Libyan tribes to El-Sisi: ‘We need Egyptian support to expel Turkish colonizer’

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El-Sisi met mainly eastern Libyan tribesmen in a show of solidarity on Thursday. (Spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency)
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El-Sisi met mainly eastern Libyan tribesmen in a show of solidarity on Thursday. (Spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency)
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Updated 17 July 2020

Libyan tribes to El-Sisi: ‘We need Egyptian support to expel Turkish colonizer’

  • Delegation of tribal leaders thanks Egyptian president for his support

CAIRO: Libyan tribal leaders met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday after flying from Benghazi to discuss the crisis in their country.
Bassam Radi, spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, said the meeting was held under the slogan “Egypt and Libya: One Nation and One Destiny.” Radi said El-Sisi told the Libyan tribes Egypt’s goal is to “activate the free will” of the Libyan people to have a better future for their country.
Head of the Supreme Council of Sheikhs and Notables of Libya Muhammad Al-Misbahi said the tribal delegation in Egypt represented all sects of the Libyan people. He thanked the Egyptian president, who announced his support for Libya.
“We need the support of the Egyptian armed forces to expel the Turkish colonizer,” Al-Misbahi said.
Turkey recently sent thousands of Syrian mercenaries to the country to support the Government of National Accord (GNA) in its conflict with the Libyan National Army (LNA).
Al-Mabrouk Abu Ameed, head of the Supreme Council of the Warshefana tribes and official spokesman for the Conference of Libyan Tribes and Cities, said that leaders met the Egyptian president to form a plan between the two countries. The group also pushed to activate a joint Arab defense agreement and called for the support of the Libyan armed forces.
They asked for legal measures to guarantee the unity and sovereignty of Libya and the protection of its people.
Abdel-Karim Al-Orfi, official spokesman for the Supreme Council of Sheikhs and Notables of Libya, said the delegation’s visit to Egypt highlights the strong historical relationship between Libyan and Egyptian tribes, sending a message to the world that Arab nations are united.
He added that the Supreme Council has maintained a consistent position since the beginning of the Turkish invasion.

At least 7,000 sheikhs gathered in the city of Tarhuna in February to release a statement which described the Turkish strategy as an “invasion.” It was followed by several statements calling on tribes to resist Turkish activity in the country.
The statements said the relationship between the Egyptian and Libyan people “is not one that was requested but rather a relationship that comes from a clear fate that will be impacted if either countries are exposed to danger.” The council called on tribal volunteers to resist the invasion.
Ramzi Al-Rumaih, adviser to the Libyan Organization for National Security Studies, said visits to Egypt by tribal elders have happened for hundreds of years. There are more than 15 million Egyptians in Egypt who have Libyan backgrounds.
“Libyan tribal elders came to Cairo to emphasize everything that was stated in the Cairo initiative, as Egypt knows the strategic dimension of its neighboring country Libya,” Al-Rumaih said.
Egypt oversaw the Cairo Declaration, a new peace plan to restore stability in Libya following months of armed conflict between the GNA and LNA.
“The tribal elders who met the Egyptian president confirmed that the 2,000 tribes know that Egypt is a safe place,” Al-Rumaih added.
El-Sisi said in a speech last month that Sirte and Al-Jufra are strategically important in Libya, and that they represent a “red line” for the Egypt.
During the speech, the leader said Egyptian intervention in Libya had become legal.
“The Egyptian forces readiness to fight has become a necessity,” he added.
He said that Egypt is keen to reach a comprehensive settlement in Libya and wants to maintain the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
 


 


British-Australian academic freed in Iran prisoner swap hails end of 'traumatic ordeal'

Updated 40 min ago

British-Australian academic freed in Iran prisoner swap hails end of 'traumatic ordeal'

  • “I came to Iran as a friend and with friendly intentions and depart Iran with those sentiments not only still intact, but strengthened,” Moore-Gilbert said
  • According to letters smuggled out of prison, she had rejected Tehran's offer to work as a spy

SYDNEY: An Australian-British academic has been freed in Iran after more than two years in jail for spying and said Thursday her release - part of a swap for three Iranians - had ended a "long and traumatic ordeal".
After more than 800 days imprisoned on spying charges, Middle East scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert said departing Iran would be "bittersweet" despite the "injustices" she had endured.
"I came to Iran as a friend and with friendly intentions," she said in a statement distributed by the Australian government while praising "warm-hearted, generous and brave" Iranians.
The first images of a freed Moore-Gilbert emerged from Iranian state television late Wednesday, sparking elation from friends and family who had campaigned hard against her 10-year sentence and adamantly protested her innocence.
"We are relieved and ecstatic," the family said in a statement. "We cannot convey the overwhelming happiness that each of us feel at this incredible news."
In footage broadcast by Iran's Iribnews from Tehran airport, Moore-Gilbert was seen wearing a headscarf and a Covid facemask, accompanied by the Australian ambassador.
Seemingly aware of the camera, she removed the mask, helping to confirm her identity, before being seen getting into a white van.
Australian Prime Minister Morrison said he had spoken to Moore-Gilbert, describing her tone of voice as "very uplifting", but said she was still processing her release.
"She's an extraordinary, strong, courageous and intelligent person to be able to get through this awful ordeal," he told Channel 9, adding she would receive debriefings, health and psychological support on her return to Australia.
"It'll be quite an adjustment when she gets home."
Friends told AFP they were "over the moon" at the news and in a joint statement said: "today is a very bright day".
There was no immediate confirmation of the identity of the three Iranians who were part of the reported prisoner swap, or where they came from.
Iran's state Iribnews reported "a businessman and two (other) Iranian citizens detained abroad on the basis of false accusations were freed in exchange for a spy with dual nationality working for" Israel, identifying Moore-Gilbert by name.
The outlet showed video of three unidentified men - one of them in a wheelchair - draped in Iranian flags and being met by officials including Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi.
Moore-Gilbert's arrest was confirmed by Iran in September 2019.
But it is believed that the lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne was arrested at Tehran airport by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a year earlier after attending an academic conference in the city of Qom, in central Iran.
According to letters smuggled out of prison, Moore-Gilbert, who is in her early 30s, had rejected Tehran's offer to work as a spy.
She wrote that the first 10 months she spent in a wing of Tehran's notorious Evin prison run by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had "gravely damaged" her mental health.
"I am not a spy. I have never been a spy and I have no interest to work for a spying organisation in any country."
She said she had been shown two different decisions to her appeal - one for a 13-month sentence, another confirming the original sentence of 10 years.
"I am still denied phone calls and visitations, and I am afraid that my mental and emotional state may further deteriorate if I remain in this extremely restrictive detention ward," she wrote.
She was eventually transferred to the general women's section of Evin prison, where British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was held until being granted temporary leave due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband said she was "really happy" when he told her about Moore-Gilbert's release.
"I don't know what it means for us, it's definitely a good thing for Kylie and it's definitely a good thing for all of us that deals are being done," Richard Ratcliffe said.
Throughout Moore-Gilbert's internment, friends and family had become increasingly critical of what they said was Australia's diplomatic approach.
Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said the release followed "determined work" and described the case as "complex and sensitive".
Iran, which has tense relations with the West, has over the years arrested several foreign nationals, most often on accusations of spying.
They include French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, who was detained in the Islamic republic in June 2019.
Two other Australians, travel bloggers Jolie King and Mark Firkin, were released in October 2019, in another apparent swap.
The US State Department welcomed Moore-Gilbert's release but said "she should never have been imprisoned".
"The Iranian regime continues to engage in hostage diplomacy, and we caution all Americans from travelling to Iran as it seeks to gain further leverage," a spokesperson said.