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|Libya has declared a state of emergency as the air force attacked gunmen in the remote south to end unrest between rival armed groups that have been clashing for days.
The General National Congress, Libya’s highest political authority, took the decision on Saturday during an “extraordinary session” after the parliament put the army on alert as gunmen stormed the air force base, Tamenhant, near the southern city of Sabha, an official said.
“A force was readied, then aircraft moved and took off and dealt with the targets,” Abdul-Raziq al-Shabahi, defence ministry spokesman, told reporters in Tripoli.
He said the army was tracking the attackers after they fled into the desert.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said a small group of gunmen had entered the air force base outside Sabha, 770km south of the capital Tripoli, but the government was in control of the town and its civilian airport.
“This confrontation (at the air base) is continuing but in a few hours it will be solved,” the prime minister told a televised address, without elaborating.
Zeidan said he had sent his defence minister to Misrata to instruct troops based there to move to the south.
“The troops from Misrata have been commissioned by the government to conduct a national task … to spread security and stability in the region,” he said in the address.
Local sources said the clashes that started last week were sparked by the death of a rebel chief linked to the Awled Sleiman, adding that the tribe accused the Toubou of murdering him.
The Toubou are black oasis farmers by tradition who also live in southern Libya, northern Chad and Niger, who have repeatedly said they were being marginalised.
Western powers fear the OPEC producer will slide into instability as the government struggles to contain heavily-armed groups and tribesmen who helped topped Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but refuse to disarm.
Take one serving of pre-triple dip recessionary France, add a dash of US-made drones, drop a pinch of Al Qaeda scapegoating and the now generic false flags, and let it all simmer in the latest global conflict in which the uninvited west has decided it is its moral role to intervene, and what you get is the latest hilarious development out of military superpower France, which is now preparing to unleash US drones in West Africa. The comedic possibilities one ends up with are countless.
France will deploy its first U.S.-made unarmed surveillance drones to West Africa by the end of the year, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday, as it seeks to “eliminate all traces of al Qaeda”.
France’s military intervention in Mali in January exposed its shortage of surveillance drones suitable for modern warfare, forcing it to rely on the United States to provide French commanders with intelligence from drones based in neighbouring Niger.
Paris said in June it would buy 12 Reaper reconnaissance drones built by privately owned U.S. firm General Atomics to eventually replace its EADS-made Harfang drones.
“Two drones that we have bought will be operational by the end of the year in Africa, in the Sahel. That is their main mission,” Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.
Niger gave permission in January for U.S. surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in the region. Le Drian said pockets of militants remained in Mali, whom Paris would go after. They included veteran Islamist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who claimed responsibility for attacks in Niger and on Algeria’s In Amenas gas plant earlier this year.
The humor does not end there:
“We have led successful counter-terrorism attacks in recent days and we will continue to act to eliminate all traces of al Qaeda,” he said. “These terrorist groups come and go, regroup and then disperse, so we need to follow them closely. This will be the role of our forces in 2014. There will be 1,000 soldiers in Mali whose main mission will be counter-terrorism.”
French forces killed 19 Islamist fighters during security operations in Mali’s northern region of Timbuktu earlier this month.
France intervened in Mali at the start of the year as Islamist forces, who seized control of the north in the confusion following a military coup in March 2012, pushed towards the capital Bamako.
Their advance lifted Mali to the forefront of U.S. and European security concerns, with fears the Islamists would turn the country into a base for international attacks.
Such pristine, unrequited nobility…
Of course, what was not mentioned anywhere, is that France, with its multi-decade high unemployment, is on the verge of a recession. And not just any recession, but a triple-dip, which would make it Europe’s first country to undergo a triple dip in the Eurozone’s history. So what is this socialist paradise to do? Why read chapter 1 of Keynes for Idiots of course: when in depression, start – or escalate – a war.