Libya arms embargo ‘totally ineffective’: UN report

Libya arms embargo ‘totally ineffective’: UN report
The arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011 is “totally ineffective,” say UN experts in a stark report released Tuesday. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 18 March 2021

Libya arms embargo ‘totally ineffective’: UN report

Libya arms embargo ‘totally ineffective’: UN report
  • The experts have been denouncing violations of the embargo for years

NEW YORK: The arms embargo imposed on Libya since 2011 is “totally ineffective,” say UN experts in a stark report released Tuesday which underscores “extensive, blatant” violations by actors including its own member states.

The six experts charged with monitoring the embargo on the civil war-torn state pointed the finger at an array of international backers on both sides of its conflict, plus private mercenaries and non-state actors — including the Russian Wagner group as well as former Blackwater head Erik Prince.

They used photos, diagrams and maps to support their accusations in the more than 550-page report, which covers the period from October 2019 to January 2021.

“The arms embargo remains totally ineffective. For those member states directly supporting the parties to the conflict, the violations are extensive, blatant and with complete disregard for the sanctions measures,” they wrote.

“Their control of the entire supply chain complicates detection, disruption or interdiction,” the report continued, explaining that both factors “make any implementation of the arms embargo more difficult.”

The experts have been denouncing violations of the embargo for years.

Libya has been torn by civil war since a NATO-backed uprising led to the toppling then killing of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

The country has in recent years been split between a Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and an eastern-based administration, backed by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar’s international supporters — including the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Russia, Syria, and Egypt — have all been singled out in previous UN reports or in the one published Tuesday.

Turkey and Qatar, which support the authorities in Tripoli, have also been named by the experts.

They have identified Russian mercenaries from the private Wagner group, as well as up to 13,000 Syrian rebels and Chadian or Sudanese groups, all acting for one side or the other.

Tuesday’s report strongly reinforces the earlier accusations and adds more, such as the one aimed at Erik Prince, founder of the now-defunct Blackwater security company and a fierce supporter of former American president Donald Trump.

Prince has denied the accusation he sent or wanted to send a force of foreign mercenaries and weapons to Haftar in 2019.

The experts estimate that up to 2,000 Wagner mercenaries have been deployed in Libya.

“Notwithstanding the cease-fire agreement of 25 October 2020, there have been no indications of any withdrawal from Libya by ChVK Wagner,” they wrote.

Another private Russian company, Rossiskie System Bezopasnosti Group, is cited for its role in refurbishing fighter jets; while the Turkish military contractor SADAT, which has denied any illegal activity in Libya, is also on the list of those incriminated.

The experts reached an identical conclusion when it came to economic sanctions leveled at individuals or entities, citing a “persistent lack of transparency.”

“Implementation of the assets freeze and travel ban measures with regard to designated individuals remains ineffective,” they wrote.

They also say that officials in Libya’s east “have continued their efforts to illicitly export crude oil and to import aviation fuel.”

Refined petroleum products continue to be illicitly exported by land, the report said, adding that while the activity is small it has increase compared to previous years, particularly in western Libya.

The UN experts recommended that the Security Council impose “flag deregistration; a landing ban; and an overflight ban” on aircraft identified as having violated the embargo.

They also asked it to “authorize member States to inspect, on the high seas off the coast of Libya, vessels ... that they have reasonable grounds to believe are illicitly exporting or attempting to export crude oil or refined petroleum products.”


COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib
Updated 16 min 27 sec ago

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government
Updated 9 min 27 sec ago

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government
  • Bahrain's crown prince sent a congratulatory telegraph to new Israeli Prime Minister
  • UAE’s foreign minister congratulated Israeli foreign minister on his new position

CAIRO: Bahrain’s crown prince sent a congratulatory telegraph to new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
The crown prince expressed his sincere wishes to the formed government for success in its tasks “in a way that strengthen the pillars of development, stability, and peace in the region and the world,” Bahrain state news agency (BNA) said on Monday.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed discussed in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart “the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in addition to the Abraham Accords,” the minister’s office tweeted on Monday.
Bin Zayed congratulated the Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, on his new position and wished him success, the tweet said.


Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel

Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel
Updated 29 min 45 sec ago

Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel

Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel

Palestinian children fly kites on a beach of Gaza City carrying the portraits of the 66 children killed in the Palestinian enclave by Israeli airstrikes during the last conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas.


Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public
Updated 14 June 2021

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public
  • Video showing brawl between Bassil’s entourage & young woman goes viral on social media, triggers waves of criticism
  • Bassil’s media office denied beating incident and said ‘the era of leaving swearwords unanswered is over’

BEIRUT: A video of a brawl between a Lebanese woman and Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil’s bodyguards after she publicly told him ‘shame on you’ went viral on Sunday.

The woman was having lunch with friends in a newly-opened restaurant at Al Batroun, the birthplace of Bassil, Lebanese President’s son-in-law and a strong political ally of Iran-backed party Hezbollah, when the altercation happened.

Once the woman, identified by media as Yasmine Al-Masri, saw Bassil at the restaurant she yelled at him saying the Arabic for “shame on you.”

She is believed to have been provoked by his audacity showing up in public as if he is not one of the major instigators and those responsible for the country’s political deadlock, economic collapse and corruption.

It was reported in different media outlets that Bassil’s entourage instantly rushed toward Al-Masri, whacked her brutally and pinned her down to the floor. Meanwhile as the bodyguards were violently silencing and preventing her from shouting, Bassil made his way hurriedly to his car.

Arab News contacted the restaurant where the incident happened.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by thawramap (@thawramap)

“The incident happened around lunchtime. She yelled at lawmaker Bassil and told him what means ‘shame on you’ for what you’ve been doing to the people… she reacted like any other independent citizen would do as to how dare he provocatively show his face in public,” a waiter told Arab News. He declined to give his name due to the sensitivity of the issue and fear of losing his job.

