UN political chief in Libya to push elections

UN undersecretary-general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman (C), UN special representative and head of the UN support mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame (L) and undersecretary of the foreign ministry Lutfi Al-Maghrabi (R) attend a press conference in the Libyan capital Tripoli on January 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2018

UN political chief in Libya to push elections

BENGHAZI: The United Nations’ political chief held talks on Thursday with the head of Libya’s parliament about elections to be held under a UN plan to stabilize the strife-ridden country.
Jeffrey Feltman, who is on a tour of Libya and Tunisia, traveled to the eastern town of Al-Qobba where the parliament is based for the meeting with speaker Aguila Saleh.
“The meeting, attended by the UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame, focused on the elections scheduled for this year,” said parliament spokesman Abdallah Bleheq.
The elections “should meet the expectations of the people and appease the various political actors,” he told AFP.
A 2015 UN-brokered deal that saw the establishment of a Government of National Accord was meant to calm years of chaos that followed the ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
But Libya has remained mired in violent turmoil as the country is riven by divisions between the GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east.
On Wednesday in the capital, Feltman met Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of the internationally recognized GNA.
It is struggling to assert its authority across the country, especially because of the presence of a parallel administration in the east.
In September, the UN presented the plan to hold legislative and presidential elections by the end of 2018 as the GNA’s mandate neared the end of its two-year lifespan with no solution to the crisis in sight.
Analysts have expressed skepticism that elections will help end the bitter divisions, and say they could in fact increase tensions between Libya’s rival camps.
Feltman acknowledged on Wednesday that “credible elections will require an understanding in terms of political agreements” as well as new legislation and the necessary security conditions.
But he insisted the UN wants “to do our part in promoting the political, the security, the technical and the legislative condition to see that the Libyan people’s desire for these elections can be realized this year.”
In December, Haftar said he would support elections but also implied he would seize power if the polls did not occur.
Haftar — who never recognized the GNA’s authority — has insisted the unity government has lost all legitimacy after the expiry of the 2015 agreement at the end of last year.

Security alert as Qatari ex-minister linked to terror reappears in public

Updated 51 min 46 sec ago

Security alert as Qatari ex-minister linked to terror reappears in public

  • Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani was photographed in Doha recently autographing a wall portrait of Qatar ruler
  • The Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – placed Abdullah Al-Thani on a list of 59 terrorists being sheltered by Qatar

JEDDAH: The re-emergence in public of a former Qatari interior minister linked to financing and promoting terrorism has rung alarm bells in the security community.

Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani was photographed in Doha recently autographing a wall portrait of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

The Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt  — placed Abdullah Al-Thani on a list of 59 terrorists being sheltered by Qatar. He has been accused of financing several terror operations and of accommodating terrorists, including those involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks, at his farmhouse in Qatar.

Al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of those attacks, moved to Qatar “at the suggestion of Abdullah Al-Thani,” according to the US Department of Defense.

In 1995, Abdullah Al-Thani is believed to have provided funding to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to support him in combat in the Bosnian war. While the US pushed for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest, Abdullah Al-Thani told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed about the growing pressure for his detention, leading to him leaving the country with a Qatar-provided passport on a government executive jet. When he returned, Abdullah Al-Thani was briefly confined to house arrest.

“This man is a big supporter of terrorism and of Al-Qaeda and there is no doubt that he enjoys the patronage of the Qatari regime. His re-appearance confirms all our worst fears that Qatar is a hotbed of terrorists and anti-Arab plotters,” said Saudi scholar and international affairs expert Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri.

“We had no problem with the United States. We were great allies. But Qatar wanted to drive a wedge between our good ties and so, in league with Iran, they supported and facilitated Al-Qaeda's 9/11 operation.”

Al-Shehri said it was not a coincidence that 15 Saudis were selected by Al-Qaeda, Iran and Qatar for the 9/11 operation. “Their primary purpose was to finish our relationship with the United States. With time and painstaking work by other countries it soon became obvious who was pulling the strings of those terrorists, and why.”

Abdullah Al-Thani was among the key links, Al-Shehri said. “When Doha realized it was being exposed it sent Abdullah Al-Thani out of the public eye. But it now seems emboldened enough to bring him back into the public glare. This proves once again that Qatar is the biggest promoter and supporter of terrorism, and that the Arabs, led by Saudi Arabia, have been absolutely justified in snapping ties with Qatar.”

After Saudi Arabia and three other states severed relations with Qatar in June 2017, Al-Qaeda operatives and ideologues came out instantly in support of Qatar. Egyptian Mohammed Shawqi Islambouli, a US-designated terrorist, described Qatar as “the pride of the Arabs.” Abdalrahman bin Omeir Al-Nuaymi, who the US sanctioned in December 2013 for “providing financial support to Al-Qaeda, Asbat Al-Ansar, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Al-Shabaab,” was also among those who rallied in support of Qatar.

On June 4, Al-Nuaymi posted on Twitter: “The latest developments in our region have proven that a state that sows destruction (Saudi Arabia) is inciting the West to sanction states (Qatar) and individuals.”

Al-Nuaymi is a Qatar University professor and former president of the Qatar Football Association. He was also a founding member of a prominent charity — the Sheikh Eid bin Mohammad Al-Thani Charitable Foundation, named after a member of the country’s ruling family. The Telegraph newspaper described him as “one of the world’s most prolific terrorist financiers.”

Among the list of 59 individuals and 12 organizations that the ATQ blamed for supporting terror are several who are also sanctioned by international organizations, including the UN. 

Sa’d bin Sa’d Muhammad Shariyan Al-Ka’bi, a Qatari national openly living in Qatar, was designated by the UN in 2015 as a known facilitator and fundraiser for the Nusra Front. Al-Ka’bi’s activities in Qatar, including the arranging of funding and transferring funds are well known and documented, yet the Qatari government has done nothing to stop his actions.

Abd Al-Latif bin Abdallah Salih Mohammed Al-Kawari is a known fundraiser for terrorist groups dating back to the early 2000s. At that time Al-Kawari was associated with Ibrahim Isa Haji Mohammed Al-Bakr, himself a designated terrorist by the UN and US. The two were working in Qatar to raise funds for Al-Qaeda organizations based in Pakistan and Al- Kawari was directly connected to the transfer of funds from Qatar to Pakistan. Al-Kawari has also been associated with fundraising and the transfer of funders to the Al-Qaeda offshoot, the Nusra Front.

One of the major demands made of Qatar by the Anti-Terror Quartet was: “Full withdrawal of all support, shelter and funding for terror and extremist organizations of all kinds.”