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.”


Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
Updated 02 July 2022

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
  • Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria since the 2011 civil war
  • Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks

An Israeli strike on Syria’s western coast wounded two civilians on Saturday, the Syrian defense ministry said.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air strike” at about 6:30 am near the town of Al-Hamidiyah, the ministry said in a statement, identifying the locations hit as poultry farms, without elaborating.
The strike was conducted from the Mediterranean Sea, west of Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, and “led to the injury of two civilians, including a woman,” the statement said.
Since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its northern neighbor.
The raids have targeted Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks.
Besides the extensive damage caused to civilian and military runways, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the strikes had targeted nearby warehouses used as weapons depots by Iran and Hezbollah.
The Syrian war has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.


UAE residents feel tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran

UAE residents feel tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran
Updated 02 July 2022

UAE residents feel tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran

UAE residents feel tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Iran
  • Iran suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years as major geological fault lines crisscross the country

DUBAI: UAE residents reported feeling tremors caused by 6.3 magnitude earthquake that jolted South Iran on Saturday at 3:24 am, according to the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) on Saturday.

NCM added that the quake, which claimed the lives of five people in Iran, did not have any impact on the UAE.

State news agency IRNA said a magnitude 6.3 and 6.1 earthquakes followed the 6.1 quake that flattened the village of Sayeh Khosh near Iran’s Gulf coast, with more than a dozen aftershocks reported.

Iran has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years as major geological fault lines crisscross the country.


Houthi militia targets army positions in Taiz

Houthi militia targets army positions in Taiz
Updated 02 July 2022

Houthi militia targets army positions in Taiz

Houthi militia targets army positions in Taiz
  • The militia is also accused of targeting the army’s sites and residential neighborhoods using snipers

DUBAI: The Houthi militia has bombed army bases in Al-Dhabab area, west of Taiz, according to reports by state news agency Saba on Friday.

This comes as part of the militia’s daily violations of the UN truce, wrote Saba.

Yemen’s army has recorded a total of 2,778 violations by the Houthis since the beginning of the truce until Thursday.

The Taiz Military Axis said the violations ranged from artillery shelling, establishing fortifications and new sites, bringing in reinforcements, building roads, laying mines, conducting reconnaissance, and using drones.

The militia is also accused of targeting the army’s sites and residential neighborhoods using snipers.


At least five killed in magnitude 6.1 quake on Iran Gulf coast

Iranians gather outside their buildings after an earthquake was felt in the capital Tehran on May 7, 2020. (AFP)
Iranians gather outside their buildings after an earthquake was felt in the capital Tehran on May 7, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 02 July 2022

At least five killed in magnitude 6.1 quake on Iran Gulf coast

Iranians gather outside their buildings after an earthquake was felt in the capital Tehran on May 7, 2020. (AFP)
  • The quake struck just a minute after a 5.7 tremor

TEHRAN: At least five people were killed by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in southern Iran early on Saturday, state media reported, with the area also hit by two later strong quakes of up to 6.3 magnitude.
“Five people have died in the earthquake ... and so far 12 are hospitalized,” Mehrdad Hassanzadeh, head of emergency management in Hormozgan Province on Iran’s Gulf coast, told state TV. “Rescue work has been carried out and we are now providing tents as emergency housing.”

A handout shakemap made available by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows the location of a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hitting around 54km north east of Bandar-e Lengeh, Iran, 02 July 2022. (EPA)

The state news agency IRNA said a magnitude 6.3 earthquake and a magnitude 6.1 quake followed the 6.1 quake that flattened the village of Sayeh Khosh near Iran’s Gulf coast. There were more than a dozen aftershocks.
“All of the victims died in the first earthquake and no-one was harmed in the next two severe quakes as people were already outside their homes,” said Foad Moradzadeh, governor of Bandar Lengeh country, quoted by the state news agency IRNA.
Major geological fault lines crisscross Iran, which has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 quake in Kerman province killed 31,000 people and flattened the ancient city of Bam.

 


Protesters storm into parliament building in eastern Libya

Protesters storm into parliament building in eastern Libya
Updated 02 July 2022

Protesters storm into parliament building in eastern Libya

Protesters storm into parliament building in eastern Libya



BENGHAZI, Libya: Demonstrators broke into the building that houses the eastern Libya-based parliament in Tobruk on Friday, setting fire to parts of it amid protests over months of failed efforts to set the divided country on a path toward elections.
One witness, Taher Amaizig, said thousands joined a march to the parliament building calling for the current political powers to be dissolved and elections to be held. He said that as security guards tried to prevent people from entering, a protester was shot in the legs and other demonstrators then forced their way inside.
Videos circulated on social media showed protesters filing past burning piles. Friday is the first day of the weekend in Libya, meaning the building was likely empty when it was stormed. It was unclear what protesters intended by targeting the building
Other protests demanding elections were staged earlier in the day in several cities around Libya.
The unrest comes a day after representatives of Libya’s rival powers — one based in the east of the country and the other in the west — failed at UN-mediated talks in Geneva to reach agreement on a constitutional framework for national elections.
After more than a decade of war, the country is once again split between competing administrations, sliding backwards despite a year of tentative steps toward unity.
Oil-rich Libya has been wrecked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, leading to a rise in rival governments. The administration based in the east is backed by military commander Khalifa Haftar, and a UN-supported administration is based in the capital of Tripoli. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers.
Tobruk, the seat of Libya’s House of Representatives, has long been allied with Haftar. More recently the parliament there elected Fathy Basghagha as prime minister to a government that rivals the Tripoli-based administration. Bashagha, a powerful former interior minister, is now operating a separate administration out of the city of Sirte.
Libya’s plan for elections last Dec. 24 fell through after the interim administration based in Tripoli, headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, failed to go ahead with the vote. The failure was a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos in Libya.
The deteriorating economic situation was also a factor in Friday’s protests. In Tripoli, hundreds came out earlier in the day in opposition to the political crisis but also to rail against electricity shortages and rising prices for fuel and bread.