UN seeks agreement on Libya vote sticking points

UN seeks agreement on Libya vote sticking points
The United Nations said Thursday it would work towards helping Libya's rival factions agree on contested points preventing long-delayed presidential and legislative elections being held in the conflict-scarred nation. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 08 June 2023
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UN seeks agreement on Libya vote sticking points

UN seeks agreement on Libya vote sticking points
  • Envoys of Libya's factions said after more than two weeks of talks in Morocco they had agreed on the legal steps required for new elections
  • The United Nations Support Mission in Libya said in a statement it "takes note" of the outcome of the Morocco talks

TRIPOLI: The United Nations said Thursday it would work toward helping Libya’s rival factions agree on contested points preventing long-delayed presidential and legislative elections being held in the conflict-scarred nation.
Early Wednesday, envoys of Libya’s factions said after more than two weeks of talks in Morocco they had agreed on the legal steps required for new elections.
But they stopped short of signing an agreement, indicating that they had differences that still need to be resolved.
Elections in the North African country had been due in December 2021 but were never organized, as disputes persisted on key issues including who should stand in the polls.
Libya has been torn by more than a decade of stop-start conflict since a 2011 revolt toppled strongman Muammar Qaddafi, with myriad militias forming opposing alliances backed by foreign powers.
The country remains split between a nominally interim government in Tripoli in the west, and another in the east backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
On Thursday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement it “takes note” of the outcome of the Morocco talks.
It said UNSMIL will work “to facilitate a process among all actors to address the contested elements of the electoral framework” with the aim of securing “the necessary political agreement on the path to elections.”
The UN mission urged everyone involved “in a spirit of compromise, to address all outstanding issues and create a safer and more conducive environment for the holding of elections in 2023.”
Among the contested points are the candidacy of dual nationals and soldiers.
Haftar also hold US citizenship, and his detractors accuse him of seeking to restore military dictatorship in Libya.
The UN envoy to Libya Abdoulaye Bathily did not attend the talks in Morocco, but on Thursday the UNSMIL statement urged “all players to refrain from delay tactics aimed at prolonging the stalemate.”
The UN appeal was supported by representatives in Tripoli of both the United States and the European Union.


Lebanese security forces detain man suspected of shooting outside US embassy

Lebanese security forces detain man suspected of shooting outside US embassy
Updated 26 September 2023
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Lebanese security forces detain man suspected of shooting outside US embassy

Lebanese security forces detain man suspected of shooting outside US embassy

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces on Monday said they arrested a suspected gunman who fired a dozen bullets at the American embassy in Beirut, according to security sources in the country.

A source named the suspect as 26-year-old Lebanese national Muhammad Mahdi Hussein Khalil, who had worked for a delivery company. The source added Khalil had a criminal record for previously opening fired on a Lebanese Public Security center.

According to the source, Khalil confesed to shooting at the embassy compound in the Awkar suburb of Beirut and the weapon used in the attack had been seized.

Surveillance cameras showed a lone gunman dressed in black firing a Kalashnikov rifle before fleeing the scene on a motorcycle.

“The shooter carried out his act after previous disputes between him and embassy security over food deliveries,” the source told Arab News.

There were no injuries in the shooting late on Wednesday when 15 shots were fired at the embassy complex.


Israel says US to announce it has joined Visa Waiver Program

Israel says US to announce it has joined Visa Waiver Program
Updated 26 September 2023
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Israel says US to announce it has joined Visa Waiver Program

Israel says US to announce it has joined Visa Waiver Program
  • Some Palestinians have protested at Israel’s entry into the VWP, citing what they say are decades of discriminatory treatment of Arab Americans and harassment at Israel’s borders

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday it expects the United States to announce this week that it will be admitted to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which would allow Israeli citizens visa-free entry to America as of November.
The deadline for Israel to show compliance with the US conditions is Sept. 30. If successful, it would offer a win for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist government, whose relations with Washington have been strained over its plans to overhaul the judiciary as well as over its policies toward the Palestinians.
“Israel joining the Visa Waiver Program is a diplomatic achievement and good news for all Israeli citizens,” said Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
A US State Department spokesperson said on Monday that a final decision on Israel’s candidacy had not been made.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, will make a determination in the coming days,” the spokesperson said.
For admission to the program, Washington requires countries to treat all US travelers equally, regardless of whatever other passports they may hold. In Israel’s case, that would mean free passage for Palestinian Americans at its airports and when traveling into and out of the occupied Palestinian territories.
Some Palestinians have protested at Israel’s entry into the VWP, citing what they say are decades of discriminatory treatment of Arab Americans and harassment at Israel’s borders.
In a pilot period that has been running since July 20, Israel has loosened access for Palestinian Americans through its borders and in and out of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Between 45,000 and 60,000 Palestinian Americans live in the West Bank, a US official estimated. An Israeli official gave lower figures, saying that of 70,000 to 90,000 Palestinian Americans worldwide, 15,000 to 20,000 are West Bank residents.
There are currently 40 countries in the VWP. Countries are not added frequently, with Croatia being the latest to join in 2021. 

