Tag Archives: Libya

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

Borrell and Al-Serraj discuss IRINI

Josep Borrell, the EU top diplomat, called the Chair of the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya, Fayez al-Serraj, on 18 May to discuss the latest developments in the country.

The EU diplomat conveyed his concerns over the escalation of fighting in and around Tripoli and the increasing shelling on densely populated residential areas, that have resulted in casualties and a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Borrell commended the Chair for his government’s openness to participate actively in the Berlin process and reiterated the importance for all the parties of the conflict to halt the fighting, agree on a lasting ceasefire and resume political negotiations. He underlined the EU’s continued firm commitment to a political solution to the Libyan crisis through the implementation of the Berlin Conference conclusions and reminded the Al-Serraj of the EU’s active engagement to advance towards that objective.

Borrell and al-Serraj also spoke about the EU’s new military CSDP Operation Irini, which aims to end the illegal flow of weapons and military equipment to Libya that have been fuelling the ongoing conflict.

The Operation IRINI is one of the EU’s contributions to the return of stability in Libya and an operational expression of its concrete commitment to the UN-led Berlin process on Libya.

The Operation is deploying its naval and aerial assets and using satellite imagery to ensure the broadest possible coverage, operating in the framework of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Libya crisis deepens

Skhirat agreement signed under UN auspices “remains the viable framework for a political solution in Libya until amendments or replacements are found” said European Commission spokesperson, reacting on Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar unilateral declaration to of the agreement being invalid. The EU spokesperson also reiterated the previous EU calls for an inclusive Libyan-led peace process to find a political solution with the participation of all parties involved in the conflict and the help of the international community.

Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar declared a landmark United Nations-brokered Skhirat (2015) agreement “a thing of the past,” and pledged his authorities would move toward creating a new government. The UN-brokered agreement linked by Libya’s warring factions in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat so has been the only the framework so far of a political settlement in Libya.

The political agreement destroyed the country,” Haftar said. “We will work to create the conditions for building permanent civic institutions.”

Haftar, commander of Libya’s National Army (LNA), controls most of eastern and southern Libya. The UN-supported administration in Tripoli rules just a strip of the country’s west.
While Haftar has not yet dissolved any state institutions, such as the eastern-based House of Representatives, often referred to as Tobruk Parliament, said his armed forces “accept the people’s mandate to run the country.”

In a speech last week, Haftar asked Libyans to hold demonstrations and give him a mandate to rule. Despite a curfew imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, crowds thronged the streets of Benghazi and chanted slogans against the rival Tripoli administration chairs by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Khalifa Haftard decision to declare himself unilaterally the ruler of Libya is unacceptable, Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez Al-Sarraj said, commenting on the rival’s move.

Apparently Haftar’s decision has not been appreciated even by the Russian diplomacy usually sympathetic vis-à-vis the commander. At his April 28 press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia did not approve of Haftar’s statements. Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, also called the news of Haftar’s unilateral actions “very disturbing.”

Haftar is stuck in a deadlock, Leonid Isaev, an associate professor at the Higher School of Economics, told Vedomosti newspaper.

He has not been able to take Tripoli for a year now, and because of this there is no way to speak at international negotiations from a position of strength, as he would like,” the expert said. The alignment of forces does not change in any way from his statement, since it is just an attempt to justify oneself for these failures, Isaev explained. According to him, last month, when the support of external players almost dried up due to the coronavirus pandemic, Haftar and Sarraj were left alone, and Haftar still couldn’t significantly advance on the battlefield, the expert said. “Neither one of them has sufficient resources to defeat the other, and ‘the great powers’ and regional allies are clearly occupied now,” he concluded.

In a video message on April 27, Haftar unilaterally declared himself the ruler of Libya.

Pointing to street demonstrations in areas under his control, he claimed he “accepted the mandate of the Libyan people” to govern the country.

Haftar said the Skhirat agreement signed in 2015 by the warring sides in Libya under the auspices of the UN is “a thing of the past“.

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Khalifa Haftar in the east of the country, supported by the Libyan National Army (LNA), and Tobruk Parliament, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is based in the east, launched an offensive to take Tripoli last April which did not advance much, and stalled on the outskirts of the city.

However the move to abandon the UN-backed agreement has not come as a surprise. In December last year the Libyan diplomacy in Benghazi has already announced the Skhurat Agreement outdated, and void.

Al-Wefaq (GNA) government is unconstitutional, which did not gain confidence from the Libyan parliament, and rulings were issued against it by the Libyan courts that invalidated all decisions issued by them.
According to the Skhirat Agreement, which did not guarantee who else is also for the constitutional declaration, the first article / fourth paragraph states that the mandate of the reconciliation government is for one year only since it was given confidence by the Libyan parliament and renewed automatically for one year only, therefore the mandate of the reconciliation government has expired for a long time ago, this government can no longer conclude any treaties and agreements that bear any international obligations on Libya the Minister of foreign affairs of Libyan Interim government said in a video declaration.

