Erdogan faces snub in bid to drag Algeria into Libya war

Turkey backs Libya’s internationally recognized government based in Tripoli and has repeatedly described Haftar and his forces as illegitimate. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 January 2020

Erdogan faces snub in bid to drag Algeria into Libya war

  • Turkey backs Libya’s internationally recognized government based in Tripoli
  • It has repeatedly described strong Khalifa Haftar and his forces as illegitimate

JEDDAH: Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces a rebuff in his attempts to drag Algeria into the conflict in Libya, analysts told Arab News on Sunday.

The Turkish president visited Algiers on Sunday for talks with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. 

“We are going to discuss the latest developments in our region, especially Libya,” he said.

Turkey has sent military aid to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, whose fighters have been at war since last April with Libya National Army (LNA) forces led by eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Turkish naval frigates and Algerian vessels took part in naval exercises this month, sparking speculation that Erdogan would ask Tebboune for help with a naval base to conduct its Libyan operations.

Any such request is likely to be denied, experts said. “Algeria is opposed to Turkey’s military intervention in Libya, and indeed to all foreign intervention there,” Yahia Zoubir, director of geopolitics research at the Kedge Business School in Marseille, told Arab News.

“It is even doubtful whether they will allow Turkey to fly over Algerian territory to attack Haftar’s positions near the southeastern border with Algeria.”

Haftar opened a new front in the conflict on Sunday by moving troops from Sirte toward the city of Misrata, which is allied to the GNA. Two LNA fighters were killed and eight wounded fighting forces from Misrata in the town of Abugrain, 120km east.

The new fighting ends a fragile truce. The UAE, Egypt, Russia and Turkey agreed with Western powers at a summit in Berlin last Sunday to push for a lasting cease-fire and uphold an existing UN arms embargo.


Iran reopens key shrines as virus cases reach 137,724

Updated 26 May 2020

Iran reopens key shrines as virus cases reach 137,724

  • Authorities are yet to say when similar measures will be allowed in other provinces

TEHRAN: Iran on Monday reopened major shrines across the country, more than two months after they were closed.

At Tehran’s Shah Abdol-Azim shrine, worshippers had to wear a mask, walk through a disinfection tunnel and have their temperature checked as they began returning from the early morning, according to AFP reporters.

The Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad in northeast Iran and the Fatima Masumeh shrine and Jamkaran mosque in Qom also reopened.

They are allowed to open starting from an hour after dawn until an hour before dusk.

Shrines were closed alongside schools, universities and all nonvital businesses in March after Iran reported its first two coronavirus deaths in Qom in late February.

On Monday, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the total number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Iran had reached 137,724, while the overall number of death had risen to 7,451.

In the past 24 hours, Iran recorded 2,032 new cases while the number of fatalities stood at 34 — the lowest daily count recorded since March 7 — he told a news conference.

Experts inside and outside Iran have cast doubt on the country’s official figures, and say the real toll could be much higher.

Iran has allowed a phased reopening of its economy and gradual relaxation of restrictions since early April, with a further easing expected in the coming days despite a recent uptick in new cases.

“High-risk” businesses such as restaurants, cafes and wedding halls in Tehran, which were left shuttered, will reopen from Tuesday, the capital’s deputy police chief Nader Moradi told ISNA news agency.

Authorities are yet to say when similar measures will be allowed in other provinces.