Egypt, UAE carried out Tripoli air strikes — US officials

Updated 27 August 2014
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Egypt, UAE carried out Tripoli air strikes — US officials

WASHINGTON: Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were responsible for carrying out two series of air strikes in the past week on armed Islamist factions in Tripoli, Libya, US officials said on Monday.
The officials said the two Arab countries used aircraft based in Egypt.
Earlier the New York Times reported that the two US allies acted without consulting Washington, and that Egyptian officials told US diplomats that Cairo was not involved. Egypt has denied conducting air strikes or other military operations in Libya.
Over the weekend, Tripoli residents said unidentified war planes attacked targets in the capital, as Libya is riven by the worst fighting since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. There were also strikes on Islamist-held positions last Monday.
Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, was skeptical about Egypt and UAE involvement.
“I don’t believe it,” he told Reuters in New York.
“They are not even technically capable, and it would also be a very sensitive thing for them politically,” he said. He declined to speculate on who else might have been behind the air strikes.
Rebel forces from the Libyan city of Misrata had already blamed the air strikes on Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, both of which have cracked down on Islamists.
The Times quoted US officials as saying Egypt had provided launching bases for the strikes, while the pilots, warplanes and aerial refueling planes were from the UAE.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to address the report when asked about it on Monday at a regular State Department briefing in Washington.
“I am not in a position to provide any additional information on these strikes,” she said, clarifying that she was referring to the reports of air strikes.
Psaki said: “Libya’s challenges are political and violence will not resolve them. Our focus is on the political process there. We believe outside interference exacerbates current divisions and undermines Libya’s democratic transition.
In the campaign to overthrow Qaddafi, fighters from Zintan and Misrata were comrades-in-arms. But they later fell out and this year have turned parts of Tripoli into a battlefield, with the weak government unable to control the armed factions.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney in Washington and Lou Charbonneau in New York; Editing by David Storey and Gunna Dickson)


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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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.