Tag Archives: Libya

UN Libya envoy expresses optimism

The United Nations’ acting envoy to Libya said she was “quite optimistic” that ongoing talks between the warring sides would lead to a lasting ceasefire, after they agreed to reopen land and air routes across front lines.

Speaking midway through marathon talks, Stephanie Williams said the sides had also agreed to maintain “the current state of calm on the front lines and avoid any military escalation”.

“After two days of the first face-to-face direct talks between the two Libyan delegations to the 5+5 Joint Military Commission, which have been marked by a great degree of patriotism and professionalism and insistence on maintaining Libya’s unity and defending the country’s sovereignty, I am pleased to report that the two sides have reached agreement on several important issues which directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people, namely” the statement reads.

“That is why I continue to be very optimistic that the parties here are going to reach a more lasting and permanent ceasefire,” she told a news conference at the U.N. in Geneva.

The first flights between Tripoli Airport and the main eastern city Benghazi would resume this week, and the sides had agreed to make progress on an exchange of detainees, Williams has underlined.

This year, the conflict has aggravated due to support of foreign powers. The Tripoli Government of National Accord administration (GNA), with backing from Turkey, halted a 14-month assault by Haftar’s Libyan National Army to take control over the capital with the backing of Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Foreign countries involved in the conflict “need to take their hands off of Libya”, Williams warned. Both parties have previously agreed that after a lasting ceasefire agreement is reached, all foreign forces and mercenaries must withdraw within three months, under U.N. supervision, the envoy has underlined.

Libyan oil output resumed in August after an eight-month blockade by the LNA, but the state producer, the National Oil Corporation (NOC), has underlined that the risks are imposed by a force that guards oil sites. Williams said the sides had agreed to delegate commanders from both east and west to work with the NOC on a proposal to restructure the guards to ensure oil flow.

An announcement by GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj that he intends to step down by the end of this month “should help end the long period of transition” and move towards a democratically elected government, she said.

This week’s meeting between GNA-Tripoli and LNA-Benghazi military negotiators in Geneva will be followed by a political dialogue in Tunis from November 9, Williams informed.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. At present the East Libyan authoritity – the Tobruk parliament backed by the Libyan National Army, led by Marshall Khaftar – does not recognise the status of Tripoli administration of Al-Sarraj. They repeatedly underlined in various statesments that the Shkirat Agreement (December 17,2015, Morocco), which has given a mandate for one year to the reconciliation goverment in Tripoli, has been expired a long time ago. They reiterated, that the result of this failure to realised the mandate within one year led to the «unconstitutional» status of the Tripoli government, while the status of the Tobruk parliament has been recognised the UN Security Council as the Libya sole legislator.

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.

Borrell concludes visit to Egypt

“…This is a good opportunity to bolster this partnership, because we want to strengthen our relations. And we want to do so because we share many interests. We want to consult with you on many pressing regional issues, in the areas of energy, environment, migration, trade and security. We also want to work together in areas that are important for the well-being of the Egyptian people – water management, socio-economic development, education, and health’ said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, while concluding his visit to Egypt.

“In this regard, we spoke about the emergency package of support we prepared to face the consequences of COVID-19, which is hitting you, us and everybody much stronger than expected. We also discussed how to best handle difficult issues, like human rights. Among friends, we should and we can talk about everything.

Maybe the most important aspects of this visit are the regional issues, because our neighbourhood – the Mediterranean – is in trouble.

“We raised the situation in Libya – which I visited earlier this week, and where Egypt is playing a decisive role and I want to thank you for this role in pushing for and keeping the ceasefire in Libya.

“On the Middle East Peace Process – and above all the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which has prevented the annexation in the Jordan Valley this summer.

“I think that we have to continue working on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the current developments are very worrying, and on the need for de-escalation and dialogue.

“And finally, although it is a little bit far away from the European Union countries and much closer to Egypt, we are very much concerned and we shared comments and considerations about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, where we welcome Egypt’s continued engagement in the negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan, and we hope that you will continue having this important role in order to use this vital resource for Egypt in an organised way”.

