Libya uncertainty key issue for El-Sisi during Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ahead of the Arab League Summit in Dhahran. AFP
Updated 16 April 2018
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Libya uncertainty key issue for El-Sisi during Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia

  • Haftar is important for Egypt because he believes in the Libyan unity
  • UN is leading efforts to reunify the country

CAIRO: Uncertainty in Libya and the deadlock in Palestinian reconciliation efforts will be the main concerns of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as he attends the Arab League Summit in Dhahran.
Buoyed by his recent resounding and controversial election victory, the Egyptian president will have much to discuss with Arab leaders.
Bassam Radi, a presidential spokesman, said El-Sisi would discuss with his Arab counterparts “important issues affecting Arab security” including developments in Syria, Yemen and Palestine.
El-Sisi’s prime concern is the situation in Libya, where fears are growing over the health of the military commander Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar, one of Libya’s key power brokers, is being treated in Paris after feeling unwell during a foreign tour and is expected to return to Libya within days, Ahmed Al-Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), told Reuters on Saturday.
Rumors and contradictory reports about the seriousness of his condition swirled jn the Libyan media last week, especially as Haftar had not made any public appearances recently.
Haftar, 75, is the most powerful figure in eastern Libya and his LNA is aligned with a government based in the east which has opposed a rival government in the capital, Tripoli.
On Friday, UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame and several Libyan officials said they had spoken to Haftar by phone.
Haftar won the backing of Egypt when he arrived as a stabilizing force confronting Islamist and extremist forces in the country’s east, which borders Egypt.
El-Sisi met the head of the Presidential Council of Libya Fayez Al-Sarraj in Dammam on Saturday and urged all the Libyan political factions to cooperate with the UN envoy to restore peace to the troubled state, according to presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi.
“This is the most important part of the Arab Summit agenda for Egypt since Libya’s situation affects the Egyptian national security. Egypt played a significant role and has invested politically to control the terrorist attacks on its Western borders,” said Mohamed Farahat, a political analyst.
“Haftar is important for Egypt because he believes in the Libyan unity and he also proposed a project to build the Libyan unified army and this is what makes him special as a leader.”
El-Sisi has also invested a lot of political capital in reconciling the two main warring Palestinian factions and a return to peace talks with Israel.
Abbas Kamel, senior political and security aide to El-Sisi, visited both Ramallah, home of the Palestinian Authority, and Tel Aviv last week to lay the groundwork for the Arab Summit to adopt a resolution expressing willingness to engage with a US peace plan.
The aim of the talks is not only to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to approve the launch of negotiations but to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise restraint before what he sees as the perfect opportunity to deal a blow to Hezbollah and limit Iran’s presence in Syria.


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 23 April 2019
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.