Category Archives: Maghreb

Libya: speaker Aguila Saleh rise

Brussels 03.10.2020 Libya’s oil output has risen to 270,000 bpd as the OPEC member ramps up export activity following the easing of a blockade by eastern part of the country.
On October 1 Libya’s oil terminals at Hariga, Brega, and Zueitina were open for business and welcoming tankers to ship oil, although the biggest port and the terminal typically exporting crude from the largest oilfield in the country was still under strain.

The North African nation’s National Oil Corp said it expects production to rise to around 260,000 barrels per day, or bpd, by next week, up from some 100,000 bpd before the blockade of its oil ports and oilfields lifted by Haftar’s forces at the end of last week.

Total Libyan production could reach 550,000 bpd by the end of the year and nearly a million bpd by mid-2021. All that for a country that did not export a single barrel from January due to the civil war forced by Haftar. At its peak in 2008, Libya produced nearly 1.8 million bpd.

The shifting market dynamics could force OPEC back to the drawing board, to figure out what to do with all that unexpected new supply.

Emboldened by the steady price action of the past four months, OPEC decided to roll back its cuts by two million bpd from this month, taking a gamble that the market won’t crash, as economies continue to recover from the worst of the COVID-19 disruption. AbS’ warning to oil giants that they’ll be “ouching like hell” if they try to short the market was part of a calculated campaign to defend prices.

In the complex international economic context, and Libya ongoing political crisis, the Tobruk House of Representative (HoR) Speaker, Aguila Saleh, is expected to play a major role in state-building during the coming period, amid hopes of a political settlement to the long-time crisis in the country. Moreover might play a key role in concluding new trade agreements for oil exports, preventing overproduction, and subsequent turmoil for the oil markets.

Saleh has cemented his reputation as a political heavy-weight demonstrating openness to resolve the ongoing crisis in Libya. For the international community his rise will embody the transfer of political powers in Cyrenaica from military – Marshall Khalifa Haftar leading the Libyan National Army – to civilians. The increasing influence of the role of Saleh has reflected in the decision of the European Union Council to lift the individual sanction, allowing him to travel freely.

“The Council today decided to remove Aguila Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, and Nuri Abu Sahmain, former president of the internationally unrecognised General National Congress of Libya, from the list of individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures in relation to the Libyan conflict.

“The two leading political figures had been subject to EU restrictive measures – a travel ban and an asset freeze – since 2016. The delisting of Speaker Saleh was agreed in light of his recent constructive engagement in support of a negotiated political solution to the Libyan crisis. The Council will continue to follow his behaviour closely, notably in relation to his support for the Berlin Process and for the efforts of the UN mission to Libya (UNSMIL). The delisting of Abu Sahmain was agreed based on the overall absence of any recent role in the Libyan political process.

“The EU welcomed the announcements made on 21 August by the president of the Presidency Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, and the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, which accelerated promising developments in Libya and created a window of opportunity to move the Libyan transition forward towards completion through a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process.

“Today’s decision underlines the strategic use of the EU’s sanctions regime, following developments on the ground. Restrictive measures are intended to bring about a change in policy or activity by entities and individuals responsible for malign behaviour, and are of a proportionate, targeted and non-punitive nature. De-listing is appropriate wherever the criteria for listing are no longer met, as was the case here.

“The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal”.

Libya: EU imposes individual sanctions

Brussels 21.09.2020 The Council today decided to impose targeted restrictive measures on two persons responsible for human rights abuses in Libya and three entities involved in violating the UN arms embargo in place for Libya. They will be added to the EU’s list of persons and entities subject to restrictive measures related to the Libyan conflict. The sanctions imposed comprise a travel ban and an asset freeze for natural persons, and an asset freeze for entities. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed. With these new designations, the EU now has travel bans on 17 listed persons and has frozen the assets of 21 persons and 19 entities.

The EU imposes restrictive measures on persons and entities whose actions threaten the peace and security of Libya or obstruct the successful completion of its political transition. The EU has repeatedly called on all parties to respect human rights and international law and is committed to holding anyone violating them accountable. The EU is also determined to see the UN arms embargo in Libya fully respected. These new listings show the EU’s strategic use of its sanctions regime and ability to react to developments on the ground in support of the political process and to deter past and present perpetrators from further violations.

The EU’s sanctions complement and reinforce the sanctions adopted by the UN, which include an arms embargo and individual measures, including for human rights abuses. The UN has imposed a travel ban on 28 persons and an asset freeze on 23 persons.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal.

