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.”


Turkey sends off new drill ship into eastern Mediterranean

Turkey sends off new drill ship into eastern Mediterranean
Updated 8 sec ago

Turkey sends off new drill ship into eastern Mediterranean

Turkey sends off new drill ship into eastern Mediterranean
ISTANBUL: Turkey’s president inaugurated the country’s newest and largest undersea hydrocarbon drill ship Tuesday that he said would head for a spot northwest of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, which is not claimed by any other country.
“Our exploration and drilling in the Mediterranean is within our own sovereign dominion,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the ceremony in southern Mersin province, only to add: “We don’t need to seek permission or ratification from anyone.”
Turkey is embroiled in acrimonious disputes with Greece and Cyprus over maritime boundaries and offshore energy rights, which triggered high tensions in the eastern Mediterranean two years ago.
Erdogan said Tuesday the new Abdulhamid Han ship would begin drilling at the Yorukler-1 well about 55 kilometers (34 miles) off the coast of Gazipasa, in Antalya province.
“Neither the puppets nor the ones who hold their strings will be able to prevent us from getting our rights in the Mediterranean,” he said, in an apparent reference to Greece and Cyprus on the one hand, and their Western allies on the other.
In the summer of 2020, tensions escalated after Turkey sent a seismic survey ship escorted by warships to an area in the eastern Mediterranean where Greece claims exclusive rights to potential undersea oil and gas deposits. Greece sent its own warships to shadow the Turkish flotilla. Both countries later conducted military exercises as a show of force.
Turkey insists that small Greek islands near the Turkish coast should not be taken into account when delineating maritime boundaries, and accuses Athens of trying to grab an unfair share of the eastern Mediterranean’s resources.
The NATO allies routinely accuse each other of airspace violations. Turkey also claims that Greece has violated international treaties by militarizing eastern Aegean islands close to Turkey.
Turkey’s other drill ships — Fatih, Kanuni and Yavuz — are operating in the Black Sea where Turkey discovered natural gas reserves. All four ships are named after Ottoman sultans.

Flights for West Bank Palestinians to Turkey to start at end of August

Flights for West Bank Palestinians to Turkey to start at end of August
Updated 09 August 2022

Flights for West Bank Palestinians to Turkey to start at end of August

Flights for West Bank Palestinians to Turkey to start at end of August
  • "We welcome efforts to facilitate travel for the Palestinian people," a US Embassy spokesperson told Reuters
  • But representatives of Palestinians, whose movement is routinely restricted by Israel, said they were not a party to the decision

JERUSALEM: Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank will be offered special flights from Ramon Airport, near the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, to destinations in Turkey, Israel’s Airports Authority said on Tuesday.
The move is Israel’s latest gesture to Palestinians, following pressure from the United States to ease travel for Palestinians as prospects for reviving long-stalled peace talks and establishing an independent Palestinian state appeared dim.
“We welcome efforts to facilitate travel for the Palestinian people,” a US Embassy spokesperson told Reuters.
But representatives of Palestinians, whose movement is routinely restricted by Israel, said they were not a party to the decision.
“Nobody consulted with us on this matter,” said Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization. “What we seek is the return of Al-Quds International Airport to operate as the State of Palestine’s airport.”
Palestinians from areas Israel occupied in a 1967 war cannot fly from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport without special permission. They typically travel to Jordan to catch international flights, a trip that entails crossing through checkpoints and can take hours.
Under the pilot program, the flights will run twice a week starting at the end of August to Istanbul and Antalya on Turkish carriers Atlas and Pegasus and using Airbus A321 aircraft, the airports authority said.
These flights will not be offered to Palestinians from Gaza.
Ramon Airport, which opened in 2019, is about 300 km (185 miles) from Jerusalem and designed to take any planes re-routed from Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv.
Foreign carriers such as Ryanair, Wizzair and Lufthansa began to fly non-stop to older Eilat airports in 2015 during winter months after Israel offered airlines 60 euros ($61) per passenger brought on direct flights from abroad.
But the COVID-19 pandemic largely halted those flights.
The airports authority said that for the first time, summer flights to various destinations in Europe from Eilat would start in the coming days. They include Batumi, Georgia and Larnaca, Cyprus on Israeli carrier Arkia, and Warsaw and Katowice on Poland’s Enter Air.
Pegasus in October will fly Israelis to Turkey with four flights a week, the authority said.


Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer

Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer
Updated 09 August 2022

Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer

Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer
  • Adelkhah was sentenced in 2020 to five years in prison on national security charges
  • She was moved to house arrest later, but in January was returned to jail

DUBAI: Iran has released Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah on furlough for five days, her lawyer told the Emtedad website on Tuesday, a day after Tehran and Washington wound up indirect talks in Vienna to revive a 2015 nuclear pact.
“We hope it (the furlough) will be extended,” Emtedad quoted Hojjat Kermani as saying.
Adelkhah, who is a resident of France and was arrested in 2019 while on a visit to Iran, was sentenced in 2020 to five years in prison on national security charges. She was moved to house arrest later, but in January was returned to jail.
Adelkab has denied the charges. France has called them “politically motivated” and repeatedly called for the release of Adelkhah, a researcher affiliated with Paris’s prestigious Sciences Po University.
Iran does not recognize dual nationality, saying the case is an Iranian domestic legal matter.
In March 2020, Iran released Adelkhah’s partner, French academic Roland Marchal, who was detained along with her, after France freed Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad, detained over alleged violations of US sanctions against Tehran.


Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor
Ankara has launched successive military offensives in Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 August 2022

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor
  • Turkey has stepped up its drone strikes in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to greenlight a fresh offensive, according to Kurdish officials and the Observatory

BEIRUT: A Turkish drone strike Tuesday killed at least four people in a northeast Syrian city held by Kurdish forces, the latest in a flurry of attacks, a war monitor said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack struck near a hospital in Qamishli, the defacto capital of a semi-autonomous Kurdish administration that runs large parts of the country’s northeast.
The four victims, all affiliated with the administration, were killed while they dug trenches near Turkey’s border in anticipation of a new offensive that Ankara has threatened to launch since May, the monitor said.
Ankara has launched successive military offensives in Syria. Most have targeted Kurdish militants that Ankara links to a group waging a decades-long insurgency against it.
Turkey has stepped up its drone strikes in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to greenlight a fresh offensive, according to Kurdish officials and the Observatory.
A Turkish drone strike on Qamishli at the weekend killed four people, including two siblings, said the Observatory.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have counted at least 13 of their members killed in several Turkish attacks since July 19.
Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011 has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population.


Egyptian FM, Kazakh deputy FM discuss bilateral ties

Egyptian FM, Kazakh deputy FM discuss bilateral ties
Updated 09 August 2022

Egyptian FM, Kazakh deputy FM discuss bilateral ties

Egyptian FM, Kazakh deputy FM discuss bilateral ties
  • Shoukry praised Kazakhstan’s role in launching the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia
  • Tursunov emphasized the value that Kazakhstan places on relations with Egypt, and on the critical role that Cairo plays in the region

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Adil Tursunov in Cairo.

They discussed issues of common interest and ways to enhance bilateral relations. Shoukry praised Kazakhstan’s role in launching the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, which aims to enhance security and stability on the continent, particularly with regard to terrorism, drug trafficking and weapons of mass destruction.

He and Tursunov highlighted the significance of developing cooperation between their nations in various fields, following up on the phone call between their presidents in February.

Tursunov emphasized the value that Kazakhstan places on relations with Egypt, and on the critical role that Cairo plays in the region.