Egyptian president uses UN address to call for peace in Libya

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. (AFP)
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Updated 24 September 2020

Egyptian president uses UN address to call for peace in Libya

  • In speech to 75th General Assembly, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi again warns that Egypt will intervene if forces in the country cross ‘red lines’

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi told the UN on Tuesday that the crisis in Libya continues to have repercussions for neighboring nations and is affecting international stability.

In a recorded speech to the organization’s 75th General Assembly, he said that Egypt remains determined to support the Libyan people in their efforts to rid their nation of terrorist groups and militias, and end interference by regional powers that have deployed foreign fighters in the country.

He reiterated that if previously stated “red lines” are crossed by forces aligned with the Government of National Accord in Tripoli advancing on Sirte and nearby Al-Jufra, Egypt will intervene in defense of its own national security and the safety of its people.

El-Sisi renewed his call for both sides in the conflict to return to the negotiating table to find a political solution that can bring the peace, security and stability the Libyan people deserve. He added that Egypt continues to support UN-led efforts to reach a political settlement based on the 2015 agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, and this year’s Berlin conference and Cairo Declaration. The declaration, announced on June 6, is a joint political initiative designed to end the conflict, restore order and establish a consensus government.

Ambassador Mohammed Badr El-Din, a former assistant minister of foreign affairs, said that El-Sisi’s speech covered all the main issues currently dominating Egyptian foreign policy and national security, and highlighted the importance of international cooperation to confront the problems and, in particular, hold accountable those who violate international law.

“(The president) talked about the issue of countries that support terrorism and facilitate the movement of terrorists to conflict areas, especially to Libya and Syria,” said El-Din.

He added that the situation in Libya is one of the greatest concerns for Egypt, and that some countries, led by Turkey, are threatening international peace and security by supporting terrorists and deploying Daesh elements in conflict zones in the region.

“Egypt has surpassed the parties that are allied with the terrorist forces,” said El-Din. “It is no secret from the world that there are elements of ISIS who were transferred from Syria to Libya, and thus President El-Sisi repeated and clarified this position,” he added, using another name for the terror group Daesh.

He added that El-Sisi in his speech also confirmed Egypt’s stance on the Palestinian issue and support for a just resolution, and highlighted the importance of reaching political solutions in Syria and Yemen that preserve their territorial integrity.

Salah Hasaballah, a spokesman for the House of Representatives, noted that El-Sisi had expressed his regret that the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the support provided to terrorists by a handful of countries, through the provision of funds and weapons, by offering safe havens and media and political platforms, and even transporting terrorist fighters to conflict zones, especially Libya and Syria.

He also called on the international community to embrace El-Sisi’s vision for a solution to the Palestinian issue, and commit to working to achieve peace and establish a Palestinian homeland.


US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

Updated 22 October 2020

US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

  • Intelligence director: “These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries”

WASHINGTON: US officials accused Iran on Wednesday of being behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for President Donald Trump.
The announcement at a rare, hastily called news conference just two weeks before the election underscored the concern within the US government about efforts by foreign countries to spread false information meant to suppress voter turnout and undermine American confidence in the vote.
The activities attributed to Iran would mark a significant escalation for a nation that some cybersecurity experts regard as a second-rate player in online espionage, with the announcement coming as most public discussion surrounding election interference has centered on Russia, which hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 election, and China, a Trump administration adversary.
“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” said John Ratcliffe, the government’s top intelligence official, who, along with FBI Director Chris Wray, insisted the US would impose costs on any foreign countries that interfere in the 2020 US election and that the integrity of the election is still sound.
“You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray said. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Wray and Ratcliffe did not describe the emails linked to Iran, but officials familiar with the matter said the US has linked Tehran to messages sent to Democratic voters in at least four battleground states that falsely purported to be from the neo-fascist group Proud Boys and that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for Trump.
The officials also said Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Ratcliffe said the spoofed emails were intended to hurt Trump, though he did not elaborate on how. An intelligence assessment released in August said: “Iran seeks to undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content.”
Trump, speaking at a rally in North Carolina, made no reference to the press conference but repeated a familiar campaign assertion that Iran is opposed to his reelection. He promised that if he wins another term he will swiftly reach a new accord with Iran over its nuclear program.
“Iran doesn’t want to let me win. China doesn’t want to let me win,” Trump said. “The first call I’ll get after we win, the first call I’ll get will be from Iran saying let’s make a deal.”
Both Russia and Iran also obtained voter registration information, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Asked about the emails during an online forum Wednesday, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she lacked specific information. “I am aware that they were sent to voters in multiple swing states and we are working closely with the attorney general on these types of things and others,” she said.
While state-backed Russian hackers are known to have infiltrated US election infrastructure in 2016, there is no evidence that Iran has ever done so.
The voter intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.
“These emails are meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections,” Christopher Krebs, the top election security official at the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted Tuesday night after reports of the emails first surfaced.