Tripoli: Al-Sarraj intends to resign

Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan said he was upset that his ally and Libya’s internationally recognised partner Fayez al-Sarraj, intends to quit next month and Ankara may hold talks with his government on the issue in the coming week.

Al-Sarraj announced on September 16 his intention to resign by the end of October. The decision will impact the situation in Tripoli amid new efforts of different international players to find a political solution to the country’s conflict.

“A development like this, hearing such news, has been upsetting for us,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that Turkish delegations may hold talks with Al-Sarraj’s government in the coming week.

“With these meetings, Allah willing we will turn this issue towards the direction it needs to go,” he said.
Sarraj is head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, while eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). His departure could lead to infighting among senior GNA figures.

The civil war has drawn in regional and international powers and Turkey supports the Government of National Accord, while the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia back the Marshall Khalifa Haftar, supported Tobruk Parliament and Libyan National Army (LNA). Ankara assisted the GNA in defence its position in the captial during a 14-month LNA assault on Tripoli.

A Turkish official told Reuters news agency that Sarraj’s resignation announcement was the second recent surprise for Ankara in Libya after a ceasefire announcement last month.

Al-Sarraj’s administration declared a ceasefire on August 21 and the leader of the Tobruk Parliament in eastern Libya also appealed for a halt to hostilities separately, offering hope for a de-escalation of the conflict, lasting almost a decade.

“We would prefer for Sarraj to remain in his post because under his leadership a united Libya that has resolved its issues could emerge,” the official said.

“If Sarraj does not remain in office, there are some names who are involved in the processes and can take the GNA forward. These are, of course, Libya’s own issues, but Turkey may provide some support,” he added.

The European dream to transform Libya into a democratic state turned into a catastrophe: the state structures had collapsed, and Libyans became hostages of militant groups of rival warlords, mafia slave-traders, and Islamists, armed for free by pillaging giant arms stocks left unattended after Colonel Gaddafi regime collapse. In shot, referring to expression of one of the French secret service experts, Libya became an “Afghanistan in proximity”.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) is an interim government for Libya that was formed under the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement, a United Nations–led initiative, signed on 17 December 2015 in Shkirat, Morocco.
This agreement has been unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council which has recognised that the Government of National Accord (GNA) is the sole legitimate government of Libya. Shkirat agreement mandates executive authority to the GNA, while leaving legislative authority to the House of Representatives as it was following the June 2014 elections. It also establishes the High Council of State, a consultative body independent of the GNA. The fact about the length of mandate for one year only, has been intentionally omitted by all political players, supporting GNA administration for various reasons. Shkirat agreement has been never prolonged ever since, throwing legal status of al-Sarraj administration into void.

EU welcomes Libya ceasefire

“The European Union warmly welcomes the announcements issued on August 21, 2020 by the President of the Presidency Council Fayez Al-Serraj and Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh. This is a constructive first step forward, which demonstrates the determination of the Libyan leaders to overcome the current stalemate and creates a new hope for a common ground towards a peaceful political solution to the longstanding Libyan crisis and the termination of all foreign interference throughout the country” reads the text of the declaration of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on behalf of the EU27.

A positive step in Libya. The European Union warmly welcomes the announcements issued yesterday by the President of the Presidency Council Fayez Al-Serraj and Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh” Borrell tweets.

“We fully support the agreement around the principles to immediately cease all military activities across Libya, requiring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries present in Libya, and resume the negotiating process in the framework of the UN-led Berlin process.

“We now urge all the Libyan parties, and all those supporting them in any form, to translate these principles into concrete actions on the ground leading to a permanent ceasefire, as part of the discussions within the 5+5 joint military committee and to relaunch the political process.

“We took note of the announcements regarding the lifting of the blockade on oil infrastructure. We now call for these announcements to be followed by concrete developments in terms of a full resumption at full capacity throughout the country in the interest of all the Libyan people, along with the implementation of economic reforms with a view to agreeing on a fair and transparent distribution mechanism for oil revenues and to enhancing the governance of Libyan economic and financial institutions.

“The European Union reiterates its full support to the UN and the Libyans in implementing these principles. We reaffirm our commitment to the Libyan people in their efforts to establish a sovereign, united, stable and prosperous country”.

The Tripoli-based and UN and EU recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) published a statement that also calls for elections in March next year.

The truce was agreed by an ally of Marshall Khalifa Haftar, who controls the east and south of Libya.
Libya has been riven by violence since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the leader, was deposed by Nato-backed forces in 2011.

