Egypt military court condemns high-profile militant Ashmawy to death

Ashmawy was convicted for his role in 14 “crimes” including a deadly firefight with police in Egypt’s Western Desert in October 2017. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2019

Egypt military court condemns high-profile militant Ashmawy to death

  • Ashmawy was returned to Cairo in May after his capture last year

CAIRO: An Egyptian military court on Wednesday condemned a high-profile militant, Hisham Ashmawy, to death by hanging over his alleged involvement in terror attacks, the army said.

Ashmawy was convicted for his role in 14 “crimes” including a deadly firefight with police in Egypt’s Western Desert in October 2017, an army spokesman said. The verdict is subject to appeal before a military court, a judicial source told AFP.

Ashmawy was initially sentenced to death in absentia in 2017 over an ambush in which gunmen killed 22 soldiers at a checkpoint near the porous border with Libya in 2014.

The court ruled on Wednesday that Ashmawy was also “involved in the tracking, planning and filming of the security detail for then-Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Sept. 5, 2013,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Ibrahim survived a suicide car bombing near his Cairo home but some 20 policemen and civilians were wounded.

Dubbed Egypt’s “most wanted man” by local media, Ashmawy was returned to Cairo in May after his capture last year by forces of Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the city of Derna, eastern Libya.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had asked for the militant to be handed over. “We want him to serve time in prison,” he said.

A former special forces officer, Ashmawy was dismissed in 2012 over his religious views. He joined Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis based in the restive Sinai of eastern Egypt but broke off after the group pledged allegiance to Daesh in November 2014.

Known by his nom de guerre “Abu Omar Al-MuHajjir,” Ashmawy announced the formation of Al-Mourabitoun in Libya, in July 2015.

 

Egypt has for years been fighting an insurgency in North Sinai that escalated after the military’s 2013 ouster of President Muhammed Mursi following mass protests.

In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants focused on North Sinai.


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 21 January 2020

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”