Rights group demands safe return of abducted Libyan lawmaker

Forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar are fighting the internationally recognized government over control of Tripoli. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 August 2019

Rights group demands safe return of abducted Libyan lawmaker

  • Seham Sirqiwa is a prominent critic of Khalifa Haftar
  • Her family and friends said she was taken from her home by militants affiliated with Haftar’s forces

CAIRO: Human Rights Watch is urging authorities in eastern Libya to exert “all possible efforts” to ensure the safe return of a female lawmaker abducted from her home last month by armed men.
The lawmaker, Seham Sirqiwa, is a prominent critic of Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are now fighting to take the capital from the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
The New York-based watchdog said Friday that Sergewa’s abduction “follows a well-documented pattern of violence, reprisal, and intimidation” by Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.
Sergewa’s family and friends allege she was taken from her house in Benghazi by militiamen affiliated with Haftar’s forces. Her husband was wounded during the attack.
Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising and is now split between rival authorities in the country’s east and west.


Pressure grows in US for firm response to Iran after Aramco attacks 

Updated 4 min 6 sec ago

Pressure grows in US for firm response to Iran after Aramco attacks 

  • Senator Lindsey Graham urges retaliatory strikes on Iranian oilfields if Tehran continues ‘provocations’
  • Pompeo blamed Iran for attacks in Saudi Arabia   that disrupted oil production

WASHINGTON: An American senator has called for Washington to consider an attack on Iranian oil facilities as pressure grows in the US for a firm response to the Saudi Aramco strikes.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the drone attacks on Saturday against the Abqaiq oil processing plant and the Khurais oil field. He also suggested that unlike previous drone and missile attacks on the Kingdom, this one may not have been launched from Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthis. Reports have said that the attack may have originated in Iraq where Iran also holds sway over a large number of powerful militias.

“It is now time for the US to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment,” Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator close to Donald Trump, said non Twitter.

“Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime's back.”

Iran on Sunday denied it was behind the attack, but the Yemeni Houthi militia backed by Tehran, claimed they had launched them. 

The White House on Sunday did not rule out a potential meeting between President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, even after Washington accused Iran of being behind drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the attacks “did not help” prospects for a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly this month but she left open the possibility it could happen.

"You're not helping your case much," by attacking Saudi Arabia, civilian areas and critical infrastructure that affects global energy markets.” Conway told the Fox News Sunday program.

The Trump administration's sanctions and “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile program will continue whether or not the two leaders meet, she added.

The US ramped up pressure on Iran last year after trump withdrew from an international pact to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Washington has reimposed a tough sanctions regime on Tehran, which it accuses of hiding behind the nuclear deal to advance its missiles program and aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, condemnation of the attacks continued from around the world.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and called upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint to prevent any escalation.

UK foreign minister Dominic Raab said the attack was a “reckless attempt to damage regional security and disrupt global oil supplies.”

The European Union warned of a “real threat to regional security” in the Middle East.

*With Reuters