Libya’s warring rival administrations announced they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections separately.

#COVID19: Algeria exclused from EU safe travel list

The European Union is set to exclude Algeria from its safe list of countries from which the bloc allows non-essential travel after a meeting of EU ambassadors on July 29, Reuters news agency reports, refering to the European diplomatic sources.

The list of countries will fall to 11, assuming the provisional decision is confirmed in writing by EU members, two EU diplomats familiar with the discussions said. The deadline for submissions was likely to be on July 30 afternoon.

The safe countries deemed to have COVID-19 largely under control are Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors.

Libya: Macron expresses «grave concerns»

We met today in Brussels on the sidelines of the European Council to discuss the situation in Libya. We share serious concerns about rising military tensions in that country and the increased risk of regional escalation. We therefore call on all the Libyan parties and their foreign supporters to immediately cease the fighting and end the ongoing military escalation across the country” reads the text of the statement of President of France Macron, issued during the European Summit in Brussels on July 18.

We also call on all foreign actors to end their growing interference and to fully respect the arms embargo established by the United Nations Security Council. We take our responsibilities and are determined to ensure the full effectiveness of Operation Irini in order to prevent any escalation on the ground. We are ready to consider a possible use of sanctions if embargo violations at sea, on land or in the air continue and look forward to the proposals that the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and security policy will do to this end.

We support the efforts of the United Nations to obtain the signing of a lasting and credible ceasefire agreement within the framework of the negotiations under way within the 5 + 5 Committee. At this critical moment, we also encourage the United Nations to explore all options to reduce tensions, including those of a large disengagement of forces or even possible demilitarization in certain regions. We reaffirm the need for a special representative of the Secretary-General in Libya to be appointed promptly.

We remind all Libyan and international parties that a political settlement to the Libyan crisis must be fully inclusive and based on the conclusions of the Berlin Conference. We also recall that it is necessary to quickly lift the oil blockade and to guarantee a fair and transparent distribution of oil revenues for the benefit of all Libyans”.

Libya: Borrell on foreign interfiernece

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell insisted on need to «stop all interferences fuelling the conflict and join forces to support an inclusive, Libyan-owned and Libyan-led process leading to a political solution». In the statement on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya he said the following:

«…The protracted conflict in Libya caused immense suffering for all Libyans and has become a major challenge for the region and ultimately the international community.

https://twitter.com/euatun/status/1280976520597639168?s=21

As European Union, we believe it is high time to put an end to this military conflict, right on our doorstep, and manage a proper transition in Libya. We must preserve the country as one single Libya -a united, stable, prosperous and reliable partner for all.

This meeting brings together all countries which have the capacity, if genuinely committed, to contribute to a political transition in Libya. We all took strong commitments in the Berlin conference in January; it is now time to translate our words into concrete actions. We need to work collectively, under a strong United Nations leadership, to implement truly the conclusions of Berlin, which everybody accepted. The polarisation, which has turned Libya into a theatre of proxy wars, needs to stop. Actions in support of one or the other Libyan party fuel the conflict, and some constitute clear provocations. Unilateral initiatives go against the spirit of the consensual international dialogue which Libya urgently needs and which we need to encourage.

“…We must go back to our Berlin-commitments, starting with the enforcement of the United Nations arms embargo, which unfortunately continues to be violated on all sides and every day, in all impunity, as we heard from the United Nations and as Heiko [Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany] has recalled. And we need a collective effort to favour the return of the Libyan parties to the negotiating table, starting with the UN-led 5+5 military talks to reach an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire. And we support the initiative to de-militarise the conflict around Sirte and Jufra.

We, the European Union, are doing our part. I have promoted a strong European Union commitment to the Berlin process, to respect and implement what we all agreed. That is why we launched Operation Irini, with core tasks to implement the United Nations arms embargo and to stop the flow of weapons into Libya, as well as to monitor oil smuggling. We are reporting regularly to the United Nations Panel of Experts on the basis of the mandate given by the United Nations Security Council. It is also clear that control of arms flow into Libya requires action beyond the maritime domain. But for that, the United Nations Security Council should enlarge the mandate.

As co-chair of the Economic group, we also hope to find a sustainable solution for the exploitation of oil resources in Libya, a key issue in the conflict, which is directly linked to the increasing build-up of presence in Sirte. And that is of utmost importance, all of the European help to Libya is the equivalent of the oil revenues that Libya could generate in one week.

