Libya’s Haftar ruled out ceasefire in talks with France’s Macron — Elysee

Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar told French President Emmanuel Macron that conditions for a cease-fire were not in place. (File/AFP)
Updated 22 May 2019

Libya’s Haftar ruled out ceasefire in talks with France’s Macron — Elysee

  • Haftar ruled out a cease-fire and said he wanted to rid the capital of militias that had ‘infested’ his rival government
  • The Libyan commander said the conditions for halting hostilities ‘were not met’

PARIS: Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar told French President Emmanuel Macron that conditions for a cease-fire were not in place, although he would be ready to talk if those conditions were met, a French presidency official said.
Macron and French officials have for several weeks called for an unconditional cease-fire in the battle for Tripoli.
“The distrust we see between the Libyan actors is stronger than ever today,” said a French presidential official after the meeting between Macron and Haftar in Paris.
“When the question of the cease-fire was put on the table, Haftar’s reaction to this was to ask “negotiate with whom for a cease-fire today?” the official said.
He said Haftar considers his rival government in Tripoli “is completely infested by militias and it is not for him to negotiate with representatives of these militias.”
The official said Macron had asked Haftar to make a public step toward a cease-fire and Haftar responded by saying that an inclusive political dialogue was necessary and he would be ready for it if the conditions for a cease-fire were in place.
However, the official said Haftar had given no indication as to when he would be ready for any potential talks.
Haftar also said neither him nor his army were benefiting from oil sales in the east of the country, the official said.
Hafter explained the conditions for halting hostilities “were not met,” while acknowledging that a “political dialogue” is needed to end the standoff
Haftar did not make a statement after meeting with Macron for over an hour, a visit that follows Haftar’s surprise trip to Rome last week for talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
After the talks with Haftar, Macron’s office said the president reiterated France’s priorities in Libya: “Fight against terrorist groups, dismantle trafficking networks, especially those for illegal immigration, and permanently stabilize Libya.”
France and Italy are the two lead European powers seeking to find a solution to years of instability, spreading extremism and a migrant crisis in Libya which fell into chaos after the NATO-backed toppling of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
The UN envoy for Libya warned Tuesday the battle for Tripoli was “just the start of a long and bloody war” and called for immediate steps to cut off arms flows fueling the fighting.
The weeks of fighting have killed 510 people and wounded 2,467, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization.
More than 75,000 people have fled their homes, according to the United Nations, while 100,000 are trapped by the conflict.

 


Jailed academic rejects offer to spy for Iran

Updated 21 January 2020

Jailed academic rejects offer to spy for Iran

LONDON: An academic currently imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage has reportedly refused an offer to become a spy for Tehran in return for her freedom.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a UK-Australian dual national, made the revelation in a series of letters handed to The Times that were smuggled out of Evin prison, located in the north of the capital, where she is serving 10 years.

In the letters, addressed separately to a Mr. Vasiri, believed to be a deputy prosecutor in the Iranian judiciary, and a Mr. Ghaderi and Mr. Hosseini, who are thought to be officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Moore-Gilbert stated in basic Farsi that she had “never been a spy, and I have no intention to work for a spying organization in any country.” 

She added: “Please accept this letter as an official and definitive rejection of your offer to me to work with the intelligence branch of the IRGC.”

Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne in Australia, was arrested in 2018 after attending a conference in Tehran. 

She was tried and convicted in secret, and her letters implied that she had been kept in solitary confinement in a wing of Evin prison under the IRGC’s control.

It is reportedly the same wing being used to detain UK-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, also incarcerated for espionage, and away from the all-female cellblock that Moore-Gilbert was meant to have been housed in.

The letters catalog a series of other mistreatments and inhumane conditions, suggesting she had been permitted no contact with her family, and that, having been denied access to vital medication, her health was deteriorating.

She also suggested that she had been subjected to sleep deprivation methods, with lights in her cell kept on 24 hours per day, and that she was often blindfolded when transported. 

“It is clear that IRGC Intelligence is playing an awful game with me. I am an innocent victim,” she wrote.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in India last week, where the case was discussed.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry later issued a statement claiming that the country would not “submit to political games and propaganda” over the issue.

This comes at a time when international pressure has ratcheted up on the regime in Tehran following the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane over the capital on Jan. 8. 

Mass demonstrations nationwide followed the news that the plane had been shot down by Iranian forces. 

Olympian defects to Germany

Meanwhile, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, Kimia Alizadeh, announced that she would not return to the country, citing her refusal to continue to be used as a “propaganda tool.”

She wrote of her decision on Instagram: “I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated. None of us matter for them, we are just tools.”

It was revealed on Jan. 20 that the taekwondo martial artist, who had been living and training in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, had elected to move to Hamburg in Germany, for whom she will now compete.

Alizadeh’s defection is just one in a series of high-profile acts of defiance by Iranians outraged by the actions of the regime.

At least two journalists working for Iranian state-owned TV channels are known to have resigned their positions in protest.

One, news anchor Gelare Jabbari, posted on Instagram: “It was very hard for me to believe that our people have been killed. Forgive me that I got to know this late. And forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies.”