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The Fight Against Climate Change, for ever

The Fight Against Climate Change, for ever


IMFBlog on December 2, 2019, posted this excellent article The Adaptive Age by Kristalina Georgieva whose advice is that No institution or individual can stand on the sidelines in the fight against climate change, for ever that is.

The COP 25 that started yesterday is designed to take the next crucial steps in the UN climate process.  This article is republished in the hope that these right words could help the MENA peoples contribute their share in this world collective endeavour.


 


When I think of the incredible challenges we must confront in the face of a changing climate, my mind focuses on young people. Eventually, they will be the ones either to enjoy the fruits or bear the burdens resulting from actions taken today.

(photo: SOPA images/Newscom)

I think of my 9-year-old granddaughter. By the time she turns 20, she may be witness to climate change so profound that it pushes an additional 100 million people into poverty. By the time she turns 40, 140 million may become climate migrants—people forced to flee homes that are no longer safe or able to provide them with livelihoods. And if she lives to be 90, the planet may be 3–4° hotter and barely livable.

Unless we act. We can avoid this bleak future, and we know what we have to do—reduce emissions, offset what cannot be reduced, and adapt to new climate realities. No individual or institution can stand on the sidelines.

Ready or not, we are entering an age of adaptation. And we need to be smart about it.

Reality check

Our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various mitigation measures—phasing out fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency, adopting renewable energy sources, improving land use and agricultural practices—continue to move forward, but the pace is too slow. We have to scale up and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. At the same time, we must recognize that climate change is already happening and affecting the lives of millions of people. There are more frequent and more severe weather-related events—more droughts, more floods, more heatwaves, more storms.

Ready or not, we are entering an age of adaptation. And we need to be smart about it. Adaptation is not a defeat, but rather a defense against what is already happening. The right investments will deliver a “triple dividend” by averting future losses, spurring economic gains through innovation, and delivering social and environmental benefits to everyone, but particularly to those currently affected and most at risk. Updated building codes can ensure infrastructure and buildings are better able to withstand extreme events. Making agriculture more climate resilient means investing more money in research and development, which in turn opens the door to innovation, growth, and healthier communities.

The IMF is stepping up its efforts to deal with climate risk. Our mission is to help our members build stronger economies and improve people’s lives through sound monetary, fiscal, and structural policies. We consider climate change a systemic risk to the macroeconomy and one in which the IMF is deeply involved through its research and policy advice.

Mitigation plus adaptation

On the mitigation side of the equation, this means intensifying our work on carbon pricing and helping governments craft road maps as they navigate their way from brown economies dependent on carbon to green ones that strive to be carbon-free. Carbon taxes are one of the most powerful and efficient tools at their disposal—the latest IMF analysis finds that large emitting countries need to introduce a carbon tax that rises quickly to $75 a ton in 2030, consistent with limiting global warming to 2°C or less. But carbon taxes must be implemented in a careful and growth-friendly fashion. The key is to retool the tax system in fair, creative, and efficient ways—not just add a new tax. A good example is Sweden, where low- and middle-income households received higher transfers and tax cuts to help offset higher energy costs following the introduction of a carbon tax.

This is a path others can follow, strategically directing part of the revenues that carbon taxes generate back to low-income households that can least afford to pay. With the revenues estimated at 1–3 percent of GDP, a portion could also go to support firms and households that choose green pathways.

While we continue to work to reduce carbon emissions, the increasing frequency of more extreme weather like hurricanes, droughts, and floods is affecting people all across the world. Countries already vulnerable to natural disasters suffer the most, not only in terms of immediate loss of life, but also in long-lasting economic effects. In some countries, total economic losses exceed 200 percent of GDP—as when Hurricane Maria struck Dominica in 2017.

Our emergency lending facilities are designed to provide speedy assistance to low-income countries hit by disasters. But the IMF also works across various fronts on the adaptation side to help countries address climate-related challenges and be able to price risk and provide incentives for investment, including in new technologies.

We support resilience-building strategies, particularly in highly vulnerable countries to help them prepare for and rebound from disasters. And we contribute to building capacity within governments through training and technical assistance to better manage disaster risks and responses.

We work with other organizations to increase the impact of our climate work. One of our most important partnerships is with the World Bank, in particular on Climate Change Policy Assessments. Together, we take stock of countries’ mitigation and adaption plans, risk management strategies, and financing and point to gaps where those countries need investment, policy changes, or help in building up their capacity to take the necessary action.

