Libya strongman’s chief of staff survives car bombing: military

File photo showing Libya’s Army chief of staff Abdul Razek Al-Nazuri inspects an honor guard as he attends the graduation of a new batch of armed forces cadets at the military academy in eastern Benghazi on Dec 18, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 18 April 2018

Libya strongman’s chief of staff survives car bombing: military

  • General Al-Nadhuri accuses “terrorist cells” of being behind his attempted assassination
  • The Libyan army chief of staff, his bodyguards, and those traveling with him were unharmed

BENGHAZI: Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s chief of staff on Wednesday survived a car bombing in the eastern city of Benghazi, according to his self-styled Libyan National Army.
General Abdelrazak Al-Nadhuri “escaped unharmed from a terrorist assassination attempt after a car bomb exploded... as his convoy passed,” the LNA said in a statement.
The explosion took place in the Sidi Khalifa district at the eastern entrance to Benghazi, the statement said.
One civilian was killed in the attack and another was wounded, a spokesman for Benghazi’s Al-Jala hospital told AFP.
Nadhuri’s spokesman Malek Al-Sharif told AFP that the chief of staff, his bodyguards and those traveling with him were unharmed.
Nadhuri later accused “terrorist cells” of being behind the attempted assassination.
“This cowardly terrorist act comes after the defeat of these terrorist groups in Benghazi,” he told the Al-Hadath news outlet.
A security official in Benghazi, Majdi Al-Orfi, told AFP that the two victims, a Syrian and a Sudanese national, were caught in the explosion. The Syrian died.
The attack comes amid a wave of rumors about the health of Haftar, who supports an administration based in the far east of Libya. He was in hospital in Paris last week after falling ill during a trip abroad.
The strongman has not many any public appearances in the past two weeks and social media has been abuzz with rumors.
After several denials, the LNA acknowledged Friday that Haftar had been hospitalized but was “in good health.”
Libya has been gripped by chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with rival administrations and multiple militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.
Last summer, Hafter announced the “total liberation” of Benghazi, after a three-year campaign to seize the city from , militant extremists who had made it a stronghold following the revolution.
Haftar supports a parliament based in the east of the country, while a UN-backed unity government in the capital Tripoli has struggled to assert its authority nationwide, with Daesh group remain active in central and southern Libya despite being forced out of their northern stronghold Sirte in 2016.

Iran’s Zarif says risk of war with Israel is great

Updated 17 February 2019

Iran’s Zarif says risk of war with Israel is great

  • FM said Israel’s behavior violates international law
  • He also criticized Europe for not calling out Israel and US for illegal behavior in the region

MUNICH: Iran’s foreign minister on Sunday accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its actions and those of the United States were increasing the chances of a clash in the region. Addressing the Munich Security Conference, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also criticized the US administration after Vice President Mike Pence this week called on European powers to pullout of the nuclear deal with Iran. Zarif urged France, Germany and Britain to do more to save that accord.

“Certainly, some people are looking for war ... Israel,” Zarif said. “The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law.”

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region.

“Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, US behavior is putting international law on the shelf,” he said.

Speaking to his cabinet on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iranian belligerence was the main destabilizing factor in the entire Middle East.

“We must deny Iran nuclear weaponry and block its military entrenchment in Syria. We will continue taking constant action to ensure Israel’s security,” he said in remarks broadcast on Israeli media.

Europe falling short

Vice President Pence on Friday accused Iran of Nazi-like anti-Semitism, maintaining his harsh rhetoric against Tehran just a day he attacked European powers for trying to undermine US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Zarif said the US had an “unhealthy” and “pathological obsession” with Iran and accused Pence of trying to bully his allies.

“All in the name of containing Iran, the US claims, and some blindly parrot, that it is Iran that is interfering in the region, but has it been asked whose region?” Zarif said.

“Look at the map, the US military has traveled 10,000 kilometers to dot all our borders with its bases. There is a joke that it is Iran that put itself in the middle of US bases.”

Zarif, who said Iran was committed to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Tehran received the economic benefits of that accord.

These three countries this month set up the Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avoid US sanctions. But diplomats say it is unlikely to allow the big transactions that Tehran says it needs to keep a nuclear deal afloat.

Washington’s major European allies opposed last year’s decision by US President Donald Trump to abandon the deal, which also includes China and Russia, under which international sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program.

“INSTEX falls short of commitments by the E3 (France, Germany, Britain) to save the nuclear deal,” Zarif said. “Europe needs to be willing to get wet if it wants to swim against the dangerous tide of US unilateralism.”