Borrell promotes Berlin Process in Libya

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell visited Libya on Tuesday 1st September for the first time since the beginning of his mandate in a move of support of the relentless efforts of the bloc to advance the political process and engage the conflicting parties in a meaningful dialogue to estalblish lasting peace.

Borrell met with the Chariman of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Faiez Serraj in Tripoli, whose status is argued by his foes, underlining that the mandate was given to him by Skhirat Agreement (17 December 2015) for one year, and has expired a long time ago.

The Hight Representative of EU has also met with Aguila Saleh in Al Qubah from the eastern Libya, the speaker of the House of Representatives, whose status is acknowled by the UN Security Council as the sole legislator of Libya.

In his meetings, Josep Borrell reiterated the EU’s support to an inclusive Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political resolution of the conflict and confirmed that Libya remains on top of the EU’s political agenda. He discussed the latest developments in the country, and conveyed EU’s strong and unwavering commitment to preserve Libya’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and national unity.

The visit of the High Representative took place shortly after the 21 August when both
Chairman Serraj and Speaker Saleh, although not jointly, but nevertheless in separate annoncements declared the for a ceasefire. The other issues of discussions were aimed at the next round of talks of 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) targeted at the ending the fighting in the country, return of foreign fighters, modalities for lifting the oil blockade, and the relaunch of the political process leading to an agreed reform and eventual elections.

In his meetings in Tripoli and Al Qubah, the Borrell welcomed the ceasefire and underlined the need for its prompt sustainable implementation. He was encouraged to hear the determination and commitment from his Libyan interlocutors to work in this direction, and to implement these principles in the framework of the UN-led Berlin process. This process, the EU top diplomat said, is the only international framework that offers a realistic opportunity for the political dialogue needed to bring the Libyan conflict to an end. Further the discussions focused on the required mediation efforts and de-escalation measures, including the enforcement of the UN arms embargo and EU operation Irini’s role in its implementation.

In the meeting with Chairman Serraj and his team members, the High Representative also discussed other issues of common concern, including migration management and the recent public demonstrations.

In Tripoli, Josep Borrell also met with the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation, Mustafa Sanalla to discuss the stressful situation of the oil blockade that urgently requires joint international resolve to prevent a collapse of Libya’s oil sector, which is crucial for Libya’s economy and the prosperity of its people.

During his talks in Al Qubah with Speaker Saleh, the High Representative got additional updates about the situation in eastern Libya and spoke about related prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Libyan conflict.

Lampedusa protests against «invasion»

The UN Refugee Agency expressed concern about 400 migrants boared by three ships in the Mediterranean, and insists it on their swift and safe disembarkation. (Image: SeaWatch4 courtesy).

A joint statement issued with the International Organization for Migration has underlined that it was a “humanitarian imperative to save lives”.

Italy’s coastguard evacuated 49 people from an overloaded rescue vessel funded by British artist Banksy.

Another rescue boat SeaWatch 4 later took the remaining 150 migrants on board.

The crew of Louise Michel had earlier called for immediate assistance.

The European authorities had not responded adequately, they complained. The Sea Watch 4 crew said late on Saturday, August 29, it was now carrying 350 people who needed to disembark as soon as possible.

A third boat also needs assistance. A group of 27 migrants, including a pregnant woman and children from Libyan coast, have been aboard the Maersk Etienne since their rescue on 5 August.

The UNHCR and the IOM has pointed out that absence of a deal on a regional landing system could not be an excuse to deny vulnerable people safe harbour.

Howeever the main migrant reception center on the island of Lampedusa (Italy) is saturated in the midst of the pandemic, the situation that causses concerns of the local authorities.

“…The national government continues to maintain a scary silence”, Toto Martello, Lampedusa Mayor, said in a statement, explaining that the Lampedusa emergency reception center already houses 1,160 migrants, ten times its maximum capacity. He is “overwhelmed beyond what is humanly possible to endure,” the Mayor underlined.

On the night of August 29 to 30 on Sunday, the island welcomed an old fishing boat that was carrying 367 migrants, according to a figure revised by local authorities.

