Five soldiers killed in Libya’s volatile east

Updated 28 November 2013

Five soldiers killed in Libya’s volatile east

BENGHAZI, Libya: Three soldiers were shot dead in Libya’s second city Benghazi on Wednesday and the bodies of two more were found in the nearby eastern town of Derna, officials said. The latest violence came as Benghazi was on a three-day strike to protest against the country’s unruly militias after a shootout on Monday between a militant group and the army left seven people dead and another 50 wounded.
“Al-Jala hospital received the remains of three soldiers shot dead in separate attacks,” hospital spokeswoman Fadia Al-Barghathi said, adding that a fourth soldier had been hospitalized. The bodies of two more soldiers were found in the eastern town of Derna on Tuesday, a local official told AFP. Libyan forces guarding Benghazi’s Al-Jala hospital came under fire overnight, but no one was wounded, and the assailants fled after a special forces unit returned fire, a security official said.
The city council declared the three-day strike after an army patrol came under attack near the headquarters of Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist group blamed for the 2012 attack on a US mission in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
Libya has seen mounting unrest since the toppling of long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 by a ragtag assortment of rebel brigades.

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.