New frontiers

Moving forward, we must also be open to stepping in where and when our expertise can help, and there are other areas where we will be gearing up our work. For example, we will be working more closely with central banks, which, as guardians of both financial and price stability, are now adapting regulatory frameworks and practices to address the multifaceted risks posed by climate change.

Many central banks and other regulators are seeking ways to improve climate risk disclosure and classification standards, which will help financial institutions and investors better assess their climate-related exposures—and help regulators better gauge system-wide risks. The IMF is offering support by working with the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System and other standard-setting bodies.

Central banks and regulators should also help banks, insurers, and nonfinancial firms assess their own exposures to climate risk and develop climate-related “stress tests.” Such tests can help identify the likely impact of a severe adverse climate-driven shock on the solvency of financial institutions and the stability of the financial system. The IMF will help push forward efforts around climate change stress testing, including through our own assessments of countries’ financial sectors and economies. Careful calibration of stress testing for climate change will be needed, because such testing requires assessing the effects of shocks or policy actions that may have little historical precedent.

All these efforts will help ensure that more money will flow into low-carbon, climate-resilient investments. The rapid increase of green bonds is a positive trend, but much more is required to secure our future. It is that simple: we all need to intensify our efforts to work together to exchange knowledge and ideas, to formulate and implement policies, and to finance the transition to the new climate economy. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us.

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A New Approach to Stalled State Transformations in Iraq and Yemen

A New Approach to Stalled State Transformations in Iraq and Yemen

Chatham House in this research paper titled Between Order and Chaos: A New Approach to Stalled State Transformations in Iraq and Yemen, Dr Renad Mansour, Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House (@renadmansour) and Peter Salisbury, Senior Consulting Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme (@peterjsalisbury) say that International policymakers have failed to stabilize states such as Iraq and Yemen, partially because of the assumed binary distinction between state failure and success. This paper advocates for a ‘middle–out’ approach that aims to strengthen the connectivity between the bureaucracy and de facto authorities.

The Summary of this paper dated 9 September 2019 is reproduced for all intents and purposes below and the paper can be read online or as a Download PDF (opens in new window)

  • In the Middle East and North Africa, a growing number of internationally recognized (de jure) states with formal borders and governments lack de facto statehood. Often, governance vacuums are filled by alternative actors that perform state-like functions in place of, or alongside, weakened official institutions. This results in hybrid orders where the distinction between formal and informal actors in the state is blurred, as too are the lines between the formal, informal and illicit economies.
  • International policymakers have struggled to establish political settlements in these contexts. Would-be state-builders have mistakenly assumed a binary distinction between state failure and success. They have sought to recreate an idealized archetype of the ‘orderly’ state, critically failing to recognize the more complex networks of de facto actors on the ground. At times, international policymakers pick or support leaders who lack local legitimacy, capability and power. This stalls and fragments ongoing organic state transformations, and produces hybrid orders as de facto actors adapt by both capturing state institutions and creating parallel ones.
  • We propose a new model for understanding the fragmentary transformations of the state underway in Iraq and Yemen. It involves the concept of a multi-layered state, consisting of the executive, the formal bureaucracy, the de facto authorities and society at large. The gap in legitimacy, capability and power between the middle two layers in this model – the formal bureaucracy and the de facto authorities – is a critical source of instability and an impediment to reform. Bridging that gap is thus the key to effective peacebuilding and/or state-building.
  •  This paper argues that all states lie along a chaos–order spectrum. No state is entirely chaotic or orderly. Even those that display many features of chaos – as in Iraq and Yemen – contain pockets of order that are all too often overlooked. The larger the gap between the formal bureaucracy and the de facto authorities, the more a state slides towards the chaos end of the spectrum. Effective state-building must find a way of institutionalizing improvised governance arrangements.
  •  To achieve this, we advocate a ‘middle–out’ approach that aims to strengthen the connective tissues between the bureaucracy and de facto authorities. Simplified, this more inclusive approach entails reframing international involvement as playing the role of a ‘referee’ to monitor the transformations of the state while enforcing accountability, as opposed to the practice of picking ‘winners’ and integrating unfavoured actors into unpopular political settlements.
‘The King is dead, long live the King’: Principle applicable in the MENA

‘The King is dead, long live the King’: Principle applicable in the MENA

‘The King is dead, long live the King’: Principle applicable in the MENA region. In effect, all countries of the area, be they republics or monarchies tend to abide by this principle. The consequences of such custom have had bearings throughout millennia. The recent advent of oil exports related revenues brought the limelight to shed a little light in the MENA sunny skies. Here is one shiny one: James M. Dorsey‘s opinion on the matter. Political transition in the Middle East and North Africa operates so far on the principle of ‘The King is dead, long live the King.’

