://t.co/8kWP9Vi7PB
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) August 21, 2018
Ohr’s role as a conduit between Steele and the FBI continued for months and resulted in 12 separate FBI interviews, including several after Trump’s inauguration. According to Ohr’s then-supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Ohr worked on the Russia probe without his permission and without his knowledge. –The Federalist
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy vowed that Tuesday’s Ohr testimony would “get to the bottom of what he did, why he did it, who he did it in concert with, whether he had the permission of the supervisors at the Department of Justice.”
Last week, President Trump called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire Ohr after his and Nellie’s relationship with Simpson emerged. Trump tweeted: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions ‘Justice’ Department? A total joke!”
Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions “Justice” Department? A total joke!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2018
Earlier in August, Trump called Ohr a “disgrace,” and warned that he may be pulling his security clearance “very quickly.”
Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”
“Very concerned about Comey’s firing, afraid they will be exposed,” said Bruce Ohr. DOJ’s Emails & Notes show Bruce Ohr’s connection to (phony & discredited) Trump Dossier. A creep thinking he would get caught in a dishonest act. Rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
“The FBI received documents from Bruce Ohr (of the Justice Department & whose wife Nelly worked for Fusion GPS).” Disgraced and fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok. This is too crazy to be believed! The Rigged Witch Hunt has zero credibility.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
More Ohr questions remain. For example, why did Nellie Ohr obtain a Ham Radio license right in May, 2016? As Ham enthusiast George Parry wondered in The Federalist in March, was it to avoid detection while working on the anti-Trump effort?
So, was Nellie Ohr’s late-in-life foray into ham radio an effort to evade the Rogers-led NSA detecting her participation in compiling the Russian-sourced Steele dossier? Just as her husband’s omissions on his DOJ ethics forms raise an inference of improper motive, any competent prosecutor could use the circumstantial evidence of her taking up ham radio while digging for dirt on Trump to prove her consciousness of guilt and intention to conceal illegal activities. –The Federalist
And since none of this apparently justifies the appointment of a second special counsel by the DOJ, perhaps Bruce can offer up some answers during Tuesday’s session? Of course, we’ll never know what he said unless someone leaks.
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