Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

Egypt and Ethiopia to discuss Nile dam dispute — PM

November 18, 2018

Egypt said on Sunday it would hold talks with Ethiopia in the next two weeks to iron out differences over an Ethiopian dam on the River Nile that Cairo sees as a threat to its water supplies.

The two countries and Sudan have held a series of meetings over the $4 billion hydroelectric Grand Renaissance Dam, but have yet to reach a deal on managing flows and other issues.

A cloud of dust rises from a dynamite blast, as part of construction work at Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam, March 31, 2015. (Reuters)

Egypt fears the scheme will restrict the waters coming down down from Ethiopia’s highlands, through the deserts of Sudan, to its fields and reservoirs. Ethiopia, which wants to become Africa’s biggest power exporter, says it will have no such impact.

Egypt’s prime minister, Mostafa Madbouly, said he and his Ethiopian counterpart, Abiy Ahmed, agreed “to start bilateral discussions in the next two weeks to agree on the points that remain unagreed,” state news agency MENA reported.

MENA cited Abiy as saying he wanted to preserve Egypt’s Nile river rights.

The dam was scheduled to be finished by 2020, but Abiy said in August it would be delayed by several years.



Erdoğan condemns Israel’s attacks on Gaza in call to Abbas — Expressed “Turkey’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people and cause.”

November 16, 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday called Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The phone call, according to WAFA, focused on the “latest Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip.”

Image result for Abbas, Erdogan, photos

FILE photo

The news agency said President Erdoğan condemned — in the strongest possible terms — the recent Israeli aggression.

He also voiced Turkey’s readiness to support the people of Gaza and treat injured Palestinians at Turkish hospitals.

Abbas, for his part, thanked Erdoğan for what he described as “Turkey’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people and cause.”

Beginning Monday evening and carrying on through Tuesday, Israeli artillery pounded at least 160 targets the Gaza Strip, killing at least seven Palestinians, injuring 26 others and decimating dozens of homes. The violence was the worst between Israel and Gaza since a 2014 war.

The bout subsided after a cease-fire was struck late Tuesday. The truce, brokered by Egypt, prompted Israel’s hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to announce his resignation on Wednesday.


Libya’s PM Sarraj meets eastern commander Haftar in Palermo

November 14, 2018

Italy’s premier on Tuesday hosted a meeting of Libya’s rival leaders on the sidelines of a conference aimed at helping its former colony crack down on extremists and human trafficking.

Photos of the encounter showed Premier Giuseppe Conte presiding over a handshake between the Tripoli-based UN-backed prime minister, Fayez Al-Sarraj, and rival Gen. Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army that is based in Libya’s east.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (C) posing with head of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli, Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj (L) and Libya Chief of Staff,Khalifa Haftar in Palermo. (AFP)

Later, UN Libyan envoy Ghassan Salame said Haftar, had committed himself to a UN action plan and to holding a national conference early next year prior to elections.

“Haftar is committed to the political process,” Salame told reporters at the end of a reconciliation conference in Italy. “His representatives said that.”

The exclusion of Turkey from the mini-summit prompted the Turks to pull out early, adding drama to the two-day conference at a resort on the picturesque Sicilian seaside.

Other leaders attending the Palermo conference, including French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The office of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who backs Haftar, confirmed he joined the “mini-summit” Tuesday with Conte and other leaders.

Alistair Burt


Welcome today’s conference for in Palermo. Underlined international support for UN Envoy’s Action Plan, including his plans for an inclusive Libyan National Conference which we hope will help create conditions for elections in the course of next year.

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Italy’s populist government organized the two-day conference in hopes of making progress on ending Libya’s lawlessness and promoting a UN framework for eventual elections.

But expectations were limited, with Haftar’s camp making clear that he wasn’t participating in the conference itself but rather meeting with leaders of neighboring countries on the sidelines. Neither Haftar nor El-Sisi posed for the final conference group photo.

And Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay pulled out before it ended, citing his exclusion from the morning mini-summit.

“The informal meeting, held this (morning) with a number of players and having them presented as the prominent protagonists of the Mediterranean, is a very misleading and damaging approach which we vehemently oppose,” he told reporters.

“Turkey is leaving the meeting with deep disappointment,” he said.

An Italian diplomatic official, briefing reporters in Palermo, said the atmosphere of the mini-meeting was cordial and collaborative and that Haftar told Sarraj to stay in charge until the elections.

A statement on social media Tuesday by a spokesman for Haftar’s army, Ahmed Al-Mesmari, suggested that Haftar was snubbing the broader conference because he accuses representatives from the Tripoli side of working with militias he considers illegitimate, as well as extremists backed by Qatar.

