UN: Libya is ‘highly volatile’ and elections are needed soon

UN: Libya is ‘highly volatile’ and elections are needed soon
Libya was split by rival factions, one in the east backed by military commander Khalifa Haftar and a UN-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli in the west, after Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in 2011. (AFP)
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Updated 26 July 2022

UN: Libya is ‘highly volatile’ and elections are needed soon

UN: Libya is ‘highly volatile’ and elections are needed soon
  • Oil-rich Libya has been wracked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011

UNITED NATIONS: Libya is mired in a constitutional and political stalemate that has sparked increasing clashes, a dire economic situation and demonstrations across the country by frustrated citizens, a senior UN official said Monday.
Assistant Secretary-General Martha Pobee told the UN Security Council the overall situation in Libya remains “highly volatile,” with a tense security situation, “deeply disturbing” shows of force and sporadic violence by militias engaged in political maneuvering.
She also cited a dispute over leadership of the National Oil Corporation and serious human rights concerns, including the reported arrest by armed groups of dozens of protesters who took part in July 1 demonstrations decrying deteriorating living conditions and demanding progress on elections.
Oil-rich Libya has been wracked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The country was split by rival administrations, one in the east backed by military commander Khalifa Haftar and a UN-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli in the west. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers.
In April 2019, Haftar and his forces launched an offensive trying to capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support for the UN-supported government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.
An October 2020 cease-fire accord led to an agreement on a transitional government in early February 2021 headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and to the scheduling of elections for last Dec. 24.
But the elections weren’t held. Dbeibah has refused to step down, and in response the country’s east-based lawmakers elected a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, a former interior minister who is now operating a separate administration out of the city of Sirte.
Pobee said a meeting in Geneva last month between the speaker of the country’s east-based parliament, Aguila Saleh, and Khaled Al-Meshri, head of the government’s Supreme Council of State in Tripoli overcame “important contentious points” in a 2017 proposal for a new constitution. But she said they could not agree on one major issue — eligibility requirements for presidential candidates.
The Tripoli-based council insists on banning military personnel as well as dual citizens from running for the country’s top post. That is apparently directed at Haftar, a divisive commander and US citizen who had announced his candidacy for the canceled December election.
Pobee said the UN special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, has remained in contact with both sides “and urged them to bridge this gap.”
At a July 21 meeting of international partners in Istanbul, Williams reiterated that elections are “the only lasting solution that places Libya firmly on the path toward peace and stability,” Pobee said.
Pobee urged council members and Libya’s international partners to use their influence on the rivals to agree on elections as soon as possible.
Libya’s UN ambassador, Taher El Sonni, who represents the Tripoli government, said that “the current situation could get out of hand at any moment unless radical solutions are found away from foreign interventions and political maneuvers.”
He accused the Security Council of doing nothing out of “paralysis” and internal divisions. He urged its members to listen to Libyan protesters “and their overwhelming desire to end this nightmare and get out of this cycle of conflict and never-ending crises.”
The council meeting took place ahead of the July 31 expiration of the mandate for the UN political mission in Libya, which includs a Joint Military Commission monitoring the 2020 cease-fire.
The council’s resolution authorizing the mission called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, and Pobee said the monitors plan to meet in Sirte in early August to finalize a proposed plan for their withdrawal.
The council voted April 29 to extend the UN mission for just three months because of Russia’s insistence that it must have a new special representative before it has a longer mandate.
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, told the council Monday that Moscow recognizes that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is trying to solve the problem. But he said until a candidate satisfies the Libyans, regional players and all council members, the best option is another three month extension for the mission.


Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’
Updated 8 sec ago

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’

