Italy keeps troops in Libya despite Khalifa advance

Gun-mounted vehicles belonging to fighters loyal to the internationally recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) are pictured near a military compound in a suburb of the capital Tripoli on April 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 09 April 2019

Italy keeps troops in Libya despite Khalifa advance

  • Guterres has appealed for an immediate halt to fighting in Libya after Haftar's forces claimed an airstrike on Tripoli's airport

ROME: Italy on Tuesday confirmed that it would keep its military missions in Tripoli and Misrata despite the advance of strongman Khalifa Haftar's forces on the Libyan capital.
Miasit, launched in January 2018, will "continue in order to make assistance activities in Libya more incisive and efficient", the Italian defence ministry said in a statement.
UN chief Antonio Guterres has appealed for an immediate halt to fighting in Libya after Haftar's forces claimed an airstrike on Tripoli's only functioning airport.
Thousands have fled violence in the capital city, according to the United Nations, since Haftar launched a surprise assault last week which has left dozens dead.
Italy's Bilateral Mission of Assistance and Support in Libya "supports Libyan authorities in their pacification and stabilisation activities in the country and against human trafficking, smuggling and threats to security."
No figures were provided for the current deployment but the mission has previously included around 100 troops in Tripoli and 300 in Misrata, about 200 kilometres (130 miles) to the east.
Troops from former colonial power Italy are involved in "training and technical and infrastructure assistance for Libyan security forces," in Tripoli, the statement said.
In Misrata, the troops provide security and assistance to a hospital within a military academy for the UN-backed Government of National Accord.
The oil-rich northern African country has been rocked by violent power struggles between an array of armed groups since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) controls the capital, but its authority is not recognised by a parallel administration in the east of the country, backed by Haftar.

US honors head of France’s Arab World Institute

Updated 28 January 2020

US honors head of France’s Arab World Institute

  • Dr Jack Lang was recognized for promoting the Arab region and cross-cultural understanding
  • First recipient of the Global Cultural Leadership Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations

WASHINGTON: Dr. Jack Lang, president of the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, on Monday received the inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations.

The honor was recognition for his achievements in expanding knowledge of the Arab region and promoting cross-cultural understanding. It was presented to him at the French ambassador’s residence in Washington by the council’s Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony, board Chairman John Pratt, International Advisory Board member Leo A. Daly III, and Executive Vice President Patrick Mancino.

Lang and a delegation from the institute were in Washington for the opening of the IMA exhibition “Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.

“What Monsieur Lang and the IMA have achieved in highlighting the rich history and culture of the Arab region is considerable,” said Anthony during the award presentation ceremony. “They have done much to showcase Arab contributions to knowledge and understanding that have benefited the world’s civilizations and humankind in general.

“Under Monsieur Lang’s leadership, the IMA has effectively pushed into new territories in storytelling and technology that help further illuminate the innumerable, extraordinary and myriad impacts that Arabs have had on humanity’s endless quest for modernization and development.”

Lang was appointed IMA president by French President Francois Hollande in 2013. He was previously a National Assembly member for more than two decades, including stints as France’s minister of culture and minister of education. He was also mayor of the city of Blois from 1989 to 2000, and served as a special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The IMA, which is located on the banks of the Seine in Paris, opened in 1987 as a center dedicated to the promotion of Arab civilization, knowledge and art. It contains unique collections and hosts special touring exhibitions. These include “AlUla: Wonder of Arabia,” showcasing Saudi Arabia’s Nabataean archaeological treasure, the dates for which were recently extended after it proved to be incredibly popular.

The National Council on US-Arab Relations was founded in 1983 as a nonprofit, nongovernmental, educational organization. It is dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of the extraordinary benefits the United States has derived from its special relationships with countries in the Arab region, and vice versa. Anthony and the council are working on plans for an Arab Cultural Institute, similar to the IMA, in Washington.