In an interview provided by his media office, Haftar said he wanted to meet with African leaders in particular to discuss migration.

“We are still at war, and the country needs to secure its borders,” Haftar said.

Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and it is now governed by rival administrations in the east and west with both relying on the support of militias.

It has also become a haven for Islamic militants and armed groups, including several from neighboring countries, which survive on looting and human trafficking, particularly in the remote south of the country.

Italy’s anti-migrant government is keen in particular to stem the Libyan-based migrant smuggling networks that have sent hundreds of thousands of would-be refugees to Europe via Italy in recent years.

Associated Press

Melania Trump calls for deputy national security adviser to be fired

November 14, 2018

First Lady Melania Trump, in an extraordinary move, is calling for the ouster of Deputy National Security Advisor Mira ­Ricardel.

“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” Melania’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement Tuesday.

It’s highly unusual for a first lady to publicly demand the firing of an administration staff member.

But Ricardel got into a fight with Melania’s staff during the first lady’s trip to Africa last month, with spats over seating on the plane and using National Security Council resources, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ricardel ended up not going on the trip.

The first lady’s team later told the president that they suspected she leaked negative stories about his wife to the press.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and his senior aide, Zach Fuentes, also believed Ricardel was feeding negative stories to the news media about them, CNN reported.

And The Washington Post reported that Ricardel has had her share of run-ins with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

National Security Advisor John Bolton named Ricardel his top aide in April, following her stints at the Commerce, Defense and State departments.

“I selected her as deputy national security adviser because her expertise is broad-based and includes national security matters related to our alliances, defense posture, technology security, foreign security assistance and arms control,” Bolton said in a statement at the time.

One official who worked with her described Ricardel as someone who speaks her mind and isn’t easily intimidated.

“She’s a very tough woman, very smart, does not suffer fools well. And if you happen to be the fool, she will let you know,” The Heritage Foundation’s Steven Bucci, who served with Ricardel at the Pentagon, said at the time of her appointment.

“She’s not terribly intimidated by much of anyone. She’s not a yes person at all. She can have very sharp elbows when she needs to.”


In a bit of awkward timing, Ricardel joined President Trump and other officials at the White House earlier Tuesday to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali.

There was no immediate comment from the National Security Council.

During Melania’s trip to Ghana, Mali, Kenya and Egypt, she told ABC News that there are people in the White House whom she and the president cannot trust.

She wouldn’t name anyone, but said she had let the president know who they are.

“Well,” she said, “some people, they don’t work there anymore.”

Asked if some untrustworthy people still worked in the White House, she replied, “Yes.”

The president was questioned about staff turnover last week when reporters asked if Kelly was about to pack up.

“I haven’t heard about John Kelly. But, no, people — people leave. They come in, they’re here. It’s a very exhausting job,” Trump said. “And I’ll tell you, there will be changes.”


Libyan commander Haftar will attend meetings in Italy, not conference

November 13, 2018

Eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar has arrived in Italy for meetings with heads of state, but will not attend a conference on Libya hosted by Rome, his command said on Tuesday.

Italy organized the conference in Palermo, hoping it would resurrect U.N. efforts to stage elections in Libya. Haftar arrived in Palermo late on Monday but did not take part in the opening dinner.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte welcomes Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar as he arrives at the venue of the international conference on Libya in Palermo, Italy, November 12, 2018. (Reuters)

Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Editing by Andrew Heavens



See also:

Libya rivals arrive for Italy summit after December election shelved

Israel-Gaza border falls quiet after botched Israeli operation

November 12, 2018

The Israel-Gaza border fell quiet on Monday after a botched Israeli undercover operation in the Gaza Strip led to fighting that killed a Hamas commander, six other Palestinian militants and an Israeli colonel.

Palestinians fired 17 rockets into southern Israel late on Sunday in response to the incursion and air strikes, which Hamas, the dominant armed group in Gaza, said were intended to cover the retreat of a car used by the Israeli troops.

There were no reports of injuries or damage in Israel, but the military said a lieutenant-colonel, identified only as “M”, had been killed in the raid and another officer wounded.

Hamas said the Israeli actions dealt a blow to Egyptian, Qatari and U.N. efforts to broker a long-term ceasefire between the Palestinian group and Israel and ease an Israeli blockade that has deepened economic hardship in Gaza.

Palestinians look at wreckage of car destroyed in Israeli air strike in Khan Younis (12/11/18)


But neither side appeared eager to pursue broader conflict.

Hamas received $15 million in Qatari-donated cash via Israel on Friday to pay for civil servants’ salaries and fuel to address Gaza’s energy crisis.

No new rocket launches were reported on Monday morning.

Violence has flared regularly along the Israel-Gaza border since Palestinians began protests there on March 30 to demand rights to land lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its creation.