Arab power struggles: “The King is dead, long live the King”

By James M. Dorsey Apr 27

Libya’s battle for Tripoli alongside ongoing mass anti-government demonstrations that toppled autocratic leaders of Algeria and Sudan demonstrate that both popular Arab protests that in 2011 forced four presidents out of office and the counterrevolution it provoked are alive and kicking.

Protesters in Algeria and Sudan are determined to prevent a repeat of Egypt where a United Arab Emirates and Saudi-backed military officer rolled back the achievements of their revolt to install a brutal dictatorship or of Yemen, Libya and Syria that have suffered civil wars aggravated by interference of foreign powers.

In Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, the UAE-Saudi-Egyptian-supported warlord, hopes that his assault on the capital Tripoli, the seat of the country’s United Nations-recognized government, will either end the conflict militarily or at the very least significantly increase his leverage in peace talks.

In all three countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the two Gulf nations most determined to maintain the Middle East and North Africa’s autocratic structure at whatever cost, have sought to either bolster military resolve to remain a decisive political force or support the rise of forces that fit their agenda.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE last week pledged a US$3 billion aid package to Sudan, including a US$500 million cash injection and transfers of cheap food, fuel and medicine.

The aid package contributed to deepening divisions among the opposition that has vowed to continue street protests until full civilian rule has been achieved despite the ousting of president Omar al-Bashir, the resignation of senior military officers, including the intelligence chief, and the arrest of Mr. Al-Bashir’s brothers.

While some Sudanese demanded that the military council reject the aid, other opposition groups, including several armed factions, travelled to Abu Dhabi to discuss a UAE-Saudi backed military proposal for a military-led transition council that would include civilians.

The Saudis and Emiratis are also hoping that Taha Osman al-Hussein, who was widely viewed as one of the most influential people in Mr. Al-Bashir’s inner circle, will play a key role in safeguarding the military’s position.

Mr. Al-Hussein returned to Khartoum this month from two years in exile in the kingdom, where he served as an African affairs advisor to the Saudi court, after having been unceremoniously sacked in 2017 on suspicion that he was a Saudi intelligence asset.

Moreover, the head of Sudan’s military council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan and his deputy, Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a paramilitary commander known as Hemeti, developed close ties to the Gulf states in their former roles as commanders of the Sudan contingent fighting in Yemen in support of the Saudi-UAE alliance.

A commander of feared Arab militias accused of genocide in Darfur, General Dagalo is widely viewed as ambitious and power hungry. His Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are deployed across Khartoum.

Western officials privately describe General Dagalo as “potentially Sudan’s Sisi,” a reference to Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who came to power in 2013 in a UAE-Saudi-supported military coup.

Mr. Al-Sisi has introduced one of the most repressive systems in recent Egyptian history. Western diplomats said General Dagalo’s ambitions virtually guaranteed that the military would not fully surrender power in any negotiated transition.

The military’s role in deposing president Hosni Mubarak as a result of a popular revolt in 2011 and subsequently restoring the military’s grip on power coupled with concern about General Dagalo inspired one of the Sudanese protesters’ chants: “It’s either victory or Egypt.”

Western and Arab diplomats also see Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the background of General Burhan’s decision not to meet with Qatari foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani days after receiving a Saudi-UAE delegation. Sudan has since said it was working out arrangements for a Qatari visit.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE together with Egypt and Bahrain have diplomatically and economically boycotted Qatar for the past 22 months in a bid to force the Gulf state to tow their geopolitical line.

For now, Mr. Haftar’s offensive has way laid a UN-sponsored peace conference that was expected to achieve an agreement that would have ensured that Islamists would continue to be part of the Libyan power structure.

Mr. Haftar, like his regional backers, accuses the Tripoli government of being dominated by Islamists, the bete noir of the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

On a visit to Saudi Arabia days before launching his attack on Tripoli, Mr. Haftar reportedly was promised millions of dollars in support in talks with Saudi King Salman, and his powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in defiance of a United Nations arms embargo.

The battle for Libya could prove to be Mr. Haftar’s most difficult military offensive. His Libyan National Army (LNA) already controls Libya’s second city of Benghazi and much of rest of the country where it met relatively little resistance.

