Arab League welcomes joint Libyan declaration on election road map

The Arab League on Friday welcomed a Libyan joint statement agreeing to draw a “clear and specified” road map to hold long-awaited elections. (File Photo)
The Arab League on Friday welcomed a Libyan joint statement agreeing to draw a “clear and specified” road map to hold long-awaited elections. (File Photo)
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Updated 07 January 2023
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Arab League welcomes joint Libyan declaration on election road map

Arab League welcomes joint Libyan declaration on election road map
  • Secretary-general Ahmed Aboul Gheit thanks Egypt for its support
  • Holding elections ‘the most important demand of the Libyan people,’ he says

LONDON: The Arab League on Friday welcomed a Libyan joint statement agreeing to draw a “clear and specified” road map to hold long-awaited elections.

The statement was issued by House of Representatives Speaker Aguila Saleh and Chairman of the High Council of State Khaled Al-Mishri regarding an Egyptian-brokered constitutional document following their discussions in Cairo on Thursday.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League, expressed his thanks and appreciation for Egypt’s efforts in sponsoring the meetings of the committees concerned with the Libyan constitutional process in Cairo over the past year and a half, according to his spokesman Jamal Rushdi.

The meetings enabled the preparation of the document and its referral to the two councils for approval in accordance with their respective systems, he added.

Rushdi said Aboul Gheit “hopes that this political development will entail practical and serious steps leading to the announcement of a clear and specific national road map to complete all necessary procedures to complete the electoral process, as it is the most important demand of the Libyan people.”

The secretary-general also appealed to all Libyan parties to support the current state of consensus, including ensuring that inclusive national elections are held as soon as possible.

Rushdi reaffirmed the Arab League’s support for “every serious and fair endeavor aimed at reviving the vitality and effectiveness of the political process in Libya, ending the long-running transitional stages in the country, establishing a permanent state of stability, and initiating the process of construction, reconstruction and development.”

On Thursday, the UN Mission in Libya also welcomed the joint declaration and said it strongly encouraged the two chambers to swiftly reach a complete and final agreement, including on contentious issues, to finalize the steps required to take the country to inclusive national elections within a specific time frame.

“UNSMIL reiterates the obligations of political leaders in Libya to demonstrate a genuine and continuous commitment toward achieving a lasting peace by building on previous agreements … aimed at resolving the political crisis through elections as soon as possible,” it said on Twitter.

The mission added that it remained ready to support genuine initiatives aimed at achieving a national consensus toward an inter-Libyan solution “and to the protracted political crisis.”


Iran unveils drones armed with air-to-air missiles

Iran unveils drones armed with air-to-air missiles
Updated 10 December 2023
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Iran unveils drones armed with air-to-air missiles

Iran unveils drones armed with air-to-air missiles
  • The drones have an operational range of up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles)
  • Development of Iran’s military arsenal has sparked concern among many countries, particularly the US and Israel

TEHRAN: Iran has reinforced its air defense capabilities by adding combat drones equipped with air-to-air missiles to its arsenal, state media reported on Sunday.
“Dozens of Karrar drones armed with air-to-air missiles have been added for air defense in all border areas of the country,” the official IRNA news agency said.
The drones, with an operational range of up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), were exhibited Sunday morning during a televised ceremony organized at a military academy in Tehran.
“The enemies will now have to rethink their strategies” because the Iranian forces have “become more powerful,” IRNA quoted the commander-in-chief of Iran’s army, General Abdolrahim Mousavi, as saying.
The Karrar interceptor drone, the first version of which was unveiled in 2010, has been equipped with a “Majid” thermal missile with a range of eight kilometers (five miles) “made entirely in Iran,” added the agency.
It “succeeded in its operational tests” during military exercises held in October, Mousavi said.
The development of Iran’s military arsenal has sparked concern among many countries, particularly the United States and Israel, the sworn enemies of the Islamic republic.
The latter accuse Tehran of providing fleets of drones to its allies in the Middle East, notably to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, and to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Iran also backs the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has been engaged in a war with Israel since it launched deadly attacks there on October 7.
Tehran has been accused by Kyiv and its Western allies of providing Russia with drones for use in the Ukraine war, a claim Tehran denies.
Western governments, however, imposed several rounds of biting sanctions on Iran over the alleged arms sales.
Iran began manufacturing drones in the 1980s during its eight-year war with Iraq.


