UN-backed Sarraj: Support for Haftar ‘prolonging’ Libyan war

Fayez Al-Sarraj, who heads the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, charged that his rival Khalifa Haftar ‘was not a partner for peace.’ (AFP)
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Updated 16 February 2020

UN-backed Sarraj: Support for Haftar ‘prolonging’ Libyan war

  • ‘We cannot negotiate as long we are being bombarded by aircraft, and there is bloodshed and the destruction of infrastructure’
  • Weapons have continued to flow into the country despite agreement to end all foreign interference in Libya

TRIPOLI: The head of Libya’s UN-recognized government on Saturday warned that foreign backing for his rival Khalifa Haftar would only serve “to prolong” the conflict in the North African country.
“Haftar’s supporters must understand that they have lost their gamble” by backing the eastern military strongman, said Fayez Al-Sarraj, who heads the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
Foreign governments supporting Haftar will only “prolong the war and create deeply rooted hatred that will be difficult to overcome,” Sarraj added.
States including Egypt and Jordan have bolstered Haftar, while the GNA is backed by Turkey and Qatar.
Russia is alleged to have sent several thousand mercenaries to support Haftar, claims denied by Moscow.
In a news conference broadcast live on television, Sarraj also charged that Haftar “was not a partner for peace.”
His comments came days after the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a “lasting cease-fire” in Libya, where in April Haftar launched an offensive to seize Tripoli from the GNA.
Sarraj welcomed Wednesday’s vote but accused Haftar’s forces of repeatedly violating a fragile truce observed since January 12.
The UN resolution also called for continued negotiations by a joint military commission set up in January between the two sides, with the goal of achieving a “permanent cease-fire.”
“We cannot negotiate as long we are being bombarded by aircraft, and there is bloodshed and the destruction of infrastructure,” he said.
Sarraj also called for “severe international measures” to put an end to the cease-fire violations, otherwise the GNA “will be forced to retaliate,” he said.
A day after the UN vote, rival forces clashed in Tripoli causing civilian casualties.
Weapons have continued to flow into the country despite world leaders agreeing at a January summit in Berlin to end all foreign interference in Libya and uphold a UN arms embargo.
Libya has been subject to a much-abused arms embargo since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.


Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

Pedestrians, wearing face masks, walk in a street of Ankara on November 20, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 24 November 2020

Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

  • 20% of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return
  • No PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers entering the country. It is a very big mistake

ANKARA: Unofficial sources have warned that numbers of COVID-19 cases in Turkey are skyrocketing.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) estimated that daily COVID-19 cases have risen to more than 47,500, of which about 12,500 are in Istanbul. This would represent a 300 percent increase in November compared to the month before.

According to official data, however, Turkey recorded 5,103 new COVID-19 patients on Nov. 20 — the second highest new daily figure since March — and its highest daily death toll with 141 fatalities.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced that 186 people died from “infectious diseases” in the city on Nov. 22 — more than the official countrywide death toll. (The Turkish health ministry is accused of classifying some COVID-related deaths as "infection-related deaths")

The TTB, whose data drew on figures from 1,270 medics in 76 provinces, claimed that someone in Turkey dies from COVID-19 every 10 minutes. It declared that “they have lost control of the pandemic.”

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms. Following this admission Turkey was put on the UK’s quarantine-on-arrival list in early October.

BACKGROUND

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms.

Reports drawing on Israeli health ministry data say that 20 percent of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return home, which experts consider a worryingly high figure.

Everyone arriving in Israel is obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. There is no such an obligation in Turkey.

“The countries which prove successful in managing the pandemic are those that apply strict quarantine rules and rigorously regulate arrivals in the country. But this is not the case in Turkey nowadays,” said Guner Sonmez, a radiologist from Uskudar University in Istanbul.

“Only one case can again trigger a whole chain of contagion and begin a new wave of pandemic. However, no PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers who enter the country. It is a very big mistake for managing the dynamics of the pandemic.”

Turkey recently re-introduced a partial evening curfew and restrictions on the weekends, although scientists have been urging a full 14-day lockdown.