The battle also serves as a warning to protesters in Sudan and Algeria whose demands for fundamental change risk upsetting the UAE, Saud Arabia and Egypt’s applecart.

With no swift victory in sight in the battle for Tripoli, Libya risks another round of protracted war that could be aggravated by the fact that it is as much a domestic fight as it is a multi-layered proxy war.

Unlike Sudan, Libya has passed the corner. Years of civil and proxy wars have devastated the country and laid the groundwork for further violence. Algeria and Sudan still have a chance of avoiding the fate of Libya, or for that matter Syria and Yemen.

As the battle in Tripoli unfolds, Libya looms large as a live example of what is at stake. Protesters are up against forces whose backers have proven that there is little they will shy away from to achieve their objectives. Libya is but the latest example.

The king’s fate is at stake in the fighting in streets of southern Tripoli. His fate hangs like a sword of Damocles in the balance in the streets of Algiers and Khartoum.

Dr James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, an adjunct senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and co-director of the University of Wuerzburg’s Institute of Fan Culture.

A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud, ItunesSpotifyStitcherTuneInSpreakerPocket Casts and Tumblr

Syria’s revolution of 2011 started as a call for reform

Syria’s revolution of 2011 started as a call for reform

The World Economic Forum wrote last month that Syria’s revolution of 2011 started as a call for reform and change within the state and, in trying to defeat those calls, accusations of sectarianism and prejudice were used to discredit either side. Most recently, Yemen’s internal struggles have been cast as a sectarian struggle when, at heart, it is one about resources and power. The list goes on.

Almost all republics or labelled as such of the MENA region as opposed to the monarchies, sultanates and / or emirates, are going one way or another through upheaval.

Here is Juliette Harkin, Associate Lecturer, Politics and International Relations at Anglia Ruskin University catching those elements of governance that really count in a Middle Eastern background. A background of generalised state failure or incapacity to share with the rest of the world amongst many things, the benefits of democratic values.

‘Assadism’ is destroying Syria – here’s where it came from

As Syrian president Bashar al-Assad prosecutes his 18th year in office, he is presenting himself as a secular leader in a sea of Islamist extremism and terror. But his record makes a mockery of that claim. However long he stays in office, he will forever be remembered a president who oversaw the devastation of his country and resorted to hideous attacks on civilians in order to remain in power. And as for Assad’s pretentions to secularism, the foundations of his government’s supposed ideology were cast away even before he succeeded his father as president.

The Syrian government’s professed secularism dates back decades, and derives from the school of political thought known as Arab Baathism, the core principles of which were Arab unity, freedom and socialism. In the years after World War II, these were not hollow words, they were political imperatives in the struggle against colonialism and elite rule.

The Syrian branch of the Baathist movement came to power in a coup d’état in 1963. In the 1970s, one of the military officers involved in the coup, Hafez al-Assad, took the helm and steadily entrenched the his family and its political network as the rulers of Syria.

As the Assad family took control, it exploited the infrastructure of the Arab Baath movement and party to retain power. But for all that they paid lip service to Baathist principles, the Assads were less interested in serving the Syrian people than in dominating them. Decades later, the political traditions of Arab Baathism are long dead, and Assadism holds sway in its place.

Government for the few

The gap between these two modes of government is all too apparent. Central to influential strands of Baathist thought was an inclusive definition of what it meant to “be Arab” – a definition that revolved around geographical, cultural and linguistic aspects of being an Arab rather than mere ethnic origin.

Yet the supposedly Baathist Syria was never so inclusive; its Kurds, in particular, have been suppressed for decades. Baathism was supposed to rise above sectarian and ethnic differences among Arabs, but in Assadist Syria, sectarian differences were fanned from the start.

The Assad family in the 1970s, including Hafez (back left) and Bashar (front far left).
Wikimedia Commons

As for notions of equality, the benefits of economic reforms were distributed unevenly and selectively, marginalising communities in the Syrian provinces even as elites enriched themselves.

The older and younger Assads followed similar paths. Where Hafez al-Assad violently crushed dissent in the city of Hama in the 1980s, and nurtured complex social and political allegiances, his son Bashar continued a programme of economic reform that benefited big industry and established a broad patronage network.

In some respects Bashar was a reformist and forward-looking president, introducing the internet and allowing a private media sector to develop. But his reformist agenda ultimately devolved into runaway capitalism and rapacious self-enrichment for a small clique of Syrian families and businesses. Today, it’s these people who are central to the government’s survival.