UN chief says he will not give up appeals for ceasefire in Gaza

UN chief says he will not give up appeals for ceasefire in Gaza
Updated 10 December 2023
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UN chief says he will not give up appeals for ceasefire in Gaza

UN chief says he will not give up appeals for ceasefire in Gaza
  • Qatar will continue to pressure Israel and Hamas for a truce despite “narrowing” chances
  • UNRWA chief says immediate ceasefire needed to end ‘hell on earth’ in Gaza

DOHA: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday he will not give up appealing for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, adding that the war undermined the credibility and authority of the Security Council.
Gueterres was speaking at the Doha Forum conference as Washington vetoed on Friday a proposed UN Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
“I urged the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared,” Guterres said.
“Regrettably, the Security Council failed to do it, but that does not make it less necessary,” he said.
“I will not give up,” Guterres added.
Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the gathering that Doha will continue to pressure Israel and Hamas for a truce despite “narrowing” chances.
Qatar, where several political leaders of Hamas are based, has been leading negotiations between the group and Israel.
Sheikh Mohammed said hostages were released from Gaza because of negotiations and not because of Israel’s military actions.
The head of UNRWA, the UN aid agency for Palestinians, said the dehumanization of Palestinians has allowed the international community to tolerate Israel’s continued attacks on Gaza.
“There is no doubt that a humanitarian ceasefire is needed if we want to put an end to hell on earth right now in Gaza,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said.
The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas in a deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Guterres also urged leaders at the COP28 climate conference to agree on deep cuts to emissions and stop global warming exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
He said that despite pledges, emissions are at a record high and fossil fuels are the major cause.
“I urge leaders at COP28 in Dubai to agree on deep cuts to emissions, in line with the 1.5-degree limit,” Guterres said adding that fossil fuel companies and their backers should use their enormous resources to lead the renewables revolution.


Polls open in Egypt presidential elections

Polls open in Egypt presidential elections
Updated 10 December 2023
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Polls open in Egypt presidential elections

Polls open in Egypt presidential elections

CAIRO: Polls opened on Sunday in Egypt's presidential election in which Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is set to secure six more years in power.
Voting is spread over three days and runs from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. (0700-1900 GMT), with results due to be announced on Dec. 18.
Approximately 67 million Egyptians are eligible to vote, according to the election authority, out of a total population of 104 million.


Israel presses on with its Gaza offensive after US veto derails Security Council efforts to halt war

Israel presses on with its Gaza offensive after US veto derails Security Council efforts to halt war
Updated 10 December 2023
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Israel presses on with its Gaza offensive after US veto derails Security Council efforts to halt war

Israel presses on with its Gaza offensive after US veto derails Security Council efforts to halt war
  • The State Department approves the sale of tank ammunition to Israel in a deal that bypasses Congress
  • In Gaza, residents reported airstrikes and shelling, including in southern city of Rafah near Egyptian border