Later this month, we will co-host the next international follow-up committee on Libya, where these discussions can continue».

Libya: Europe calls for ceasefire

“In the aftermath of the constructive commitments to halt fighting, resume dialogue and reach a ceasefire within the framework of the 5+5 joint military committee, taken in Cairo on 6 June, the High Representative of the EU and the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Italy urge all Libyan and International parties to effectively and immediately stop all military operations and engage constructively in the 5+5 negotiations, based upon the draft agreement of 23 February” reads the text of the Joint statement by High Representative Josep Borrell and Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, Heiko Maas of Germany and Luigi Di Maio of Italy.

“These efforts must lead all parties to swiftly agree on a ceasefire agreement in the 5+5 framework, including the withdrawal of all foreign forces, mercenaries and military equipment supplied in violation of the UN arms embargo from all regions of Libya, and to engage constructively in all strands of the UN-led intra-Libyan dialogue in order to pave the way for a comprehensive political agreement in accordance with the parameters agreed upon in Berlin”.

Tripoli-Malta to fight human trafficing

Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela surprise visit to Tripoli evoked keen attention of all parties concerned with the ongoing migrant crisis, related to Libyan conflict, especially in view of the Memorandum of understanding signed on May 28 in the Libyan capital between the head of Maltese government and chair of Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj. The content of document has not been revealed yet, however the European Commission has already expressed the support of attempts of the archipelago state to deal with persisting migrant flows in a country of transit.

When it comes to migration and related challenges in general, we share the determination expressed by Malta to address migration in a comprehensive way, supporting actions in countries of origin and transit” the spokesperson of the European Commission said, responding to the Africa Diplomatic Magazine request of reaction.

During the visit the Maltese head of government reiterated the firm position on the need to address and defeat the human trafficking in Africa, underlining that Malta is facing unprecedented and disproportionate flows of irregular migratiion, on the scale it has no capacity to deal with alone. In spite of the repeated calls for solidarity to the European partners, there was hardly any response, especially recently, in the pandmeic context.

Previously on multiple occasions Valletta has been requesting the EU member-states for an adequate funding to secure Libyan borders, and also equal redistribution across Europe of constantly arriving irregular migrants. However in the actual context of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, causing the European governments to close borders, Malta demands became increasingly difficult to fulfil. In the meantime the summer departures from Libya and arrivals have continued, causing mounting pressure on Valletta, but also the other Mediterranean countries like Spain, and Italy, facing almost weekly disembarkments.

Abela, as the preceding heads of Maltese government, has underlined that is spite of its limited resources, Valletta has always respected its international obligations on a humanitarian grounds. In the obvious absence of relevant resources, the successive governments have been looking for the EU support to resolve the increasing problem of human trafficking in Africa. Malta has been asking for stronger Tripoli GNA controls on human trafficking networks.

The Libyan southern border, and costal line should be focus of monitoring operation to counter human trafficking, rather than focusing on the consequences of these criminal activities, to avoid risky Mediterranean Sea crossing. Recently various reports of NGOs indicated there are more than a half a million migrants on Libyan territory, in search of possibility to reach the European coasts. However not all of them are from sub-Saharan Africa, some come from Asian countries, as distant as Bangladesh.

Valletta and Tripoli will be setting up joint coordination units the to deal with the migration crisis, according to MaltaToday. Sources close to the talks indicated that the coordination units would ensure regular communication between Maltese government and GNA when addressing migrant rescues in the Mediterranean.

https://twitter.com/maltatoday/status/1266747709559410690?s=21

Al-Sarraj and Abela discussed Operation IRINI, and agreed that this should consider both Malta and Libya’s reservations about mission.

Meetings were held with al-Sarraj, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala and Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga, in presence of the heads of the Libyan coast guard and navy. Abela led the delegation of Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri and OPM head of secretariat Clyde Caruana.

Image above: courtesy of Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna

IS claim attacks in Libya

Islamic State fighters claim three attacks targeting Libyan National Army forces in the vicinity of Sabah, announcing it a part of “Battle of Attrition” military campaign. According to the Intelligence group SITE this claim is a first one since June 2019, adding that Sabha area is a past “hot spot” of Islamic State jihad operations.

Attrition warfare represents an attempt to grind down an opponent and its superior numbers, however when attritional methods have worn down the enemy sufficiently to make other methods feasible, attritional actions are abandoned in favor of other strategies.

The inhabitants of Sabah have rejected the authority of the expired mandate Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and allied with Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar.

Image: illustration

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