Israeli gunfire has killed more than 220 Palestinians since the start of the demonstrations, which have included breaches of Israel’s border fence.

Hamas said that during Sunday’s fighting, assailants in a passing vehicle opened fire on a group of its armed men, killing one of its local commanders, Nour Baraka.

A pursuit ensued and witnesses said Israeli aircraft fired more than 40 missiles into the area. Palestinian officials said that in addition to Baraka, five other Hamas men and a member of the Popular Resistance Committees were killed.

In an apparent attempt to defuse tensions, Israel’s chief military spokesman said the special forces had not been dispatched to assassinate Hamas commanders, a tactic that led to wider conflict in the past and which has largely been abandoned.

The spokesman, Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis, told Army Radio that covert missions were mounted frequently, comments that suggested the Israeli force may have been gathering intelligence.

“During the operation, it found itself in a very complex situation, faced by enemy forces. The (Israeli) force, including Lieutenant-Colonel M., kept its cool, returned fire and evacuated itself together with the (help of the) air force back into Israel,” Manelis said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a visit to Paris, where he attended World War One commemorations with other world leaders. He returned home early on Monday.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Robin Pomeroy


See also:

Eight killed in covert Israeli action in Gaza


Hamas’s military wing says its forces made a ‘global mockery’ of Israel

Leaders meet in Italy to find settlement in Libya

November 12, 2018

A gathering of leaders of Libya’s quarrelling factions and of countries keen on stabilizing the North African nation opens Monday in Sicily, aimed at finding a political settlement that would bolster the fight against Islamic militants and stop illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe’s southern shores.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his Libyan counterpart Fayez Al-Sarraj previously met in Italy ahead of the Palermo conference. (File/AFP)

But the meeting’s chances of success appear uncertain, not least because of the difficulties involved in any attempt to get all stakeholders — two rival administrations, unruly militias with considerable firepower and an ambitious army general — to agree on a road map that would reunite Libya after seven years of chaos and bloodshed while not infringing on their current spheres of power.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar, pictures

Gen. Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, is unlikely to go to the Palermo event, according to officials close to him. The Egyptian- and UAE-backed Haftar, who also maintains close ties with France, views the meeting as lacking a “clear agenda” and designed largely as a media event favoring Italy, the host, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Haftar’s absence would render the meeting largely irrelevant.

Dealing a further blow to the meeting’s chances of success, some European heads of state that Italy had hoped would come — including US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin — are also staying away, sending lower-ranking State Department or Foreign Ministry officials instead.

France’s foreign minister is expected, and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte will be greeting arrivals Monday evening, ahead of the first event, a closed-door dinner.

Italy has for years nervously eyed a lawless Libya across the Mediterranean. Like other European nations, Rome wants to contain the threat of militants based there carrying out terror attacks on its territory and the danger of a continuous flow of migrants arriving by sea.

With hopes already effectively dashed that this week’s meeting would gather all the delegations from Libya’s main factions in one room, Italian daily La Stampa on Saturday noted that the possibility of another conference, in Rome in a few weeks, was being mulled over. A series of bilateral encounters are foreseen in Palermo.

Conte’s six-month-old populist government — and especially anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini — sees a more stable and secure Libya as the best outcome for Italians, and for the right-wing voter base in particular.


Italian Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini (C) visits a migrants" tent city in San Ferdinando - 10 July 2018
Salvini poses with migrants at a camp in Calabria in July. EPA photo

“The Italian government offers itself as a mediator. It … doesn’t demand anything, doesn’t set election dates, doesn’t want to impose its businesses” on Libya, Salvini said Sunday of the meeting, which runs through Tuesday.
Salvini said Italy’s approach is superior to that of France because it focuses on improving political and security conditions on the ground to ensure a future vote is democratic.

France hosted a meeting on Libya in May, when rival Libyan leaders tentatively agreed on a roadmap for parliamentary and presidential elections but declined to sign a declaration outlining their commitments.
Italy has traditionally had strong business ties in Libya, especially through its oil-and-gas giant ENI, as well as various engineering and construction companies.

Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and is now governed by rival administrations in the east and west with both relying on the support of militias. It has also become a haven for Islamic militants and armed groups, including several from neighboring countries, which survive on looting and human trafficking, particularly in the south of the country.

Haftar has been instrumental in the fight against militants, going after them in their eastern hideouts and occasionally foraying into the vast and largely lawless south. However, a deadly overnight attack last month by militants from the extremist Daesh group showed the limitations of his army, which he and his Egyptian backers will likely use to support their tireless calls to lift an international arms embargo on Libya.

Haftar is not the only person in Libya questioning Italy’s motive behind organizing the conference.

