Libyan leader: Qatar, Turkey and Sudan stoking conflict

Ahmed Gaddaf Al-Dam, cousin of Libya’s former President Muammar Qaddafi. (Reuters)
Updated 16 December 2017
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Libyan leader: Qatar, Turkey and Sudan stoking conflict

CAIRO: Ahmed Gaddaf Al-Dam, political leader of the Libyan National Struggle Front (LNSF) and cousin of the late Muammar Qaddafi, accused Qatar, Turkey and Sudan of working to fuel the conflict in his country.
They are doing so “for the service of Israel, the fragmentation of Libya and the division of its territories, the forfeiture of its people and resources, and the installation of a puppet government,” he said in a statement.
Hundreds of Daesh militants have entered Libya via Tunisia from Syria and Iraq, he said, accusing European countries of overlooking this.
“Libya has been subjected to a major conspiracy, and the West does not want to end the conflict in Libya because Western interests conflict with Arab interests,” he added.
A spokesman for the Libyan National Army (LNA) earlier warned of continued pockets of Daesh and Al-Qaeda in the country, and said intelligence reports confirmed the movement of Daesh terrorists from Syria and Iraq to Libya with the help of foreign countries.
Gaddaf Al-Dam said the LNA “captured a few weeks ago many groups of intruding terrorists in Kafrah” in southeast Libya, and some terrorists entering the country then head to Egypt.
He accused some quarters in Qatar and Libya of conspiring to kill him, warning them that they are “messing with the lion’s tail.”
Libyans are helpless due to the lack of a recognized political administration that can protect them, Gaddaf Al-Dam said.
“I feel pain every day and cry every morning because of the situation Libya has reached,” he added.
The LNSF was established on Dec. 16, 2015, and includes 10 Libyan political organizations inside and outside the country.
It supports the LNA under the command of Khalifa Haftar to “restore the sovereignty of Libya and purge it from terrorism and terrorists, and restore safety and security to the Libyan people.”
The LNSF says it aims to reach lasting national reconciliation without any foreign interference.
Gaddaf Al-Dam warned all those conspiring against Libya: “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
Meanwhile, the LNA said the operation to clear Benghazi of terrorist pockets is ongoing. The area around the Baladi Hotel has witnessed fighting for about 10 days amid a cautious advance by the LNA due to the presence of land mines.
Gaddaf Al-Dam said he was not surprised by US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because that was his declared position since the election campaign.


US downgrades Palestinian mission, places it under embassy in Israel

Updated 19 October 2018
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US downgrades Palestinian mission, places it under embassy in Israel

  • The move will make the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, the main interlocutor with the Palestinian leadership
  • Pro-Israel advocates hailed the decision, saying it confirmed the US recognized the whole of Jerusalem as part of Israel

WASHINGTON: The United States downgraded its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians on Thursday, placing it under the authority of the US embassy to Israel.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the consulate general, a separate office which handled dealings with the Palestinians, would be replaced by a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the controversial new US embassy in Jerusalem.
The move will make the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is reviled by Palestinians over his support for Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the main interlocutor with the Palestinian leadership.
The change, quickly condemned by the Palestinians, follows a series of setbacks for them at the hands of President Donald Trump, who has turned US policy sharply toward Israel.
Pro-Israel advocates hailed the decision, saying it confirmed the US recognized the whole of Jerusalem as part of Israel.
“This decision is driven by our global efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. It does not signal a change of US policy,” Pompeo said in a statement.
He said the United States “continues to take no position” on how any peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians would take shape.
The Palestinian leadership rejected Pompeo’s “efficiency” explanation.
The decision has “a lot to do with pleasing an ideological US team that is willing to disband the foundations of American foreign policy, and of the international system, in order to reward Israeli violations and crimes,” the Palestinians’ chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
“The Trump administration is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” he added.
International powers have for decades maintained separate and autonomous representations to Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of supporting the eventual creation of an independent Palestinian state.
They have insisted that the status of Jerusalem, which both the Israelis and Palestinians see as their capital, should be negotiated between the parties as part of any end deal.
Last December, Trump reversed longstanding US policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, prompting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to boycott his administration.
The embassy was officially transferred on May 14.
Since then, the Trump administration has forced the Palestinians to shutter their Washington mission and has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, in a bid to force them to the negotiating table.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, alongside Friedman and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, has been working for months on a still-secret peace proposal, which Palestinians fear will be overly one-sided toward Israel.
The move Thursday nearly closes off all direct diplomatic contacts between the United States and the Palestinians, analysts said.
Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group think-tank said the US would be the only major power without a separate, independent representative office for the Palestinians.
“Other countries have gone to great lengths to avoid having the same representatives to Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” he told AFP.
Robert Danin, a former senior US government official dealing with Israeli-Palestinian issues, said the move was a victory for “hard right partisans” who have sought to eliminate the Palestinian-focused consulate general “for decades.”
The consulate general “is THE eyes and ears into Palestinian politics and society. Its independence from US Embassy Israel provided Washington w/solid, unvarnished reporting and analysis,” he said on Twitter.
But Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor with the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum and advocate for the embassy move, said the decision was more evidence the US considered Jerusalem to be fully part of Israel.
“This step confirms that the US recognizes the entire city as Israel’s capital,” he said.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert defended the move, saying the new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the embassy would maintain contacts with Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem at the same level as before the change.
“We value our relationship with the Palestinian people. We look forward to continued partnership and dialogue with them and, we hope in future, with the Palestinian leadership,” she said via Twitter.