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip: Israel’s military pushed ahead with its punishing air and ground offensive in Gaza on Saturday, bolstered by a US veto derailing UN Security Council efforts to end the war and word that an emergency sale of $106 million worth of tank ammunition had been approved by Washington.
Unable to leave Gaza, a territory 25 miles (40 kilometers) long by about 7 miles (11 kilometers) wide, more than 2 million Palestinians faced more bombardment Saturday, even in areas that Israel had described as safe zones.
The sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition was announced a day after the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, a measure that had wide international support. The US said Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined that “an emergency exists” in the national interest requiring the immediate sale, meaning it bypasses congressional review. Such a determination is rare.
A day after Israel confirmed it was rounding up Palestinian men for interrogation, some men told The Associated Press they had been treated badly, providing the first accounts of the conditions from the detentions.
Ahmad Nimr Salman showed his marked and swollen hands from zip ties. “They used to ask us, ‘Are you with Hamas?’ We say ‘no,’ then they would slap us or kick us,” he said. The Israeli military had no immediate comment when asked about the alleged abuse.
With the war in its third month, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza has surpassed 17,700, the majority women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.
Two hospitals in central and southern Gaza received the bodies of 133 people from Israeli bombings over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said midday Saturday.
Israel holds the Hamas militants responsible for civilian casualties, accusing them of using civilians as human shields, and says it has made considerable efforts with evacuation orders to get civilians out of harm’s way. It says 97 Israeli soldiers have died in the ground offensive after Hamas raided southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 hostages.
Hamas said Saturday that it continued its rocket fire into Israel.
In Gaza, residents reported airstrikes and shelling, including in the southern city of Rafah near the Egyptian border — one area where the Israeli army had told civilians to go. In a colorful classroom there, knee-high children’s tables were strewn with rubble.
“We now live in the Gaza Strip and are governed by the American law of the jungle. America has killed human rights,” said Rafah resident Abu Yasser Al-Khatib.
In northern Gaza, Israel has been trying to secure the military’s hold, despite heavy resistance from Hamas. The military said that it found weapons inside a school in Shujaiyah, a densely populated neighborhood of Gaza City, and that, in a separate incident, militants shot at troops from a UN-run school in the northern town of Beit Hanoun.
More than 2,500 Palestinians have been killed since the Dec. 1 collapse of a weeklong truce, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
The truce saw hostages and Palestinian prisoners released, but Israel says 137 hostages remain in Gaza.
On Saturday, a kibbutz that came under attack on Oct. 7 said 25-year-old hostage Sahar Baruch had died in captivity. His captors said Baruch was killed during a failed rescue mission by Israeli forces Friday. The Israeli military said Hamas killed him.
With no new cease-fire in sight and humanitarian aid reaching little of Gaza, residents reported severe food shortages. Nine of 10 people in northern Gaza reported spending at least one full day and night without food, according to a World Food Program assessment during the truce. Two of three people in the south said the same. The WFP called the situation “alarming.”
“I am very hungry,” said Mustafa Al-Najjar, sheltering in a UN-run school in the devastated Jabaliya refugee camp in the north. “We are living on canned food and biscuits and this is not sufficient.”
While adults can cope, “it’s extremely difficult and painful when you see your young son or daughter crying because they are hungry,” he said.
Israelis who had been taken hostage also saw the food situation deteriorate, the recently freed Adina Moshe told a rally of thousands of people in Tel Aviv seeking the rapid return of all. “We ended up eating only rice,” said Moshe, who was held for 49 days.
The rally speakers accused Israel’s government of not doing enough to bring loved ones home. “How can I sleep at night? How can I protect my daughter?” asked Eli Albag, the father of 18-year-old hostage Liri Albag.
On Saturday, 100 trucks carrying unspecified aid entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, said Wael Abu Omar, a spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority. That is still well below the daily average before the war.
Despite growing international pressure, President Joe Biden’s administration remains opposed to an open-ended cease-fire, arguing it would enable Hamas to continue posing a threat to Israel.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has argued that “a cease-fire is handing a prize to Hamas.”
Blinken continued to speak with counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Turkiye and elsewhere amid open criticism of the US stance.
“From now on, humanity won’t think the USA. supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech.
Protesters at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai called for a cease-fire, despite restrictions on demonstrations.
Amid concerns about a wider conflict, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen threatened to prevent any ship heading to Israeli ports from passing through the Red Sea and Arabian Sea until food and medicine can enter Gaza freely. Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said in a speech that all ships heading to Israel, no matter their nationality, will be a target.
In southern Gaza, thousands were on the run after what residents called a night of heavy gunfire and shelling.
Israel has designated a narrow patch of barren southern coastline, Muwasi, as a safe zone. But Palestinians described desperately overcrowded conditions with scant shelter and no toilets. They faced an overnight temperature of around 52 degrees (11 degrees Celsius).
“I am sleeping on the sand. It’s freezing,” said Soad Qarmoot, who described herself as a cancer patient forced to leave her home in the northern town of Beit Lahiya.
As she spoke, her children huddled around a fire.


French frigate downs drones over Red Sea: military

French frigate downs drones over Red Sea: military
Updated 10 December 2023
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French frigate downs drones over Red Sea: military

French frigate downs drones over Red Sea: military
  • Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia threatened to attack vessels heading to Israeli ports unless food and medicine were allowed into Gaza

PARIS: A French frigate shot down two drones in the Red Sea that were heading toward it from the coast of Yemen, the French military said on Sunday.
“The interception and destruction of these two identified threats” were carried out late Saturday by the frigate Languedoc, which operates in the Red Sea, the general staff said in a press release.
The interceptions happened at 2030 GMT and 2230 GMT, it added, and were 110 km (68 miles) from the Yemeni coast.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia on Saturday threatened to attack any vessels heading to Israeli ports unless food and medicine were allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip.
The latest warning comes amid heightened tensions in the Red Sea and surrounding waters following a series of maritime attacks by Houthi militia since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7.
In a statement posted on social media, the Houthis said they “will prevent the passage of ships heading to the Zionist entity” if humanitarian aid is not allowed into Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The Houthis have recently attacked ships they claim have direct links to Israel, but their latest threat expands the scope of their targets.
An American destroyer shot down three drones last week while providing assistance to commercial ships in the Red Sea targeted by attacks from Yemen, according to Washington, which denounced “a direct threat” to maritime security.