Libya: EU diplomats joint statement

“As participants to the Berlin process and in a renewed commitment to the Berlin conclusions, in this beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan, we want to unite our voices to those of the UN Secretary-General Guterres and his Acting Special Representative for Libya, Stephanie Turco Williams, in their call for a humanitarian truce in Libya” reads the text of the joint statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, and foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Italy.

“The conflict continues unabated and developments during the latest weeks have increased concerns, in particular over the situation among the long suffering Libyan population. We call on all the Libyan actors to get inspired by the spirit of the Holy Ramadan, engage in resuming talks for a genuine ceasefire on the basis of the draft agreement of the Military Committee of 23 February, and in view of a political solution to the conflict, and unite their efforts to face the common enemy which the current pandemic risks represent in the interest of the whole country.

“Ramadan kareem to all Libyans”.


Libya: Borrell calls for humanitarian truce

On Libya, it is sad to say that the situation does not improve. Neither international appeals, nor the threat of the spread of coronavirus, have managed to stop the warring parties from fighting. The fighting continues and is even increasing” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said in his opening remarks at the press conference after a video conference of Foreign Affairs Ministers in Brussels.

“We need to further increase our engagement with the most influential international actors and conflict parties, to agree on a humanitarian truce – this is needed to deal with the coronavirus, but not only because of that – and on a ceasefire – this is needed for a political process to start and the conflict to end.

“We also addressed concerns of some Member States over the risk of increased migration flows. There will be no sustainable solution to migration challenges until we succeed in stabilising Libya. Unhappily, it is not yet for tomorrow”.

EU deplores Tripoli hospital destruction

“The shelling of medical facilities in Libya such as Tripoli’s Al Khadra General Hospital on Tuesday, causing injuries and damages to the functionality of this medical facility, including its maternity and intensive care units, is unacceptable and must stop.

“This attack is even more deplorable at a moment when Libya is facing the difficult circumstances around the coronavirus crisis and should be united in containing the outbreak. All parties should respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect those most vulnerable as well as the healthcare workers and crucial medical infrastructure.

“As stressed in the 27 March Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union, we urge all relevant Libyan actors to immediately stop the fighting, commit to a total ceasefire and return to political negotiations to reach a political solution to the crisis in Libya.

“The European Union will continue to support the UN-led efforts to implement the Berlin conclusions and help the Libyans find ways to return to stability and peace.

COVID19: former Libya PM Jibril died

Libyan former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril died in the Egyptian capital Cairo from COVID-19 complications at the age of 68, al-Wasat news website reported on April 5.

Jibril actually died on Saturday late night, days after his infection with the novel coronavirus,” the source added.

The late Libyan official, whose death was officially announced on April 5, spent 10 days at an isolation hospital in Cairo before passing away, according to the diplomats.
Jibril was the head of the National Forces Alliance, a coalition of Libyan liberal parties formed in 2012, a year after the ouster and killing of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

EU: Libya arms embargo mission

“The European Union is stepping up its efforts to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, thereby contributing to the peace process in the country, through the launch of a new CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) military operation in the Mediterranean.

“The Council today adopted a decision launching Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI as from 1 April 2020.

“IRINI, (Greek for “peace”), will have as its core task the implementation of the UN arms embargo through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In particular the mission will be able to carry out inspections of vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected to be carrying arms or related material to and from Libya in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2292 (2016).

“As secondary tasks, EUNAVFOR MED IRINI will also:

– monitor and gather information on illicit exports from Libya of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products
– contribute to the capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea
– contribute to the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks through information gathering and patrolling by planes

– IRINI will be led by Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini as EU Operation Commander, and its headquarters will be located in Rome, Italy.

“The mandate of Operation IRINI will initially last until 31 March 2021, and will be under the close scrutiny of EU Member States, that will exercise political control and strategic direction through the Political and Security Committee (PSC), under the responsibility of the Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

In parallel with the launch of Operation IRINI, the existing EUNAVFOR MED operation in the Mediterranean, SOPHIA, will permanently cease its activities.

“Participants at the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January 2020 committed in particular to fully respect and implement the arms embargo established by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1970 (2011), 2292 (2016) and 2473 (2019).

“Against this background, the Council reached a political agreement to launch a new operation in the Mediterranean, aimed at implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya by using aerial, satellite and maritime assets on 17 February 2020.

“EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA was launched on 22 June 2015 as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to migration, and will cease permanently on 31 March.”

Libya: Borrell focus on arms embargo

EU top diplomat Josep Borrell participated in a G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that took place via video-teleconference call on Wednesday, 25 March.

Addressing Libyan conflict Borrel stressed the urgency of turning the temporary cessation of hostilities for humanitarian purposes into a full ceasefire. He reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to support the UN-led process and the implementation of the Berlin declaration and reiterated the need for all parties to respect the arms embargo. The EU is working to deploy a mission in the Central Mediterranean to ensure the respect for the UN arms embargo.

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