East Libyan forces dismiss cease-fire push by rivals

East Libyan forces dismiss cease-fire push by rivals
The leaders of the opposing Libyan factions drew praise from the UN, the EU and several Arab countries when, in separate statements, they said they wanted to end fighting and to hold elections. (AFP)
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Updated 23 August 2020

East Libyan forces dismiss cease-fire push by rivals

East Libyan forces dismiss cease-fire push by rivals
  • The Benghazi-based government has been accused of building up military forces around Sirte, currently held by Haftar's forces
  • There has been little fighting in Libya since June, but the political crisis still appears to be far from over

BENGHAZI: The eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) dismissed a cease-fire announcement by authorities in the capital, Tripoli, as a marketing stunt on Sunday, saying rival forces were mobilizing around front lines in the center of the country.
Its spokesman, Ahmed Mismari, said the LNA was ready to respond to any attempted attack on its positions around the coastal city of Sirte, and Jufra, to the south.
Mismari’s comments were the first by the LNA after the announcement on Friday of a cease-fire and a call for the resumption of oil production by Fayez Al-Sarraj, who heads the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, in the west.
“The initiative that Sarraj signed is for media marketing,” Mismari said during a briefing for journalists. “There is a military build-up and the transfer of equipment to target our forces in Sirte.”
“If Sarraj wanted a cease-fire, he would have drawn his forces back, not advanced toward our units in Sirte.”
Mismari made no reference to a parallel cease-fire call also issued on Friday by the head of Libya’s eastern-based parliament, Aguila Saleh.
Saleh has gained influence compared to LNA commander Khalifa Haftar since Turkish military support for the GNA forced the LNA to retreat from a 14-month offensive on Tripoli in June.
For more than five years, Libya has been divided into rival camps based in the east and west of the country.
The LNA has received backing from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, in a conflict that has become an arena for regional rivalries.
There has been little fighting since June. In the past, both sides have accused each other of quickly violating truces and using them to rearm.


US designates Bahrain, UAE ‘major security partners’

US designates Bahrain, UAE ‘major security partners’
Updated 17 January 2021

US designates Bahrain, UAE ‘major security partners’

US designates Bahrain, UAE ‘major security partners’
  • Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and hostssome 5,000 American troops
  • UAE hosts 3,500 US troops and its Jebel Ali port is the busiest port of call for American warships outside of the US

DUBAI: The US called Bahrain and the UAE “major security partners” early on Saturday, a previously unheard of designation for the two countries home to major American military operations.
A White House statement tied the designation to Bahrain and the UAE normalizing ties to Israel, saying it “reflects their extraordinary courage, determination and leadership.” It also noted the two countries long have taken part in US military exercises.
It’s unclear what the designation means for Bahrain and the UAE.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, while the UAE’s Jebel Ali port is the busiest port of call for American warships outside of the US. Bahrain hosts some 5,000 American troops, while the UAE hosts 3,500, many at Al-Dhafra Air Base.
Already, the US uses the designation of “major non-NATO ally” to describe its relationship with Kuwait, which hosts the forward command of US Army Central. That designation grants a country special financial and military considerations for nations not part of NATO. Bahrain also is a non-NATO ally.
The US military’s Central Command and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The 5th Fleet referred queries to the State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The White House designation comes in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump forged close ties to Gulf Arab countries during his time in office in part over his hard-line stance on Iran.
That’s sparked a series of escalating incidents between the countries after Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
It also comes after Bahrain and the UAE joined Egypt and Saudi Arabia in beginning to resolve a yearslong boycott of Qatar, that houses Al-Udeid Air Base.