Iran scoffs at claims Russia-launched satellite for ‘spying’
  • The satellite, called Khayyam, was launched into space from the Russian-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome
  • Iran insists its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not breach the 2015 nuclear deal
TEHRAN: Iran dismissed as “childish” Wednesday claims by the United States that an Iranian satellite launched by Russia is intended for spying.
The satellite, called Khayyam, was launched into space on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Russian-controlled Baikonur Cosmodrome in neighboring Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Responding to the launch, Washington said Russia’s growing cooperation with Iran should be viewed as a “profound threat.”
“We are aware of reports that Russia launched a satellite with significant spying capabilities on Iran’s behalf,” a US State Department spokesperson said.
The head of Iran’s Space Agency, Hassan Salarieh, told reporters Wednesday that the spying allegation was “basically childish.”
“Sometimes, some comments are made to incite tensions; saying that we want to spy with the Khayyam satellite... is basically childish,” he said.
“The Khayyam satellite is entirely designed and built to meet the needs of the country in crisis and urban management, natural resources, mines, agriculture and so on.”
Ahead of the launch, there was speculation that Russia might borrow Iran’s satellite temporarily to boost its surveillance of military targets in Ukraine.
Last week, The Washington Post quoted anonymous Western intelligence officials as saying that Russia “plans to use the satellite for several months or longer” to assist its war effort before allowing Iran to take control.
Iran’s space agency stressed on Sunday that it would control the satellite “from day one” in an apparent reaction to the Post’s report.
The purpose of Khayyam is to “monitor the country’s borders,” enhance agricultural productivity and monitor water resources and natural disasters, according to the space agency.
Khayyam is not the first Iranian satellite that Russia has put into space.
In 2005, Iran’s Sina-1 satellite was deployed from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
Iran insists its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not breach the 2015 nuclear deal, or any other international agreement.
Western governments worry that satellite launch systems incorporate technologies interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, something Iran has always denied wanting to build.
Iran successfully put its first military satellite into orbit in April 2020, drawing a sharp rebuke from the United States.

Death and destruction: Israel’s strike on Palestine Tower

Death and destruction: Israel’s strike on Palestine Tower
Updated 51 min 44 sec ago

Death and destruction: Israel’s strike on Palestine Tower

Death and destruction: Israel’s strike on Palestine Tower
  • ‘There were screams and we heard explosions from every direction,’ survivor tells Daily Telegraph
  • 3-day bombing of Gaza last week killed 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and injured hundreds

LONDON: An Israeli missile strike on a block of offices and apartments in Gaza City destroyed homes and killed innocents, the Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper’s on-the-ground correspondents James Rothwell and Siham Shamalakh reported from Palestine Tower, where residents were forced to “move in darkness” following an Israeli airstrike on Friday that left death and destruction.

The reporters found “clothes, sofas and other fragments of their lives … buried under collapsed walls.”

They added: “In one room, which belonged to a family of eight, blood is smeared across a wall. The air is heavy with smoke and an acrid, chemical smell which residents suspect was left by the missiles.”

The destruction came as Israel launched its biggest attack on the Palestinian territory since May 2021. The missile strike on Friday assassinated Tayseer Al-Jabari, a commander with Islamic Jihad.

Khalil Kanoon, who lives in the tower, told the Telegraph that he and his family were sitting down for lunch when the missiles hit. He reported seven missiles slamming into the building, where he lives with his family.

“My mother, my wife and I were in the kitchen and my children were playing in the bedroom,” said Kanoon.

“I was telling my wife that it seemed Israel was about to strike Gaza, and before I finished the sentence we heard a very big explosion and the windows blew out. There were screams and we heard explosions from every direction.”

Kanoon told the Telegraph that he and his family escaped the destruction, running through shattered glass barefoot, but his mother was wounded in the hand.

He added that the residents, left homeless and with little hope of urgent rehousing, were unaware that Al-Jabari was in the tower and were not pre-warned of the attack.

The airstrike on the tower was the opening attack in a three-day bombardment that killed 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and injured hundreds.

Israel said it had intelligence of imminent attacks so had to launch the airstrike to stop Islamic Jihad from assaulting Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip.

The ceasefire, introduced on Sunday night, has done little to calm the frayed nerves of the tower’s residents.

Kanoon told the Telegraph: “We condemn this unjustified Israeli strike with so many bombs targeting civilians on a weekend, where they were not pre-warned. We are calling for the buildings to be rebuilt so we can go back to our apartments.”

He added: “The situation is very hard, some families will have to rent (elsewhere), some are staying with relatives and some have nowhere to go. We also want psychological support.”

The Telegraph also visited Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where doctors told the reporters that they were mostly treating lower-limb wounds and head injuries.

“The healthcare system is exposed to collapse, even if there had been no aggression. Every year it is worse,” said Dr. Hani Sami Al-Haytham, chairman of Shifa’s accident and emergency department.

He added: “The ultrasound was donated by the Red Cross, but it is out of order and we have no alternative because of the repeated power cuts ... If the power keeps going off this causes malfunctions.”

