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)
Short Url
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.


Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory

Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory
Updated 7 sec ago

Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory

Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory
ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it rejects Russia’s annexation of four regions in Ukraine, adding the decision is a “grave violation” of international law.
Turkey, a NATO member, has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It has also criticized Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine.
The Turkish ministry said on Saturday it had not recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, adding that it rejects Russia’s decision to annex the four regions, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
“This decision, which constitutes a grave violation of the established principles of international law, cannot be accepted,” the ministry said.
“We reiterate our support to the resolution of this war, the severity of which keeps growing, based on a just peace that will be reached through negotiations,” it added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the regions on Friday, promising Moscow would triumph in its “special military operation” even as he faced a potentially serious new military reversal.
His proclamation came after Russia held what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.
The United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions in response.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said on Friday his country had submitted a fast-track application to join the NATO military alliance and that he would not hold peace talks with Russia while Putin was still president.

UAE provides aid to those affected by floods in Mauritania

UAE provides aid to those affected by floods in Mauritania
Updated 40 min 39 sec ago

UAE provides aid to those affected by floods in Mauritania

UAE provides aid to those affected by floods in Mauritania
  • According to UN OCHA, at least 19 people have died, 38,000 people have been affected

The UAE sent a plane carrying food items on Friday to various cities and villages affected by the torrential rains that recently struck southern and eastern Mauritania, state news agency WAM reported. 

Since late July, heavy rainfall and widespread floods hit several parts of Mauritania. According to UN OCHA, at least 19 people have died, 38,000 people have been affected, and almost 4,000 houses destroyed.

“The provision of these supplies reflects the strong relations between the two countries and underscores the UAE’s humanitarian role in providing relief to those in need and those affected by disasters that threaten food security,” said Hamad Ghanem al-Mehairi, UAE Ambassador to Mauritania. 

The UAE previously sent aid to Mauritania in April 2021, as well as medical aid to support the country's efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.


Iran arrests artist whose viral song became protest anthem

Iran arrests artist whose viral song became protest anthem
Updated 01 October 2022

Iran arrests artist whose viral song became protest anthem

Iran arrests artist whose viral song became protest anthem
  • A few days before his arrest on September 29, Shervin Hajipour posted the moving song on Instagram
  • Iranian authorities have also arrested female artist Donya Rad, Radio Farda reported

DUBAI: Shervin Hajipour, whose viral song became the anthem for anti-government protests in Iran, has been arrested by police with his whereabouts currently unknown.

It was also unclear what were the charges brought against the young singer, news website Radio Farda reported.

A few days before his arrest on September 29, Hajipour posted the moving song on Instagram describing the current situation in the Islamic Republic, which was triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody of the morality police.

Hajipour’s song had garnered more than 40 million views on Instagram, and has spread on other social media platforms, before it was removed.

The lyrics of Hajipour’s song was woven from tweets posted by Iranians following Amini’s death, many of them blaming the country’s clerical leadership for the current social, economic and political problems.

 

 

“For the shame of having no money,” read one of the tweets in Hajipour’s song.

“For the fear of kissing a lover on the street,” said another tweet.

“For the political prisoners,” another part of the lyrics said.

Iranian authorities have also arrested female artist Donya Rad, Radio Farda reported, after she posted a photo of herself eating out in Tehran without a head scarf and the image going viral on social media.

Rad’s sister claimed Donya was taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.


Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow
Updated 01 October 2022

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow
  • High-level jockeying for position over who will succeed Khamenei as supreme leader

JEDDAH: Iran’s clerical rulers are in disarray over how to crush mass anti-government protests amid rifts over security tactics and high-level maneuvering over who will succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, analysts say.
Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health, posing a threat to Iran’s religious establishment.
Although in theory, the 86-member Assembly of Experts will choose the next leader, jockeying for influence has already begun, making it difficult for the ruling clerics to unite around a set of security tactics.
“This race has caused disarray inside the leadership. The deepening rift is the last thing we need when the country is in turmoil,” one hard-line official said. “The main issue right now is the Islamic Republic’s survival.”

FASTFACT

Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health.

