Libya standoff could lead to parallel governments: UN

Libya standoff could lead to parallel governments: UN
Incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha. (File/AFP)
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Updated 16 March 2022

Libya standoff could lead to parallel governments: UN

Libya standoff could lead to parallel governments: UN
  • Undersecretary-general for peacebuilding, political affairs urges country’s leaders to act responsibly
  • Libyans “should be able to choose their leaders through credible, transparent, inclusive elections”

NEW YORK: Libya is facing a new phase of political polarization that risks dividing its institutions once again and reversing the gains achieved over the past two years, the UN undersecretary-general for peacebuilding and political affairs warned on Wednesday.
Rosemary Dicarlo asked Security Council members to convey to Libyan parties the UN’s conviction that credible, transparent and inclusive elections are the only solution to the stalemate.
She also called on Libyan leaders to demonstrate responsibility and remain united behind UN efforts to assist the North African country on its path to peace and stability.
“We know from experience what unilateral actions, divided government and an unending transition may hold in store for Libya,” said Dicarlo, who was briefing the council on the latest developments in the country.
Political turmoil has again engulfed Libya after the failure to hold presidential elections that were scheduled to take place on Dec. 24 and were meant to be followed by parliamentary elections a few weeks later.
The elections were postponed due to controversy over electoral laws, including the voting timetable, the eligibility of the main candidates, and the eventual powers of the next president and Parliament.
The current division is the result of the establishment of a rival government to the Government of National Unity following the appointment by the House of Representatives last month of former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha as interim prime minister to replace incumbent Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who was elected in 2021 by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum to head the interim GNU.
The HOR cited Dbeibah’s failure to hold the elections, but the latter has challenged the legitimacy of Bashagha and vowed to stay in his post and continue to steer the country toward elections, which are now slated for June 2022.But Bashagha’s government was further cemented by the HOR’s March 1 vote of confidence in his Cabinet.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, however, said the vote of confidence was marred by procedural flaws, a lack of transparency, acts of intimidation and threats of violence against members of the chamber and their families prior to the session. Dicarlo said: “These shortcomings impacted the credibility of the process.”
Stephanie Williams, Guterres’s special advisor on Libya, said without elections both the authorities of Tripoli and Tobruk “lack popular legitimacy.”
Dicarlo said: “Since the March 1 vote, the situation on the ground has remained relatively calm. However, we have observed increasingly threatening rhetoric, growing political tensions and divided loyalties among the armed groups in western Libya.”
She added that the GNU leadership “has rejected the legitimacy of the vote, stating that they will only transfer power to an elected government. Mr. Bashagha, meanwhile, insists he is heading the legitimate government.”
Russia is the only UN Security Council member to have openly supported Bashagha’s appointment.
UNSC members France, the UK and the US reiterated that any disagreement on the future of the political process must be resolved without resorting to violence, and expressed support for UN mediation efforts through Williams.
Council members also voiced concerns over the tense security situation in Libya after pro-Bashagha forces had deployed in recent weeks on the edges of Tripoli, prompting the UN mission in the country to warn against any escalation.
But Bashagha’s office said early Friday that the groups had “opted not to use arms, and to return to their bases.”
Council members called for calm and stability across the country, and reiterated their calls for the immediate and simultaneous withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries in line with the Oct. 23 Berlin ceasefire agreement.
Dicarlo warned that as long as the standoff over executive legitimacy continues, Libya could again see two parallel administrations.
“This could lead to instability and possibly unrest, and deal a severe blow to the prospect of elections,” she said, adding that the UN continues to urge both parties to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve the political impasse, and to refrain from unilateral actions that could result in further divisions.
“The UN is exerting significant efforts to resolve this crisis. We aim to bring together Libyan stakeholders to agree on a constitutional basis for the holding of elections as soon as possible,” she said, outlining several UN initiatives to bring the parties together.
“We aim to convene a joint committee of members of the House of Representatives and the High State Council with the objective of achieving agreement by both bodies on a constitutional basis that would lead to elections this year,” Dicarlo added.
“Our priority is to focus on fulfilling the aspirations of the more than 2.8 million Libyans who have registered to vote.“They should be able to choose their leaders through credible, transparent and inclusive elections according to an agreed upon constitutional and legal framework.”


