Category Archives: Maghreb

Libya: New head of EU border mission

Natalina Cea was appointed Head of Mission of the EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) in Libya. She will take up her duties on 1 February 2021 succeeding Vincenzo Tagliaferri, who has been Head of Mission since 1 September 2016.

Natalina Cea is an Italian civil servant who has worked at a senior level for more than 20 years, both in Italy – as Director of the International Cooperation and Technical Assistance Office of the Italian Customs Administration – and internationally, leading missions, programs and projects in the civilian security sector, particularly in the field of border management and related security and justice issues.

EUBAM Libya, a civilian Mission under the Common Security and Defence Policy, was launched on 22 May 2013. It is tasked with contributing to the Libyan authorities’ efforts to disrupt organised criminal networks involved in smuggling of migrants, human trafficking and terrorism. The mission coordinates and implements projects with international partners in the fields of border management, law enforcement and criminal justice.

Today’s decision was taken by the Political and Security Committee.

Saharawi: EU for UN-led talks

Brussels 14.12.2020 “Western Sahara future should be solved in political negotiations. We call for quick resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) to find lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the issue”, the spokesperson of the European External Actions Service said, while reacting upon recent events around the status of Western Sakhara.
(Image: illustration).
The EU diplomat placed the issue into broader international context, not limiting it to the 27 bloc to Mediterranean neighborhood, while commenting on the future of Saharawi people, and possible autonomy status within the Kingdom of Morocco.
(Image: illustration, archive)

The EU diplomacy spokesperson also added that the negotiations should be conducted in compliance with the U.N. resolutions on Western Sahara, in particular the last one from October 2020. (Adopting resolution 2548 (2020) by 13 votes in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Russian Federation, South Africa), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2021).
“In this context we are looking forward to appointment of the new personal envoy of the United Nations in order to pursue this political process, but the future determination of the status of the Western Sahara, the future of its people – from European point of view – should be decided in political process under the auspices of the U.N.

The Sahrawis largely depend on outside help to survive. In the remote region where the refugee camps are located, access to basic resources such as food, water, healthcare, housing, and education is limited. The climate in the desert is extremely harsh. 

A 2019 nutrition survey (World Food Programme, June 2019) found increasing malnutrition among the Sahrawi refugee children, with global acute malnutrition among under the age of 5 at 7.6% compared to 4.7% in 2016. Half of the number children and women also suffer from anaemia.

The largely isolated camps offer almost no employment opportunities, making refugees dependent on remittances and international aid. In such a remote location, logistics also play a key role to ensure regular distributions of relief to the refugee population. 

Social cohesion and peace are extremely fragile in the camps, with young people growing frustrated by the lack of opportunities or change due to the political stalemate. Livelihood activities are therefore crucial to reduce the risk of radicalisation or social unrest. The Sahrawi desert refugee camps are prone to natural hazards such as flash floods and sandstorms. In February 2020, it was confirmed the coronavirus had spread to Algeria, leading to curfew measures across the country and in the camps.

W.Sahara: Borrell insists on respect of ceasefire

The High Representative Josep Borrell met this Sunday, November 15, with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco Nasser Bourita and of Algeria Sabri Boukadoum, to learn about the latest developments in the El Guerguerat area, following the latest events that took place there.

The High Representative recalled on this occasion the full support of the EU for the efforts of the United Nations and its Secretary General with a view to finding a peaceful settlement to the question of Western Sahara, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations. United Nations and especially of the last resolution (2548) adopted on October 30, 2020. In this context, he wished for a rapid resumption of discussions under the leadership of the United Nations and a new Personal Envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Western Sahara.

In particular, the High Representative underlined the paramount importance of ensuring respect for the ceasefire agreements in place since 1991 and reiterated the full support of the EU for MINURSO’s efforts to this end. In this context, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs assured the High Representative of his country’s commitment to respect for the ceasefire.

The High Representative also particularly insisted on the preservation of freedom of movement and cross-border trade in the El Guerguerat area, and its significant impact on the entire Maghreb and Sahel region, a region of strategic importance. A political solution to the question of Western Sahara is essential for regional cooperation between the Maghreb countries, the stability, security and prosperity of the region, and this even more in view of the current economic difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic .

Spain categorically condemns the acts committed on Sunday by some participants in a rally (…) in front of the Consulate General of Morocco in Valencia,” said the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation in a statement.
These madmen entered the consulate building in an attempt to place the flag of the so-called “RASD” there, “thus undermining the inviolability, integrity and dignity of the consular headquarters”, underlines the Spanish ministry . “No demonstration exercised within the framework of the right of assembly can degenerate into illegal actions, like the attempt perpetrated on Sunday, which constitutes a flagrant violation of the legislation in force”, affirms the Spanish diplomacy”.

Polisario declares “state of war”

Brussels, 13.11.2020 The Polisario Front claims to have caused fatalities in Morocco and “considerable material losses”, through four bombings carried out on four military bases, among them, those of Mahbes, Hauza, Auserd, and two guard posts, according to the Saharawi organization through a statement issued at early hours on November 13 and 14, according to El Pais newspaper.
Furthermore the general secretary of the Polisario Front and president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Bahim Ghali, announced this Saturday, November 14, that he considers the ceasefire signed with Morocco in 1991 broken, and held that Rabat responsible for the consequences of the conflict around the Guerguerat border crossing.

In a statement, Ghali assures that the Sahrawi armed forces assume control of national security and declare a state of war.

Morocco clashes with Polisario

Brussels 13.11.2020 Morocco announced it launched on Friday, November 13 an operation to end what it assessed as “serious provocations” by the Polisario Front, a rebel national movement which for decades has called for regional independence in Western Sahara. (Image: illustration).

Tensions have been mounting for three weeks between Morocco and the Polisario Front before Rabat launched a military operation at the southern Guerguerat border crossing, where the Polisario has been refusing entry of Moroccan trucks from passing into neighbouring Mauritania.

“In the face of serious and unacceptable provocations by the Polisario militia, in the buffer zone of Guerguerat in the Moroccan Sahara, Morocco decided to act in full respect for the powers vested in it,” the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry underlined that Morocco had “no other choice but to assume its responsibilities in order to put an end to the state of obstruction resulting from these movements and re-establish freedom of civil and commercial movement.”
Morocco on Friday announced it launched an operation to end what it called “serious provocations” by the Polisario Front, an Algeria-backed movement which for decades has called for regional independence in Western Sahara.

Tensions mounting for three weeks between Morocco and the Polisario Front precipitated in Rabat’s operation on the southern Guerguerat border crossing, as a result of the group’s barring entry of Moroccan trucks from passing into neighboring Mauritania.

“In the face of serious and unacceptable provocations by the Polisario militia, in the buffer zone of Guerguerat in the Moroccan Sahara, Morocco decided to act in full respect for the powers vested in it,” the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry underlined that Morocco had “no other choice but to assume its responsibilities in order to put an end to the state of obstruction resulting from these movements and re-establish freedom of civil and commercial movement.”

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.

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