Carrying 13 women and 33 minors, according to the mayor of Lampedusa, it was at risk of shipwreck due to high winds and was escorted by the Italian coast guard and police to the port, the Italian news agency said. Ansa.

The migrants, whose nationality is not known, were disembarked in small groups in the early hours of the morning and underwent temperature checks, before being taken to a hot spot center.

When they disembarked in the port, awaited them a demonstration organized by the League.

Since Friday August 28, around thirty small boats, mainly from the Tunisian coast, had already reached the island by disembarking some 500 migrants, according to the Italian press.

An unprecedented situation, according to the Mayor of Lampedusa.

Referring to “an unprecedented situation”, the mayor of Lampedusa announced the summons of representatives of the island’s professional associations to declare “a general strike” from Monday 31 August onwards.

“If a fishing boat of this size with hundreds of people comes here and no one notices, it means there are no controls in the Mediterranean. But what are the military ships doing? We are not in war, why are they not used for security interventions at sea and to transfer migrants? ” he asks himself.

Toto Martello also denounced the fact that the army was struggling to prevent migrants from escaping, despite strict protocols linked to the Covid-19 epidemic. Fearing for the sanitary situation of the island, the mayor warned: “People in danger must be helped, but humanitarian reception needs rules because here, now, we are in danger”.

The president of the Sicily region, Nello Musumeci, on Sunday, August 30 demanded from the government, via his Facebook account, a meeting of “humanitarian and health crisis”.

“Lampedusa can no longer do it. Sicily cannot continue to pay the indifference of Brussels and the silence of Rome”, announced the elected regional president pointing his criticism at the European Union institutions.
The Mayor himself is under fire of the local inhabitants: «Lampedusa, the wind is changing: the anger of the Lampedusans explodes … against the Mayor Salvatore Martello, first responsible for the indiscriminate invasion: “Enough illegal immigrants NOW!», says the tweet, explaining higly emotional scenes on the island.

The president Musumeci had issued a decree a week ago to close all reception centers for migrants in Sicily (of which Lampedusa is part), denouncing hygiene conditions incompatible with the Covid-19 epidemic sanitary norms, an approach rejected by the Italian justice.

The Italian coastguard also transported 49 people considered fragile, mainly women and children, to Lampedusa on Saturday, August 30, who had been rescued in the Mediterranean by the Louise Michel, chartered by the street artist Banksy.

The other 150 passengers of the Louise Michel were all transferred on Saturday evening to the Sea-Watch 4, which now totals 350 passengers.

According to the Twitter account of this boat chartered by the German NGO Sea-Watch and the organization Médecins sans frontières (MSF), migrants are being treated by their medical teams for “fuel burns, dehydration, hypothermia and traumatic injuries”.

The ship, named after a 19th-century French anarchist, is decorated with graffiti by British artist Banksy depicting a little girl in a life jacket wielding a heart-shaped buoy.

Its captain is Pia Klemp, a German human rights activist, known to have driven several other rescue ships, including the Sea-Watch 3. She is still under investigation by the Italian courts, in particular for “assissting the illegal immigration”.

Banksy, who maintains the mystery of his identity, explained in a video posted on the internet on Saturday, August 29, that he bought the boat because “the EU authorities are deliberately ignoring distress calls from non-Europeans”.

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.

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: abduction of Mrs.Shiham Sergewa

“Today marks one year since the abduction of Mrs. Siham Sergewa, an elected member of the House of Representatives from Benghazi and one of the prominent female voices in Libya. Her fate remains unknown, increasing the concerns about her safety and well-being’ reads the text of the statement by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service on the anniversary of the abduction of member of parliament Siham Sergewa.

“Since the beginning, the European Union has been calling for the immediate release of Mrs. Sergiwa and requesting those who hold responsibilities to investigate her abduction and ensure accountability. These calls have remained unheeded and we are yet to hear that an investigation is ongoing.

“The abduction of Mrs. Sergewa is an unacceptable attack as well as an attempt to intimidate other women, journalists and human rights activists participating in the country’s political life.

“We will continue to follow closely the cases of enforced disappearances and other systematic attacks directed against the civilian population in Libya.

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