East Libyan forces and Chadian rebels clash in southern Libya

East Libyan forces and Chadian rebels clash in southern Libya
The Libyan National Army of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar clashed with Chadian rebel forces in the south of Libya on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 15 September 2021

East Libyan forces and Chadian rebels clash in southern Libya

East Libyan forces and Chadian rebels clash in southern Libya
  • The fighting underscores the risk of further instability in the Sahel region
  • The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad said its positions on the frontier had been attacked by Haftar's forces

TRIPOLI: The Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar clashed with Chadian rebel forces in the south of Libya on Tuesday and Wednesday, both sides said.
The fighting underscores the risk of further instability in the Sahel region, where an array of groups operate across borders and where fighting has created space for militant organizations.
Statements from the LNA, which holds most of eastern and southern Libya, said it was engaged in military operations against what it called terrorist groups and the Chadian opposition.
The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) said via social media that its positions on the frontier had been attacked by Haftar’s forces, fighting alongside what it said were Sudanese mercenaries and French troops.
The LNA said it had carried out air strikes and was conducting aerial patrols. FACT said French air strikes had hit its positions.
The French army said it had no forces on the ground or in the air in that area.
FACT had been based in Libya and fought alongside the LNA during periods of Libya’s civil war, receiving heavy arms from Haftar, researchers say.
In April, FACT advanced into northern Chad, battling the army there. Chadian authorities said president Idriss Deby, who had ruled for 30 years, was killed in the clashes. His son has taken over as transitional president.
The LNA, which was backed in the Libyan conflict by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt, also used fighters from Sudan and Syria as well as those provided by the Russian Wagner Group, a UN panel of experts has said.
The UAE deployed drone strikes in support of the LNA during its foiled 14-month offensive to capture Tripoli, which ended last year. The US military has said that Russia flew jets to Libya last year to support LNA operations.
Major fighting in Libya’s civil war has been paused since the LNA offensive ended last year and both sides have accepted a cease-fire, an interim unity government and the idea of elections, although mercenaries remain dug in on both sides.
France intervened in the Sahel in 2013, sending forces to help fight militants in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, but grew impatient at political turmoil and said in July it would halve its troop numbers from the 5,000 then deployed.


Sudan capital locked down after coup triggers deadly unrest

Sudan capital locked down after coup triggers deadly unrest
Updated 26 October 2021

Sudan capital locked down after coup triggers deadly unrest

Sudan capital locked down after coup triggers deadly unrest
  • Life comes to a halt in the capital Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman across the Nile, with roads blocked either by soldiers or by barricades erected by protesters
KHARTOUM: Roads were blocked, shops were shut, phones were down and mosque loudspeakers blared calls for a general strike in Sudan on Tuesday, a day after the army seized power in a coup that triggered unrest in which at least seven people were killed.
Life came to a halt in the capital Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman across the Nile, with roads blocked either by soldiers or by barricades erected by protesters.
The night appeared to have passed comparatively quietly after Monday’s unrest, when protesters took to the streets after soldiers arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other civilians in the cabinet. A health ministry official said seven people had been killed in clashes between protesters and the security forces.
The leader of the takeover, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, dissolved the military-civilian Sovereign Council set up to guide Sudan to democracy following the overthrow of long-ruling autocrat Omar Al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.
Burhan announced a state of emergency, saying the armed forces needed to protect safety and security. He promised to hold elections in July 2023 and hand over to an elected civilian government then. On Tuesday he dissolved committees that govern trade unions, Arabic news channels reported.
The Sudan information ministry, still loyal to Hamdok, said on its Facebook page the transitional constitution gave only the prime minister the right to declare an emergency and the military’s actions were a crime. Hamdok was still the legitimate transitional authority, it said.
The main roads and bridge between Khartoum and Omdurman were closed to vehicles by the military. Banks and cash machines were shut, and mobile phone apps widely used for money transfers could not be accessed.
Some bakeries were open in Omdurman but people were queuing for several hours, longer than usual.
“We are paying the price for this crisis,” a man in his 50s looking for medicine at one of the pharmacies where stocks have been running low said angrily. “We can’t work, we can’t find bread, there are no services, no money.”
In the western city of El Geneina, resident Adam Haroun said there was complete civil disobedience, with schools, stores and gas stations closed.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an activist coalition that played a major role in the uprising that toppled Bashir, has called for a strike.
Hamdok, an economist and former senior UN official, was detained and taken to an undisclosed location on Monday after refusing to issue a statement in support of the takeover, the information ministry said. Troops also arrested other civilian government figures and members of the Sovereign Council.
Western governments have condemned the coup, called for the release of the detained civilian leaders and threatened to cut off aid, which Sudan needs to recover from an economic crisis.
The United States has said it was immediately pausing delivery of $700 million in emergency support.
Sudan has been ruled for most of its post-colonial history by military leaders who seized power in coups. It had become a pariah to the West and was on a US terrorism blacklist under Bashir, who hosted Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for war crimes.
Since Bashir was toppled, the military shared power uneasily with civilians under a transition meant to lead to elections in 2023. The country had been on edge since last month when a failed coup plot, blamed on Bashir supporters, unleashed recriminations between the military and civilians.