Jordanian king meets Bahraini officials meet to discuss bilateral ties

Jordanian king meets Bahraini officials meet to discuss bilateral ties
Updated 12 sec ago

Jordanian king meets Bahraini officials meet to discuss bilateral ties

Jordanian king meets Bahraini officials meet to discuss bilateral ties
  • Various challenges that threaten the stability and security of countries in the region were discussed in the meeting

DUBAI: Jordan’s King discussed regional and international issues with Bahrain’s minister of foreign affairs on Tuesday during a meeting in Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman. 
King Abdullah II discussed with Bahrain’s Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani ways to further enhance cooperation between the two nations, according to state news agency BNA. 
Al Zayani, who was on an official visit to Jordan, also met with Ayman Safadi, the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Jordan. 
The pair spoke about developments, and the various challenges that threaten the stability and security of countries in the region. 
Bahrain’s foreign minister said a number of regional issues were discussed such as the Palestine, the war in Yemen, the Iranian nuclear file, the war in Ukraine, global food security and the energy crisis.’
With a focus on the Palestinian issue, Al Zayani called for an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 
The two ministers agreed that a ‘comprehensive and just settlement that preserves the rights of the Palestinian people’ must be reached in order to begin the peace process. 
They also praised efforts made by Egypt to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, and the ‘necessity of its extension’ to benefit both Palestinians and Israelis. 
Al Zayani and Safadi agreed that a two-state solution was the way forward. 
“There is no other solution to this conflict,” said Safadi. “If the two-state solution is not achieved, we are going towards a one-state situation, which would perpetuate apartheid; this would not lead to peace."
When discussing Syria, Jordan’s foreign minister stressed the need to ‘activate pan-Arab action to solve the Syrian crisis’ that will help the country abolish terrorism. 


Safadi added that Jordan and Bahrain would continue to reiterate their support for Iraq, its security and stability. 
He added that both nations also welcomed the Yemen ceasefire, which he hoped would lead to a comprehensive political solution that will help end hostilities in Yemen and uphold security in GCC member states.


Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack
Updated 17 August 2022

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack

Palestinian President Abbas skirts apology for Munich attack
  • Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II

BERLIN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed no regret Tuesday for the deadly attack by Palestinian militants on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a half century ago, countering that Israel had committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians over the years.
Eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer died after members of the Palestinian militant group Black September took hostages at the Olympic Village on Sept. 5, 1972. At the time of the attack, the group was linked to Abbas’ Fatah party.
Asked whether as Palestinian leader he planned to apologize to Israel and Germany for the attack ahead of the 50th anniversary next month, Abbas responded instead by citing allegations of atrocities committed by Israel since 1947.
“If we want to go over the past, go ahead,” Abbas told reporters after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. “I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed.”
Standing next to Scholz, Abbas explicitly used the word “Holocausts” in his reply, drawing a grimace from the German chancellor. Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis’ singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II.
While Scholz had earlier rejected the Palestinian leader’s description of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid,” he did not immediately rebuke Abbas for using the term “Holocaust.”
In a statement to German daily Bild, Scholz later criticized Abbas’s choice of words, saying any downplaying of the horrors of the Holocaust was “unacceptable.”
Conservative German lawmaker Armin Laschet likewise expressed outrage at Abbas’ comments.
“The (Palestinian) leader would have gained sympathy if he had apologized for the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics 1972,” he wrote on Twitter. “Accusing Israel of ‘50 Holocausts’ instead is the most disgusting speech ever heard in the German Chancellery,” he said.
In his response, the Palestinian president also said he was committed to building trust and achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict with Israel.
“Please come to peace,” he said. “Please come to security, let’s build trust between us and you. This is better than other kinds of talking.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Abbas’ remarks about “50 Holocausts,” made on German soil, were “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie.”
“Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one and a half million Jewish children,” Lapid tweeted. “History will never forgive him.”
Weeks before a planned somber commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Munich attack, Germany has also found itself embroiled in controversy in its dealings with the relatives of the Israelis who were killed.
Victims’ families announced last week that they planned to boycott the ceremony after failing to reach agreement on bigger compensation from the German government.
Relatives of the athletes have long accused Germany of failing to secure the Olympic Village, refusing Israeli help and botching a rescue operation in which five of the attackers also died.

 


Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants
Updated 16 August 2022

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants

Tunisia intercepts nearly 100 Europe-bound migrants
  • Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa

TUNIS: Tunisia said Tuesday it had foiled several attempts by almost 100 migrants to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea since the previous day.

Tunisia and Libya are the main points of departure for migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa. Sea crossing attempts tend to increase during spring and summer.

Tunisia’s National Guard said it had prevented five maritime crossings and rescued 80 people, mostly Tunisians and including 35 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

It said “preventive operations” were also carried out near Menzel Temime in the north, Mahdia and Kerkennah on the central coast and Zarzis in the south, leading to 11 arrests.

The National Guard said it had seized “a sum of money” without specifying the amount, and an inflatable boat in these operations.

On Monday, maritime and military authorities said 657 people were rescued or prevented from trying to cross in 46 separate incidents between Friday and Monday.

