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)
Short Url
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.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

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.


Lebanon family restless as it awaits missing ‘heroes’

Updated 11 August 2020

Lebanon family restless as it awaits missing ‘heroes’

  • Najib Hitti, 27, Charbel Hitti, 22 and Charbel Karam, 37, all relatives, left together in one firetruck to douse a port blaze believed to have sparked the August 4 mega-blast
  • The Hittis’ hopes of seeing their loved ones alive have dimmed since the army on Sunday said it had concluded search and rescue operations with little to no hope of finding survivors

QARTABA, Lebanon: Three firefighters. One Lebanese family. The same restless wait. Rita Hitti has not slept a wink since the Beirut port blast, when her firefighting son, nephew and son-in-law went missing.
“In one piece or several, we want our sons back,” she told AFP from the Hitti family’s home in the mountain town of Qartaba, north of Beirut.
“We have been waiting for the remains for six days,” she added, dark circles under her eyes.
Najib Hitti, 27, Charbel Hitti, 22 and Charbel Karam, 37, all relatives, left together in one firetruck to douse a port blaze believed to have sparked the August 4 mega-blast that killed 160 people and wounded at least 6,000 others across town.
They were among the first rescuers at the scene. They have not been heard of since.
Near the entrance to their Qartaba home, the three men are praised as “heroes” in a huge banner unfurled over a wall.
The double exposure shot shows them in the foreground dressed sharply in suits.
In the background, the blast’s now-infamous pink plume rises above their heads as they try to douse a fire.
An eerie calm filled the stone-arched living room, where dozens of relatives and neighbors gathered around Rita, the mother of Najib Hitti.
The women were mum, the men whispered between themselves, the young shuffled in and out of the room, quietly.
Karlen, Rita’s daughter, looked among the most sombre, with her husband Charbel Karam, brother Najib and cousin Charbel all missing.
Sitting next to her mother on the couch, she fought back tears and did not say a single word.
The Hittis’ hopes of seeing their loved ones alive have dimmed since the army on Sunday said it had concluded search and rescue operations with little to no hope of finding survivors.
The health ministry has said the number of missing stands at less than 20, while the army announced it had lifted five corpses from beneath the rubble.
A large blaze was still ripping through the blast site when the Hittis and other relatives of port employees dashed to the disaster zone to check on their loved ones.
But they were stopped by security forces.
“I told them I would know my boys from their smell,” Rita said she told an officer who barred her from the site.
“Let me enter to search for them and when I whiff their smell I will know where they are,” the mother said she pleaded.
Ever since, her hopes have gradually dwindled, but her anger is boiling.
Lebanese authorities have pledged a swift investigation but the exact cause of the blast remains unclear.
Authorities say it was triggered by a fire of unknown origin that broke out in a port warehouse where a huge pile of highly volatile ammonium nitrate fertilizer had been left unsecured for years.
Whatever the cause of the fire was, the popular consensus is that the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of officials in charge of the port as well those who have ruled Lebanon country for decades.
“We gave them heroes and they returned them to us as ‘martyrs’,” Rita said, scoffing at the label officials have used to brand blast casualties.
“What martyrs? What were they protecting? The noxious things (authorities) were hiding in the port?” she asked rhetorically.
“They are martyrs of treachery.”
George, father of Charbel Hitti, also rushed to the blast site to look for his son and relatives after the explosion.
“I started to scream their names: Najib, Charbel... I was like a mad man,” he told AFP.
“We waited until 6 in the morning the next day for clues to what happened,” he said.
“In the end, I started crying.”
He did manage, however, to get one piece of information from a port security official close to the family who was at the scene of the blaze when the firefighting team first arrived on August 4.
The security official had told him that the firefighters were trying to break open the door to the ammonium nitrate warehouse because they could not find the keys before the explosion ripped the whole place apart.
A week has since passed and George said hopes of finding the three men alive have faded.
Assuming they are dead, George said he now wants one thing: “We just want DNA test results that are compatible with those of Charbel, Najib and Charbel,” he said.
“Imagine. This is everything we now wish for.”