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Sunday, 20 October 2019 01:21

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 A fighter loyal to Libyan internationally recognised government fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar at outskirts of Tripoli. Reuters 

Libyan forces loyal to the internationally recognised government in Tripoli said they received a shipment of weapons and armoured vehicles after announcing that Turkey would help fend off an assault on the capital by eastern leader Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The news comes after United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres strongly urged all countries to enforce the arms embargo on Libya, saying preventing the proliferation of weapons is important to end fighting and restore stability in the country.

Forces loyal to the Government of National Accord published pictures on their official “Volcano of Anger” Facebook page of what appeared to be Turkish-made Kirpi combat vehicles. They also received ammunition and “quality weapons”, the group said in the Facebook post. A spokesman for the Turkish presidency was not immediately available for comment.

 Turkish armoured vehicles in the port of Tripoli. Social Media

The UN had warned of the conflict turning into a bloody proxy war as foreign backers send arms shipments despite the UN weapons ban.

GNA spokesman Mohanad Younes told reporters in May that Turkey and other countries would be delivering military and humanitarian assistance.

At least 400 people have been killed in the offensive, which has ground to a halt on the outskirts of Tripoli.

The UN and European countries have called for a ceasefire but officials say neither side is prepared for a truce.

Filed Marshal Haftar met Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday and is expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron next week.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said last Wednesday that both sides in Libya needed to return to the agreed road map for peace talks that came out of lengthy negotiations over the last year. He said there was no military solution to the situation in Libya.

Dr Anwar Gargash: Our solution for LibyaLibya: Shifting militia alliances key to Fayez Al Sarraj's hold on Tripoli

UAE helps free four foreign workers held captive in Libya

Abdullah Thinni, the rival prime minister in the east who is affiliated with Field Marshal Haftar, said in an interview with the Al Hurra broadcaster on Friday that the Libyan National Army would be willing to accept an unconditional ceasefire without withdrawing its forces from the outskirts of Tripoli, something Tripoli Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj has rejected.

The LNA, which took control of the east and the south before attacking Tripoli, had predicted a quick victory in the capital when it first launched its campaign in early April.

But militias – including hardline groups proscribed as terrorist organisations by the UN – have mounted a strong defence of the capital and managed to hold back LNA forces.

Meanwhile, two guards and a soldier were killed in an ISIS attack on the Zella oilfield that also saw the extremist group take at least four hostages.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the Saturday attack in a statement run by its propaganda Amaq news outlet.

The death toll was confirmed by the National Oil Company, which condemned the attack in a statement on Saturday evening.

The attackers struck at an entrance gate to the field, which lies near the town of Zella, about 760 kilometres southwest of Tripoli, before fleeing, according to local residents.

The Zella field belongs to Zueitina Oil Company, which pumped 19,000 barrels per day on average in the last quarter of 2018 across all its fields.

An engineer told Reuters workers at the field were safe and facilities had not been damaged.

Libya's NOC chief said on Saturday that continued instability in the country could cause it to lose 95 per cent of oil production.

Speaking in Saudi Arabia before a ministerial panel gathering on Sunday of top Opec and non-Opec producers, Mustafa Sanalla also confirmed the Zella attack.

ISIS has been active in Libya in the turmoil since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The militant group took control of the coastal city of Sirte in 2015 but lost it late in 2016 to local forces backed by US air strikes.

Updated: May 19, 2019 12:47 PM








Afrasianet - Iraq's national carrier is to resume flights to the capital of neighbouring Syria for the first time since the war there erupted in 2011, a spokesman said Thursday.

Iraqi Airways will operate a weekly service from Baghdad to Damascus starting Saturday, spokesman Layth al-Rubaie told AFP.

Rubaie said the resumption of flights between the two neighbours was "important", citing bilateral trade, tourism and "the size of the Iraqi community living in Syria".

The Syrian transport ministry welcomed the decision in a statement on its official Facebook page.

Rubaie said the last flight from Baghdad to Damascus took place in December 2011, before the service was suspended due to the conflict that erupted in Syria that year.

Most airlines stopped flying over Syria after the conflict broke out, with many taking longer routes to circumvent the war zone.

But the conflict has wound down in recent years, after major regime advances against rebels and jihadists with Russian military backing since 2015.

Damascus has been largely spared the violence.

In April, the Syrian government said it had agreed to allow regional aviation giant Qatar Airways to resume flights over the country.

"The agreement came on the principle of reciprocity, as SyrianAir crosses Qatari airspace and never stopped flying to Doha throughout the war," the Syrian transport ministry said at the time.

