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Libya’s Presidential Council calls for transfer of power to unity government

Libya’s U.N.-backed Presidential Council called on Saturday on the country’s institutions to begin a transfer of authority to a unity government, and appealed to the international community to stop dealing with any rival powers.

The Presidential Council is tasked with guiding through a transition to end the political chaos and armed conflict that has plagued Libya since the fall of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Its statement suggests it will seek to take power despite continuing opposition from hardliners in both of Libya’s competing parliaments – the eastern House of Representatives (HOR) and the rival General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.

Western nations hope a unity government can help tackle a growing threat from Islamic State, which has used a security vacuum and political divisions in Libya to establish a foothold in the north African country.

The Tunis-based Presidential Council nominated a unity government last month, but recognition of the proposed cabinet has been held up by the failure of the HOR to vote to approve it.

It is also unclear when a unity government could move to Tripoli, where the security situation is still volatile and some armed factions may try to prevent it from operating.

However, the council said in a statement on Saturday that a document signed by a majority of HOR members backing the new government, as well as the endorsement by other political figures, represented a “green light to start work”.

The council’s statement called on “all Libyan sovereign and public institutions and the heads of financial bodies to start communicating immediately with the Government of National Accord so as to hand over power in a peaceful and orderly manner”.

“The Presidential Council also calls on the international community and international and regional organisations … to stop dealing with any executive power that does not follow the Government of National Accord,” it said.

The deal to create the unity government was signed with limited Libyan support in Morocco in December.

Efforts to move the transition forward have been hampered by arguments over the structure of the new government, the balance of power between Libya’s different regions, and the future leadership of the armed forces.

The Presidential Council has itself been divided, with two of its nine members suspending their participation and twice refusing to put their names to proposed lists of ministers.

Under the plan, the Presidential Council would form the highest state body. The HOR would be the main legislature, with a second chamber formed from the GNC.

After the latest failure of the HOR to vote on the unity government last week, U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler reconvened the group that signed the December deal.

On Thursday, they urged the Presidential Council “to take all necessary measures to rapidly start working from the capital, Tripoli”, though they also appeared to call on the HOR to take further steps to endorse the unity government.

 

 

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مصر تحافظ على “شعرة معاوية” مع الخليج إزاء ملفات الشرق الأوسط العالقة

 

الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسى وخادم الحرمين والرئيس الباكستانى نواز الشريف والسودانى عمر البشير – الاربعاء 9 مارس 2016

استقبل خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود في مدينة الملك خالد العسكرية في حفر الباطن مساء الأربعاء الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي والرؤساء والمسؤولين الذين قدموا لحضور المناورة الختامية لتمرين رعد الشمال والعرض العسكري للقوات المسلحة السعودية والقوات المشاركة في التمرين

وقالت مصادر مصرية إن السيسي سيشهد الخميس 10 مارس/ آذار العرض مع خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز وعدد من قادة الدول، منهم أمير دولة الكويت الشيخ صباح الأحمد الجابر الصباح وعاهل الأردن الملك عبدالله الثاني بن الحسين وملك البحرين الشيخ حمد بن خليفة والشيخ محمد بن زايد ولي عهد أبوظبي والرئيس السوداني عمر البشير وعدد من الرؤساء ووزراء الدفاع ورؤساء الأركان وكبار المسؤولين بعدد من الدول الإفريقية والعربية والإسلامية

وأضافت أنه من المقرر أن يعقد خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز جلسة مباحثات ثنائية مع الرئيس المصري لبحث تعزيز التعاون الثنائي، ومناقشة قضايا المنطقة، وفي مقدمتها الأوضاع في سوريا ومنطقة الخليج واليمن وجهود مكافحة الإرهاب

وأكدت الرئاسة المصرية، على لسان المتحدث الرسمي باسمها علاء يوسف، أن حرص مصر على المشاركة في مناورات “رعد الشمال” جاء في إطار دورها لتعزيز أمن المنطقة العربية ومنطقة الخليج العربي، الذي تعُدُّه مصر جزءاً لا يتجزأ من أمنها القومي، والتزاماً بتعزيز روح التعاون الإيجابية البناءة بين الدول العربية في هذه المرحلة الدقيقة، التي يمر بها عدد من الدول العربية، والتي تستدعي تحقيق وحدة الصف والتضامن العربي