In the video that Al-Masri recorded using her mobile phone, the footage showed the entourage escorting Bassil to his waiting car while her voice could be heard heatedly arguing with one of the bodyguards who walked toward her and battered her hand. The video footage was clearly flipped upside down after Al-Masri was attacked by the bodyguard and her phone got broken.

Revealing what happened, Al-Masri told MTV channel she yelled at Bassil once he entered the restaurant by telling him ‘tfeh 3lek’ [shame on you] maintaining that it is not a curse. “That is the least I could tell him. His bodyguard told me to keep my mouth shut and assaulted me. I stood up after I fell down due to the assault, grabbed my phone and followed the entourage wanting to film what they did,” she told the MTV stressing that her friend called others for help because she was brutally attacked.

Towards Sunday afternoon the video showing the incident snowballed on social media especially Twitter and Instagram.

Bassil’s media office claimed that he and his family were about to ride their car when a woman used foul language against him.

His entourage responded ‘naturally, peacefully and modernly’ to stop her from cursing, according to the media statement that confirmed the woman wasn’t beaten.

Bassil told Free Patriotic Movement supporters and members that ‘the era of leaving swearwords unanswered is over’ and to respond accordingly.

In response to that, popular TV host Ghada Eid tweeted saying ‘the era of leaving corruption unfought is over’.

Following the incident, a hashtag with Al-Masri’s phrase [tfeh 3lek] became trending in Lebanon.

A twitter user called Hassan said ‘This is the best trending topic in Lebanon this year so far’

Mariana tweeted ‘By showing violent behavior, bullies try to hide their own weakness.’

Another used tweeted about Bassil saying ‘Small Man with a Giant Ego’.

Samer Al Khoury tweeted ‘so lovely how you [Bassil] always trend when it’s an insult or corruption what a disgrace you are’.

International Lebanese artist Elissa said on twitter ‘every hand that beats a woman should be broken’.


UK MPs debate Palestinian statehood, sanctions against Israel

UK MPs debate Palestinian statehood, sanctions against Israel
Updated 14 June 2021

UK MPs debate Palestinian statehood, sanctions against Israel

UK MPs debate Palestinian statehood, sanctions against Israel
  • Labour’s Katherine McKinnell: Palestinians’ ‘aspiration for self-determination is one that we should wholeheartedly support’
  • MENA minister: ‘We’re firmly opposed to boycotts or sanctions against Israel’

LONDON: British MPs on Monday debated implementing two petitions that call for economic sanctions against Israel and for the UK government to recognize the state of Palestine.

The petitions garnered over 100,000 signatures each, which according to British law means they must be considered for debate in Parliament.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle urged the government to push forward the two-state solution by recognizing the state of Palestine, but the majority of MPs that took part in the debate rejected the idea of sanctions against Israel.

Chairing the debate, Labour’s Katherine McKinnell said: “I share the deeply held concerns for the plight of the Palestinian people. Colleagues who have visited the region will know that the desire of the Palestinians to live in dignity and in peace in a state of their own is unmistakable. 

“Their aspiration for self-determination is one that we should wholeheartedly support. It’s right for the Palestinian people, and it’s right for the Israeli people.”

She added: “However, I don’t believe that sweeping sanctions of the kind proposed by the second petition would bring the prospect of a two-state solution any closer.”

That petition, which currently has over 386,000 signatures, said: “The government should introduce sanctions against Israel, including blocking all trade, and in particular arms.”

It added that Israel’s “disproportionate treatment of Palestinians and settlements that are regarded by the international community as illegal are an affront to civilised society.”

James Cleverly, the UK’s minister for the Middle East and North Africa, reiterated the government’s position on economic sanctions against Israel, saying: “While we don’t hesitate to express disagreement with Israel whenever we feel it necessary, we’re firmly opposed to boycotts or sanctions against Israel.”

Cleverly also rejected the second petition’s demand — that Britain immediately recognize a sovereign Palestinian state.

“There have, of course, been many calls over the years for recognition of Palestinian statehood,” he said.

“The UK government position is clear: The UK will recognize a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the object of peace. Bilateral recognition in itself cannot and will not end the occupation,” he added.

“The UK government continues to believe that without a negotiated peace agreement, the occupation and the problems that come with it will continue.”

Cleverly did, however, criticize Israel’s continued assaults on Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.

“The UK position on evictions, demolitions and settlements is longstanding, is public, and has been communicated directly to the government of Israel. That is: We oppose these actions,” he said.

Steve Baker, a Conservative MP, said he had made a “mistake” by deprioritizing the Israeli-Palestinian issue during a period of relative calm.

“The problem, of course, is that the conflict hadn’t gone away and has since returned with a ferocity,” he added.

Baker urged the government to actively pursue a two-state solution, a policy that he and other MPs pointed out has been endorsed by the government without ever being actively pursued. 

“I voted to recognize the state of Palestine,” he said. “I think if we’re serious about a two-state solution, it’s important that this Parliament and parliaments elsewhere, governments elsewhere, recognize the state of Palestine.”

Labour’s Naz Shah said she had a message for Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett: “Those who support you in the Knesset (Parliament), the mood music is changing, the world is waking up to Israel’s actions, and all those who want to see lasting peace in the region know that to achieve such peace we must end the occupation, injustice and oppression. This starts with recognizing a viable Palestinian state.”

She warned Bennett: “We won’t be silent in pushing for Israel to be tried in the International Criminal Court for war crimes if any more Palestinian blood is unjustly spilled under a perverted interpretation of a right to self-defense.”