|UAE carried out strikes against Libyan rebels: U.S.||
UAE warplanes secretly bombed militia targets in Libya, apparently catching Washington off guard, as turmoil in the North African country deepened with the Islamists naming a rival premier.
U.S. officials said on Monday that the United Arab Emirates' jets launched two attacks in seven days on the rebels in Tripoli using bases in Egypt.
The strikes signaled a step toward direct action by regional Arab states that previously have fought proxy wars in Libya, Syria and Iraq in a struggle for power and influence.
The bombing raids were first reported by The New York Times, and rebel forces in Libya had also alleged the strikes had taken place.
"The UAE carried out those strikes," one American official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Asked about the account, a senior U.S. official said "the report is accurate".
The United States did not take part or provide any assistance in the bombing raids, said the two officials, who could not confirm that Egypt and the UAE had left Washington totally in the dark about the attacks.
The first strikes took place on Monday last week focusing on targets in Tripoli held by the militias, including a small weapons depot, according to the Times. Six people were killed in the bombing.
A second round was conducted south of the city early Saturday targeting rocket launchers, military vehicles and a warehouse, the newspaper said.
Those strikes may have been a bid to prevent the capture of the airport, but the rebel militia forces eventually prevailed and seized it despite the air attacks.
UAE silent about U.S. charges
The United Arab Emirates had no comment Tuesday after U.S. officials said warplanes from the Persian Gulf state had secretly bombed rebel militia targets in Libya flying from bases in Egypt.
Contacted by AFP, an Emirati official said only that his country has "no reaction" to such reports.
Two American officials said Monday that the UAE had carried out airstrikes against the Libya militias, from Egyptian bases.
In an editorial Tuesday, daily newspaper Al-Khaleej, which has close ties to the authorities, wrote that Libya has become a "hotbed for terrorism... endangering not only itself but neighboring and regional countries."
The daily urged "forming an Arab coalition... to take prompt and effective action based on a clear strategy to confront this epidemic, which takes different names like the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), (Libyan jihadist group) Ansar al-Sharia, or the Muslim Brotherhood, which must be eradicated from their roots."
UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash had earlier this week criticized accusations of UAE involvement in the bombing raids, first reported by The New York Times and rebel forces in Libya.
Gargash wrote on Twitter that attempts to implicate the UAE in Libyan affairs aimed to "escape from facing the results of (June) elections," in which a new parliament replaced the Islamist-dominated General National Congress transitional political body.
The UAE -- which has spent billions on U.S.-manufactured warplanes and other advanced weaponry -- provided the military aircraft, aerial refueling planes and aviation crews to bomb Libya, while Cairo offered access to its air bases, the paper said.
Neither the UAE nor Egypt has publicly acknowledged any role in the air strikes.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates view Islamists in the region as a serious threat and have forged cooperation against what they see as a common danger.
News of the raids came after Libya's Islamist-dominated General National Congress on Monday threw down the gauntlet to Libya's interim government by naming a prime minister-designate to form a rival administration.
The GNC, officially replaced earlier this month by a freshly elected parliament, selected pro-Islamist Omar al-Hassi to form a "salvation government", a spokesman said.
"The GNC dismissed (interim premier) Abdullah al-Thani as head of government and gave Omar al-Hassi a week to form a salvation government," spokesman Omar Ahmidan said at a news conference in Tripoli, where GNC members met.
At the same time, Libya's new army chief declared "war on terrorists" after the elected parliament, holed up 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) from Tripoli in the eastern city of Tobruk, selected him to tackle the unrest sweeping the nation.
"Allow me to declare, from this moment on, war on obscurantist, terrorists and takfiris (extremists)," said Abdel Razzak Nadhuri, promoted to general on taking up his new role.
The GNC meeting, for its part, gave its backing to "legitimate moves aimed at liberating the country," Ahmidan said, referring to the weekend capture of Tripoli airport by the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) rebel coalition.
The airport seizure came after weeks of fierce battles between Islamists and the nationalist militia of Zintan in the west, who had controlled it since the overthrow in 2011 of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The GNC, whose re-emergence plunges Libya's rocky political transition into fresh crisis, met following a request from Islamists, who accused parliament in Tobruk of complicity in last week's air raids.
Thani rejected the GNC's decisions.
"The meeting was illegal, its decisions are illegal and the only legislative body is parliament," he said in a televised news conference from Tobruk.
Thani said Islamist militants had ransacked and set fire to his house in Tripoli.
"The homes of many Libyans have suffered the same fate," he said, blaming Fajr Libya fighters.
All of Tripoli is unsafe and the government headquarters building has been threatened, he added.
Telling of "threats, thefts and looting" in the capital, Thani said "no public service can operate in these conditions."
Libya's parliament, elected in June, and Thani's government decamped to Tobruk after the army proved unable to restore law and order to Tripoli and Benghazi, the country's two largest cities.
Fajr Libya is a coalition of Islamist militias, mainly from Misrata, east of Tripoli. Ansar al-Sharia controls around 80 percent of the eastern city of Benghazi.
UN envoy opposes foreign intervention in Libya
The newly appointed UN envoy to Libya said he doesn't believe a foreign intervention can halt the North African country's turmoil as political divisions and infighting push it deeper into chaos.
Bernardino Leon says Libya needs international support to back "Libyans who want to fight chaos ... through a political process."
The Spanish diplomat spoke in Cairo Tuesday on his final trip as a European envoy to the region, before he takes up his new post as UN's special envoy to Libya next month.
Some Libyan lawmakers have called for international intervention to help stabilize the country, awash with weapons and dominated by rival militias and allied political groups.
The power struggle in Libya intensified in recent weeks, leaving it with two rival governments and two parliaments.
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