 


Hundreds dead from dengue fever in Sudan

Hundreds dead from dengue fever in Sudan
Updated 25 September 2023
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Hundreds dead from dengue fever in Sudan

Hundreds dead from dengue fever in Sudan
  • Sudanese doctors’ union said health situation ‘is deteriorating at a horrific rate’

PORT SUDAN: Outbreaks of dengue fever and acute watery diarrhea have “killed hundreds” in war-torn Sudan, medics reported Monday, warning of “catastrophic spreads” that could overwhelm the country’s decimated health system.

In a statement, the Sudanese doctors’ union warned that the health situation in the southeastern state of Gedaref, on the border with Ethiopia, “is deteriorating at a horrific rate,” with thousands infected with dengue fever.

Though Gedaref has been spared the direct effects of the brutal war between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, it has nonetheless been impacted by mass displacement and other humanitarian crises.

Over five months into the war, 80 percent of the country’s hospitals are out of service, according to the UN. Even before the war, Sudan’s fragile healthcare system struggled to contain the annual disease outbreaks that accompany the country’s rainy season starting in June, including malaria — endemic in Sudan — and dengue fever.

This year, with Gedaref hosting over 250,000 internally displaced people according to the UN, the situation is much worse.

“The hospital’s beds are all full but the cases keep coming in, particularly children,” a medical source said from Gedaref Hospital.


US-backed Kurdish forces impose curfew in eastern Syria after new clashes with rival militia

US-backed Kurdish forces impose curfew in eastern Syria after new clashes with rival militia
Updated 25 September 2023
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US-backed Kurdish forces impose curfew in eastern Syria after new clashes with rival militia

US-backed Kurdish forces impose curfew in eastern Syria after new clashes with rival militia

BEIRUT: US-backed Kurdish-led forces imposed a curfew after clashes erupted again on Monday in eastern Syria, where their fighters had battled for weeks with rival militiamen, Syrian media and activists reported.

The fighting in a region where hundreds of American troops are deployed has pointed to dangerous seams in a coalition that has kept on a lid on the defeated Daesh for years.

The reports say the Syrian Democratic Forces imposed the open-ended measure in several towns in Deir Ezzor province, including the town of Ziban, close to the Iraqi border where the Americans are based. 

Hundreds of US troops have been there since 2015 to help in the fight against Daesh. 

The province is home to Syria’s largest oil fields.

Al Mayadeen, a pan-Arab TV station, said several fighters from the Kurdish-led forces were killed after gunmen took over several parts of Ziban on Monday. 

Britain-based opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some of the fighters had crossed from regime-held areas.

Local media in the province reported that some Kurdish fighters had fled the area as the clashes intensified. There were no further details.

The Kurdish-led forces have accused the Syrian regime of inciting the violence by allowing the rival militiamen to cross the Euphrates River. 

The clashes first erupted in late August when two weeks of fighting killed 25 Kurdish fighters, 29 members of tribal groups and gunmen, as well as nine civilians, according to the Syrian Democratic Forces .


Israel strikes Hamas post after violent protest in Gaza: army

Israel strikes Hamas post after violent protest in Gaza: army
Updated 26 September 2023
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Israel strikes Hamas post after violent protest in Gaza: army

Israel strikes Hamas post after violent protest in Gaza: army
  • Israel has imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the impoverished Palestinian enclave ever since the Islamist group Hamas seized control in 2007

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: The Israeli army said it hit on Monday a Hamas military post, in the latest in a series of drone strikes on Gaza, after its troops were shot at during a violent protest.
The latest strike comes amid daily demonstrations at the border by Palestinians after Israel closed the Erez crossing from Gaza.
Two protesters were wounded by “Israeli bullets” in the clashes on Monday, the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza said in a statement.
The army meanwhile said a drone “struck a military post belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization.”
The post was located near an area from which assailants shot at soldiers “during a violent protest,” an army statement said.
The “soldiers responded with live fire toward an assailant... and hit him.”
Gaza has been rocked by daily protests since Israeli authorities closed the Erez crossing, the only gateway for pedestrians entering Israel from the coastal enclave.
The closure has prevented thousands of workers from the impoverished enclave from entering Israel.
On Monday, protesters burned tires and threw rocks at soldiers who responded with tear gas, an AFP journalist reported.
Since September 13, seven Palestinians have been killed and dozens wounded in violence at the border, according to figures from the health ministry in Gaza.
Israel has imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the Palestinian enclave ever since the Islamist group Hamas seized control in 2007.
Armed conflict sporadically erupts between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip.
In May, an exchange of Israeli air strikes and Gaza rocket fire resulted in the deaths of 34 Palestinians and one Israeli.