“This is Italy’s way of competing for a prime role in Libya’s affairs, especially against France and other western powers,” said Essam Al-Jehani, a lawmaker from the parliament based in Tobruk, eastern Libya. “This will lead to further meddling in our affairs, and we expect nothing positive from this meeting.”

Ghassan Salame, the UN special envoy to Libya, told the UN Security Council last week that the conflict there is essentially a competition over control of resources fueled by personal ambitions. National elections, he said, are unwanted by Libyan factions.

“Libya is caught in a futile and destructive cycle, fueled by personal ambitions and the nation’s stolen wealth,” said the veteran Lebanese politician. “While it is a country endowed with great means in human and material terms it is fast becoming the tragedy of the lost opportunity. The risks are too high to allow this to continue.”

As an example of Libya’s “underlying fragility,” he said a bout of fighting in the capital Tripoli last month claimed 120 lives, including 34 women and children.

This week’s conference is a chance for countries to “offer tangible support to the training of professional security forces,” Salame said.

Qatar announces aid for Gaza amid Israel truce talks

November 7, 2018

Qatar has announced it will provide temporary support to 50,000 impoverished Gaza families as mediators attempt to broker a truce between the Palestinian territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel.

The Gulf state will provide $100 each to 50,000 poor families in the “next few days”, a statement from Qatar’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee said late Tuesday.

The beneficiaries are being selected in coordination with the Hamas-led authorities.

© AFP/File | Qatar has announced it will provide temporary financial relief to 50,000 impoverished Gaza families as mediators attempt to broker a truce between the Palestinian territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel

Separately on Tuesday, cash-strapped Hamas announced that civil servants would receive the majority of their salaries for the first time in months.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting forces loyal to the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority in a near civil war in 2007.

Since then, the Islamists have fought three wars with Israel, which maintains a crippling blockade of Gaza.

Egypt and the United Nations have been brokering indirect negotiations that would see Hamas end months of often violent protests along the border in exchange for Israel easing its blockade.

In an Israeli-approved deal, Qatar has started buying additional fuel for Gaza’s sole power station, allowing planned outages to be reduced to their lowest level in recent years.

Qatar is a longtime ally of Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Qatar warns of ‘long-lasting’ impact of Gulf crisis

November 6, 2018

Qatar’s ruler said Tuesday “crises pass” but warned of “long-lasting” scars from a diplomatic dispute that has seen Doha isolated by Saudi Arabia and its allies for more than a year.

In an annual address to the nation, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani pointedly called on other Gulf states to respect Qatar’s sovereignty and not “interfere” in other countries’ affairs.

“History teaches us that crises pass, but their mismanagement may leave behind long-lasting effects,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said.

Once allies, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have imposed a near-total embargo on Qatar since June 2017 over allegations the emirate supports radical Islamist groups and seeks closer ties with Riyadh’s arch-rival Tehran.

© AFP/File | Qatar’s ruler has warned of “long-lasting” scars from a diplomatic dispute that has seen the energy-rich emirate isolated by Saudi Arabia and its allies for more than a year

Qatar denies the charges, accusing its neighbours of seeking regime change.

The emir said the Qatari economy had not been damaged by the boycott, adding that the country would retain its position as the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

“Our oil and gas exports have not been affected by the blockade,” he said.

“The state has been keen on fulfilling all its obligations under the existing contracts and has concluded several long-term contracts, the latest of which was with Petro China.”

The crisis has thrown into the spotlight Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup, which have been plagued with allegations of labour rights violations.

Sheikh Tamim said the preparations were “not easy” but the state was continuing to provide funding for international football’s showpiece tournament.

Qatar is spending around $500 million a week to prepare for 2022.



Qatar’s Emir says he regrets the conflict with Quartet — As Turkey hammers Saudi over Khashoggi, Arab World stays together

November 6, 2018

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said on Tuesday he regrets the continuation of conflict with other Arab states, but added that “crises will pass,” outlining the nation’s economic achievements over the past year.

The Emir said he regretted the conflict, but said he believed ‘crisis will pass’. (File/AP)

The country would continue to develop its oil and gas industries as it is keen to preserve its status as the top liquefied natural gas exporter in the world, and that the country had grown its exports by 18 percent last year and slashed spending by 20 percent, Tamim said in a speech to the Arab state’s shoura council.

Qatar’s currency has preserved its value since the start of the rift last year and the economy has diversified to overcome the impact of sanctions imposed by other Arab states, Tamim said.



Image result for Erdogan with Muhammad bin Salman, photos
Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

See also:

In Saudi Arabia, Washington Post’s coverage of Khashoggi killing fuels calls for Amazon boycott


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 24, 2018. (Handout .Reuters)