وتعكس المشاركة المصرية سعيها الحثيث لتشكيل القوة العربية المشتركة، التي عطلتها الرياض فعليا حتى الآن، على أمل أن تكون نواة لقوات تتحرك لتحقيق مهمات داخل منطقة مضطربة، بقيت مصر حتى اللحظة منها استثناء، بينما تسعى قوى غربية للدفع بالخليج العربي في اتجاه حرب طائفية بين أحد أطرافها بزعامة سعودية-خليجية-تركية، والآخر بقيادة إيرانية قد تنجر إليها سوريا والعراق ولبنان

وعلى الرغم من عدم اتفاق مصر مع كثير من وجهات نظر قادة الخليج في قضايا مختلفة، بشكل واضح، ومن بينها الملف السوري، حيث يريد بعضهم حل الأزمة السورية عسكريا، بينما ترى مصر، بتنسيق كامل مع روسيا، وقوى كبرى في العالم، أن الحل يجب أن يكون سياسيا، وأن الشعب السوري هو من سيحدد مصيره، مع الحفاظ على مؤسسات الدولة هناك

ومن الواضح أن الملف السوري لا يمثل الخلاف الوحيد مع دول الخليج، إذ لا تتفق القاهرة معها أيضا بشأن الملف الليبي، حيث تساند مصر الجيش ومؤسسات الدولة الليبية، بينما تهمل دول الخليج هذا الملف، باستثناء قطر، التي تخدم الأجندتين التركية والغربية في ليبيا، وفق مراقبين

وعلى الرغم من ذلك كله، فإن القاهرة لا تريد أن تخسر الخليج، وتحديداً السعودية، ولذا تحافظ معها على “شعرة معاوية”، وخاصة فيما يتعلق برؤيتها المختلفة، والأكثر شمولا لملفات الإرهاب، التي تحيط بالمنطقة العربية من كل جانب، وهو الأمر، الذي سيكون محل نقاش في جلسة مباحثات، تجمع الرئيس السيسي بالملك سلمان

ولا شك في أن مصر محطة حاسمة في كثير من ملفات الشرق الأوسط، وهذا ما يبدو واضحا عبر تنسيق دول عظمى معها في الملفين الأخطر الآن على الطاولة الدولية. ففي سوريا يظهر تقارب مصري-روسي بشأن مكافحة الإرهاب، وسبل حل الملف السوري سياسيا، وهي الرؤية، التي تدعم الحل السياسي، وتؤمن بضرورة القضاء على الإرهاب في كل أرجاء العالم باستراتيجية موحدة ومشتركة

أما في ليبيا، فهناك تنسيق مع روسيا، وهو الأمر، الذي كان محورا لمحادثات هاتفية أجريت بين الرئيسين المصري والروسي، حيث أكد فلاديمير بوتين، وفق بيان للكرملين، أن الالتزام بشروط الهدنة يعدُّ العامل الرئيس لتطبيع الوضع الداخلي في سوريا، وتحسين الظروف الإنسانية، بينما أيد السيسي إطلاق عملية سياسية لتسوية الأزمة السورية، تحت رعاية الأمم المتحدة، في أقرب وقت ممكن. وقد اتفق الرئيسان على مواصلة التعاون الوثيق في إطار المجموعة الدولية لدعم سوريا، كذلك شدد الطرفان على ضرورة مواصلة الحرب بصورة فعالة ضد الإرهاب الدولي، ليس في سوريا فحسب، بل وفي ليبيا واليمن أيضاً

وقد أعقبت المكالمة الرئاسية، التي جرت منذ يومين، محادثات هاتفية بين وزيري الخارجية المصري والروسي أمس الثلاثاء 8 مارس/ آذار، حيث أعرب الجانبان عن ارتياحهما للتقدم في سير تنفيذ الاتفاقات بشأن الهدنة، مع تشديدهما على ضرورة إطلاق الحوار سريعا بين الحكومة السورية والمعارضة في جنيف برعاية أممية، وكذلك على تبادل وجهات النظر حول سبل المساعدة في تسوية الأزمة الليبية والصراع في اليمن

الخبير العسكري والاستراتيجي اللواء حسام سويلم، رأى أن لمشاركة الرئيس السيسي، في ختام فعاليات “رعد الشمال” – أكبر مناورات العرب – دلالات، أهمها: تكذيب كل ما روج له الإعلام في الفترة السابقة عن خلافات بين القيادتين المصرية والسعودية، والتمهيد لزيارة الملك سلمان إلى مصر في أبريل/نيسان المقبل، ودعم السعودية في مواجهة التدخلات الإيرانية، وتأكيد التزام مصر بالمسؤولية تجاه الأمن القومي العربي والخليجي

