UN to vote on endorsing road map to end the war in Libya

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a civil war toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi who was later killed. (File/AFP)
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Updated 12 February 2020

UN to vote on endorsing road map to end the war in Libya

  • The British-drafted resolution demands the warring parties “commit to a lasting cease-fire”
  • The Tripoli authorities and US officials have accused Haftar of relying on hundreds of Russian mercenaries

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council is set to vote Wednesday on a resolution that would endorse a 55-point road map for ending the war in Libya and condemn the recent increase in violence.

The British-drafted resolution demands the warring parties “commit to a lasting cease-fire” and insists on full compliance with a UN arms embargo that has been repeatedly broken, as called for in the plan approved by leaders of 12 world powers and other key countries meeting Jan. 19 in Berlin.

It also recalls the commitment of all participants at the Berlin meeting to refrain from interfering in Libya’s conflict and its internal affairs and expresses concern “over the growing involvement of mercenaries in Libya.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week that the agreement has been repeatedly violated by continuing arms deliveries to the warring parties and escalating fighting. He called the current offensives by rival forces “a scandal,” saying the commitments “apparently were made without a true intention of respecting them.”

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a civil war toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi who was later killed.

A weak UN-recognized administration that holds the capital of Tripoli and parts of the country’s west is backed by Turkey, which recently sent thousands of soldiers to Libya, and to a lesser degree Qatar and Italy.

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On the other side is a rival government in the east that supports self-styled Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whose forces launched an offensive to capture the capital last April and are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as well as France and Russia.

The Tripoli authorities and US officials have accused Haftar of relying on hundreds of Russian mercenaries. Sudanese armed groups from the Darfur region recently joined the fighting on both sides, according to a report by UN experts.

The draft resolution welcomes last week’s cease-fire talks between Libya’s warring sides in Geneva and calls for their continuation “without further delay in order to agree a permanent cease-fire.” It asks Guterres to submit his views on conditions for a cease-fire and proposals for effective monitoring of a truce, with a view to making detailed recommendations when a cease-fire is announced.

Russia and South Africa objected to an earlier text of the resolution. Russia sought some major changes that were not accepted, including changing the welcome for the Berlin conference to “takes note of” the meeting and changing the expression of concern over the growing involvement of mercenaries to “foreign terrorist fighters.”

The draft does reaffirm “the need to combat ... threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.”

It was unclear Tuesday how Russia, especially, would vote on the resolution.

The Security Council on Tuesday voted 14-0 with Russia abstaining on a resolution extending the arms embargo, travel ban, asset freeze and other sanctions on Libya and Libyans until April 30, 2021.

It also extended the mandate of the UN panel of experts monitoring implementation of the sanctions until May 15, 2021.

The draft resolution condemns attempts to illicitly export oil and refined petroleum product from Libya and it asks the UN experts to report on illicit exports or imports to Libya of petroleum, including crude oil and refined petroleum products. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia objected to the reference to oil imports.


Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

An Iranian army soldier walks through a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 30 March 2020

Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

  • Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible”

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani has warned that “the new way of life” in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as its declared death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 2,640.
Iran is one of the countries worst-hit by the virus, which first originated in China.
Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January.
At his daily news briefing, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 123 more people in Iran had died from the virus in the past 24 hours.
He reported 2,901 new cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the overall number of officially confirmed cases to 38,309.
According to the official, 12,391 of those hospitalized have recovered and 3,467 are in “critical” condition.
“We must prepare to live with this virus until a treatment or vaccine is discovered, which has not yet happened to date,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting.
“The new way of life we have adopted” is to everyone’s benefit, he said, adding that “these changes will likely have to stay in place for some time.”
After weeks of refraining from imposing lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided Wednesday to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible.” Schools and universities in some provinces were closed in late February and the measure was later extended to the whole country.
After Rouhani’s warning, the reopening of schools following this year’s new year holidays of March 19 to April 3 appears unlikely.

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Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January

On a positive note, Rouhani said he had been told by top health experts and doctors that “in some provinces we have passed the peak (of the epidemic) and are on a downward trajectory.”
Several Iranian government officials and notable figures have been infected by the new coronavirus, some of whom have died.
The most recent case of infection was Mohammed-Reza Khatami, brother of former president Mohammad Khatami and an ex-deputy speaker of parliament.
He is currently hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, a deputy health minister who tested positive for the virus in late February, has returned to public life and appeared on state television to emphasize safety precautions.