The Defense Ministry said that 42 Egyptians who had set sail from Libya were rescued Sunday off Kerkennah, after their boat sank and they took refuge on an oil platform.

Tunisia is in the throes of political and economic crises, and Libya has been gripped by lawlessness since 2011 that has seen militias turn to people trafficking.

The two countries are also the gateway for sub-Saharan Africans hoping for a better life by escaping impoverished and strife-torn countries such as Sudan.

The EU’s Frontex border agency says the central Mediterranean route was used by more than 42,500 migrants between January and July, up 44 percent compared with the first seven months of 2021.


25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria

25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria
Updated 17 August 2022

25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria

25 dead in airstrikes, shelling in north Syria
  • Turkish attacks target Assad forces and Kurdish fighters in border town

JEDDAH: At least 25 people were killed in northern Syria on Tuesday after Turkey launched airstrikes and an artillery bombardment targeting Assad regime forces and Kurdish fighters near the border town of Kobane.

The Turkish shelling began overnight, when artillery salvoes hit the town and around its edges. It continued throughout the day, and at least one child was killed.
Kurdish YPG militia fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces responded with a mortar attack on a Turkish military border post in Sanliurfa province that killed one soldier and injured four.
After the mortar attack, Turkish forces conducted retaliatory fire against targets in the Kobane area. “According to initial information in the region, 13 terrorists were neutralized. Operations in the region are continuing,” the Defense Ministry in Ankara said.

FASTFACT

Kurdish YPG militia fighters responded with a mortar attack on a Turkish military border post in Sanliurfa province that killed one soldier and injured four.

Dilvin, a shopkeeper in Kobane, said chaos broke out in the town when the shelling intensified on Tuesday. “People started running everywhere, cars everywhere, people asking about their friends and their family. Then the sounds started to build, the sounds were everywhere,” she said.
“There was so much screaming. So much fear. Now everyone is locked up at home.”
Later on Tuesday, 11 people died in Turkish airstrikes on a Syria border post run by Assad regime forces. It was not clear if the dead were Syrian government troops or Kurdish fighters.
Syrian regime forces have deployed in areas controlled by the SDF near the border with Turkey as part of agreements intended to stem cross-border offensives by Ankara targeting Kurdish forces it views as terrorists.
Turkey has launched a series of attacks since 2016 targeting Kurdish forces and Daesh, but they have rarely resulted in the deaths of Syrian regime fighters.
If regime forces are confirmed to be among those killed on Tuesday, the attack would be one of the largest escalations since Ankara and Damascus traded attacks in 2020 following a Syrian regime strike that killed 33 Turkish soldiers in the northwestern province of Idlib.
Turkey has stepped up its attacks in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since July, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan failed to obtain a green light from regional allies Iran and Russia for a fresh offensive into northern Syria.
Turkey has been hostile to Syrian leader Bashar Assad, and backed rebels calling for his removal. But last week Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu enraged the Syrian opposition by calling for reconciliation between the regime and the rebels.


66 people killed as Sudan floods continue to tear up homes

66 people killed as Sudan floods continue to tear up homes
Updated 16 August 2022

66 people killed as Sudan floods continue to tear up homes

66 people killed as Sudan floods continue to tear up homes
  • Some 24,000 homes and two dozen government buildings have been badly damaged or completely destroyed

CAIRO: Flash floods triggered by heavy rains continued to tear up homes across Sudan, an official said Tuesday, with the death toll rising to 66 since the start of the rainy season.

Earlier this week, authorities had said that at least 50 people were killed since the rains started in June. Brig. Gen. Abdul-Jalil Abdul-Rahim, spokesman for Sudan’s National Council for Civil Defense, said Tuesday that at least 28 people were reported injured during the same period.

Some 24,000 homes and two dozen government buildings have been badly damaged or completely destroyed, he said.

Sudan has been without a functioning government since an October military coup derailed its short-lived democratic transition following the 2019 removal of former ruler Omar Bashir in a popular uprising.

Overall, around 136,000 people have been impacted by heavy rainfall and floods in 12 of Sudan’s 18 provinces, according to the government-run Humanitarian Aid Commission.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the floods also inundated 238 health facilities. The western Darfur region and the provinces of Nile River, White Nile, West Kordofan and South Kordofan were among the hardest hit, it said.

Footage circulated online over the past weeks showing flood waters sweeping through streets and people struggling to save their belongings.

Sudan’s rainy season usually starts in June and lasts until the end of September, with floods peaking in August and September. More than 80 people were killed last year in flood-related incidents during the rainy season.

In 2020, authorities declared Sudan a natural disaster area and imposed a three-month state of emergency across the country after flooding and heavy rains killed around 100 people and inundated over 100,000 houses.