وختاما، إن القاهرة التي تجمعها علاقات استراتيجية بالخليج وموسكو وعدد من القوى المؤثرة عالمياً، والتي تحسم في إطارها كثيرا من الملفات الساخنة، تحافظ على صلات قوية بالخليج، من دون التأثير على توجهاتها ورؤاها فيما يرتبط بمحاربة الإرهاب، والحفاظ على الأمن القومي العربي

Just In Case: Inside the Pentagon’s Explosive Plan B for Libya

Recognizing its own failure in Libya, the Pentagon has a new plan to address the spread of terrorist groups in the North African nation: more bombs.

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been in chaos. NATO airstrikes destabilized a government that was unpopular with the West, but otherwise secure, allowing terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, to flourish.

Now the Pentagon has a new plan to “cripple” the terrorist group’s growing influence in Libya, and it’s not much different from the strategy that led to their rise. Presented to the White House last month, the strategy calls for “as many as 30 to 40” airstrikes across the country, which, it is promised, will allow “Western-backed” militias to overwhelm Daesh militants.

According to US officials, the plan is not being “actively” considered at this time, as the Obama administration is currently trying to install a unity government in Libya, and that effort could be hindered by renewed violence.

Earlier this week, a number of Libyan experts noted that the Pentagon’s strategies are based on faulty intelligence.

“The estimates of the number of jihadists is grossly exaggerated,” said Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council, according to AntiWar.com.

While the Pentagon has claimed that between 5,000 and 6,500 Daesh militants are operating in Libya, the need for only 30 to 40 airstrikes suggests that even Washington suspects that the terrorist fighters number in the hundreds, not the thousands.

As the US considers a new military operation in Libya, recently uncovered secret documents show that Italy has invasion plans of its own. Published by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the documents show that Italian troops are preparing to join US, French, and British special forces that have been operating inside Libya for several weeks.

Varying estimates suggest that between 3,000 and 7,000 international troops will be deployed, with nearly a third sent by Rome.

Critics have questioned Italy’s need to become embroiled in a foreign military ground war.

“And the principal question – what is that national interest Italy wants to protect?” reads an op-ed from La Repubblica. “There is danger that Italy could once again be dragged into war with only one purpose – to please its allies.”

Whichever stabilization strategy the West ultimately decides upon, the US and its allies may increasingly regret ousting Gaddafi in the first place.

Beheadings, imprisonment made 2015 worst year for Christian persecution, report finds

 

Beheadings, imprisonment and eviction from ancestral homelands made 2015 the worst year on record for persecution of Christians, with North Korea topping a list of 10 otherwise Muslim nations as the most dangerous places for followers of the Gospel, according to a new report.

Islamic extremism and authoritarian governments combined to make last year the worst in modern history for Christians around the world, according to Open Doors USA. The trend spiked upward in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with thousands of Christians killed or imprisoned, and even more chased from their homes.

“Islamic extremism continues to be the primary driving force behind the expansion of persecution,” said Open Doors President and CEO David Curry. “It is no longer just a Christian problem, but a global problem that must be addressed.”

An estimated 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2015, up nearly 50 percent from the previous year and the highest number since such statistics have been tracked. Nigeria, Eritrea and Pakistan were among the countries that experienced the biggest – and bloodiest – spikes.

“The report confirms what we have seen develop in these countries — a rise in Islamic extremism that tragically targets minority religions — especially Christians,” said Jay Sekulow, chief council for the American Center for Law and Justice. “The brutality is unspeakable, with nearly 1 million Christians being slaughtered or displaced in the Middle East.”

It is up to the United States to bring about change, according to Curry.

“As the dominant power in the free world, [the U.S.] must lead the charge in bringing more relief and aid to those suffering,” he said.

Of the top 10 countries on the list, nine are of a Muslim majority, but topping the list is the totalitarian regime of North Korea.

Under the family dynasty now ruled by Kim Jong Un, Christianity is seen as a Western-based mass delusion. Out of the country’s estimated 300,000 Christians, nearly 70,000 are imprisoned in the Hermit Kingdom’s notoriously brutal labor camps. Those Christians that are not imprisoned are forced to hide their faith, even from members of their extended families.