The use of Syrian airspace would see "increased revenues in hard currency for the benefit of the Syrian state", it added.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011 as the death toll escalated and several regional powers bet on President Bashar al-Assad's demise.

But the regime, backed by allies Russia and Iran, has since re-conquered much of the territory it had lost to rebels and jihadists, and now controls some two-thirds of the country.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have reopened their missions in Damascus.

Jordan reopened a key land crossing with its Syrian neighbour in October last year after a three-year hiatus.

Analysts said the move would help Syria inch its way back into trade with the wider region as it looks to boost its war-ravaged economy.

Jordanian officials have also visited Damascus to discuss plans to reopen Syrian airspace to its Royal Jordanian's commercial flights.

The Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government demonstrations that sparked a brutal regime crackdown.

The spiralling violence drew in regional powers and has killed more than 370,000 people, displacing millions.









Amman - Afrasianet - Jordan celebrates the 20th anniversary of His Majesty King Abdullah’s Accession to the Throne on Sunday.

Since his Accession on June 9, 1999, the King has embarked on comprehensive democratic reform in the Kingdom, giving special attention to internal and external national issues.

In particular, he has focused on improving Jordan’s capabilities as a modern country, emphasising investment in the Kingdom’s human resources and innovation as a means to combat the nationwide shortage of natural resources.

In addition to these priorities, His Majesty has always been committed to advocating for the Palestinian people's right to have an independent state and safeguarding Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

Under the King’s leadership, Jordan is working towards a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and is part of an international coalition to fight terrorism.

Throughout the past 20 years, the King has carried the banner of tolerance and coexistence, launching the “Amman Message” to portray the true essence of Islam, which is based on moderation and rejection of extremism.

In addition, the UN General Assembly adopted the King’s initiative, “World Interfaith Harmony Week”, in October 2010.

He also sees economic reform as a major concern, and consequently directed former prime minister Hani Mulki and his government to prepare a package of measures designed to overcome economic challenges.

Under Royal directives, the previous government, led by Abdullah Ensour, prepared the Jordan Vision 2025, which His Majesty described as “a long-term national blueprint that outlines the integrated framework of economic and social policies based on providing opportunities for all and serving as the base to enhance the rule of law, equal opportunity, increasing public participation in policymaking and achieving sustainable and comprehensive development”.

The Kingdom, under His Majesty’s rule, took the initiative to implement much-needed political reforms, with five parliamentary elections taking place over the past 19 years.

The King has said these developments would lead to “the endgame of our process: building and developing political parties and bringing forth parliamentary government”.

The Decentralisation Law, which came into force in 2015, has been aimed at enhancing public participation in development-related decisions. The King instructed the government at the time to issue all the necessary by-laws and instructions to implement the Decentralisation Law, stressing that political reform also requires strengthening the rule of law and implementing administrative reform measures.

The September 2011 constitutional amendments necessitated the enactment or amendment of several laws, including those that mandated the establishment of the Independent Elections Commission and the Constitutional Court.

Jun 09,2019









Afrasianet - Russia criticized the US initiative to hold the Bahrain Peace for Prosperity Workshop, accusing Washington of trying to impose alternative ways to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict away from the two-state solution.

"According to the information received, Washington intends to organize in Bahrain on June 25 and 26 a workshop entitled Peace for Prosperity, during which the economic aspect of what is known as the Century Deal of Settlement The Middle East issue.

The United States apparently plans to mobilize large sums of money, including through voluntary contributions, for large-scale investment projects purported to improve the living conditions of Palestinians living in Palestine itself, as well as in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. "

The statement added that the Palestinian leadership refused to participate in this project, pointing out that the PLO did not grant any party its exceptional rights in making crucial decisions about achieving Palestinian national aspirations.

"It is clear that, especially after the failed conference in Warsaw, it is clear that a new US attempt to change the priorities of the regional agenda and impose an so-called alternative vision for the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."

Russia said in its statement that "the relentless pursuit of changing the task of achieving a comprehensive political solution with a package of economic rewards and diluting the principle of two states for two peoples raises deep concern."

"Russia maintains its principled approach, which rejects the deviation from the international legal rule on a settlement in the Middle East, including the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations, and the principle of peace in exchange for the territories ratified at the Madrid Conference In 1991, and the Arab peace initiative announced in 2002 ".

"At this difficult stage there is a vital need, more than ever before, for genuine joint efforts aimed at establishing direct and sustainable Palestinian-Israeli negotiations instead of imposing unilateral unilateral deals from abroad," the Russian Foreign Ministry concluded.