Locking up power

It didn’t have to be this way. In the early years of Bashar’s reign, there briefly seemed to be a window for civil society to open up – but soon enough, that window was closed. Key opposition figures such as Michel Kilo were imprisoned, and the brief Damascus Spring of 2000-1 was bitterly shut down.

But once we accept that Assadism was never truly concerned with promoting a secular and equal society, it’s easier to understand why today’s government is working so closely with such odd bedfellows as the theocracy in Iran and the religiously conservative Hezbollah.

A longstanding feature of Assadist rule has been a tendency to lock up secular and leftist thinkers and intellectuals. The communists were locked in Syria’s prisons together with the Islamists, and anyone else who spoke out of line. If not imprisoned, anyone who might pose a threat was co-opted. Pockets of space for some Sunni sheikhs to promote their religious thought and practice – notably in the education system – were bartered in exchange for blind loyalty.

Since the 2011 revolution, the government has aligned itself with and promoted a proto-fascist nationalism that encourages an utter disdain for the majority of Syrians, namely the pious Sunnis who live in restive areas of Syria’s provinces and countryside. And any claim the government had to lead a resistance against oppression were severely tested when a new grassroots opposition emerged in Syria’s towns and villages only to be cruelly crushed by government forces.

Claims to resistance and to be the voice of the Palestinian cause merely obscure a politics of pragmatic self-preservation and dictatorial practices. It has always been progressive leftist voices that have posed the most threat to Assad’s rule. The troika of myths about the Syrian state – that it is secular, modern, and leads the resistance against imperial and Zionist threats – simply do not bear scrutiny.

The ConversationWho actually benefits from the continuation of Assadism? The same people who were embedded in the Assadist networks and enriched themselves before the 2011 revolution and current civil war. They are doing well out of Syria’s war economy, which has made some people very rich. And even as Assad oversees brutal attacks on civilians and one of the world’s worst refugee crises, the war provides disturbing new symbols and ideas to provide a rationale for his continued rule.

Juliette Harkin, Associate Lecturer, Politics and International Relations, Anglia Ruskin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Algeria in Need of Foresight and Adaptation Strategies

Algeria in Need of Foresight and Adaptation Strategies

A surprising appointment of a New Prime Minister was decided upon yesterday by the presidency of the republic in replacement of the previous three months old government.

Any project is necessarily represented by political, social and economic forces otherwise it would be doomed to failure. The major challenge for Algeria at this conjecture would mean Algeria in need of foresight and adaptation strategies to implement operational instruments capable of identification so as to anticipate changes in the behaviour of the economic, political and social actors at geostrategic level. 

There is a dialectic link between development and security, because without sustainable development there is necessarily increase of insecurity that has rising costs. Algeria per the reckoning of many international experts has the full potential, subject to far-reaching reforms, to establish a diversified economy responsible for the creation of sustainable jobs and therefore lead towards more stability not only of the country itself but of the entire region.

In order however to avoid perverse effects that might be harmful to its development, it would be dangerous for the future of Algeria to go into a monologue, fill the void inherited from the rentier culture of the past and allow certain organizations that are unable to mobilize society because of their non-credibility to deliver to activism without real impact.

There is a theory in political science that says 80% of poorly targeted and disorderly actions that are covered by activism have an impact on 20% on objectives and conversely 20% of well-targeted actions have an impact on 80%. The price of oil drop will definitely remain low for at least some medium term duration before being affected by the new on-coming technologies.

This would mean adaptation strategies are urgent and whilst avoiding the illusion of a model of linear energy consumption as of outdated models of the 70s and 80s as based on material development whereas we are at the dawn of the fourth economic revolution.  This will predominantly be geared by and through the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, see latest report of the World Economic Forum titled «The Impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution».

We must imperatively reframe the debate, avoid the utopias of the past and adapt to the new world through a language of truth and tackle the essence and not appearances. As I demonstrated recently in a long interview to the US daily American Herald Tribune of December 28, 2016 and in the French financial daily La Tribune of May 07, 2017, I would like to consider the stability of Algeria, as a strategic element acting in favour of the stability of the entire region, which does not mean some form of status-quo, but to carry out reforms in a positively historical movement.  This could be a prerequisite for the recovery of the required national cohesion and the construction of a home front as a solid and sustainable support for political and socio-economic reforms that are in fact challenges of the new world of today and of the future.  In the areas of political and economic changes, social and cultural would include the pivot and central element of good governance and the reform of the school taking account of the Foundation of the development era of the 21st century based on knowledge.

