UN laments ‘blatant’ violations of Libya arms embargo

UN laments ‘blatant’ violations of Libya arms embargo
Fighters loyal to the UN-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) secure the area of Abu Qurain, half-way between the capital Tripoli and Libya's second city Benghazi. (AFP/File)
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Updated 04 September 2020

UN laments ‘blatant’ violations of Libya arms embargo

UN laments ‘blatant’ violations of Libya arms embargo

NEW YORK: The interim UN envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, on Wednesday denounced what she called “blatant” ongoing violations of the arms embargo in effect on the war-wracked country.
Since UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last briefed the Security Council on July 8 about 100 resupply flights landing in Libya to help forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and its rival forces led by Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya.
Nine cargo ships docked in western Libya, while three others reportedly arrived in the east of the country. She also accused foreign powers of “fortifying their assets” on both sides.
“The arms embargo remains totally ineffective,” according to an interim report from UN experts, who added that the violations are “extensive, blatant and with complete disregard for the sanctions.”
Williams said the activity “constitutes an alarming breach of Libya’s sovereignty, a blatant violation of the UN arms embargo.”
The UN mission in Libya, whose mandate is up for renewal in mid-September, “continues to receive reports of large-scale presence of foreign mercenaries and operatives,” she said.
Williams added that their presence complicates “chances of a future settlement.”
Russia’s UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, rejected any accusation of Russian interference.
“Not a single Russian serviceman is currently in Libya,” he said, while his US counterpart Kelly Craft slammed the presence of Russian mercenaries linked to the Kremlin.
“There is no place for foreign mercenaries or proxy forces in Libya, including the Russian Ministry of Defense proxy Wagner Group, which is fighting alongside” Haftar, she said.
France’s UN Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere called for a reinforcement of the world body’s mission in Libya, so that it can help shepherd an eventual cease-fire and ensure that the arms embargo is respected.
Several Council members called for a quick nomination of a permanent UN special envoy for Libya.
Ghassan Salame stepped down in March for health reasons, and bickering between the US and its partners on how the role should be defined has stalled naming a successor.
Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
The GNA and a Haftar-backed eastern administration are now vying for power against a backdrop of dozens of local conflicts.


Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
Bookseller Yaqoub Mohamed Yaqoub, 45, sits by his roadside stall where he has been working for 15 years, in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on January 14, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 9 min 2 sec ago

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate

Sudan schoolbook picture sparks angry reform debate
  • Unrest ricocheted beyond North African country, triggering uprisings, crackdowns, civil wars

KHARTOUM: As Sudan’s transitional government shifts the nation from the Islamist rule of ousted strongman Omar Bashir, a new schoolbook has sparked controversy for reproducing Michelangelo’s iconic “Creation of Adam.”
Khartoum’s government has embarked on deeply controversial reforms in a bid to boost its international standing and rescue its ailing economy — but bringing it into a confrontation with those who see changes as anti-Islamic.
The offending picture, in a history textbook for teenagers, has become a flashpoint in the argument. “It is an ugly offense,” said Sudan’s Academy of Islamic Fiqh, the body ruling on Islamic law, which issued an edict banning teaching from the book.
Michelangelo’s fresco, depicting the Biblical story of God reaching out with his hand to give life to Adam, is a flagship piece of 16th century Renaissance art that forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in Rome.
“The book glorifies Western culture in a way that makes it the culture of science and civilization — in contrast to its presentation of Islamic civilization,” the Fiqh academy added.

BACKGROUND

In a viral video, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting ‘apostasy’ and ‘heresy.’

Furious Muslim clerics have railed against the book and other changes to the school curriculum.
In one video widely shared on social media, a preacher broke down as he waved the book during Friday prayers, accusing it of promoting “apostasy” and “heresy.”
Another urged followers to “burn the book.”
But others defended the changes, saying they were part of necessary education reforms.
“The picture is not in a religious book,” teacher Qamarya Omar said.
“It is in a history book for the sixth-grade under a section called European Renaissance, which makes it placed in context.”