Libyan PM urges international community to back UN mandate

Libya's Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. (AFP)
Updated 24 December 2017

Libyan PM urges international community to back UN mandate

BENGHAZI: The head of Libya’s UN-backed government urged on Saturday the international community to take a firm stance against those defying a 2015 political agreement stipulating a UN mandate that expired earlier this month.
The remarks by Prime Minister Fayez Serraj came during a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano in the capital, Tripoli, where the UN-backed government is based. Genitoli’s visit comes days after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met with Serraj and later with military strongman Khalifa Hifter in the eastern city of Benghazi. Hifter is commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, which is loyal to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, a rival of Serraj’s government.
Serraj and Alfano discussed preparations for elections slated for next year, including ratifying an electoral law and registering voters. The government had previously announced on several occasions that the processes were underway without specifying dates.
The UN-backed government’s mandate expired on Dec. 17. Thousands of Hifter's supporters rallied in several cities on the day, calling on him to lead the country. Hifter had hinted in an earlier televised speech that he might step up to fill the political void but didn't clearly state whether he would run for president if a vote is held next year. It is also not clear whether Serraj will hold the elections.
Serraj insists the UN mandate remains in effect until a new one is introduced. Earlier, the UN Security Council said the 2015 agreement “remains the only viable framework” to put an end to the country’s political crisis and slammed any attempt to undermine it as “unacceptable.” In his address, Hifter said that all the bodies resulting from the agreement “lost their legitimacy” upon its expiry.
Hifter’s Libyan National Army, comprised mostly of Qaddafi-era officers, has been fighting with militants in the east.
Libya descended into chaos following a 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. The country is now split between rival governments, each backed by militias in the east and the west. It has also become a main embarkation point for the perilous route to Europe for migrants fleeing poverty and civil war in Africa and elsewhere in the region.


Erdogan hit by more arms bans as pressure grows over Syria invasion

Updated 16 October 2019

Erdogan hit by more arms bans as pressure grows over Syria invasion

  • United States threatens more sanctions
  • Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports

ANKARA: Three more countries halted arms sales to Turkey on Tuesday as pressure mounted on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Turkish invasion of northeast Syria.

Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports, and the US threatened Ankara with more sanctions unless Erdogan halts the offensive.

“We will keep our defense exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. “No further export licenses to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review.”

Spain, a major arms exporter to Turkey, urged Erdogan to “put an end to this military operation” because it endangered regional stability, increased the number of refugees and threatened Syria’s territorial integrity.

“In coordination with its EU partners, Spain will deny new export licenses for military equipment that can be used in the operation in Syria,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Sweden also halted exports of military combat equipment. “Two permits that have been active have now been recalled,” it said.

BACKGROUND

Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.

Erdogan’s assault against Kurdish forces, launched last week, has prompted a chorus of international condemnation. “Many NATO allies are very critical and are condemning the military operation in northern Syria,” said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, the Western military alliance of which Turkey is a member.

Russia’s presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said Turkey had no right to deploy its forces in Syria permanently, and Moscow had not approved the operation.

US President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on Turkey on Monday, and on Tuesday the US said more sanctions would follow unless the invasion was halted.

“The plan is to continue the pressure on Turkey as we evaluate our chances to return the relationship to normal, a major element of that return to normal would be a cease-fire,” a senior administration official said. “And by cease-fire what I mean is forces on the ground stop moving on the ground.”

Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.