Libya strongman Haftar in Athens for talks ahead of Berlin peace conference

Khalifa Haftar has flown to Athens for talks ahead of a peace conference in Berlin. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 January 2020

Libya strongman Haftar in Athens for talks ahead of Berlin peace conference

  • Khalifa Haftar will meet with the Greek prime minister and foreign minister
  • Egypt, Italy and Greece say Erdogan’s announcement that he is sending troops to Libya violates international resolutions

ATHENS: Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar has flown to Athens for talks ahead of a peace conference in Berlin, a source with knowledge of the issue said Thursday.
“Haftar is coming to Athens,” the source told AFP as Greek media reported he would be meeting with the Greek prime minister and foreign minister on Friday.

Meanwhile, Egypt, Italy and Greece say Turkey PM Erdogan’s announcement that he is sending troops to Libya violates international resolutions. 

The Berlin conference comes as world powers step up efforts for a lasting cease-fire, nine months since an assault on Tripoli by Haftar’s forces sparked fighting that has killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters, displacing thousands.
An interim truce which came into force Sunday has mostly held, despite accusations of violations from Haftar’s forces and the rival Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
GNA chief Sarraj told officials in Tripoli that “we are going to be present in Berlin” for the talks, according to a statement Thursday.
Haftar had walked away from cease-fire talks in Moscow on Monday, but German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited his eastern Libya stronghold of Benghazi on Thursday to persuade him to join the conference.
Haftar “wants to contribute to the success of the Libyan conference in Berlin and is in principle ready to participate in it,” Maas tweeted, calling it “the best chance in a long time” for peace.
Haftar “has agreed to abide by the ongoing cease-fire,” he added.
But Sarraj, whose GNA did sign the Moscow deal, cast doubt over Haftar’s intentions.
Haftar “has chosen not to sign the agreement and asked for a delay,” he said, calling that “an attempt to undermine the Berlin conference before it starts.”
The oil-rich North African state has been in turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and multiple foreign powers have become embroiled.
The GNA is backed by Turkey and Qatar, while Haftar, who backs a rival administration in Libya’s east, has the support of neighboring Egypt as well as Russia and the United Arab Emirates.


Algerian president, 75, self isolates as pandemic spreads

Updated 24 October 2020

Algerian president, 75, self isolates as pandemic spreads

  • Tebboune is self isolating because some officials in “upper ranks of the government” are sick with COVID-19
  • “I assure you, my brothers and sisters, that I am well and healthy and that I continue my work,” he said

ALGIERS: Algeria’s 75-year-old President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is self isolating because some officials in “upper ranks of the government” are sick with COVID-19, he said in a Tweet on Saturday.
Tebboune took office in December in an election that came amidst months of mass protests which forced his predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power after 20 years.
“I assure you, my brothers and sisters, that I am well and healthy and that I continue my work,” he said, saying his decision was taken on the advice of medical staff.
The global pandemic struck Algeria’s economy as it faced long-term challenges posed by the decline of the oil and gas revenues that finance its historically lavish state spending.
So far, Algeria has officially confirmed more than 55,000 cases of the coronavirus with nearly 2,000 deaths.
Though the pandemic forced an end to the weekly mass protest marches through Algiers and other cities that lasted for more than a year, the political challenges remain.
Tebboune has pushed for changes to Algeria’s referendum to limit presidential terms while expanding the powers of the parliament and judiciary.
However, many people in the leaderless protest movement believe their core goals of replacing the old ruling elite and forcing the army to stay out of politics remain unmet.
Algerians will vote in a referendum on the new constitution on Nov. 1, with Tebboune and the country’s powerful army generals seeking a high turnout in order to turn a page on the protests.