Driven by ISIS’ violent reign in the north and west, Iraq was the second most dangerous place for Christians last year. The terrorist organization, which has a large presence in Iraq, Syria and Libya, has made beheading of Christians its bloody hallmark, even as it cleanses large swaths of the Middle East of all religious minorities.

“The report

The number of Bible followers there has fallen to an estimated 275,000, from 1.5 million in 2003. Some experts in the international community believe that the Middle Eastern country could see its Christian population completely gone within five years. The dwindling numbers are due to genocide, flight and forced conversions at the hands of ISIS jihadists.

The country’s second-largest city, Mosul, was once home to a thriving Christian community as old as the religion itself, but was overrun by ISIS and purged of its Christian residents.

Third on the list is the African nation of Eritrea, where Christians are systematically imprisoned for their faith by an authoritarian regime.

Also in the top 10 were Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Libya.

Sekulow says that more needs to be done in Washington to combat the seemingly global issue.

“We continue to urge the full Congress and the Obama administration to act,” he said. “We’ve heard from nearly 215,000 Americans who understand what’s at stake: Christians are being murdered daily because of their faith.”

 

رسميا.. مصر ترشح أبو الغيط لمنصب امين عام جامعة الدول العربيه

وقال نائب الأمين العام للجامعة، أحمد بن حلي، إن “الأمانة العامة للجامعة قامت بتعميم المذكرة المصرية على الدول الأعضاء بالجامعة بشأن المرشح المصري”

وحتى الآن فإن أبو الغيط (74 عاما)هو المرشح الوحيد لتولي المنصب، وسينتخب الأمين العام الجديد يوم 15 مايو المقبل، وفقا لوكالة أنباء الشرق الأوسط المصرية

وشغل أبو الغيط منصب وزير خارجية مصر منذ عام 2004 وحتى عام 2011 حين أقيل بعد أسابيع من ما سمى ثورة 25 يناير 2011

وقبل توليه الخارجية شغل عدة مناصب دبلوماسية مهمة من بينها منصب مندوب مصر لدى الأمم المتحدة

ومنذ تأسيس جامعة الدول العربية عام 1945 شغل مصريون منصب الأمين العام باستثناء التونسي الشاذلي القليبي، الذي شغل المنصب عام 1979 بعد نقل مقر الجامعة إلى تونس احتجاجا على اتفاقات كامب ديفيد بين مصر وإسرائيل، وعادت الجامعة العربية إلى القاهرة عام 1990

وتولى العربي (81 عاما) وهو أيضا وزير خارجية مصري سابق منصبه الحالي يوم 15 مايو 2011 وستنتهي ولايته يوم 30 يونيو القادم

 

45 killed as Islamists raid Tunisian town on Border With Libya

At least 45 people, including civilians, have been killed in clashes between Islamist fighters and security forces during an insurgent attack on a Tunisian border town not far from a popular resort.

The town that came under attack, Ben Guerdan, is just 65km northeast of the island resort of Djerba. The Tunisian Army sealed off the resort and two border crossings with Libya, which is about 30km east of Ben Guerdan, the TAP state news agency said.

According to the Interior Ministry, among the dead were 28 militants, 10 members of the security forces and seven civilians.

It was not immediately clear whether the attackers came across the border, but the assault on Monday is sparking fears of violence spilling into Tunisia from Libya, which remains in chaos since the NATO-backed overthrow of its government in 2011.

The attack apparently targeted army and police barracks in Ben Guerdan. Footage shown by local TV showed Tunisian troops crouched in doorways and on rooftops, with gunshots audible in the background. Local residents said the bodies of slain militants were lying in the streets.

“I saw a lot of militants at dawn, they were running with their Kalashnikovs,” Hussein, a resident, told Reuters by telephone. “They said they were Islamic State (US, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and they came to target the army and the police.”

IS, which has its powerbase in Iraq and Syria, advanced into turbulent Libya last year. The terrorists, eyeing up the territory’s oil riches, took over the city of Sirte in the east and the surrounding areas.

It also claimed responsibility for high-profile terrorist attacks in the region last year, including a gun assault on the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia’s capital in March, a deadly gun attack on a beach in the resort city of Sousse in June, and bombing a presidential convoy in November.

Security concerns have dealt a serious blow to Tunisia’s tourist trade, which was a major source of income for the country.