The two candidates viewed as favorites to replace Khamenei are his son Mojtaba and President Ebrahim Raisi. “Neither of them has popular support,” said Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But what keeps the Islamic Republic in power is not popular support, but repression — and both men are deeply experienced in repression.”
As the protests spread to 80 cities nationwide, Iran’s rulers have accused a coalition of “anarchists, terrorists and foreign foes” of orchestrating the troubles — a narrative few Iranians believe.
Alarmed by the depth of popular outrage, some senior clerics and politicians have appealed for restraint to avoid bloodshed that could galvanize and embolden protesters.
But that has not stopped hard-liners calling for tougher measures, despite the death of at least 75 protesters in the security crackdown. “A part of the establishment fears that this time using more lethal force can push the Islamic Republic to a no return point,” said a senior former Iranian official.

 

A Cup of Gahwa
The taste and traditions of Saudi coffee
Enter
keywords

 


Lebanon schools struggle to open as finance woes bite

Lebanon schools struggle to open as finance woes bite
Updated 30 September 2022

Lebanon schools struggle to open as finance woes bite

Lebanon schools struggle to open as finance woes bite
  • Student dropout rate rising with parents unable to pay for basics, UNICEF rep warns

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s public education system is facing collapse a week before the start of the academic year, with teachers unable to pay for transport, and students dropping out because their parents cannot afford essential school items.

After three years of an economic crisis that shows no sign of ending, schools are also struggling to provide basic needs, such as heating and electricity.

An adviser to Abbas Halabi, the minister of education and higher education in the caretaker government, told Arab News that meetings are being held with donor countries, international organizations, the World Bank and ambassadors in an effort to cover the costs of teachers’ transport to school.

Assistance to help students attend school has not yet been discussed, the official said.

Lebanon’s spiralling economy has forced thousands of parents to transfer their children from private schools and universities to public institutions.

Edouard Beigbeder, the UNICEF representative in Lebanon, warned of an increase in the number of students dropping out of school.

Estimates suggest that up to 16 percent of Lebanese children and 49 percent of Syrian refugee students have not been enrolled in primary school, despite education ministry efforts to encourage a return to study.

Parents blame the country’s financial woes for the problem, saying they cannot afford their children’s transport fees, books or stationery.

Halabi warned from New York during an education summit held on the sidelines of the UN’s General Assembly 10 days ago that “if Lebanese students do not receive education, no others will.”

He had previously pleaded with donors to “secure aid that will enable the ministry to launch the school year, which seems impossible in light of the educational bodies refusing to show up at public schools and the Lebanese University.” 

Lebanon is seeking aid of around $100 million for pre-university education, $37 million for the Lebanese University and $20 million for vocational education.

In addition to implementing a host of economic and political reforms, the international community has asked Lebanon to integrate Syrian and Lebanese students in morning and afternoon periods in order to reduce expenses.

Private schools and universities demanded payment of tuition fees partly in Lebanese pounds and partly in dollars.

However, the education ministry opposed the move, claiming it breached laws that stipulates the use of Lebanese currency.

Education institutions ignored the objection, claiming the only alternative would be to close, and established a “parents’ contribution fund” separate from the budget.

Parents who were unable to pay the tuition fees were left with the option of transferring their children from private schools or universities to public institutions.

Huda Suleiman, president of the Human and Future Association for children with special needs, said that she will be unable to open the school in Taanayel in the Bekaa Valley this year because the Ministry of Social Affairs, which “provides us aid, did not pay what it owes us.”

A limit on monthly bank withdrawals means she can pay only two teaching salaries.

“We have physical, motor and occupational specialists whose salaries are high, in addition to fuel costs,” she said.

Suleiman said parents were unable to contribute or even drop their children at school, as some traveled long distances.

Transport costs are beyond the salaries of most parents, many of whom are farmers or members of the military and internal security forces, she added.

The education ministry has yet to solve a dispute with education bodies demanding a salary increase and further financial incentives.

According to a study by the Center for Educational Research and Development, the number of students in Lebanon exceeded 1 million two years ago.

They include 334,536 students or 31 percent in public schools, 565,593 students or 52 percent in private schools, and 140,312 students or 13 percent in private free schools.

There are 36,375 students, or more than 3 percent, at UNRWA schools for Palestinian refugees.

Lebanon is home to 40 universities and institutes, and more than 40 percent of tertiary students attend the Lebanese University, a public institution.