Israel envoy to brief US over ban on Palestinian groups

Israel envoy to brief US over ban on Palestinian groups
Updated 26 October 2021

Israel envoy to brief US over ban on Palestinian groups

Israel envoy to brief US over ban on Palestinian groups
  • Israel last week designated prominent Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations
  • The announcement has outraged the activist community in Israel

TEL AVIV: Israel is sending an envoy to Washington amid a deepening rift with the Biden administration over six outlawed Palestinian rights groups, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.
Israel last week designated the prominent Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations, sparking international criticism and repeated assertions by Israel’s top strategic partner, the United States, that there had been no advance warning of the move.
Israel’s move marked what critics say was a major escalation of its decades-long crackdown on political activism in the occupied territories. The US State Department has said it would seek more information on the decision.
Joshua Zarka, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, told Israeli Army Radio the envoy would “give them all the details and to present them all the intelligence” during his visit in the coming days.
Zarka said he personally updated US officials on Israel’s intention to outlaw the groups last week, and said he believed Washington wanted a more thorough explanation of the decision.
The rights groups decision is emerging as a test of the relationship between the Biden administration and Israel’s new government, which was formed in June by eight politically disparate parties. The coalition ended the 12-year rule of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s hard-line government enjoyed broad support from the Trump administration, which moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, largely allowed settlement building to continue unfettered, cut funding to the Palestinians and presented a vision for the Mideast that sided with Israel’s positions.
The Biden administration has mostly restored traditional foreign policy toward Israel and the Palestinians. But with the US focused on other pressing domestic and foreign issues, the conflict was expected to take a backseat.
The fractious coalition government has also sought to minimize the Palestinian issue, agreeing not to make major moves that might threaten its stability. But in recent weeks, it has ramped up focus on the conflict, offering a number of goodwill gestures to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and also pushing forward on building thousands of new homes for Jewish settlers.
Most dramatic was the decision on the civil society groups, which has rattled the coalition and returned focus to the conflict and Israel’s decades-long occupation of territories the Palestinians seek for a future state.
Israel has for years alleged the groups’ links to a Palestinian militant group but even under Netanyahu’s hard-line government, stopped short of labeling them terrorist organizations.
The announcement has outraged the activist community in Israel, which in recent years has also faced pushback from hard-line Israeli governments. In a joint statement Monday, more than 20 Israeli human rights groups, including some of the country’s leading, most established organizations, condemned the step, calling it “a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work.”
The declaration against the Palestinian rights groups appeared to pave the way for Israel to raid their offices, seize assets, arrest staff and criminalize any public expressions of support for the groups. Most of the targeted organizations document alleged human rights violations by Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority, both of which routinely detain Palestinian activists.
The designated groups are Al-Haq, a human rights group founded in 1979, as well as the Addameer rights group, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.