The Telegraph said several children had been left with life-changing injuries, including 11-year-old Rahaf Suleiman, whose feet and arm had to be amputated.

Ghassan Abu Ramadan, a 65-year-old retired engineer who was injured in the strikes, said: “You can’t imagine the explosion. We can’t believe we survived.”


UAE urges UN to drop ‘Islamic State’ name when referring to Daesh

UAE urges UN to drop ‘Islamic State’ name when referring to Daesh
Updated 10 August 2022

UAE urges UN to drop ‘Islamic State’ name when referring to Daesh

UAE urges UN to drop ‘Islamic State’ name when referring to Daesh

The UAE has called on United Nations organizations to stop using the term ‘Islamic State’ when referring to Da’esh, during the UN Security Council in New York, arguing that the extremists should not be associated with the religion. 
UAE Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires, Mohamed Abushahab said ijn his address that organizations should not “permit Daesh and other groups to hijack a religion of tolerance and give credence to their pretences.”  
“There is nothing Islamic about terrorism,” he added. 

Abushahab’s statement came as the UN recognized that the threat posed by Daesh and its affiliates remained ‘global and evolving’. 
“Daesh and its affiliates continue to exploit conflict dynamics, governance fragilities and inequality to incite, plan and organize terrorist attacks,” said UN counter-terrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov, as he presented the Secretary-General’s fifteenth report. 
Abushahab stressed that the fight against terrorism went beyond Daesh, as the ‘fight against Al-Qaeda remains a global priority’ especially after ‘the organization enters a leadership vacuum, following the death of Ayman Al-Zawahiri.’ 
During his address, he said technology could be a “double-edged sword” that can be used to improve people’s quality of life in one respect, but misused by terrorist groups in the other. 
Abushahab said ‘emerging technologies have tremendous potential to aid in efforts to prevent counter, and address terrorism.’ 
And he said the council ‘must focus on preventing the emergence of the next generation of terrorists and extremists,’ referring to the recruitment of children at refugee camps. 
“At Al-Hol camp, more than 25,000 children are at potential risk of radicalization,” said Abushahab. “Genuine efforts must be made to give these children hope for a more peaceful and prosperous future.” 
He concluded his remarks by calling on the international community to ‘seize this opportunity and act now’ to eliminate Daesh and other terrorist groups.


Egyptian, Qatari leaders hold talks

Egyptian, Qatari leaders hold talks
Updated 10 August 2022

Egyptian, Qatari leaders hold talks

Egyptian, Qatari leaders hold talks

CAIRO: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed the latest regional developments, particularly the situation in the Gaza Strip, where Cairo brokered a truce that ended last week’s fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad.

During the phone call, Sheikh Tamim and El-Sisi also discussed measures to strengthen bilateral ties.

The emir expressed his gratitude for Egypt’s efforts to strengthen regional peace and security.


Iran navy says repelled attack on ship in Red Sea

Iran navy says repelled attack on ship in Red Sea
Updated 10 August 2022

Iran navy says repelled attack on ship in Red Sea

Iran navy says repelled attack on ship in Red Sea
  • Navy escort flotilla was headed by the destroyer Jamaran

TEHRAN: An Iranian naval flotilla thwarted an overnight attack on an Iranian vessel in the Red Sea, a senior commander said Wednesday.
“The escort flotilla of the naval arm of Iran’s armed forces, headed by the destroyer Jamaran... promptly deployed to the scene last night after receiving a request for help from an Iranian ship in the Red Sea, and engaged with the attacking boats,” said the navy’s deputy head of operations, Rear Admiral Mustafa Tajeddini.
“Thanks to the effective (naval) presence and after heavy exchanges, the attacking boats made off,” he told state television.
Tajeddini did not give details of the ship which was targeted or of who was suspected of mounting the attack.
In November 2021, pirates attempted to seize an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden, ISNA news agency said at the time.
Two weeks earlier, an Iranian warship repelled an attack by pirates against two oil tankers that it was escorting in the Gulf of Aden.
Like other countries dependent on the shipping lane through the Red Sea and Suez Canal, Iran stepped up its naval presence in the Gulf of Aden after a wave of attacks by Somalia-based pirates between 2000 and 2011.
But the number of attacks has fallen sharply in recent years.