Interview: UN’s deputy Libya chief tells The Independent that allegations of arms shipments are under investigation

Afrasianet-The United Nations is probing allegations that the United Arab Emirates shipped weapons to support a Libyan warlord’s factions, in violation of an international arms embargo, a key official told The Independent.

The UN has been investigating numerous allegations of arms shipments to either of the two sides in the years-long Libyan conflict.

But coming under particular scrutiny by international officials and Libya experts are allegations that the UAE, an ally of the UK, US, and France, shipped weapons to Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar even after the self-styled field marshal declared the head of the UN-backed authority in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, a “terrorist” and issued a warrant for his arrest and other civilian officials.

“We’re tracking reports of all kinds of weapons or systems coming in. We have seen multiple reports of weapons flowing in,” Stephanie Williams, the deputy head of the UN mission to Libya, said in an interview from Tripoli on Monday. “We are extremely concerned about this. This is not the kind of escalation we need. We need to minimise this.”

The vast oil-rich north African nation has been crippled by violent civil strife since the 2011 Nato-backed downfall of Muammar Gaddafi’s long-time dictatorship. Two loose alliances dominate the country: a collection of eastern militias led by Mr Haftar under the umbrella of the Libyan National Army, and a UN-backed Government of National Accord anchored in Tripoli.

Mr Haftar launched a surprise attack on Tripoli on 4 April after making quick gains against militias ruling the country’s lawless south. But his offensive on the capital has united powerful rival militias across western Libya, and gains have been minimal.

Ms Williams, a former US diplomat, said a UN panel of experts is investigating claims that the UAE shipped a planeload of weapons to support Mr Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya on Friday, as well as other claims of weapons being sent to western Libyan forces that are fighting to defend the capital against his 12-day offensive.

A source in eastern Libya denied any arrival of fresh weapons. The UAE has not commented on the allegations. In the past, Mr Haftar’s forces have flaunted the arrival of newly refurbished fighter jets and military vehicles, posting videos and pictures on Facebook.

The UN panel last year cited evidence suggesting both the UAE and Turkey were providing weapons and military equipment to rival sides in Libya. Both Egypt, a security partner of the west despite human rights abuses, and the UAE, have been aggressively supporting Mr Haftar because they perceive the rival government in Tripoli as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, which they have vowed to crush.

“They are going for it right now, so they’re going to put all their effort into it,” said Theodore Karasik, a researcher at Gulf State Analytics, a Washington consultancy. “The question is whether or not they’re going into overstretch.”

Qatar called on Tuesday for the arms embargo against Mr Haftar to be properly enforced.

In an interview with Italian daily la Repubblica, foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the conflict could be stopped “by rendering effective the embargo against Haftar and preventing those countries that have supplied him with munitions and state-of-the-art weapons from continuing to do so”.

He later specifically referred to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt – three countries which severed ties with Qatar in 2017 in a regional dispute.

One analyst said Mr Haftar and his Arab allies may have chosen to launch the attack after spotting what was described as suspicious plane traffic from Turkey to western Libya, and hoped to take advantage of possible aviation disruption during the planned 6 April switch of operations from Istanbul’s old Ataturk airport to a major new airport.

“The Turks were moving a lot of personnel and other stuff between Tripoli and Istanbul,” said one analyst briefed by an Emirati official. “The Emiratis took advantage of the closure of the airport. As a military strategist, you want to take advantage of this kind of situation – even if it’s 10 hours.”

Both the US and UK have been somewhat wary of Mr Haftar. US Middle East envoy David Satterfield told reporters on Monday that Washington wants a “political arrangement” between the conflicting sides. “We are concerned at the mounting civilian casualties. We are concerned at damage to vital civilian infrastructure,” he said.

A UK-drafted resolution demanding an end to the fighting was circulated among UN security council members on Tuesday.
The resolution, obtained by the Associated Press, also calls on all parties to immediately recommit to attending the UN-facilitated political dialogue “and work toward a comprehensive political solution to the crisis in Libya”.

But the security council is divided over the conflict.  

Mr Haftar has been backed for years by the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia and France, which see in him a potential strongman to bring order to the country even as they have also publicly backed the UN peace process and other international initiatives to stitch the country back together.

Ms Williams warned that Mr Haftar’s attack has halted several long-term peace efforts, including attempts to roll back the influence and presence of militias in the capital, dialogue between Mr Haftar and Mr Serraj, and a UN peace conference which was scheduled for this week in Ghadames.

“That was a process that was over a year’s worth of work to bring Libyans together from all different parts of the country,” she said. “We had a tremendous response. This was going to mark a real turning page.”