Egypt, France conduct joint military exercise off the Mediterranean

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Egypt and France began on Sunday a joint military exercise termed as the “Ramses-2016” in the coastal city of Alexandria along the Mediterranean.

According to Egyptian military, the joint venture off the coast of Egypt will go on for several weeks. This includes both air and naval forces training together to strengthen both military in combating threats.

“Both Navy and Air forces of Egypt and France have commenced a team exercise called the Ramses-2016 in Egypt and this joint venture will go on for several weeks off the coast of Alexandria (north) and in the Egyptian airspace,” read the press statement released by the Egyptian military.

 

The drill is aimed at “sharing our expertise with the Egyptian military, one of our main Middle East partners,” the French defense ministry said at the time.

France also had announced the maneuvers on Tuesday saying the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which is being used to launch airstrikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, would also take part.

On December 19, the Charles de Gaulle carrier took command in the Gulf of the naval contingent operating as part of the international coalition fighting the jihadist IS group.

‘Ramses-2016’ wargames are held amid reports that western countries are gearing up for military intervention in next-door Libya

Libya Military Intervention Possible Only After Parliament Approval

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for a “balanced and long-term” solution to the instability in Libya, as UN-backed efforts to form a unity government were “in full swing.”

A military intervention in Libya is only possible after all needed hurdles, including Libyan parliamentary approval, are cleared, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Saturday.

The Corriere della Sera daily cited Renzi’s secret February 10 decree on Thursday as saying 50 Italian special forces troops were ready to join US, UK and French counterparts to fight Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh) jihadist group fighters in Libya.

“Mass media are attempting to present scenarios of an Italian war in Libya, which do not correspond to reality,” Renzi said as quoted by the Ansa news service.

The Italian prime minister called for a “balanced and long-term” solution to the instability in the North African republic as UN-backed efforts to form a unity government were “in full swing.”

“Only then will we be able to assess, based on the request of the legitimate government, the level of Italian participation. In any case, this will require the necessary parliamentary and organizational procedures,” he underscored.

The 50 anti-Daesh special forces would reportedly be under the purview of Italy’s External Intelligence and Security Agency.

Two Hostages Freed in Libya Return to Italy

Two Italian hostages who were captured in Libya returned in Italy, according to media reports.

Two of the four Italian construction workers abducted in Libya last year arrived in Rome early Sunday, days after news of their release and the deaths of the other two.

Gino Pollicardo, 55, and Filippo Calcagno, 65, touched down at Ciampino airport before meeting officials and family, then giving evidence to prosecutors in Rome, Italy’s Ansa news service reported.

The two were not available to speak to the press neither after their release, nor on their return to Italy.

Pollicardo’s and Calcagno’s release was announced on Friday, a day after confirmation of the deaths of Salvatore Failla, 47, and Fausto Piano, 60.The four Bonatti construction company employees were kidnapped from an oil and gas site in western Libya in July 2015.

Failla and Piano are believed to have fallen victim to clashes between Islamist extremists and local militias as the security situation in the North African republic continues to deteriorate.

Tripoli Endorses Possible Italy-Led Anti-Terrorist Operation in Libya – FM

Tripoli endorses the fact that Italy might take a leading role in the international fight against Daesh terrorist organization in Libya, Foreign Minister of the Tripoli-based General National Congress, Ali Ramadan Abuzaakouk, said Thursday.

ROME (Sputnik) — There are currently two rival governments in Libya: the internationally-recognized Council of Deputies (House of Representatives) based in Tobruk and the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC).

“We endorse the fact that Italy might assume the role of international intervention leader in the war against the growing IS forces in Libya,” Abuzaakouk told the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The foreign minister underscored that it was necessary for Italy to carefully coordinate with the Tripoli government and military forces, to avoid any potential operation changing from a legitimate fight against terrorism into an open violation of Tripoli sovereignty.

In 2011, as civil war broke out in Libya, a multi-state coalition, consisting mostly of NATO members, began a military intervention in the country with the declared aim of establishing an immediate ceasefire.The operation ended with a decisive NATO victory, which led to the escalation of the conflict in the country and the subsequent killing of the country’s long-standing leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Earlier, in December 2015, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that the issue of an international military operation in Libya was not on the agenda.

According to the newspaper, on February 10, the Italian Council of Ministers allegedly decided to send 50 soldiers to Libya.