The strategic objective must reconcile modernity and cultural authenticity, economic efficiency and a deep social justice if one wants to run to avoid the marginalization of Algeria within the global society with meanings geostrategic implications.  Government and Opposition must agree for a national renewal of Algeria.

It will be what the Algerians will want it to be. The devil being in the details it is up to us with regards to healing like involving a broad National Front inclusive of all sensibilities, tolerating all differences of ideas, a source of mutual enrichment.  To finish on and regardless of whoever is the appointee as a Prime Minister, prerogative falling exclusively onto the President of the Republic, the important thing is to focus on the best interests of the country.

For this reason I wish every success to Mr. Ahmed Ouyahia, who was head of Government in the past at the time I chaired the National Council on privatization between 1996 and 1999.  Gloom apart, Algeria having all potentialities out of the current crisis, because failure would be harmful to the country and thus geostrategic implications of destabilization of the entire region.

Algeria in this difficult environment of fiscal pressures and geostrategic tensions needs stability, to bring together instead of dividing through a productive dialogue and a shared sacrifice generalised to each and every citizen. And through sustainable development, encourage all producers of wealth for the benefit of all its children, taking into account the harsh reality of the world, a world in perpetual motion or any Nation who don’t advance not necessarily stop.

 

ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Libya, a country that has known nothing but unrest

Libya, a country that has known nothing but unrest

The MENA region is yet again under horrendous pressures not only within the usual northern part of the Middle East and lately in the Gulf area but still in that part of the North African desert. This story is about Libya, a country that has known nothing but unrest and upheaval since its forced change of regime in 2011. More recently a UN report informed that the UAE violated Libya’s arms embargo by secretly supplying the concerned in this article.  Would this have any bearing with the outcome as proposed in this article?
Would also this liberation mean reunification and a unique and central authority over the country? Only time can tell but one thing is sure in that all countries surrounding Libya would sight with relief if this is achieved.
Would this be accounted for in the Qatar blockade resolution? In any case, here is the BBC’s story.

Libya eastern commander Haftar declares Benghazi ‘liberated’

From the section Africa

The image above is of  REUTERS — Benghazi saw fierce clashes between the LNA and Islamist militants this week


The head of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has said his forces “liberated” the eastern Benghazi city after years of fighting with Islamists.

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar said the city now enters a new era of “security, peace and reconciliation”.

If confirmed, victory would mark a major advance for the one-time commander in the army of late strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

The LNA is not recognised by Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli.

Libya’s unrest since the 2011 ousting of Gaddafi saw extremist organisations, including so-called Islamic State, gain a foothold in the country.

In a televised speech on Wednesday, Field Marshal Haftar said that “after a continuous struggle against terrorism and its agents that lasted more than three years… we announce to you the liberation of Benghazi”.

Image copyright REUTERS – – – – Khalifa Haftar has backing from some foreign powers

His announcement comes after bloody battles this week in Benghazi’s Sabri district in which dozens of LNA fighters and various local Islamist militants died.

Pictures posted on social media sites showed some civilians in Benghazi and other parts of the country celebrating the end of a bitter conflict that left large parts of the country’s second city in ruins and displaced thousands of people in recent years.

But Field Marshal Haftar also has many political and armed opponents in Libya. He does not recognise the government in Tripoli, and instead backs the authorities in the east. Opponents accuse the commander, who has backing from some foreign powers, of trying to impose autocratic rule in Libya.

Divided opinion – analysis by Rana Jawad, BBC North Africa correspondent

Benghazi’s conflict over the last three years at times appeared to have no end in sight, and – as it grew – so too did the Field Marshal Haftar’s political and military ambitions.

This is a significant gain for him, and a city that has been aching for respite from the war. Opinions over the conflict in Benghazi are largely divided; many will be celebrating what they see as a war brought to their doorstep by Islamist militias at a time when political actors in Libya barely acknowledged there was a problem there, despite the near daily bombings and killings in the city.

Others view it as a product of a man who was power-hungry and lumped up all of his enemies under the banner of “Islamist terrorists” to pave the way for a future political role through the might of the gun. His short address dedicated to the people of Libya had an unusually reconciliatory tone, but it is not one that will ease worries over what his, or his opponents’ next move might be.

In Libya today, a military victory in one battlefield often opens the door to conflict in others.

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