An African Union effort to draw Libyans together for a summit this summer also appears to have collapsed.

Fighting continues on the outskirts of Libya’s capital

The conflict has already displaced 18,000 people and left at least 147 people dead, including civilians. Mr Serraj told the Italian paper Corriere della Sera that the conflict in Tripoli could create hundreds of thousands of refugees. Amnesty International has warned that more than 700 refugees and migrants were reportedly trapped in a detention centre near the fighting, where they lack access to food and water.

Ms Williams described shortages of food and medicine in the capital, where the UN has urged a humanitarian ceasefire. She said the battered dinar had lost further value, damaging the purchasing power of ordinary Libyans.

“There are thousands caught in the conflict zone who have asked to come out,” said Ms Williams. “We need for the fighting to stop so that the ambulances can get in and treat the wounded.”

Mr Haftar’s forces have described the fight for Tripoli as an effort to root out “terrorist” militias. LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari vowed to take the war to the centre of Tripoli.

Critics of the government in Tripoli have noted that several controversial extremist figures have joined the fight against Mr Haftar, even though the Serraj government has disavowed them.

But Ms Williams warned that Mr Haftar’s offensive has empowered Tripoli militias that the UN and its partners have spent the past year trying to stifle.

“A prolonged siege or street-to-street fighting in Tripoli is going to be crippling and will frankly affect the national security of not only the immediate neighbours of Libya but frankly of southern Europe and more broadly. It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy by creating an environment where extremism will flourish.”

Tuesday 16 April 2019








An anonymous source said that the Egyptians fear increased tensions with Iran, and assess that President Trump will not be elected to a second term in office.

Egypt withdrew from efforts to form an "Arab NATO" intended to work against Iran.

Sources said that the Egyptians were also absent from a meeting in Riyadh at the beginning of last week, at which the alliance was discussed.
Read More Related Articles

The development is a difficult setback for President Donald Trump, who along with Saudi Arabia had advanced the establishment of a coalition of Arab nations to counter Iranian expansion throughout the Middle East.

An anonymous source from one of the Arab nations involved said that the Egyptians have already announced to the Americans and to the Saudis that they will not take part a military, political or economic coalition with Sunni Arab states, due to fears of increased tensions with Iran, and an assessment that President Trump will not be elected to a second term in office.

"We all want Egypt to be a part of an Arab NATO," said the source, "especially as it has the largest army of any Arab nation, and because it carries importance."

Iran commented that it was verifying the information, but that "if it is true that Egypt retreated from efforts to form an Arab NATO, we welcome this."

According to the White House, the coalition was founded by Saudi Arabia with the additional purpose of limiting Chinese and Russian presence in the Middle East.

April 13, 2019






AMMAN: The photos are scarce. In one, a dozen or so women, young children and elderly men bite down on sandwiches as they crowd the inside of a bus. One of the passengers wears a red vest bearing the logo of the Syrian government’s Red Crescent organization, also known as SARC.

Another photo shows at least four green buses lined up on an otherwise empty stretch of desert highway.

According to Syrian state news agency SANA, which published the pictures on April 7, the buses carried hundreds of displaced people who had recently left in unprecedented numbers from the desolate Rukban camp.

The apparent end goal: reaching their hometowns back in rural Homs province, areas seized by pro-government forces in the years since residents originally fled the advances of the Islamic State (IS).

In Rukban, the intervening years have seen devastating hunger, bitterly cold winters and the spread of disease as what was once simply an isolated border crossing point with Jordan morphed into a sprawling settlement of mud homes holding tens of thousands of displaced Syrians.

The displacement camp came under increased international spotlight in recent months after the closure of a smuggling route last fall that once brought in vital supplies, including food and medicine. As winter set in, so did hunger and sickness, and two aid deliveries coordinated by the UN and SARC brought in supplies and vaccinations.

But the conversation has now shifted rapidly from planning aid deliveries—Russian and Syrian officials now talk in terms of evacuating Rukban’s roughly 40,000 displaced residents elsewhere, and dismantling the camp altogether.

In February, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that it would oversee “humanitarian corridors” to allow transfer of Rukban residents to their hometowns.

According to the announcement, checkpoints on the outskirts of Rukban would open on “meet, receive, distribute and provide necessary assistance to internally displaced persons” who wish to leave the camp.

Now, after an especially brutal winter, Rukban residents, most of whom have endured years of harsh desert conditions in the camp, are beginning to leave in unprecedented numbers.

In the past week alone, several hundred Rukban residents are estimated to have voluntarily boarded vehicles out of the camp and made the crossing out of US- and opposition-run territory.