Lebanon’s Najib Mikati hopes cabinet meetings resume soon

Lebanon’s Najib Mikati hopes cabinet meetings resume soon
Updated 26 October 2021

Lebanon’s Najib Mikati hopes cabinet meetings resume soon

Lebanon’s Najib Mikati hopes cabinet meetings resume soon
  • Local media say Najib Mikati would not ask for another meeting to convene before a framework agreement was reached

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Tuesday he hoped cabinet meetings would resume after a two-week hiatus since a row over the Beirut blast probe led some ministers to ask for his removal.
Local media had said that Mikati would not ask for another meeting to convene before a framework agreement was reached.


Arab nations call for calm amid Sudan coup

Arab nations call for calm amid Sudan coup
Updated 26 October 2021

Arab nations call for calm amid Sudan coup

Arab nations call for calm amid Sudan coup
  • Saudi Arabia previously expressed concern regarding the developments in Sudan

DUBAI: Arab nations have called for calm in Sudan after the military staged a coup, overthrowing the transitional government and imposing a state of emergency.
General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of the military, announced the dissolution, on Monday, of the government and the Sovereign Council, a joint military and civilian body created after the April 2019 overthrow of autocrat Omar Al-Bashir.
Burhan said quarrels among political factions prompted the military intervention. The Council was supposed to pave the way for full civilian rule.
Jordan’s foreign affairs ministry, in a statement, urged Sudan’s conflicting parties to ensure that ‘national interest trumps personal interest’, and to bring calm to the country.
Amman earlier expressed concern on the conditions of Jordanian citizens residing in Sudan in light of developments in the country.
Bahrain said that it was “following with concern the developments of the current events taking place in the Republic of Sudan.”
Manama expressed its “confidence in the ability of the Sudanese political forces to overcome this with dialogue and understanding,” state news agency BNA reported, but stressed the need to maintain security, stability and peace in Sudan.
The UAE emphasized the need to avoid an escalation of the conflict in Sudan and “see stability as soon as possible in a manner that achieves the interests and aspirations of the Sudanese people in development and prosperity.”
There was a need to “preserve the political and economic gains that have been achieved and all that aims to protect the sovereignty and unity of Sudan,” state news agency WAM reported.
Saudi Arabia previously expressed concern regarding the developments in Sudan, and similarly stressed the importance of restraint and a de-escalation of tensions.
It was important to preserve all the political and economic gains and everything that aimed to protect the unity among all the political components in Sudan, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement.


Telecommunications interrupted in Sudan after coup

Telecommunications interrupted in Sudan after coup
Updated 26 October 2021

Telecommunications interrupted in Sudan after coup

Telecommunications interrupted in Sudan after coup
  • There was no official confirmation of the communications interruption

KHARTOUM: Telecommunications were interrupted in Sudan, a Reuters witness said on Tuesday, a day after the country’s military seized power in a coup and a health ministry official said seven people were killed in clashes between soldiers and street protesters.
There was no official confirmation of the communications interruption. A Reuters witness said Internet and phone services were severely limited.
Life is at a standstill in the capital Khartoum, where shops and services are closed and some roads are still blocked by the military after a mostly quiet night.
The leader of the takeover, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, dissolved the military-civilian Sovereign Council that had been established to guide the country to democracy following the overthrow of long-ruling autocrat Omar Al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago.
Burhan announced a state of emergency, saying the armed forces needed to protect safety and security. He promised to hold elections in July 2023 and hand over to an elected civilian government then.
Events in Sudan mirror those in several other Arab countries, where the military has consolidated its grip following popular uprisings.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an activist coalition in the uprising against Bashir, has called for a strike. The call for a general strike could be heard from the loudspeakers of mosques in Khartoum.
The Sudan information ministry, which is still loyal to ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, said on its Facebook page the transitional constitution gives only the prime minister the right to declare a state of emergency and that the military’s actions are a crime. Hamdok is still the legitimate transitional authority, it said.
Hamdok, an economist and former senior UN official, was detained and taken to an undisclosed location after refusing to issue a statement in support of the takeover, the information ministry said.
The governments of the United States, UK and Norway condemned the coup in Sudan, saying they were deeply concerned about the situation in the country.
They called on security forces to release those who were detained unlawfully, according to a joint statement released by the US State Department.