Though people have been sporadically leaving the camp on an individual basis for years, the convoys this month are the largest such returns from Rukban to date.

From there, they board the government’s green “evacuation” buses and head into government-controlled Homs province, a Rukban-based aid worker and a local journalist told Syria Direct earlier this week.

The green buses have for several years held a sharp symbolism among Syrians in opposition-held areas of the country, as the government has used them to ferry hundreds of thousands of people out of surrendered rebel pockets as it seized pocket after pocket of territory since 2016.

But Rukban is different. There is no bombardment campaign in this corner of desert—residents instead complain of growing hunger and despondency as they remain stranded in the midst of a complex geopolitical standoff.

In the latest of the three semi-organized convoys that have taken place, unknown hundreds of people reached a Syrian government-controlled checkpoint on the outskirts of this desert “de-confliction zone” on Wednesday, and registered into a murky reconciliation process meant to resolve their status with Syrian authorities.

It is a process that involves riding privately owned trucks out of the camp and towards the first checkpoint demarcating government territory, then paying roughly $20 per person to get through, according to conversations with multiple Syrians still inside Rukban. 

Once through, returnees are taken to a “shelter center” in Homs province, where they remain for roughly two weeks, according to Ahmad Zgheira, a member of one of Rukban’s local administrative councils. Several other camp residents spoke of similar reception centers.

Little is actually known about the procedures for those who have crossed, as communication is difficult from government-held territory.

But there are hints of what the beginning of that journey is like for those who decide to cross.

In one video posted early Wednesday afternoon by pro-opposition news outlet Step News Agency, a handful of trucks are lined up on what appears to be the outskirts of Rukban, still within the 55-kilometer zone of US- and opposition-controlled desert. Some of the trucks are piled high with wooden furniture, mattresses, blankets.

Others are packed with residents awaiting their departure from the camp. An unseen child yells out: “Bye!”

‘A lot of pressure on people’

Displaced Syrians began settling in the Rukban camp following IS’ takeover of much of the eastern Syrian desert after 2013. At Rukban, they hoped they could eventually cross into Jordan via a now shuttered border point.

Those hopes were largely dashed in 2016, when an IS-claimed car bomb killed several Jordanian soldiers at a nearby border outpost, prompting Amman to close the border completely and declare the area a military zone.

Rukban’s location, within a no man’s land along the Syrian-Jordanian border known as the “berm,” all but traps the tens of thousands of displaced people there. Crossing into Jordan is only an option for those in need of specialized medical care at a nearby UN clinic just across the border.

The desert immediately surrounding the camp is part of a 55km “deconfliction zone” set up by US forces. That area is nominally controlled by a US-backed opposition group operating out of the al-Tanf military base, which both the US and rebel fighters have claimed is a key part of their fight against IS.

Displaced Syrians living in Rukban who wish to go back to their hometowns grapple with a difficult decision. If they return, they fear they could face arrest or military conscription, which is required of Syrian men in areas of the country under Damascus’ authority.

But staying means facing endless food shortages, and questions over the future of this contested part of Syria.

For the majority of camp residents who have—thus far—remained inside Rukban, there is little in this remote stretch of desert to sustain them for much longer. Medicine, and even basic food items, are in desperate short supply, residents told Syria Direct.

“There is almost no food or fuel in the camp right now,” one local camp official said. “Even vegetables, it’s the same [shortage].” He was among those who attended a meeting last month with government and Russian officials, as well as UN and SARC representatives, to discuss the fate of Rukban.

It is unclear just what that fate might be. The few supplies are still available in the camp’s cinder block market stalls are sold at vastly inflated prices that are unaffordable to many residents, the camp official said.

“People are now resorting to pre-made food, because they are unable to cook [without fuel],” he told Syria Direct.

“There is a lot of pressure on people in the camp.”
April 10, 2019







  • Caracas accuses Washington of "economic terrorism" and calls on the United Nations to protect it

  • Libya’s Tripoli militias boast of Turkish weapons shipment despite UN embargo

  • Iraqi Airways to resume flights to Syria after 8-year break

  • Tarawneh congratulates Syria speaker Sabbagh on reelection

  • Jordan marks King’s 20th Accession to Throne anniversary

  • Russia: The Bahrain conference is a new American attempt to impose an alternative settlement in...

  • Western allies add fuel to Libya's fire with alleged military shipments to warlord

  • Egypt withdraws from efforts to form 'Arab NATO'

  • Hundreds of Rukban camp residents leaving US-administered desert zone board Syrian government buses

  • Libya’s Movement to Peace condemns Turkey’s “aggressive interference”

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